SAO: Alicization Episode 11

SAO: Alicization Episode 11

Central Cathedral

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this week’s episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization. Parts of it were good and interesting, other parts were a bit plot-armory, and in some cases the episode just felt downright awkward.

So, today we’ll start off with what I found to be the worst part of the episode, then we’ll move into the more interesting stuff to cleanse our palates, and finally we’ll discuss plot armor.

But, before we begin, let me just quickly remind you all of what happened in last week’s episode. Kirito and Eugeo fought off Raios and Humbert as they attacked Tiese and Ronie, killing Raios and cutting off one of Humbert’s arms. The pair was then arrested for this crime against the Taboo Index.

Ichiemon: Destroyer of Worlds

Now that we all remember what happened last episode, let’s change to something completely different and talk about Asuna on the Ocean Turtle lab. We start her scene with a shot of her looking through a window at Kirito’s body and wishing that she could go into the Underworld herself to save him.

I’m going to make a bold prediction right now and say that this will probably happen at some point in the series. I highly doubt that the lab only has a single machine which connects to the Underworld, and at some point Asuna is going to use another one to join Kirito.

That said, Alice is the main heroine of this arc, so even if Asuna enters the Underworld, I think it will either be late in the series or she’ll only play a minor role. For those who aren’t aware, yes Asuna is Kirito’s main love interest, but every arc features a new heroine, which is why she hasn’t really mattered since the first half of season one.

After lamenting how she’s unable to be with Kirito, Asuna ascends the stairs back up to the main control room of the lab, but runs into a humanoid robot on the way. This robot’s name is Ichiemon and he’s a prototype for another robot, Niemon, which the scientists plan to implant an AI fluctlight into.

And now, a lesson in Japanese. Ichiemon and Niemon’s names come from the numbers one and two, which are ichi and ni respectively. However, more than just being named after numbers, they’re names also include “iemon,” which is a traditional Japanese man’s name. You may recall this name from my post on Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror.

Anyway, for now Ichiemon doesn’t actually matter at all, and was probably just introduced at this point so it felt less like plot armor when he plays a real role down the line. That said, I still would have rather him not be introduced at this point, because the interaction between Asuna, Rinko, and the other scientist surrounding him was extremely awkward.

I’m not sure if this interaction was supposed to be this awkward or if it was simply poor writing, but it felt like all of the lines of dialogue were a bit too spread out and non-cohesive. Also, most of the scene didn’t actually add anything to the story even though it felt like it was supposed to.

However, in the next and final scene following Asuna, something interesting does happen. As she and Rinko are walking down a corridor towards the cafeteria, they pass two other scientists heading in the other direction. Something about the second of these scientists catches Asuna’s eye, but she shrugs it off and continues on.

My guess is that this scientist is actually the final member of the Laughing Coffins guild who was the one who put Kirito in his coma. Perhaps he’s come to finish the job and kill Kirito, or maybe he was always a member of this lab and his attack on Kirito was all part of some master plan.

Alice Synthesis Thirty

Now onto something I find more interesting: Alice Synthesis Thirty. When Kirito and Eugeo were arrested for violating the Taboo Index, they were brought before an Integrity Knight who introduces herself as Alice Synthesis Thirty. Not only is her name Alice, but she also has a striking resemblance to the Alice Eugeo is trying to save.

However, Alice Synthesis Thirty doesn’t seem to have any memories of either Kirito or Eugeo, and in fact, her personality is completely different from how Eugeo remembers her. So is this the same Alice that our heroes have been searching for, and if so, what happened to her?

Integrity Knight Alice Synthesis Thirty from the anime Sword Art Online: Alicization
Alice Synthesis Thirty

Both boys seem to believe that this is indeed the Alice they’re searching for, and yet they have to acknowledge the fact that she isn’t the same as she once was. Kirito suggests that the higher-ups of the Axiom church may have altered her memories, and while this seems like a viable explanation, I’m not so sure.

But, let’s pretend this really is the case. If it is, then what can Kirito and Eugeo do to rescue Alice? While neither boy actually suggests this as a viable plan for whatever reason, they do bring up the fact that if they can trigger some of Alice’s suppressed memories, they may be able to break her free from whatever spell she’s under.

Specifically, they bring up the idea of visiting ones hometown to trigger suppressed memories which then conflict with the false memories which have been implanted. However, despite bringing up this strategy, neither one of them actually suggests leading Alice back to Rulid village to test this idea.

It’s very possible that this could work if Alice’s memories have been altered as Kirito suggests, but as I mentioned, I don’t think this is really the case.

When rescuing Selka from the mountains outside Rulid village, Eugeo was mortally wounded and Kirito and Selka had to use the sacred arts to save his life. During this act, Kirito was visited by a vision of Alice which told him that she would be waiting for them at the top of the Central Cathedral tower.

In my mind, this has to be important, especially since we were reminded of it in this week’s episode. Instead of Alice’s memories being altered, I think her consciousness was removed from her body and is being stored at the top of the tower. This means that the mind of Alice Synthesis Thirty is not the same as Alice Zuberg.

Another hint towards this being the case is the introduction of the robot Ichiemon in this episode as well. Just as Ichiemon and its counterpart, Niemon, are meant to house AI fluctlights, Alice’s body has been implanted with a different fluctlight which the Axiom Church controls.

Now, before we move on to the next part of this post, I also want to point out that the Integrity Knight version of Alice looks like she would fit right in with the Fate series. She’s like a combination of Saber Artoria (Altria) and Jeanne d’Arc. I wonder if these characters were inspirations for her character design.

Prison Break

The final part of the episode I want to discuss is Kirito and Eugeo’s escape from prison. Recently I’ve been watching the Impel Down arc of One Piece, which is a giant prison escape arc, and I saw some similarities between that arc and this episode of SAO.

The biggest similarity I’ve noticed is that breaking into or out of a prison seems to be extremely easy for our protagonists. In the case of Kirito and Eugeo, there’s really nothing standing in their way, and they’re essentially able to just walk right out of their cell.

The chains connecting them to the wall have a level of 38, which means that Kirito and Eugeo, who are level 40, can use them as weapons. The fact that both chains are the same level also means that hitting them against each other will do a decent amount of damage to both of them.

Our heroes exploit this feature to break through the chains which are securing them within their cell, and then Kirito uses his chain to break open the cell door. This last part is what makes the least sense, but before I get to that, shouldn’t the chains used to secure prisoners be a high enough level so that some teenagers can’t break them?

Honestly, if Kirito and Eugeo can break those chains, then just about anyone who’s 20+ years old should also have a level high enough to do the same thing, and therefore break out of prison. This is just like how Luffy is able to go on a rampage throughout Impel Down, but none of the other prisoners who are stronger than him seem to be able to do the same.

Anyway, even if we ignore that little plot hole, there should be no way that a chain can break through the bars of the prison cell. Assuming the chains and the bars are made from the same material, the chains would be weaker due to how chains are made up of multiple, interlocking pieces.

And I know someone’s going to say, “well maybe the chains were made from a stronger material then.” Okay, but why would they be? If your first line of defense, a chain, is breached, wouldn’t you want your second line of defense (the cell bars) to be even stronger? If the chains are the strongest part of the defense, then once they’re breached there’s nothing stopping a prisoner from escaping.

Okay, but let’s pretend like the chains are stronger than the cell bars as we saw. Kirito and Eugeo were worried about waking up the guard, who’s sleeping just a few yards away, with their voices, and yet the blast from the chain destroying the cell bars wasn’t enough to wake him up?

Seriously, Reki Kawahara, at least try to write in some realistic tension. I understand that the protagonists are going to escape from prison, but don’t just let them literally walk out. Add some sort of conflict.

And, as a final note on this topic, once free, Kirito and Eugeo run into an Integrity Knight who was waiting for them after being informed by Alice Synthesis Thirty that they were likely to attempt to break out. Some of you may think this counts as that realistic conflict I’m asking for, but it doesn’t.

If you know the prisoners are going to break out, then why would you wait until after they succeed to do something about it? You wouldn’t. It’s simply a trope just like the trope in which villains decide to tell the heroes all about their diabolical plan because “there’s no way they could possibly stop it now.”

Conclusion

So what did you think of this week’s episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization? I know I ripped this episode a lot, but although I had a lot of small issues with it, I didn’t actually think it was a bad episode. The awkward scenes with Asuna were really the only things I felt needed to be fixed.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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