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Why You Need to Watch: Sword Art Online Abridged

Jack Berry, Managing Editor

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I’m sure that many of of you have heard of Sword Art Online (SAO), but for those who haven’t, it’s an anime series that came out in 2012 and immediately blew up in popularity.

The story follows Kirito as he is trapped within the world’s first full-dive VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role Paying Game) by it’s creator, Akihiko Kayaba. Still confused? It’s in full-dive virtual reality, which means he’s “in the game” (like the Matrix). It’s Massive Multiplayer and Online because it can handle 10,000 players at once, all on one server. It’s an RPG because characters level up as they kill monsters, unlock items, and use skills. And if you die in the game or attempt to log out, you die for real.

Throughout the show, Kirito makes new friends, levels up, falls in love, and eventually beats Kayaba, freeing all the players trapped in the game. However there is one problem with this story: its terrible.

Almost all the characters are flat (especially Kirito), the plot feels contrived and often makes little to no sense, and it doesn’t have any main message or theme. As someone who watches a lot of anime, trust me when I say that there are a lot of bad shows out there, and most of them are quickly forgotten or just ignored. However, Sword Art Online is set apart from them by two main factors: that it was and is very popular, and that it had a lot of potential. This potential was finally realized when the folks at Something Witty Entertainment (SWE) on Youtube created their parody series, SAO Abridged.

SWE takes animation from SAO and edits and re-dubs the footage to create a brand new show and story based on the concept of the original. They even add in their own scenes from time to time! While the series is mainly comedy and focuses most of it’s energy at poking fun at video games, nerd culture, and the original series, they manage to create believable characters that actually grow and change throughout the series, with moments that legitimately made me tear up.

The main character is Kirito, an arrogant loner with no social skills but who is very good at the game. Throughout his adventures he meets Asuna, a quick-tempered girl who leads one of the game’s main factions; Klein, a mellow guy who leads a smaller guild and learns to put up with Kirito’s antics; and Tiffany, a black guy who runs a pawn shop and an expert at the game; along with many others.

The comedy is top notch too, with many running gags that always make you chuckle when they pop up and a great chemistry between characters that leads to great lines like “Remember, don’t do drugs, except Steroids, in which case take lots of drugs!” or ” ‘You put a knife it my face!’ ‘Geez drama queen, it’s not like it’s the first time I’ve done that.’ ‘That doesn’t make it better!”. The writing is top-notch, especially when they reference the original and any one of it’s many shortcomings.

Overall, an immense improvement over the original and probably the best show currently running on Youtube, let alone the best abridged series.

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