Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 9 Review
This week Kirito takes a back seat, and more or less puts his feet up, sips tea, eats sandwiches, and offers some advice that I’m feeling walks dangerously close to encouraging Eugeo and the two pages to start looking at ways to work around the Taboo Index. However, despite the protagonist of the story choosing to take a back seat, Eugeo as the apparent deuteragonist steps up and its really nice to see his character start to get fleshed out a bit more than guy-standing-beside-Kirito.
Eugeo is very much a nice character and someone who really wants to do what is right, which under normal conditions would just make him standard protagonist or best friend fodder that would be swiftly forgotten. Where he becomes more interesting is because of the context we are in. Inside the game the Taboo Index controls these characters and we’ve already seen that in action when Eugeo stood and watched Alice getting taken away unable to act despite his own desire. This creates sufficient conflict to make even the nice-guy character really quite interesting because seeing Eugeo coming to terms with what he believes to be right vs what the law says is right and trying to find a path that ultimately he is okay with walking gives plenty of scope for exploration.
Or brooding, though so far we haven’t had a lot of that.
Where we also get tension in this story comes from the fact that Eugeo is very much working toward a goal and so far that has given him a new calling, taken him from his village, and now he’s standing side to side with nobles, who very much look down on him. Over the past few episodes we’ve seen that delicate balance and strain with both Kirito and Eugeo of showing respect to characters of higher social station, but not allowing themselves to get trampled underfoot by those who outside of their title just really don’t have much to recommend them by way of character.
This comes very much to the forefront at the beginning of this episode where Eugeo, taking some of Kirito’s advice and attempting to grow, accepts a challenge thrown his way and ends up fighting one of the bullies in a duel that ends in a draw. The bully, rather than targeting Eugeo directly, chooses to instead humiliate his page, who just happens to be room-mates with Eugeo’s page. It’s a round-a-bout attempt at revenge, it is juvenile, and a little pathetic, but it also stays within the limits of the rules and laws.
While the sword action remained strictly low key and at the beginning of this episode, the fight for moral high ground, for doing the right thing, and just for decency, ran throughout this episode and seeing the characters outside of Kirito respond and deal with the crisis, limited as they are by the rules and laws of the world, was interesting. It makes you wonder how far they can go without triggering the Taboo Index and it also makes you wonder what’s really at the heart of all of these rules.
SAO continues to be an entertaining affair and brings many questions to the table that you can contemplate about the real world or not. Either way, I’m curious to see where they go with this particular incident and just how Eugeo ends up reconciling things.