SAO: Alicization Episode 2

SAO: Alicization Episode 2

Introduction

Although this is the second episode of Alicization, it felt more like a first episode. Yes, the first episode set up the differences between the virtual world and the real world, but in the end, nothing from that first episode seems to have actually mattered.

All of the important information from the first episode was retold to us in this episode due to Kirito’s memory loss, which is often the trope used to explain things to the viewer the first time around, not the second. This wasn’t a bad episode, but it made the first episode look bad.

The Demon Tree

The episode starts off with Kirito waking up in the virtual world, which I don’t believe has been given a proper name yet by its inhabitants, so I’ll be referring to it as the Underworld. Typically when in the Underworld, Kirito’s memories of the real world are suppressed, but this time something’s gone wrong.

Instead, while he can remember hanging out with his friends in the real world, he doesn’t remember anything about the Underworld, effectively giving him amnesia. However, this amnesia seems to go both ways, because even his friend in the Underworld, Eugeo, has no recollection of Kirito either.

When Eugeo recounts what happened to Alice, his story follows what we already saw in the previous episode, but simply leaves out Kirito’s character entirely. More importantly, however, is Eugeo’s explanation of the Giga Cedar, something we were left in the dark about in the first episode.

The reason for Eugeo’s Calling being to cut down the Giga Cedar is because the locals believe it to be a demonic tree. He explains that the villagers are unable to use the area around the tree for farming, and so want it to be chopped down.

Typically I would assume that the locals would revere a tree as massive and ancient as the Giga Cedar, but since they don’t I’m suspecting that something else is going on behind the scenes here. My early prediction is that the locals are being misled about the nature of the Giga Cedar.

Whoever is in control of the land, or the Taboo Index, has likely made the locals believe the Giga Cedar is their enemy, when in fact it’s some sort of protective deity. Once the Giga Cedar is cut down, the wasteland from beyond the mountains will likely start to move in on the habitable land.

Now, this next part is my first major complaint with Alicization. Many people who have read the light novels swear that Alicization is better written than the previous arcs of SAO, but I’m starting to think this isn’t really the case.

As you may recall from the first episode, Kirito’s Calling was that of a Giga Cedar cutter just like Eugeo. However, in this episode we see that not only does he suck at cutting the Giga Cedar, but he also decides that he actually has an entirely different Calling.

What is this calling? Swordsman of course. By using his signature skill of always needing to one-up everyone around him, Kirito bypasses the Calling system and decides that instead of a woodcutter, he’s actually a master swordsman. I don’t see how this isn’t exactly what he did in the previous arcs.

As usual, Kirito simply decides that he’s stronger than everyone else, and so it comes true. That’s not good writing, that’s a convenient way to turn a below average character into a “hero.” Even Naruto grows and develops his skills, and doesn’t simply decide he’s suddenly stronger.

Kirito from the anime Sword Art Online: Alicization
Kirito

So, now that Kirito has decided he’s a swordsman, we can forget about the possibility of there being any real adversity awaiting him on his likely journey to rescue Alice. It also seems that along with being a swordsman now, all of his skills from SAO have carried over, because of course they did.

Let’s also not forget that it’s been years since Kirito escaped from SAO and he still instinctively reaches for a sword (which isn’t on his back) when he runs into someone he’s not familiar with. He seems to believes that this physical manifestation of his PTSD is somehow linked to his identity.

Towards the end of the episode we also meet a new character, a Sister at the nearby church. I don’t remember her name, but it appears as though she’s the romantic interest of Eugeo. Unfortunately for her, that’s probably as far as her character development is going to go.

If you haven’t realized by now, there are two major reasons why characters are tossed to the side in SAO despite being potentially interesting:

  1. The character is female.
  2. The character isn’t Kirito.

As far as female characters in SAO go, they typically last for one arc, and then are tossed aside for the next arc’s female lead. An example of this would be Leafa replacing Asuna in the ALO arc, and then Sinon replacing her in the GGO arc.

While the first of these rules only applies to female characters, the second can apply to anyone. Name one character from the first SAO arc who isn’t Kirito, Asuna, or Klein. I can’t, and it’s likely that you can’t either. The only reason we remember Klein is because he’s been kept around as a perpetual background character.

That said, I’m hopeful that Eugeo will break free from this curse of being forgotten simply because he isn’t Kirito. As I mentioned in last week’s review, the Alicization OP shows a bromance of sorts between Kirito and Eugeo, and they seem to be equals, so I’ll take that as a sign that he won’t be forgotten.

Conclusion

The next episode should be when Kirito and Eugeo’s adventure begins in earnest, though they likely won’t head out of the village until the halfway point of the episode, if not later. We’re also likely to be formally introduced to the woman shown in the tower of Central City in the closing scene of this week’s episode.

I’d discuss more about the next episode, but without an actual next episode preview, there isn’t all that much to talk about.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to click the like button down below and tell me your thoughts on the episode in the comments. How are you liking Alicization so far, and do you think it’s going to be better than the previous arcs of SAO?

You can also follow me on Twitter @DoubleSama if you’d like to be notified every time a new post goes live. Twitter is the best way to keep up to date with what’s new on this site.

My review of the next episode is available here.

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