Sword Art Online was probably the most popular anime to air during 2012. It had and has many fans, and many detractors. I for one liked it a whole lot. I liked it enough that after it ended, still in the throes of desiring to know what happened next, I’ve actually gone ahead and read all of the Sword Art Online novels. Well, from the 5th novel onward, so I didn’t revisit material which the series had covered. My opinion of the series might be coloured by it, but hey, I strive to give information for you to make your own minds as well.
I’m going to try and avoid spoiling the novels by Reki Kawahara and their content in-depth, but will touch more about plot-structure, themes, and how I felt about the books/arcs in general – so broad brushstroke/theme spoilers, not so much particulars. Furthermore, the second season is going to begin airing this weekend, so I will give some thoughts on what I think the upcoming adaptation will cover.
It’s Still a Light Novel Series:
I wrote a post about how Light Novels aren’t the best-written literature out there, and especially how that is relevant when one adapts the light novels to anime. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, which I wrote a post about the first 11 novels of, is the perfect example of endless internal monologues which replace characterization and action, a lot of non-action, and purple prose that is so overbearing and ubiquitous as to drown everything out. As one could see, a focus on non-action and internal monologues doesn’t translate well to the visual medium – either you kill the pacing by delivering these things, or you’re left with an indecipherable world due to the lack of explanations, or actions that support said things.