Collector’s Edition (1 BD / 1 DVD), Standard (1 DVD)
Sword Art Online II returns in part 3 from All the Anime, bringing with it the action-packed Calibur arc and the beginning of the emotional Mother’s Rosario arc. There may only be five episodes in this release but that doesn’t make the quality any less than previous sets. The setup for Mother’s Rosario is so enticing I literally cannot wait for more!
In this release, we’re treated to two different story arcs. The first being the Calibur arc which sees Kirito and gang as they travel back to Jotunheim where they first met Tonky, the weird elephant jellyfish monster, and take part in a quest to stop the world of Alfheim being destroyed and to claim the legendary Holy Sword Excalibur. We’re then given an introduction into our next story, the Mother’s Rosario arc, featuring an undefeated player known as Zekken the absolute sword who’s seeking challengers!
The Calibur arc was a welcome distraction after the heart pumping roller-coaster of GGO. Real lives might not be on the line this time round but the threat to the current world of Alfheim is a dark prospect. A simple and fun quest involving most of the gang spread over a very comfortable three episodes. The story begins with Kirito and Suguha discovering a rumour about a quest for the legendary holy sword Excalibur. Having accidentally discovered where it resides some time previously, Kirito had planned to go back for the sword one day. With the threat that another player may claim this illustrious prize, Kirito sets out to clear the quest.
With the rest of the gang on board, they enter Jotunheim and witness the carnage and destruction currently taking place. They are quick to discover that the quest the rumour spoke of involved defeating all the beast type giants. Upon completion, they would be awarded Excalibur. Shocked by these events the gang come upon an NPC that reveals a quest that requires them to defeat the boss within the ice dungeon that hangs above Jotunheim and remove the real Excalibur from its current resting place. They have to do this before all the beast type giants are defeated and time is short. If they fail then the leader of the humanoid type giants will invade the surface of Alfheim, destroying it in the process. No pressure then, Kirito.
The Mother’s Rosario arc is given two episodes in this release and the first spends most of its time featuring Kirito and Asuna as they look to rebuy their home away from home on the 22nd floor of Aincrad. Once they have done so the chat turns to this undefeated player known as Zekken the absolute sword who’s seeking challengers. If you beat him then he’ll grant you his ultra-fast 11-hit original sword skill, the only one of its kind. It turns out that they’ve all had a go and lost, even Kirito; all but Asuna. They eventually convince Asuna to give it a try and to her surprise, Zekken turns out to be an upbeat and friendly girl by the name of Yuuki. After one of the most epic battles the series has produced Yuuki is overjoyed and pulls Asuna away and off they go.
A-1 Pictures continues to impress with their adaptation of Sword Art Online. Not only do they do well in adapting the story but the visuals really bring the whole thing to life. The fight between Asuna and Yuuki in episode 19 has to be one of the best fights in the entire series so far. The action throughout the second season has been top-notch, smooth and fluid action and some breathtaking fights. It was also nice to get a change of scenery in the Calibur arc which features snowy areas and an ice-like dungeon.
As you’ll know by now the series comes with both English and Japanese audio tracks. I personally prefer the Japanese with subtitles but the English isn’t too bad either. This release contains one opening theme, “Courage” by Haruka Tomatsu, Asuna Yuuki’s voice actress, and two closing themes, “No More Time Machine” and “Shirushi”, both by LiSA. I have to say that I’d struggle to find a theme song for Sword Art Online that isn’t a joy to listen to. The visuals for each of the opening and ending themes are quite interesting if you pay attention to what is happening within them
The Collector’s Edition of Sword Art Online II: Part 3, as with parts 1 and 2, comes housed in a digipack holding the discs, plus a booklet containing information translated from the original Japanese release. Extras included on disc in the Collector’s Edition consist of Special Animation Sword Art Offline II Parts 6 and 7 and Original Web Previews, which are exclusive to the Blu-ray disc. Both Blu-ray and DVD of the Collector’s Edition also include Textless Opening and Ending animations, as does the Standard Edition DVD.
While it may be hard to follow the heart-pumping action of GGO our little detour in the Calibur arc is a welcome distraction. It’s simple, fun and has some great action and doesn’t outstay its welcome as it’s nicely contained within three episodes. The introduction to the Mother’s Rosario arc is short but gives away enough to entice you - that fight between Asuna and Yuuki! Sword Art Online II: Part 3 is a joy to watch and definitely worth the investment, especially those Collector’s Editions.