15 best anime on Netflix to kickstart your obsession

B: The Beginning - Credit: Netflix
B: The Beginning - Credit: Netflix /
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Best Anime on Netflix: Sword Art Online

If you have any connections to the anime world at all, you have likely heard of Sword Art Online, or SAO. It’s an anime that has had a strong impact on both the anime industry and the entertainment industry as a whole, serving as an inspiration and reference for Steven Spielberg’s 2018 film Ready Player One. The premise itself is not an unusual one for anime–virtual reality has always been a cornerstone in Japan’s gaming world and has made many appearances in anime. What makes SAO unique is the thoroughly fleshed out stages of trauma and romance that come with being forced into a life and death situation.

The anime takes place the now not-so-distant future, year 2022, where news a massive, multi-player, virtual reality, role-playing game called “Sword Art Online” is taking Japan by storm. Using a gaming helmet called “NerveGear” that stimulates the players’ five senses through their brain, SAO players can experience the game’s world and the characters they play as almost exactly like it’s their true reality. They can feel the grass they walk on, taste foods they eat at virtual pubs and, eerily enough, feel pain when they’re injured. On the day of the game’s release, 10,000 players log into SAO and begin exploring in its virtual world.

The anime’s main characters, Kirito, who was one of the beta testers for the game, is teaching another player how to kill a virtual hog when he realizes something alarming: he can’t log out. In fact, no one can. SAO’s creator Akihiko Kayaba appears to all the gamers, declaring that in order to set themselves free from the game, one of the 10,000 players must beat all 100 floors of Aincrad, the castle and main battle setting of SAO. The players cannot manually take off their NerveGear, or they will die in the real world. Additionally, if they die in battle in SAO, they will die in real life as well. As the game’s former tester, Kirito knows he’s one of the best chances everyone has at beating the game. In the anime, Kirito faces all levels of trauma, from brutal physical harm to watching friends get murdered before his eyes.

Sword Art Online doesn’t hold back when it comes to diving into mental deterioration that comes from being trapped in a world designed to kill you. On top of that, it illustrates both the uplifting as well as depressing stories of those who decide to make the most out of their new “reality,” falling in love with other players and getting married, adjusting to living life inside the game, while also bringing those stories to a tragic end, with the loss of virtual, but beloved, children, corrupt government and everything else that comes with living in a war zone. This three-season anime gets real, it gets romantic, and it gets ruthless, with the goal to inspire you to live life to the fullest, making it a favorite on our list of best anime on Netflix to kickstart your obsession.