Introducing Ultimategamer132 (also active as reviewer on Universal Gaming Reviews). Check out his site.
Concept and Characters:
A gamer's best dream, or his worst nightmare? Welcome to Sword Art Online! The online MMO where the world will really come to life! Compatible with the VR, it's rogue like elements will put other games to shame with its lifelike experience. That is what players of the world of SAO thought they were getting themselves into. Instead they were reaped with a living hell where if you die in the game, you die in real life. Throughout the entire world, we focus on a Kirito and Asuna. The most bad ass couple ever to be gloriously brought upon an anime. Following them are a huge cast of secondary hit or miss (mostly miss) characters. While some characters are greatly developed, others are the cliché archetype who ALL fall in love with Kirito. If they wanted to date so much, they should've gone to Eharmony instead of SAO. Despite this fact, for the first story arc of SAO emotional heights are hit to levels beyond belief that make sure you'll be crying EVERY episode. While the gaming element of the show would normally fit in perfectly with the story and (some) characters, a bit of the writing is funny in the worst way possible. For example, in the first couple episodes players refer to the beta testers as "beaters." Right off the bat this began to ring my "super cheesy" alarm. To exemplify my example even further is Kirito using this word in the most serious tone of voice. While there is a second story arc of the series, saying anything more about it will spoil it for those brave enough to face it. It's negatives are more dull characters, current characters being demoted to less prominent roles, or worsened, out of the blue, new, unwanted characteristics for previously introduced characters. It's positives are a great villain... that's it.
Backgrounds are gorgeous and luscious. They're detail is amazing that you'd almost want to be there to see it for yourself. Characters too are well dressed with various, appealing choices of attire. However, character faces seem sometimes simple with little to no effort put into drawing them.
While voice acting is great, even better is the soundtrack. Especially the theme song, Crossing Field.
Sword Art Online is an emotional, action packed journey from start to mid series. Even then, its best part is still flawed and riddled with consistent annoyances. Even worse is the second story arc which is just laughable. SAO has some descent (dare I say) perfect components of a great anime, but it has so much holding it back, that you'll feel dragged down too along with it.