Tag: Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld 2nd Season anime series cover art
Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season

Season Overview

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season (ソードアート・オンライン アリシゼーション War of Underworld) is the 2nd season of Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld, 3rd season of Sword Art Online: Alicization, and 5th season of Sword Art Online. It makes sense if you don’t think about it.

Basically, this season continues the War of Underworld arc of SAO: Alicization. However, despite the fact that I did indeed watch all of it, I can’t really explain what happened. It’s all a fog, which is probably for the best because the little bits I do remember weren’t good.

So, let’s just cover a few of the highlights in this overview, starting with Reki Kawahara’s signature trope. That’s right, I’m talking about how the only way he seems to be able to illustrate that an antagonist is bad is by having them sexually assault one of the female characters. I honestly don’t think there’s been a season of SAO without this.

And, just to be clear, I’m not someone who has a problem with depicting mature themes such as sexual assault in anime. I just think it’s poor writing when Reki always has to include this in order to make it abundantly clear that the antagonists are bad.

On top of the poor character writing was some even worse plot development writing. But, to be fair, I really don’t expect good plot development from SAO.

So, what do I mean when I say that SAO has terrible plot development? Well, everything that happens (especially when Kirito is involved) comes out of nowhere. It’s just one Deus ex machina after another. He always happens to have a new ability for every situation.

Remember When Alicization was Decent?

The first season of the War of Underworld arc basically killed off all the characters who were halfway decent or otherwise wrote them out. So in this second season, all we were left with were the bad characters. You know, like Kirito and his harem. To me, this is the biggest flaw with War of Underworld 2nd season.

I expect a lot of bad things from SAO, so I can accept when most parts of the series are bad. However, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by some of the side characters in the first season of this arc. Kirito was a vegetable, his usual harem was nowhere to be found, and we got to see some pretty neat side characters.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, all of those side characters who were even a little interesting got pushed to the side in this season because Kirito’s brain was rebooted and his harem showed up.

Asuna as Stacia in the Underworld from the anime series Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld 2nd season
Asuna as Stacia in the Underworld

Going back to the whole Deus ex machina thing, when the members of Kirito’s harem show up in the Underworld, they’re all using extremely overpowered avatars. Asuna is literally using the avatar of Stacia, the creator god of the Underworld. She can single-handedly defeat armies by opening up rifts in the earth.

As for the others, they somehow ported their SAO, ALO, and GGO characters into the Underworld. Apparently every single VRMMO game is still built on top of the same, old SAO code so it’s all compatible even though they’re all made by different developers.

Someone like Sinon coming into the Underworld with a magical .50 caliber sniper rifle, the ability to fly, and maxed out stats might as well be a god to the NPCs of the Underworld.

From the Underworld to Outer Space

The final scenes of War of Underworld 2nd season were by far the most baffling. After everything is done and the (Under)world is saved, Kirito, Asuna, and Alice head back in to see how everything has changed now that 200 years have passed.

Well, apparently a lot has changed in the past 200 years. For starters, the Underworld is now an entire planet within space. We know this because Kirito and his wives spawn in out in the depths of space looking down on the planet. Further, civilization on the Underworld planet has progressed beyond our current technology.

They now have spaceship fighters and seemingly routinely go into space to fight against abyssal monsters. Also, the pilots of these spaceships are descendants of Kirito’s underclassmen during his time at the knight academy, or whatever. But what’s more, is that they somehow know who Kirito is upon seeing him.

Some girl in a spaceship from the anime series Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld 2nd season
Some girl in a spaceship

I’m going to make a bold prediction and say that these girls don’t actually know who this Kirito is. We already know that there’s a digital copy of Kirito who has apparently been leading and protecting the Underworld planet for the past 200 years. So these girls probably mistook our Kirito for their Kirito.

So, does this mean that the next season of SAO (after the reboot of the original series) is going to involve space battles and an evil king Kirito as the antagonist? I sure hope so, because that sounds like a train wreck I want to watch.

Conclusion

In the end, Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season is a 5/10 from me. Yes, it looked very pretty, had good animation, and had some good music at times. But as I’ve said many times in the past, strong character writing and a good plot are what I care about much more than things like visuals. And unfortunately for SAO, those are what it’s bad at.

I also somehow can’t even think of what the OP and ED for this season were, which isn’t a good sign. I know I really liked one of the EDs for the earlier Alicization seasons, but I couldn’t tell you what the one for this season was like. Let’s be real though, all of the SAO OPs and EDs are by the same three artists and they’re all pretty similar.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to click the like button ❤ down below. Also, follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And come join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld anime series cover art
Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

Overview

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld (ソードアート・オンライン アリシゼーション War of Underworld), or as it would be referred to if it was Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online Season 3 Part 2, is the latest installment in the SAO series. And for those of you who don’t already know: No, I don’t like SAO.

War of Underworld, as I’ll be referring to it from now on, is probably both the most visually appealing SAO installment, while simultaneously being the worst written one. This series honestly looks great at times, but good luck understanding what’s going on or why things are the way they are.

There will be spoilers from here on out. You have been warned.

This season, or part of the season, picks up a short time after the end of the previous part of the season, Alicization. However, something has happened between the end of that part and the beginning of this one. Kirito is now wheelchair-bound and basically in a vegetative state.

And from my perspective, that’s actually one of the best parts of this season. Kirito is a terrible character, so having him out of commission for the entire 12 episode run of War of Underworld was great.

Unfortunately, Kirito isn’t exactly replaced by any better characters. There are a few seemingly interesting characters, but for some unknown reason they’re killed off almost immediately after being introduced just so the “final boss” of the season can be built up.

I understand that one way to illustrate how powerful a character is is to have them defeat a character who was already established to be powerful. But you shouldn’t sacrifice the only good characters for that reason.

New Characters

The Dark God Vecta is the main villain of War of Underworld, as well as the next part of the season which I believe is coming this Spring. He’s the leader of the military force which stormed the Ocean Turtle base (I think that’s what it was called) at the end of Alicization.

I don’t remember what this guy’s real name is, but the character he logs into the Underworld with is Dark God Vecta, the leader of the Dark Territory. And in order to show the viewers how powerful he is, he kills the number one and two knights of the Dark Territory, Vixur Ul Shasta and Lipia Zancale respectively.

These two were plotting to have peace talks with the Integrity Knights, namely Bercouli Synthesis One, who Vixur Ul Shasta has apparently fought against in the past. But, rather than exploring the idea of there being “traitors” within the high ranks of the Dark Territory, they’re killed off rather quickly.

Asuna as the goddess Stacia from the anime series Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld
Asuna as the goddess Stacia

On the other side of the battlefield we get some new(?) integrity knights — or at least ones who I don’t remember from Alicization. The two most prominent ones are Sheyta Synthesis Twelve and Renly Synthesis Twenty-Seven.

Sheyta is a decent character who uses a whip-like sword which can slice through anything. She’s one of those people who just wants to fight stronger and stronger opponents to see just how far she can get. And while that’s not necessarily a unique character type, it can be done well.

Renly isn’t a good character. He’s the wimpy character, you know the one I mean, like how Armin was at the start of Attack on Titan. Except, Renly really doesn’t have any beneficial traits. He then suddenly gains a spine by seeing Kirito.

What’s Even Going On Anymore?

Let’s just walk through some of the developments of War of Underworld. And, of course, I need to start with the big one: The fact that Kirito is basically brain dead. Apparently after defeating the Pontifex, he accessed a control module and contacted the outside world. However, the Ocean Turtle was attacked at this time and temporarily lost power, thus frying his brain.

I can’t wait to see how Kirito gets out of this one. I’m guessing the power of love now that Asuna has descended into the Underworld is going to save him. Or, perhaps he’ll just decide it’s time to stop being brain dead — that’s a valid option as far as SAO is concerned as well.

Brain dead Kirito from the anime series Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld
Brain dead Kirito

There’s also the whole thing with this entire war being because one guy, Vecta, wants to get his hands on Alice. None of the Dark Territory inhabitants really want to fight against the Integrity Knights, and that just becomes more and more true the longer the war goes on.

And let’s not forget, this entire war in the Underworld is going on in place of a war in the real world. Rather than continuing to fight over Alice and the technology she’s a part of in the real world, the bad guys hop into the online world.

What’s going to happen when they’re inevitably defeated there? Are they just going to abandon their mission in the real world too? Do they, like Kirito, not understand the difference between a simulated world and the real one?

Conclusion

I’d like to conclude this review with my favorite scene from War of Underworld, which comes in like the last episode or two. The members of Kirito’s harem are trying to convince the only community at large (I guess basically Reddit?) to help them fight in Underworld. And one of the leaders says something along the lines of, “Kirito hasn’t been online in six days so it must be important.”

Yeah, that one sentence basically sums up this anime. It’s about a war between a bunch of people for whom the online world is everything.

Overall, as bad as the writing was, I still think Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld is a 4/10, which is better than I thought it would be. Still bad, but better than I thought. Also, the ED is honestly the best part of War of Underworld. Unlasting by LiSA is a good song and the ED has some nice visuals.

If you enjoyed this review, or found it to be helpful in any way, remember to click the like button ❤ down below. Also follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And, come join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

My review of the next season is available here.

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Sword Art Online: Alicization

Sword Art Online: Alicization

Sword Art Online: Alicization anime series cover art featuring Kirito, Alice, and Eugeo
Sword Art Online: Alicization

Overview

Sword Art Online: Alicization is the most recent season of the isekai series, Sword Art Online. It’s two cours long, and has a sequel scheduled for the end of 2019 titled, Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld.

I have a lot of problems with SAO: Alicization, which we’ll get into in a later section, but I think my biggest complaint is with those light novel readers who claimed this was the best arc of the series thus far. I’d actually argue that this is the worst entry in the series, and that’s saying a lot considering the previous two seasons included Alfheim Online.

So, what’s the general plot this time around? Kirito gets stabbed on the street for provoking a murderer and not realizing that he doesn’t have a sword. He’s then placed into a coma and his consciousness is connected to “the most realistic video game yet.”

There he makes two friends, Eugeo and Alice, but Alice breaks the laws of the world and is kidnapped by the government. Kirito and Eugeo then set off on a grand adventure to rescue Alice from her captors.

Except, their grand adventure never happens because as soon as they set out from Rulid Village there’s a two-year time skip and we meet back up with the boys in fantasy high school. Then, after being expelled for murdering their classmates, the pair have to fight their way through 100 floors of a tower to the final boss.

There’s also a magic system in this world known as the Sacred Arts. It’s pretty important for just about everything that happens in the series, but it’s never actually explained and makes no sense whatsoever. As far as I can tell, it’s just put in there to be used as an excuse for why things that don’t make sense are happening.

You have things that seem normal, like creating a light source using magic. And, then you have turning hundreds of people into swords, combining those swords into a sword robot, and then having Eugeo turn himself into a sword that can fly around and fight the sword robot.

Characters

The protagonist, Kirito, doesn’t really need an introduction at this point. The major differences regarding him in this season are that he now uses a wooden sword from a tree he chopped down with Eugeo, and his ability to get stronger just by saying he’s the strongest is actually a viable strategy this time.

Seriously, it was explicitly explained that you can get stronger in this world simply by believing that you’re now stronger. This means that someone with a god complex like Kirito is essentially invincible.

As for Eugeo, he’s kind of like what you would expect a normal protagonist to be like. He’s strong, but he actually had to work to become stronger and overcome his flaws. He also uses a legendary sword known as the Blue Rose Sword which has ice abilities.

Overall, Eugeo is just a much more interesting and engaging character than Kirito. I really wanted to see a bromance between them while they were adventuring together, but since we didn’t even get to see their adventures this wasn’t to be.

Kirito and Eugeo from the anime series Sword Art Online: Alicization
Kirito and Eugeo

Alice is the third of the main trio, and last character I’ll be going over in this section. She was originally from Rulid Village, like Eugeo and Kirito (sort of). However, when they were children she accidentally crossed the boundary into the dark territory, which is forbidden.

Because of that, she was whisked away as a child and brought up as an Integrity Knight in the capital. Integrity Knights directly serve the leader of the Underworld, the Administrator, and have all their memories suppressed.

It seems pretty clear that Reki Kawahara was into the Fate series when he came up with Alice. She’s just a combination of Altria Pendragon and Jeanne d’Arc both visually and personality-wise.

Issues

So, what are some of the biggest issues with SAO: Alicization? My first complaint is that it isn’t the adventure series it advertised itself as, but I can live with that. Moving on, the magic system.

Magic systems are supposed to make a world more complex and dynamic. They aren’t supposed to be used so that your plot holes can be covered by saying that magic was involved. Further, the rules of the magic system change over time to reflect whatever plot hole currently needs to be covered up, which is part of the reason why it’s so confusing.

It’s been said before that although he writes about video games, Reki Kawahara has likely never played one. And this is still very clear in this season of SAO.

Yes, the whole system of people becoming stronger or gaining new abilities just because they believe they’ve gotten stronger or gained new abilities is stupid, but it’s only really used during the school section. The real flaw in the magic system comes at the end of the series when anything is fair game.

As I’ve already mentioned, there was a fight between a sword robot and Eugeo in the form of a flying sword. The Administrator also has her arms cut off by Kirito and then uses her hair to fight even though this wasn’t previously something that was possible.

Also, the Administrator is just always naked. Maybe she’s like Ekoda-chan and just doesn’t want to have to do as much laundry.

Aside from stupid things that have to do with magic, there’s also plenty of stupid non-magic things. For example, Kirito has some superhuman physical abilities. We also saw this in SAO -Ordinal Scale-, but it might be even more extreme this time around.

It’s hard for me to really put some of these scenes into words to use as examples, so instead I’ll just say go watch the scene of Kirito and Alice scaling the outside of the tower. Then, after watching that scene, I encourage you to try doing what Kirito does for yourself and see how it works out.

Then, there are the other issues which aren’t related to how the story was written, but instead how the anime was created. There are a lot of particle effects, to the point where it detracts from the visuals. And, all of the sounds in the series are bass-boosted.

I’m not sure who thought that two swords hitting each other should sound like that, but they should reevaluate their whole life. However, I will say that this whole bass-boosted sound thing isn’t exclusive to SAO: Alicization. I’ve noticed a decent amount of other anime doing this as well, and I just don’t get it.

Conclusion

Overall, Sword Art Online: Alicization is a 3/10. It has its decent parts, but that’s about it. I don’t think I’d say any part of the season was actually good.

But, I know there are still a lot of SAO fans out there who will defend this series, so let me know your thoughts down in the comments. Am I being too unfair (spoiler: I’m not), or did I raise some valid issues with this series? Also, are you looking forward to the next season of SAO: Alicization?

If you enjoyed today’s review, click the like button ❤ down below. And, if you aren’t following me already, go give me a follow over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming content.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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SAO: Alicization Episode 12

SAO: Alicization Episode 12

The Sage of the Library

Last week, Kirito and Eugeo broke out of their prison cell by using the power of chains. This week, their chains continue to bring them victory when they go up against a rookie Integrity Knight, Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One, Alice Synthesis Thirty’s disciple.

When the Integrity Knight sees that the two escaped prisoners are simply wielding chains, he decides not to fight them with his sword, but rather give himself a handicap and use his whip instead. And, already, we have my first complaint of the episode:

Why would chivalry and honor be programmed into what’s supposed to be an elite soldier who upholds the iron rule of the supreme leader of the Underworld?

Kirito and Eugeo manage to temporarily defeat Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One by reminding him of his past life before he became an Integrity Knight, and we see some sort of object start to leave his head. This object is understood to be what suppresses the memories of the Integrity Knights, changes their personalities, and keeps them in line.

So, again, if the Integrity Knights are being manipulated in such a way, then why do they have the freedom to choose whether or not to show mercy to those who break the law? It simply doesn’t make sense, just as in last week’s review I argued that it didn’t make sense for Kirito and Eugeo to be allowed to break out of prison.

Well, if there’s one thing SAO is known for, it’s plot armor.

Integrity Knights

Now let’s get into something I found more interesting about the episode, which is the Integrity Knights as a whole. After meeting Alice Synthesis Thirty, it was pretty clear to both our heroes and the viewers that she wasn’t the girl Kirito and Eugeo once knew, but we didn’t really know why this was the case.

An episode later, and we have some clues as to what happened to Alice, but the full picture is still a bit out of view. From the way Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One reacted to hearing Eugeo talk about his past as Eldrie Woolsburg, we can tell that his memories have indeed been suppressed, but they’re still very much intact just beneath the surface.

We can then assume the same must be true for Alice Synthesis Thirty and her memories of when she was Alice Zuberg. This is good for our heroes, but also brings up the question, “why do the Integrity Knights have their memories suppressed?”

Further, not only do they have their memories of before they were Integrity Knights suppressed, but artificial memories are in their place which lead them to believe they have some sort of divine history. Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One truly seemed to believe he had only recently been summoned to the human realm from the heavens by the leader of the Axiom Church.

I think the best way to break this down is to go in reverse order, so let’s start with why the Integrity Knights’ new memories make them believe they have a divine origin. Simply put, I think this is just to keep with the theme of the Axiom Church which controls them.

If the Church can claim that the Integrity Knights who uphold the laws of the land are of divine origin, then the citizens will be less likely to question them and their rule. This is essentially how order was kept for thousands of years across many civilizations in our own history as well.

Now that we’ve solved that part of the mystery, why do the Integrity Knights need to have their memories suppressed and altered in the first place? I’ll get into the details of why exactly this is in the next section, but it all comes down to their potential threat to the Church.

The stronger someone gets, or the more potential they show to become strong, the more dangerous they are to the Axiom Church. However, instead of simply eliminating these threats, they’re turned into Integrity Knights and thus brought over to the side of the Church.

I’m also going to guess that not all of the Integrity Knights came to that position willingly, such as Alice. Alice was probably one who was seen as a potential future threat and so was scooped up by the church early on. However, the opposite is likely the case for Eldrie, at least in some sense.

Eldrie’s father is apparently an Integrity Knight general, and so it was likely his dream to follow in his footsteps and become an Integrity Knight as well. He also was one of the most powerful swordsmen in the world, and even won a prestigious tournament to prove it.

However, I think the tournament itself is actually a trap laid by the Axiom Church to filter out those who may be too powerful. By winning the tournament, Eldrie likely solidified his place as an Integrity Knight, but not for the reason he thought he would. Instead of being rewarded for his skill, he was really being punished for becoming too skilled.

The History of the World

While trying to unlock Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One’s memories, Kirito and Eugeo are stopped by the arrival of a second Integrity Knight who chases them away before they complete their task. The heroes are then saved by the Sage of the Library in the stupidest way possible:

She uses Sacred Arts to give Kirito a magical agohe which points them in the direction of her humble abode.

Once inside the library, the Sage tells our heroes that her name is Cardinal and that this library is a portion of Central Cathedral which is sealed off from the rest. She then sends Eugeo to get cleaned up so that she can have a private discussion with Kirito, whom she recognizes to be someone from the outside world.

But, Cardinal isn’t someone from the outside world herself. Instead, she’s the embodiment of the Cardinal System which runs the Underworld. The fact that the Cardinal System would lock itself up in a library and have nothing to do with the world it’s supposed to be governing is something I don’t yet understand, but I’ll leave that for a later time.

So, just what does Cardinal want to talk to Kirito about in private? The history of the entire world, I guess.

The citizens of the Underworld all originate from eight originals which were raised by four humans from the real world. Some generations later, a descendant of these eight originals is given the Calling of studying the Sacred Arts and in turn learns the inner workings of the world around her. This girl is Quinella.

Quinella discovered that by hunting foxes (or level 2 boars for all you Old School Rune Scape players) she could drastically increase her own levels compared to everyone else around her. Not only did she increase her object control level, but her Sacred Arts level as well.

Once she was a master of the Sacred Arts, she was able to perform “miracles” for the townspeople and gain their allegiance. However, soon after she came to be the ruler of Central City, Quinella realized that by simply doing as she did, anyone else could gain her same power.

Thus, the Taboo Index was born. Remember how three weeks ago I predicted that the Taboo Index actually doesn’t have any real power over the citizens of the Underworld and the only reason they follow it is because they believe it does? Well, that seems to be correct.

"Administrator" Quinella from the anime Sword Art Online: Alicization
“Administrator” Quinella

Quinella has writes the Taboo Index and has it distributed with the express purpose of preventing anyone else from becoming as powerful as she is. To this end, she specifically prohibits both hunting and murder, because she understands that these actions can drastically increase a person’s level.

And, this is where the Integrity Knights come into play. It seems clear to me that the reason Eldrie was turned into an Integrity Knight was because he was becoming too powerful, and as I mentioned, the same happened to Alice.

However, the difference for Alice is that she was originally arrested for breaking the Taboo Index. Then, once she was imprisoned, this is when I believe it was found out that she was a student of the Sacred Arts who had made considerable progress. This progress was seen as a threat, and so she too was turned into an Integrity Knight.

But, even if Quinella was the most powerful person in the Underworld, she’s still just as mortal as anyone else; or at least, she was. In her old age, she finally discovered what she needed to cement her rule over the Underworld, the complete command list.

You may recall that the Sacred Arts are simply system commands, and so with access to the complete command list, Quinella was able to revert her appearance back to that of her late teens and also prevent herself from ever aging again. She then tried, but failed, to gain control over even the Cardinal System.

But, as the absolute rule of the Underworld, the Cardinal System was too much for Quinella to overpower, so instead she was merged with it. At this point, she gives herself the title of “Administrator” and her absolute rule is now complete.

However, we know that absolute rule isn’t actually possible in the Underworld due to how it was set up. As long as someone follows the rules, they too can become as powerful as Quinella without being discovered until it’s too late. For example, Kirito and Eugeo can already go head to head against Integrity Knights and come out alive.

And, if you’re going to tell me that it would take longer than a single lifetime to get to Quinella’s level, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to this series so far. All you need in order to become the strongest in the world is the belief that you are the strongest in the world.

Conclusion

Unfortunately for all you SAO fans out there, this may be my final episodic review of Alicization. Don’t worry, I’m not dropping the anime, I’m simply planning to drop it from my weekly review lineup. If this does indeed come to pass, then you can still expect an update on my thoughts at the end of each cour going forward.

My reasoning for this is that I’d like to free up my schedule so that I can write about more of the new anime which will begin airing as part of the Winter 2019 season. However, depending on when certain anime in that season begin airing, there may be one week left of SAO: Alicization before it’s phased out.

If you enjoyed this week’s review of SAO: Alicization, be sure to let me know by clicking the like button ❤ down below. It’s possible that this series will come back again as a weekly entry for a future season, and a great way to let me know if this is something you want is simply to like the content.

I’ve already mostly finished my content schedule for the next season and will be sharing that in their this week’s or next week’s update over at Patreon.com/DoubleSama, but there’s one slot left for a new series to be added. And, I want to invite all of you to make your voices heard.

If you aren’t already, follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama and keep your eyes out for a poll coming soon to decide which anime gets the final slot in the Winter 2019 weekly schedule. Twitter is also the best way to stay up to date with all of my content.

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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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