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Sword Art Online II - Part 2 Standard BD [Blu-ray]
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Kirito is now certain that Death Gun is also a survivor of SAO. And to make things worse, he is most likely an ex-member of the murder guild, Laughing Coffin. As the final tournament of Bullet of Bullets begins, Kirito and Sinon agree to join forces until they identify which player is Death Gun.
Through the battles, Sinon learns that Kirito also suffers from traumatic memories from the past. But as Sinon sees Kirito trying to overcome them, she too tries to be strong. As BoB reaches its last stage, Kirito suspects that Death Gun may have one or more accomplices in the real world, and they may be targeting Shino Asada as their next target!
Contains episodes 8-14 on Blu-Ray with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.
- Episodes 8-14 and 14.5
- Reversible Cover
- Clean Closing 1
- Special Animation “Sword Art Offline II”
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I have to say, content-wise, this volume might be better than 'Part 1'. Although the latter did recapture the spirit of the first season, there were a few minor issues that kept it from being perfect. These included: underused characters, a blatant continuity error and some of the choices in comedy.
In the beginning, I was concerned 'Part 2' would resort to more of 'Part 1's sexualised humour, instead of keeping the focus on story and characters. We get this in episode 8, where they continue the feminine gag with Kirito's avatar – the way he pretends to be a girl is so outrageous it's cringeworthy. Fortunately, they don't milk this joke any further. And when the other episodes do use comedy, they use it to lighten a scene's mood, without spoiling the overall tone. For example, while watching this volume, I noticed something iffy about Sinon's outfit. They don't draw attention to it until episode 11 when Kirito spots it by accident. The writers could've had him point this out to her, but instead he brushes it off and carries on talking about Death Gun's murders. I prefer this style of comedy because it's subtle – like the kind used in Season 1.
Another aspect that's better in this volume is the presentation of the returning characters (Asuna, Yui, Liz, etc.). Admittedly, their presence is rather questionable, since none of them ever get directly involved with GGO. But even with limited screen time, they showcase everything that made their characters memorable in Season 1. Yui uses her AI abilities to work out why Kirito is in GGO. Silica understands why he doesn't want the rest of them involved. Liz makes her usual snide/saucy remarks. Klien and Leafa show concern as Kirito's close friend and cousin respectively. And Asuna proves time and again how much she loves him. They may only be observing, but they're still the same characters we know and love from before.
There's also an element of mystery to the episodes. Especially with Death Gun. To tell the truth, I already knew how he killed people in the real world from the game – that part was spoilt thanks to a YouTube video. But this didn't make the revelation or build up any less thrilling. When you find out how he does it, you realise how smart and cunning he is in setting it all up. Plus, his determination to maintain the charade, and strike fear into other people, only shows how sadistic he is.
However, not every mystery has such a big payoff. In my 'Part 1' review, I said holding back on Death Gun's identity would make the reveal more dramatic later in the season. Unfortunately, when we do learn who he is, it feels a bit underwhelming. I won't give anything away, but he isn't the most significant of characters – despite having a history with Kirito – and his motives could've been stronger.
Although, perhaps this was done on purpose. Because it turns out, there's another shocking twist towards the end. Unlike Death Gun's identity, this one threw me off guard because I had no idea it was coming; I was so focused on the red herring plot that I didn't realise some episodes were hinting at the bigger picture. I won't say more except first impressions can be deceiving. And if you watch the opening credits, everything suddenly makes sense.
There were a few other surprises, too – which could've had more explanation. Like Kirito's ability to sense another player's urge to kill. Or Asuna contacting Yui from the real world using her cell phone.
If there's one thing I have to praise this volume for, though, it's the emotional aspect. And that's all thanks to one character.
Before watching this season, I had my doubts about whether I'd like Sinon. But the first volume managed to flesh her out to the point where I felt genuine sympathy for her. In 'Part 2' we explore deeper into her backstory. We already know how she accidentally killed a robber to save her mother's life. And how the experience gave her gun-trauma. But here we learn the true extent of what it's done to her life.
Ever since the incident, everyone regarded her as a murderer. Other kids would avoid or torment her for it, which made her late childhood a living nightmare. At just 16 she moved away from her family, hoping to escape her past – and presumably because they also feared her. But nothing she ever did could help her forget. Even while playing GGO, she's haunted by her memories; making her feel less like Sinon, and more like her 'weak' real-world self.
That's where Kirito comes in. As well as being the hero of the series, his role is to be a mentor to Sinon. As 'Part 1' revealed, he knows what it's like to take someone's life and live with the guilt of doing it. Because of this, he's the one person who's able to speak on common grounds with her. With his guidance, she's able to find closure for what she did. And, more importantly, learns to forgive herself. Not only that, but the last episode shows her actions helped to create a life – instead of just taking one.
Honestly, it's almost a shame volumes 1 and 2 weren't told entirely from Sinon's perspective. Because amid Kirito's heroics, the returning characters and the mysteries surrounding Death Gun, she has one of the most touching backstories I've ever experienced. The writers must've have realised this, too, which is why they made episode 14.5 (Debriefing). This extra feature doesn't contain any new footage/animation. But it does feature Sinon narrating over her season highlights; from how she got her trauma, to her last scene in episode 14. I enjoy this social commentary because we get to experience Sinon's unfiltered mindset without any distractions.
In conclusion 'SAO 2 (Part 2)', is another great successor to the original 'Sword Art Online'. It uses the right tones throughout, keeps the audience on edge with its surprises, and makes us feel something for every one of the characters – particularly Sinon. I don't know what story arc takes place over the next two volumes yet. But Phantom Bullet will be hard to top.
I would recommend this DVD to all fans of anime. Specifically, those who're into gaming. If you love the first season, you'll love this, too.
I will be reviewing the second half of the season shortly. So until then, stay tuned.
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