Sword Art Online Abridged will always be that one abridged series I thought about making, but am so so happy someone else did it first. I remember watching when it was first released, but it took such long breaks that I thought it was cancelled. However it looks like Something Witty Entertainment finally wrapped up the first season a few weeks back with episode 11.
Sword Art Online: In the near future, a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online has been released where players control their avatars with their bodies using a piece of technology called: Nerve Gear. One day, players discover they cannot log out, as the game creator is holding them captive unless they reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss. However, if they die in the game, they die in real life. Their struggle for survival starts now… – Hulu
Sword Art Online Abridged: An abridged series by Something Witty Entertainment under the YouTube channel SWEabridged. It is a parody of the anime series Sword Art Online. The plot follows very closely to the original series, but characters are often quite different from their canon counterparts, and some even have different names. – WikiA Abridged
One thing this series really has going for it is its crafty editing. Most abridged series are notorious for their blocky edits — especially when adding outside elements into an anime. Sword Art Online Abridged not only excels at these edits, but in many respects takes them to the next level. YamatoSFX, aka Izzy or Mathew, is both the show’s editor, photoshop artist and voice of Kirito. Somehow he took an anime that is nearly universally hated by the anime community (myself excluded) and made it spectacular with dark humor and relatable references.
SAO Abridged also approaches abridging slightly different than most mainstream versions by sticking much more to the main plot that shows such as DBZ Abridged or Yugioh Abridged. This may seem trivial to most viewers but it gives this show a sense of actual abridging the source material, and at the same time manages to cut out some of unnecessary sexism found in SAO. Other abridged series tend to deviate from their source’s stories in favor of creating their own comedic narratives. That isn’t to say that SAO Abridged doesn’t add their own comedic flair, they certainly do, but they tend to add it through character development over changing the plot. The two biggest exceptions to this in my opinion were the NPC members in Kirito’s first guild, The Moonlit Black Cats, and the actual black cat that was somehow playing SAO, John Fluffles.
Now for the part of any review that I really hate — the cons with this series. Overall I’d say SAO Abridged is a pretty solid show. It’s got great writing, great acting, and amazing editing all the way through. I went so far as to rewatch the series twice looking for major flaws, but in the end there was only one thing I got hung up on. When the show begins and we’re introduced to Kirito he’s presented as an egotistical sociopath. Now personally, I love those types of characters in a show, however his persona changes a little too often making him inconsistent such as whenever he’s called an asshole and he runs off crying. Fortunately while this inconsistency can be found in several characters it often adds to the comedy more often than it breaks the cinematic illusion.
So yeah, I’m not very great at disparaging a show that I love. Instead I’d like to touch on a few of my favorite moments from the abridged series, and how it differs from the source material.
The First Look at Aincrad
When I stumbled upon the first episode of SAO Abridged, I knew if was a step above the rest when Kirito enters Sword Art Online to find it flooded with online ads referencing the same trend in the modern video game industry. It was this kind of clever nuanced joke that got me hooked right off the bat and displayed superior editing skills.
The Moonlit Black Cats
In the abridged version, half of Kirito’s first guild is made up of NPCs instead of actual players. One such character, Gary, is an NPC who constantly repeats the line, “We must save my family!”, from the quest he’s supposed to guide players through. He’s also a reoccurring character who is later killed by Kirito for leaving the guild to die. What I love about this version so much is how memorable it is compared to the original version. I only vaguely remembered one of the members Sachi from SAO, but the abridged version made practically everyone in the guild much more entertaining.
Kirito and Asuna (and Yui)
The funniest part of the show is the relationship between Kirito and Asuna. While I do love how the original show brought the pair together, the abridged version is much funnier and to be honest makes a lot more sense. In the original, Asuna is a basic tsundere who gradually falls for Kirito as they progress in the game. In the abridged however, Asuna is basically bipolar and (upgrades?) to a yandere of near Yuno Gasai levels… The marriage proposal also makes much more sense in the abridged version as both characters recognize it was a horrible hasty decision, but decide to stay together anyway. Then they bring Yui into the mix and escalate into a whole new world of mind games.
Sure if I really wanted to I’m sure I could find more issues with this show, but it’s another series I’d rather just enjoy for what it is. It’s an uncomplicated comedic abridged series with maybe a little too much yelling. But then again that’s part of what makes it fun. Well that and the funny character names.
I give Sword Art Online Abridged
5/5 Charismatic Hats
Sure this is technically from Howl’s Moving Castle, but I think it’s fair to say its pretty significant in SAO Abridged as well.