Sword Art Online Abridged Series Review

Overview:

Sword Art Online Abridged is a parody series of Sword Art Online from Something Witty Entertainment over on YouTube. The story is essentially the same but the show has been recut with scenes removed, and it has an entirely new dub.

Review:

It is odd that I’m reviewing the abridged version of SAO before actually reviewing SAO however I’d like to write this while the show is still fresh in mind. As much as I enjoyed watching this abridged version on YouTube I’m pretty sure once was enough because while some of the jokes made me laugh out loud I somehow don’t think they’d have the same impact a second time through. That said, this is going to be a fairly short review.

Generally speaking I don’t much like comedy and modern parody is probably one of the things I hate most about comedy. Mostly because it seems a large majority of people think that you can just take a basic idea, lower the intelligence of all the characters, have some obvious physical humour, sex jokes, and inappropriate comments, and serve with substandard presentation, and voila people will enjoy. Tragically they are right in that a lot of people do enjoy that but I find it kind of tedious and dull and generally it misses the point of being a parody in that it is supposed to be an imitation of the original style but with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect. Admittedly, parody expands beyond simple imitation and is full of intertextual references and social commentary, but good parody understands the original subject matter, style and intent and plays off of it rather than simply boiling things down to the most obvious joke.

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This is where I fell in love with SAO Abridged. Yep, it has got swearing and obvious sex jokes (Yes, Klein does ask Kirito is he is going to show Asuna his sword skills which is one of the least subtle euphemisms you could come up with given the context). Honestly, if foul language or smut aren’t your thing, while this isn’t extreme by any means, it is fairly frequent so you are probably going to pass on the series at this point.

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However, what SAO Abridged does is demonstrate an actual understanding of the underlying characters they are making fun of. None of them are given entirely new personalities. Basic traits they already exhibited, through one interpretation of the characters at least, are merely exaggerated. So Kirito, the socially awkward poor communicator essentially becomes a bit of a sociopath at the beginning and all the way through his incredibly twisted personality is pointed out by other characters. The thing is, it isn’t as though these traits couldn’t be seen in the original series. He does prioritize his own life early in the series and he does avoid building meaningful relationships with other characters for an incredibly long time after his first attempt to join a guild ended in disaster. That understanding of Kirito’s original character, heavily reinterpreted and extremely exaggerated, is what makes it so funny (at least to me).

There is one recurring joke with Asuna that I really disliked and it has to do with how she deals with race and to be honest I found those scenes cringeworthy, however for 11 episodes of comedy, for there to only be one recurring joke that really missed its mark with me is something of a surprise even to me. Asuna, otherwise, is pretty funny in this parody. While episode 2 had me worried when they were clearly playing on female gamer stereotypes with Asuna not being able to open her menu, and that is a recurring joke, they fairly quickly expanded Asuna beyond the trope of new female gamer.

Additionally, I loved the way the show played on stereotypes of gamers and the current generation. It didn’t feel like it was just lazily taking on the usual stereotypes and saying, ‘hey we’re being self-aware, laugh’. I certainly loved some of the glitches that they introduced to the playing experience as it actually made the whole online gaming experience more real. Plus, as a parody it did call SAO on some of the more obvious issues particularly the motivation of the ‘villain’. It actually felt like some love and thought had gone into how to portray different ideas.

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And that’s where I have to highly recommend SAO Abridged. The quality of the show put together here and the thought put into the writing really stand out compared to so many other parody videos. Certainly there are some moments where added art work is not quite as polished as the scenes taken from the show and at times the voices don’t quite match up with the character movement, but for the most part the presentation is pretty polished for what it is. Plus, the sound track is awesome. Part of me wants to know why that isn’t the actual theme song for Sword Art Online now and that final fight sequence took on a whole new level of cool with that sound track.

Okay, I’m done. If you’ve watched it, what did you think?

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24 thoughts on “Sword Art Online Abridged Series Review

  1. The abridged series is one of the few good things that came from SAO alongside Its OST,Tiffany, and Gun-Gale Alternative to a degree.

    I treat The abridged Series as the Real Sao, while the actual “Real” Sao is just a parody of it.

    1. I really like the original or SAO and I don’t think the Abridged would be as amusing if it wasn’t building off of the characters and ideas that we had already known.
      Then again, I found Gun-Gale to be fairly unwatchable and ended up dropping it.

      1. That i can agree with, it takes the ideas from the “original” and improves them to make it more enjoyable to watch and create humor with it. Something Witty even make fun of the more infamous parts like kayaba forgetting why he had the players trapped in his game, it was hilarious! I’m trusting them to fix the trainwreck known as the Alfheim arc, so far their doing good.

        I do love what they did with Kirito, Hes actually a likable character who makes Witty jokes and movie References! something the “original” doesn’t do!

        A gripe i have with Gun Gale Alternative is how much an unfair advantage Karen gets for being such a short character. She gets to move very fast (More so than kirito), Has a smaller hitbox, Can hide inside small objects, can hide behind players corpses to exploit the “Immortal Object” mechanic, etc. Its not as bad as kirito’s with his Deus Ex Machinas, Ass pulls, and Unfair Advantages(Only player being able to dual wield Weapons *Cough* Conquering the programming of a game through the power of love *Cough* Overpowering Sugou with his hurt left arm in their RL fight *Cough* gets admin powers against his fight with Sugou ingame *Cough* Yui being a plot device so she can get kirito out of a certain situation) which makes it more tolerable to watch, but its still a little irritating to see her achieving these things.

        Im the kind of person who pays attention to the World Building aspects of anime, especially with its mock video games, and good lord, SAO and its games made me want to pull my hair out due to how awful they are! why anyone plays any of these games is beyond me!

  2. I’ve had multiple people tell me that this abridged series is better than the actual thing haha. I saw the first episode a while ago and did laugh quite ago bit, but I guess I should really get back into it. Thanks for the input!

      1. I think that something being “better” or “worse” is pretty subjective, depending on what appeals to a certain person or group. I personally found that I enjoyed SAO Abridged more than I did the original series, though I do still enjoy the original. While i wasn’t so much a fan of the cussing and such in the abridged series, i felt that it definitely put a lot more thought into some of the finer details of various things that occurred, for example, Sachi felt like much less of a throwaway character, Kayaba didn’t just “forget” his intentions, and Kirito’s actual deduction about who Kayaba was felt a lot more realistic to me. Not to mention the characters felt like they were a lot more well-thought-out, and they took out a majority of the unnecessary, throwaway scenes. So maybe it wasn’t actually “better” than the original series, but it was definitely a lot more thoughtful and streamlined.

  3. I’ve heard of Dragonball Z abridged but I have yet to check out any Abridged series before. It seems like this one might be a good one to start with.

  4. Thanks for introducing me to this! We reviewed SAO manga a couple months ago on our forum and i haaated it, couldn’t finish book 3, and even after speaking in our group, about how the anime is better in most ways…Well, this is the best so far. Great review too. Thanks again

  5. Great to see some talk about the series. If only they would release the episodes less slowly.
    I wonder if you might do something similar with EVAbridged.

    1. This is honestly the first abridged series I’ve ever watched (well, completed). At some point I may try another one given I actually ended up kind of enjoying this (laughing out loud with tears in my eyes at times) but it isn’t something I’m in a rush to try. Comedy and I do not usually see eye to eye so the novelty factor of this probably assisted in my enjoyment.

      1. Well of course it was just a side project (and a good one) and I thought you might like EVAbridged. Just please consider looking into it when some time in the future you might feel like doing something similar.

  6. I’m not a comedy fan, but being a Sword Art Online fan myself, I might check this one out at some point. I have never even heard of this abridged version, so glad you shared this one. It sounds like a lot of fun, great post 😊

    1. It took a lot of convincing from two very persistent people to get me to check this out. I don’t like comedy and I really did love SAO so I was kind of wary that this would simply be cheap jokes at the expense of the source. Certainly there is some of that but as I said, there’s also a lot of understanding about the source material so the jokes mostly hit the mark. This is very binge worthy.

  7. I’ve gotta get around to writing my own review of this.

    In any case, I honestly think it’s better than the source material. Not only does it carry a more accurate reflection of online gaming, but I’ve always considered Kirito and Asuna to be kinda basic and boring characters, and the versions presented here are far more interesting. Asuna doesn’t get much of an arc, although she also didn’t get one in SAO, but she’s given a much more defined and entertaining personality. They took Kirito’s trauma over losing Sachi and actually ran with it, bringing it up whenever necessary and using it towards his growing care and appreciation for the people around him.

    Even if he is a complete sociopath.

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