SAO: Alicization Episode 5

SAO: Alicization Episode 5

Introduction

This week we learn that just about all of my predictions regarding this episode are actually wrong. While being wrong is actually a good thing because it means the anime is less predictable than I first thought, I still have a couple of issues with this episode.

Unfortunately, at this point I also have to concede that Sword Art Online: Alicization isn’t even the worse isekai of the season; something I never expected to say. That title belongs to That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, which hasn’t surprised me yet.

Ocean Turtle

The first way this episode surprised me was by taking place entirely in the real world. All of my predictions about this episode in particular were from the mindset that it would be following Kirito and Eugeo’s adventure in the Underworld, so it’s already SAO: 1, DoubleSama: 0.

We begin by being reminded of what happened to Kirito just before he awoke in the Underworld with his memories of the real world still intact. He and Asuna were attacked by the final member of the Laughing Coffins (I think), and Kirito was injected with some sort of poison.

Now, this is a bit of a tangent, but is it correct to say that Kirito was injected with some sort of poison? Technically venom is injected and poison is absorbed, so it would be venom, not poison, right? Either way, let’s just say he was injected with a harmful drug from here on out.

So, as Kirito is injected with this harmful drug, he stabs his attacker in the thigh with the tip of his umbrella. This is where my first issue with the episode comes into play. We can assume that Kirito’s unconscious state is due to the drug and not the injection itself, but what about his attacker?

The attacker also appears to be unconscious, but why? Sure, getting stabbed in the thigh like that would hurt, but it’s not as if it would knock you out. Maybe you’d bleed to death if your femoral artery was severed, but even that wouldn’t immediately knock you out.

Basically the attacker being knocked out by a little jab to the thigh is a poor plot hole cover up. If said attacker wasn’t knocked out, then we can assume he would either finish off Kirito, or attack the unarmed Asuna next. But, by having him pass out at random, this plot hole is “avoided.”

Kirito is then taken do a hospital and we learn that although he’s survived the worst of the damage done by the harmful drug, he’s still in a coma. We also find out that his heart stopped beating for five minutes, and so he may never fully recover from this ordeal due to brain injury.

Now, I checked, and as it turns out, if Kirito’s heart stopped for five minutes then he would definitely have brain damage as a result. However, as long as the heart is restarted before six minutes, brain damage is considered reversible, so the facts check out. Good job, SAO.

I was worried I’d have to write about the protagonist-condition plot hole of Kirito being all better after having his heart stopped for five minutes, but it seems this is medically “acceptable.” Now, we’ll have to wait and see if he actually has a long road to recovery, or if he wakes up perfectly fine, because those are two very different scenarios.

But, this is SAO, so we can’t just have Kirito go into a coma after being attacked by a madman on the street, there needs to be some evil game company involved somehow. And, in fact there is.

I wonder if Reki Kawahara actually hates video games and sees them as a plague affecting humankind. I know this might sound strange considering SAO is all about games, but the games always harm people, the companies are evil, and he doesn’t seem to actually understand how games work, so I can’t be sure he’s ever played one.

After Kirito is “transferred” to another hospital which specializes in comas and the like, it turns out that he never actually made it to this new hospital. Further, the hospital staff are covering up this fact, which means someone in a position of authority is involved.

At this point, Asuna and Suguha take matters into their own hands and attempt to figure out Kirito’s whereabouts. Luckily, Asuna has a heartbeat tracker on her phone which tells her all of Kirito’s vital signs as well as his location, because she’s not a girlfriend, she’s a stalker.

By using this app, and the power of the A.I. Yui, Asuna is able to track down Kirito’s last known location, which is a warehouse in the opposite direction of where he was supposed to be. Further, according to surveillance footage, a helicopter left the area recently, which means Kirito could be anywhere.

Rath

The company behind the Underworld project which Kirito was testing is known as Rath. Despite a deep search, the only thing Yui could find out about the company was the location of their headquarters, which is heavily guarded.

This is also the company which gave Asuna access to Kirito’s vitals, so obviously they have the ability to restrict access to this information, thus hiding his whereabouts if need be. Rath also apparently has a secret research facility in the middle of the ocean known as the Ocean Turtle.

Last week, I assumed that the Ocean Turtle referenced in this episode’s title was going to be some sort of giant turtle island, which is a fairly common trope in fantasy stories. It turns out that this isn’t the case, although we’re still early in the series so there’s still time to see one.

Asuna finds a scientist who has connections to some of those working at Rath, and requests that she take her to find out where Kirito is being hidden. The two are then invited to the Ocean Turtle, with Asuna in disguise, to help out with the research.

Upon seeing the Ocean Turtle, the scientist with Asuna comments how although the structure does indeed look like a turtle, its face looks more like that of a pig. From this comment, I’m fairly sure she’s never seen a pig before.

The Ocean Turtle research facility from the anime Sword Art Online: Alicization
The Ocean Turtle research facility

And now, we get to Asuna’s master plan: Operation sneak onto the Ocean Turtle by disguising yourself as a researcher, only to blow your own disguise the second you get the chance because it’s not like you’re stranded in the middle of the ocean with no backup or anything.

Seriously, Asuna, if you’re going to go through all the trouble of sneaking into enemy territory, at least don’t blow your disguise until after you obtain proof of criminal activity. Does she think they’re just going to tell her all their secrets and allow her to leave now?

I’d be shocked if that actually happened, so instead I’ll put two alternate routes out there. In route one, Asuna is escorted off the Ocean Turtle before receiving any information regarding Kirito. In route two, she is given information, but not allowed to leave.

Common sense would say that Asuna should be returned to the mainland without being given information, but let’s entertain the idea that the second route is taken. Wouldn’t it be smarter to both keep her detained there and not give her any information? Of course it would.

However, as you should know by now, not just from anime, that’s not how villains work. Villains love to explicitly spell out their dastardly plans to their opponents, and then comment on how even though they know the plans now, there’s nothing they can do to stop them.

This villain trope is exactly why I don’t see there being a possibility of Asuna both being detained and refused information on the whereabouts of Kirito. Remember, SAO has never been a series to go against major tropes, so why would it start now?

You may be thinking to yourself, “but it didn’t go for the island-is-actually-a-giant-turtle trope,” and that’s correct. However, the villain-has-a-secret-lair-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean trope is there in its place, so can we really say that SAO has deviated from relying on generic tropes?

Underworld

The last thing I want to discuss before I conclude for today is the nature of the Underworld. While it’s true that this episode took place entirely in the real world, that doesn’t mean we didn’t learn anything about the Underworld.

I had previously predicted that the Underworld Kirito was in was simply within his own mind and a result of his coma. While this could partially be the case still, I think I need to bring up the alternative, which is that Kirito is hooked up to the soul transfer device.

Now that we know Rath likely has possession of Kirito, and their Ocean Turtle operations room has a giant screen on which we can see the Underworld, it’s increasingly likely that they’re the reason Kirito is stuck in the Underworld. However, it’s unclear exactly why they’re doing this.

Also, since the Gigas Cedar is seen standing on the monitor in the Ocean Turtle, we can assume that this episode takes place chronologically before the previous episode. It’s very possible that the next episode will again focus on Asuna, and will take place alongside episode 4.

The final thing I want to bring up is if Kirito’s attacker was hired by Rath. Could his coma have been planned from the start by Rath in an attempt to get him away from his friends and family and onto the Ocean Turtle?

If so, just how is Rath connected to the Laughing Coffins or Death Gun (I forget which the criminal was associated with)? If not, was it merely a coincidence that Rath kidnapped Kirito from the hospital after this attack, or were they tipped off by someone else?

Conclusion

So what did you think of this week’s episode of SAO: Alicization? What do you think is going to happen to Asuna? Do you think Rath is cooperating with criminal organizations? Let me know in the comments.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to click the like button down below and follow me on Twitter @DoubleSama to receive notifications every time a new post goes live. Also, if you haven’t checked them out already, consider giving my other SAO: Alicization episode reviews a read.

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My lengthy review of the next episode is available here.

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