The day is finally here and my Sword Art Online Bluray Set 1 has finally arrived!
I hear a lot of people griping about how Aniplex USA has been going overboard with their prices, and Sword Art Online was one of the main focuses of people’s hate. In this review, I’ll go over and see if the $90 spent was really worth it.
Before we start off this review, I’m going to clarify that this will be a coverage of the set and extras, and not of the anime itself.
First off, let us observe the first thing about this Set. The Box.
Now this isn’t your average DVD/Bluray box, no no no. Aniplex USA has given us quality containers when it comes to Limited Edition sets, like The Garden of Sinners, Fate/Zero, and Bakemonogatari. The box provided is one of the finest provided by Aniplex USA. The box is made of quality heavy chipboard with a special texture. The surface feels smooth, and you can practically “feel” the detail. The font on the board is styled in a shiny, gold texture that shows off its luster in the light.
Next is the front cover. The illustration for all of the SAO Bluray sets, including this one, have been illustrated by abec, the original illustrator for the Sword Art Online light novel series. On the cover you have Kirito, Asuna, Klein, Yui, and Heathcliff. Now a couple of those characters don’t show up until later, but this set was designed to cater towards die-hard Sword Art Online fans, which I’ll get to more on later. If you’re truly a fan of the series, you’ll be able to enjoy the original illustration style of the series from before it was made into an anime.
On the back you’ll see the info sheet that describes the set and what it contains. Behind it is a design of Kirito’s sword, Elucidator, with stylish borders on the corners and the title of the set. All of this is printed with the same gold font from before.
The box is very high quality, but here’s where things get STICKY. Pun intended.
You might have heard earlier that this Set came with a small defect. That defect would be the glue holding the Info Sheet onto the back of the box. Unfortunately, I am one of the victims of this problem. A lot of the Limited Edition sets from Aniplex USA come with info sheets describing the series and the set, and they all come off by just pulling them off the box. However, this set in particular received a different adhesive than other box sets. When one removes the Info Sheet, it’ll leave a nasty mark on where it was removed and is highly noticeable. Some people may not see this as a problem, but collectors out there have made complaints to Aniplex USA about this defect. If you email Aniplex USA about this, you’ll receive an email stating:
“Dear (insert name here),
Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention. We are currently investigating the issue with the Blu-ray Box for Sword Art Volume 1 right now. We will get back to you as soon as we get the results from the investigation.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you and we will got back to you as soon as we can. Thank you.
Aniplex of America
Some of the Bluray shipments were stopped because of this defect, but some sets like mine made it through the border. If you have a problem with the glue, I recommend you contact Aniplex through the email above, and I’m sure they’ll provide you with a new one. I’ll be dropping by an email very soon too.
Leaving that problem aside, we’ll move on to the next part. The Bluray discs.
This set contains 2 discs containing episodes 1-7. There are two discs, but they are both contained in one container, not in their own separate ones. I guess Aniplex USA wanted to save costs and put both discs in one case. On the case you’ll see the original covers for Volume 1 and 3 of the Sword Art Online DVDs/Blurays released in Japan. Both discs contain special designs of their own. Disc 1 has an illustration of Kirito and Disc 2 has an illustration of Silica. The discs have the 1st floor of Aincrad on the reverse side of the cover.
Photos of the BDs, cases, and additional items can be seen in the slideshow at the bottom.
Now we move on to my favorite part of this review. The Extras.
Okay, so I said this was my favorite part of the review, but I gotta say that I was a bit disappointed. The extras in the set include an original soundtrack, postcards, a 16 page illustration booklet, and an exclusive Bushiroad card. Compared to the Japanese Limited Edition release, I have to say that this set may be a bit lacking. The difference between this set and the Japanese set comes from the books. In the Japanese set, a booklet was also included but contained a more in-depth look into the series and its production, whereas the English set just receives a 16 page booklet with pictures… I’d take the production booklet any day.
The biggest difference though, is the missing light novel story! The Japanese set came with an exclusive side story called “The Day Before”. This side story tells the tale of how Kirito and Asuna got their house in the game, and the day Kirito officially proposed to her. Obviously, if you’re a fan of Sword Art Online, in any shape or form, you would want this light novel extra right? Nah, Aniplex USA couldn’t do it considering the costs it would take to license it from Japan. It takes tons of money to license light novels here in America, and a good example would be that one time Vertical Inc. tried to bring the Durarara light novels to America.
Now back to the extras.
The 16 page illustration booklet contains the artwork of the covers from Volumes 1-3 of the series, and the rest from artworks that were featured in magazines.
The card that came with the set is an exclusive Weiss Schwarz card, featuring Asuna and Kirito. If you don’t know what Weiss Schwarz is, it’s a card game that features almost any anime possible. It’s like Yugioh, but with anime characters. For example, you can pit Kirito against Saber from Fate/Stay Night.
The postcards feature illustrations from the ending cards from when episodes 1-7 aired on TV.
The original soundtrack contains 33 tracks from the series. Some tracks included are Swordland, In Your Past, Fight!, and Despaired. This is only the 1st OST, so the 2nd OST will be included in one of the future Bluray sets.
It should also be noted that the BDs contain Sword Art Offline (an exclusive mini series with cutely illustrated characters in a news room), Web Trailers, the English Trailer, audio commentary from the cast, and the textless opening.
Alright, I’ve gone through almost every nook and cranny of this set. Now is the time to decide if it was worth that $90! My answer??
Here’s the reason why:
I’ll have you know that I am a VERY big fan of Sword Art Online. I’ve obviously seen the anime, I collect the light novels, bought the First Press Limited Edition set of the PSP game, and even spent hundreds of dollars to fly across the country to Sakura-Con to see Reki Kawahara (the author of SAO). I was excited and practically screaming when I heard Aniplex USA would sell the series in North America. They labeled the price as $90, but that didn’t discourage me. I spent a large sum of money before, so what’s going to stop me now?
From a normal person’s perspective, spending $90 on a 7 episode set is absurd, even if it is Bluray. I do have to say that I agree with them, but the money is being spent mostly on the extras. If I didn’t buy those extras, how could I call myself a fan? Well it turns out those extras weren’t really much. On the other hand, if it came with the light novel story I would’ve paid twice as much. That’s just me though.
If you’re just a normal fan of the series or you haven’t seen this series yet and wanted to give it a try, I recommend that you do not buy the this Bluray set and buy the DVD set instead. The DVD set comes with the same amount of episodes and a mini pin-up poster. The DVD is sorely lacking when it comes to extras, but it is $40. You at least get your money’s worth. This Bluray set is only for DIE HARD FANS of the series. I emphasize this fact very much. Many people beat Aniplex USA with a stick because of the high prices on their DVDs/Blurays, but you should know that Aniplex USA isn’t trying to make big sales. They’re trying to cater to fans who WANT these kinds of Limited Edition sets. Some North American fans are jealous of Japanese fans and all the fancy stuff they get with their DVDs and Blurays. In North America, this isn’t possible because anime isn’t that popular a media. Aniplex USA at least heard some of our pleas and gave us what we wanted. With fans like us, money isn’t an issue. This doesn’t mean we’re rich though. Sometimes we’ll go without eating for a few days just to buy these Limited Edition sets. We do this because we love anime that much.
That’s my review on the set! I’d like to know what you or some other people think of this series as well, so drop by a comment if you can.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I will now watch Sword Art Online from the beginning again for the 3rd time.
The rest of the images of the box set: