Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)
July 6, 2015 by Dennis Amith
I found “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” to be exciting and it left me wanting more and more! I can’t wait for the second set and for anyone who loved the first season, should definitely give “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1” a try! Highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © REKI KAWAHARA/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO Project. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I
ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014
DURATION: Episodes 1-7 (175 Minutes)
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Originally Created by Reki Kawahara
Original Character Design by abec
Directed by Tomohiko Ito
Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Naoki Shojo, Shuji Iriyama, Yoshikazu Mukai, Yukie Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa
Music by Yuki Kajiura
Character Design by Shingo Adachi
Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda
Art Design by Yoshinori Shiozawa
Anime Production: A-1 Pictures
Featuring the following voice talent:
Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui
Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Sinon
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito
Aoi Yūki as Yuuki
Asami Tano as Nori
Atsushi Tamaru as Talken
Ayahi Takagaki as Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki
Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya
Daiki Yamashita as Jun
Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki
Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk thornton as Klein
Houko Kuwashima as Urðr
Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kyôji Shinkawa
Nobuyuki Kobushi as Tecchi
Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Silica
Souichiro Hoshi/Ben Diskin as Death Gun
Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijirō Kikuoka
Yu Shimamura as Siune
Yuko Minaguchi as Freyja
A year has passed since SAO was cleared. Summoned by Seijirou Kikuoka of the Virtual Division at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Kazuto (Kirito) learns of a series of bizarre murders linked to the popular VR game, Gun Gale Online (GGO). After being shot in-game by a player calling himself Death Gun, two prominent GGO players have mysteriously turned up dead in the real world.
As Kazuto logs into GGO and starts investigating the mystery, he meets a girl sniper named Sinon who wields a Hecate II rifle. Is she friend or foe? Kirito enters the virtual world once more for an all new adventure!
In 2002, writer Reki Kawahara wrote a novel series titled “Sword Art Online” under the name Fumio Kunori.
While Kawahara would receive critical acclaim for his novel “Accel World” in 2009, which earned Kawahara an ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize and winning the Grand Prize in 2008, the popularity of “Accel World” would lead to “Sword Art Online” being republished and featuring the art work of abec.
This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012. The series has since spawned a total of five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). The anime series produced by A-1 Pictures was released in Japan between July and December 2012 and airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami in July 27, 2013.
And in 2014-2015, a 24-episode series titled “Sword Art Online II” aired on television. And now, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.
The anime series was directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Occult Academ”, “Silver Spoon”), featuring music by Yuki Kajiura (“.hack” series, “Eat-Man”, “My-HIME”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Noir”, “Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”), character design by Shingo Adachi (“Megaman Star Force”, “Rockman.EXE Beat”) and Art Direction by Takayuki Nagashima (“Durarara!!”, “Real Drive”, “Steins;Gate”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Berserk” films, “Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Golden Boy”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, etc.).
“Sword Art Online II” is set a year after the “Sword Art Online” incident and a new VRMMORPG known as “Gun Gale Online” has become the popular game in Japan.
But one day, a top-ranked player named Zexceed appears on a streamed broadcast as his avatar and out of nowhere, a cloaked man known as “Death Gun” fires a bullet at Zexceed’s avatar causing the avatar to convulse and disconnect.
A month later, Kikuoka Seijiro of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Virtual Division contacts Kirito for a meeting and tells him that he needs Kirito’s help. Revealing that deaths are happening in the “Gun Gale Online” game caused by the mysterious avatar known as Death Gun. He needs Kirito to go in the game and find out who Death Gun is.
While Kirito has his doubts, because he will get paid for his investigation, he joins “Gun Gale Online” and befriends a top-ranked player named Sinon in hopes it will lead him to Death Gun and what is causing his victims to die.
The main characters featured in “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” are:
- Kirito – The main protagonist of the series. Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya is a former beta-tester who fights solo and responsible for saving many lives in Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online. Kirito is recruited by Seijiro Kikuoka of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to become “Kirito” once again to enter the virtual world to investigate the cause of deaths in “Gun Gale Online” (GGO).
- Shino Asada/Sinon – One of the best players, a sniper on “Gun Gale Online”. In real life, she has a major phobia of guns after killing a robber. She is the owner of the rare gun “PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II”. She looks at Kirito is a rival.
- Asuna – Kirito’s girlfriend (a main character in the previous “Sword Art Online”). She thinks that Kirito is earning money as a tester, but not knowing he is investigating.
- Yui – Kirito and Asuna’s “child” via artificial intelligence. She often helps both when they are in need.
- Suguha Kirigaya – Kirito’s adoptive sister (younger cousin), she knows that Kirito has joined another online game.
- Death Gun – The main antagonist of “Gun Gale Online”. Whoever he kills in the online game, ends up dead in the real world.
“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” features the first seven episodes of “Sword Art Online”:
- EPISODE 1 – A year after SOA, Kikuoka Seijiro of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Virtual Division recruits Kirito to find a cloaked man known as “Death Gun” who is killing people on the VRMMORPG known as “Gun Gale Online” and the deaths online are leaving real gamers dead.
- EPISODE 2 – An introduction to one of the awesome players of “Gun Gale Online”, Sinon.
- EPISODE 3 – The life of Shino “Sinon” Asada revealed and why she has a phobia of guns.
- EPISODE 4 – Kirito logs into “Gun Gale Online” and meets Sinon who tries to help him understand the online game.
- EPISODE 5 – Kirito and Sinon register for the game and enter their first battle.
- EPISODE 6 – Death Gun confronts Kirito, wanting to know if he’s the real Kirito. Meanwhile, Kirito and Sinon end up in the finals.
- EPISODE 7 – Kirito is rocked by seeing the tattoo of Death Gun and feeling that it may be players from SOA that want revenge for him killing those players. Meanwhile, Sinon is disturbed by Kirito.
“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Because of the ever changing landscape within the online game, there is a good balance between well-painted buildings and interiors and also beautiful painted backgrounds for outdoor scenes. Black levels are nice and deep but its the colorful palette and the beautiful backgrounds that captivate you.
Colors are absolutely vibrant and I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts or banding during my viewing of the first seven episodes.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 English and Japanese linear PCM stereo. The voice acting for the Japanese soundtrack is solid. Both Yoshitsugi Matsuoka and Miyuki Sawashiro and other cast members have done a fantastic job. With that being said, having watched the series first in Japanese, watching it with the English dub, I felt the casting was spot-on! Both Bryce Papenbrook and Michelle Ruff did an awesome job as Kirito and Sinon. But the casting for this anime series for the English dub was fantastic. Everyone did a magnificent job with their character role.
Subtitles are in English and you can choose from complete English subtitles which include dialogue and Japanese kana translations or a selection to choose just kana translations or no English subtitles.
“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” features the following special features:
- Sword Art Offline 1 – Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
- Sword Art Offline 2 -Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the first episode, SOA trivia and more.
- Textless OP (Phantom Bullet)
- Web Version Previews – Featuring web previews for episodes 2-8
- Audio Commentary 1 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Sinon) and Haruka Tomatsu (voice of Asuna) .
- Audio Commentary 4 – Featuring Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (voice of Kirito), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Sinon) and Yoshikazu Iwanami (Sound Director) .
“Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” Blu-ray also comes with the following:
- Original Soundtrack CD 1 (ソードアート・オンライン II Original Soundtrack vol. 1)
The following is a 37-track soundtrack (1 hour and 11 minutes long) featuring all-instrumental tracks by Yuki Kajiura.
- 24-Page Deluxe Illustration Booklet – Each page features illustrations with characters from the series.
- Set of Pin-Up Illustration Postcards – Featuring two different illustrated postcards.
- Exclusive Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card – I’m not sure if each set is random but the card that came with this limited edition release featured Sinon & Kirito (Avatar/Weapon).
- Rigid Box illustrated by abec (Original Character Design) – A slipcase which houses both Blu-ray cases.
- Clear BD cases with 2-sided Japanese Cover Design
Having enjoyed the first series, I wasn’t sure if the “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1-” could retain the synergy as the first season.
Of course, being captivated by all that has happened in “Sword Art Online” and what took place in the second half of the first season in “Alfheim Online”, I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about this new storyline revolving a gun-based MMORPG.
While I was excited by seeing a few of the original characters back, I wasn’t sure how I would like this new series, especially as episodes 2 and 3 would focus on this new character Sinon/Shino Asada. But one episode four started and seeing Kirito in “Gun Gale Online” and showing his awesome skills of adapting to different situations, it was more of a thrill to see the confrontation between Death Gun and Kirito and seeing the link to the original series (which I don’t want to spoil).
Needless to say, having watched the first seven episodes, I really like where the series is going. I found it to be exciting, dramatic (and emotional) but because this new storyline pits Kirito in a new situation and seeing this interesting rivalry between him and Sinon, I can’t wait to watch volume 2!
As for the Blu-ray release, once again, the animation looks magnificent, while backgrounds are nicely painted, CG elements are well-done and for the most part, the series continues its outstanding quality from the first series. While the lossless soundtrack remains as Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and no 5.1 soundtrack yet, the soundtrack still sounds crisp and clear as dialogue for both Japanese and English tracks and Yuki Kajiura’s music sounds crystal clear.
And similar to the previous “Sword Art Online” Limited Edition box sets, “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” comes with an original soundtrack, a 24-page book, postcards, a Weiss Schwarz collectible PR Card and a slipcase. So, Aniplex has done another wonderful job providing these awesome extras for fans!
Overall, I found “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1 -: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set I” to be exciting and it left me wanting more and more! I can’t wait for the second set and for anyone who loved the first season, should definitely give “Sword Art Online II – Phantom Bullet Part 1” a try! Highly recommended!
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