And Apparently We’re Done For Now

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 24 Review

I wasn’t aware until the episode ended that this is actually the end of this season and the story won’t be continuing until October when we get Sword Art Online Alicization – War of the Underworld (that’s a mouthful and a half of a title). So on that note the complete cliff-hanger on an ending makes kind of sense knowing that this will continue but on the back of now 24 episodes of very little really being all that engaging, I’m just kind of left wondering if I will pick up the series when it comes back.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 24 - Eugeo encouraging Kirito

Am I that curious about the fate of fluctlights who’s nature and existence hasn’t actually been satisfactorily explained other than some pseudo sciency ‘soul’ babble that went on way too long and essentially explained nothing? I know the only character I did have any kind of desire to see grow is now dead so that kind of doesn’t exactly help my desire to watch more. I also know Kirito, who I used to really like as a character, has spent the last 24 episodes making me really just bored with his current holier than thou attitude. I need to go back and watch Aincrad again just to remind myself that I actually do like his character.

Honestly, when I do my full series review of this first 24 episodes of Alicization, I’m going to really struggle for positives. For the few shining moments sprinkled throughout, there’s a whole lot of nothing and a lot of babble about less than nothing.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 24 - Kirito

The final episode continues the trend with a fight between the Administrator and Kirito. Kirito who changes back into the clothes of the black swordsman through… not a command or anything. He just kind of wants it to happen and it does. Before someone tells me he’s in a game world, I get that. I also get that at no point in this series has Kirito demonstrated that he can just create things out of thin air without going through an actual command process. And while Kirito has broken games before to pull a victory from nowhere, that didn’t involve equipping a new costume mid-fight.

The Administrator pulling sword skills and the like from previous iterations of the game actually was kind of cool to give credit where it is due. Although, they pull the Godiva hair trope on and on and you just wonder if it really would have been so hard to have her wear clothes during any part of this fight.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 24 - Administrator

Then Eugeo, who I’m pretty sure was already dead, gives Kirito a pep talk and I’m pretty sure his blood turns into a sword. Again with the how and the why? This literally came out of nowhere. Yep, Eugeo turned into a sword last episode but Cardinal did that and there was quite a process. It wasn’t just a hold my hand, say some encouraging words and presto have a sword.

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Though, of all the stupid things going on in this episode, Kirito’s horror when the Administrator decided to go to his world just kind of made me laugh. We have no reason to believe she’ll be capable of anything once she crosses over. No body, and even if she’s the proverbial ghost in the machine, they can delete her. I kind of feel if they wanted me to take that seriously as a threat, they possibly should provide some context for why that is threatening. Then the senator chasing after her and her reaction actually did make me laugh because it was just so stupid.

In the final moments we see Kirito finally communicating with someone outside the game and things are going poorly. Then we get our cliff-hanger moment with another, oh no did Kirito die kind of moments, but shrug. Honestly, this series has been a mess and the final episode is equally messy.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 24 - Cliff hanger

It really expects you to ask no questions of it or challenge anything. It really doesn’t want you to look for logic. It literally just wants you to jump along to the next cool moment and appreciate it because any other kind of viewing experience makes this one just fall apart. You can’t ask questions because there are no answers (or at least none that make sense).

Can we go back to the days where the crazy guy just wanted to make his own world and trap everyone inside of it?

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Karandi James
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Empty Promises Preceding Empty Actions

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Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23 Review

I’ll give this episode its positives first, because to be honest I’m kind of at the point where I’m not sure if next season I’m going to continue with episode reviews or whether I’ll just watch in batches of three or four episodes at a time and review once it is done. On the positive side, we finally got some action and significantly less exposition. The action was flashy and sparkly and suitably dynamic and all and all it kind of worked.

And there the positives end.

Cardinal - Sword Art Online Aliciztaion Episode 23

Cardinal makes the Administrator swear on her fluctlight that she’ll let the others go and then offers essentially to die. Administrator, agrees (as if anyone believes her) and then proceeds to blow Cardinal around the room with a bunch of flashy light and explosions ending with a limb flying off and Cardinal flopping onto the ground to be held by Kirito.

So, why didn’t the Administrator just kill her?

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23 - Eugeo are you...

Oh I know, this is meant to be showing us how cruel Administrator is by playing with Cardinal. Also how over-confident etc, etc. But mostly it is just making her look like a complete idiot because what it does is gives the Cardinal a chance for one more program.

Then we have the whole sword automaton thing that is apparently made up of three hundred people somehow drawn from the memories of the inegrity knights (okay, that part lost me a little, but it had to do with the shiny little crystals in the roof).

Sparkly Ceiling - Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23

However, if I thought the Cardinal was dumb for trying to make deals with the Administrator, and then I thought the Administrator was dumb for not just actually killing her, then Eugeo gets the prize for most idiotic decision making of the episode.

Cause, you know, turning into a sword and flying around is going to fix everything.

Eugeo - Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23
The imagery was also somewhat less than subtle.

What’s tragic is Eugeo’s one sword, I’m guessing because he chose and accepted it, took out the core of the 300 sword thing. Which just kind of makes you wonder if maybe they couldn’t have figured out a better way to do that.

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Then he turns his attention to the Administrator and attacks her. Admittedly, he does land a blow and injures her but the end result is one dead Eugeo.

I kind of feel like this series threw his character well and truly under a bus. Giving Kirito and off-sider and a male companion was actually kind of novel but mostly he’s just been used by the plot over and over again and now they’ve split him in two and dropped him bleeding on the floor. I’m just not convinced that this was a particularly compelling character arc and given how idiotic his actions were here I’m not even particularly upset that he met his end.

Eugeo Sword - Sword Art Alicization Episode 23

Kirito also has Asuna flashbacks as Alice gets in-between him and the Administrator and that is apparently what triggers him into action. Not Cardinal’s death. Not Eugeo choosing to turn into a sword, which no one did anything to stop. Not Eugeo subsequently fighting alone as a sword before being cut down. Not Eugeo dying. But a flash back of Asuna jumping between Kirito and Heathcliff from Aincrad. That gets him moving.

I like the Aincrad arc a lot, but really?

More importantly, unless Kirito has some program destroying move in mind he’s still going to lose. And if he does have a program destroying move in mind, Eugeo’s death was worse than idiotic, it is pointless.

Sigh.

Really wondering what is supposed to be appealing about the current state of the story because I’m just not getting it.

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Karandi James
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The Power of Friendship Strikes Back

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Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 21 Review

I’m in two minds about this fight between Kirito and Eugeo. On the one hand, I’ve been wanting to see these two go head to head for a fair while in Sword Art Online Alicization. On the other hand, it doesn’t look like either one ultimately took the fight all that seriously. More importantly, that was some fast acting brain washing and just as quickly removed with a few words about friendship.

Alicization Episode 21 Eugeo and Kirito

I actually kind of get that the original brainwashing job wasn’t exactly first class, which explains why she was trying to redo the whole process now that she had more time, but still… it all seems like an unnecessary step. Plenty of characters get brainwashed and go to the darkside (look at Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon), but having it last not even a whole episode kind of makes it seem like a relatively shallow point. Like they thought it would be cool to see Kirito and Eugeo fight but had no ongoing narrative purpose for putting the two against each other and so rapidly backtracked.

Alicization Episode 21 Eugeo

Even then, it could have worked out except that Kirito didn’t overwhelm Eugeo with some amazing swordplay or even pull out any crazy or cool moves. Alice didn’t even fight. She was just bystanding. Nope, Kirito just spouted a whole bunch of names of people who haven’t been in the show for ages as if they are somewhat relevant or important and Eugeo turned Kirito and Alice into ice before going off to face the administrator alone.

It wasn’t exactly a satisfying outcome.

Alicization Episode 21 Eugeo, Alice and Kirito

Now of course we’ve got the three of them together facing off against the senate guy in the jester costume. Can I hope that giant flame monster thing he summoned means we’re going to maybe get a cool fight next week or is that asking a little too much at this point?

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SWORD ART ONLINE: HOLLOW REALIZATION [DELUXE EDITION]
SWORD ART ONLINE: HOLLOW REALIZATION [DELUXE EDITION]

The Promise of Later

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There’s a definite trend for anime that start slowly or have a lull in the mid-section to be defended by staunch lovers of the source material using the phrase ‘it gets better’. Usually with a ‘trust me’ thrown in there as well. And often times that is actually quite correct in that the story does find its feet and pick itself up. However, does that actually make the story any better in the first place if the only way to defend it in the early days is to argue that something better is coming?

I guess we could point out that viewers these days are fairly impatient beings and with so many anime available to them each season it is easy enough to simply not want to play a waiting game. Why wait for one title to ‘get better’ when another title simply is ‘better’?

Endro Episode 8

Now, I know I am an impatient person. Given I’ve suggested things like skipping the first 100 pages when To Kill a Mockingbird as you won’t appreciably miss any of the plot by doing so, though you will lose a lot of character and world building. I guess it depends why you are reading the story in the first place and whether you really get immersed in all that set up or just keep turning pages to see when the ‘plot’ might appear. But yes, that book tried my patience to no end and even though the trial and the message in the second half of the book are actually pretty solid, I really felt like I wanted the time spent reading the opening act back.

However, I’m perfectly happy to wait a reasonable length into a series with an interesting premise for it to find its feet even if the opening act isn’t exactly blowing me away. Of course, that results in me watching quite a number of anime that just never find their feet and end as boringly as they started, or worse, they go in weird directions and just kind of implode. Caligula would probably fit into this category. I didn’t drop it even though there were plenty of poor episodes early on and plenty of warning that it was going to be a mess. However, I wanted to give it time to find its way and finish its set up. Too bad it never got any better.

Caligula Episode 11

Yet there comes a time during a season where you have to wonder if the time being sunk into watching is actually going to be worth a later payoff. In the case of Sakurada Reset, it turns out it really was. Now, I still don’t fully recommend Sakurada Reset to any but the most avid anime fan given there’s a lot of set-up time and I very nearly walked away from the anime mid-season. But…

See, there’s that ‘but’.

It gets better.

The ending of Sakurada Reset was one of the most satisfying narrative conclusions I’ve seen in anime and while it isn’t the best, by any means, I felt that all of the set up time, the weird stilted dialogue, the seemingly disjointed stories, and the general frustration felt while watching individual episodes of the story, were worth it for that ending. Everything came together in a way that so few shows manage and it just felt like reaching the summit of a mountain and getting the most gorgeous view imaginable.

Still, if someone else were to watch the first few episodes and tell me they dropped it, I would fully understand. I would try to argue that they should be more patient and give it more time because it is quite the slog to get through and I remember how tiresome some of those mid-season episodes were.

Run With The Wind Episode 4

There’s also Run With The Wind, that has built up to a second half that is truly unmissable. Yet would I blame anyone from walking away in the first half? When I hated one character entirely for a large chunk of the first cour, didn’t really connect with a lot of the others, and found the training sequences less than compelling and it was really only direction, visuals and sound design that really kept me hooked (and Prince as he has some of the coolest lines imaginable). I really can’t say that everyone is going to think that the ending is worth it (particularly as we aren’t yet at the end). What I will say is I am super glad I kept watching because wow that has been one of the best emotional payoffs in a long time from anime.

Run With The Wind Episode 7 Prince

But I’ll turn my attention to Sword Art Online Alicization. I was really looking forward to more SAO, and not a spin-off without Kirito, but genuine SAO. Alicization as an arc has been talked up by those who have read the source so much so even though I tried to go in with reasonable expectations, there was this sense that what was coming should be amazing.

First few episodes had their moments. They got me into the story and established characters. There were sufficient cool and nostalgic moments sprinkled in. Yep, this was SAO and I like SAO and Kirito was back doing his thing. It wasn’t like Aincrad which hooked me from episode one and dragged me into a story that I ended up loving, but it was certainly a promising beginning.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 2 - Kirito

Then we just kind of meandered along. Stuff has happened to be sure but if the recap episode after episode 18 was anything to go by, not enough to justify 18 episodes worth of viewing. And as more and more chinks in the poorly paced and exposition heavy narrative become completely impossible to ignore, the defence that is being mounted is ‘it gets better’.

How much better and will it be worth the time commitment? Well only time and personal judgement will answer that.

Will I drop Sword Art Online Alicization? Probably not. I like Sword Art Online and much like Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, nostalgia will get this show a lot of life-lines and keep me watching and hoping.

But if I was asked whether or not someone should start Alicization, would I actually recommend it?

Right now the answer is absolutely not, unless you happen to be a huge fan of SAO and just want more. There are significantly better written and better executed shows airing right now and while Sword Art Online Alicization remains a watchable experience there is very little I could point to that would be something I could recommend to anyone who isn’t a Kirito fan already.

The argument ‘it gets better’ just seems a little hollow here.

Ultimately, each viewer is going to make their own decision about how much time they are willing to give something. Whether they will stick with something for the long haul or whether they will cut their losses early. Each viewer will decide whether the promise of something better later is worth what they are watching right now. But I am interested to know from my readers how you feel about the ‘it gets better’ defence and whether you feel it has merit as a means of recommending someone continues to watch something or whether you are someone who drops things fast when they don’t deliver.

Leave us a comment below and lets get the conversation started.

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Karandi James
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MY HERO ACADEMIA PLUSH: JIRO
MY HERO ACADEMIA PLUSH: JIRO

The Friend Turned Foe

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Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20 Review

Kirito and Alice are finally back inside the tower after far too many episodes hanging off the edge. Amazingly enough they didn’t even make us watch the final stretch we got to actually just be at the top with Alice realising that Kirito had carried her the rest of the way. But, no time to rest because they need to track down Eugeo.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20

Through a bit of magic they track down the sword and find the leader of the knights but no Eugeo. I think the bit with the knight turning into stone was meant to be emotional but honestly we barely knew the guy and he didn’t leave much impact other than yet another obstacle so this was mostly just an on the way to the actual final act.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20
Also we clearly have time for another flash back in here.

They then go to the senate and act all shocked by the horror of how people are treated by the administrator, bit late now really to be worried about that. Then Alice and Kirito find the clown guy, they all babble a bit, the clown explodes, only doesn’t, and runs away leading them to… Well, we found Eugeo.

Sword Art online Alicization Episode 20

I’m just going to point out, I really like Eugeo’s new look. It is definitely working for him. Now, do I think he has a chance of beating Kirito in this fight? Not really. Do I really get why Eugeo wants to fight Kirito other than generic brainwashing motivation? Nope. And why isn’t Alice getting involved if they really want to stop the Administrator because surely it would make more sense to dump Eugeo on his backside and go actually do the thing they need to do and then deal with it later, but hey, I’m pretty sure we’ve all wanted to see a serious Eugeo vs Kirito moment so logic be gone because we’re getting that fight. Also a tease about Kirito dual wielding again before that got snatched away from us.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20

Honestly, this episode progresses things along. I’m not really sold on Alicization and how this story is rolling out or its pacing, but this episode was fairly competent and had enough interesting moments in it. Plus, did I mention they set up a fight between Eugeo and Kirito? That on its own might be worth the price of admission (watching twenty episodes to get here) if they don’t exposition us to death mid-fight, have some silly interruption before they get serious, or unless Kirito just beats Eugeo down in one swing. In which case it would all be a fairly pointless build up to nothing.

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SWORD ART ONLINE 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: ZEKKEN YUUKI MOTHER’S ROSARIO VER.
SWORD ART ONLINE 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: ZEKKEN YUUKI MOTHER'S ROSARIO VER.

A Frosty Reception After A Clash of Ideologies

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Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Review

The focus this week is tightly on Eugeo facing the leader of the integrity knights (and former village legend) alone. This is the first time we’ve seen Eugeo on his own without Kirito’s guidance, and he’s up against a tough opponent. it’s a fairly great character moment for the Eugeo as we see his choices this far up the tower.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Eugeo

Let’s get it out of the way, the fight is not as dynamic as some of the fights we’ve seen in Sword Art Online. As much as Kirito is the one who originally trained Eugeo in swordplay, Eugeo isn’t Kirito and for that I am glad. It means his style isn’t identical even though there are clear parallels. So where Kirito would go faster, harder, and straight into the fray, Eugeo is happier to leave some distance and take advantage of his sword’s abilities.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Describing Kirito's Sword Style

Which is where I will sing the praises of this fight sequence. Eugeo unleashing the sword and not just doing that and being done but then taking full advantage of sword, the environment he was in, and lastly, his own age to ensure his victory in the fight. It is pretty, it is well thought out, and with the exception of an interruption when we get a flash back to the cardinal to hit us with some exposition that was actually kind of unneeded at that point, the pace of this fight is very well done. It is an enjoyable visual spectacle in its own right and hearing Eugeo explain just why he dislikes the integrity knights clearly, in his own words, without interference from Kirito, is a great moment.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Eugeo Ice

That actually leaves the interruption at the end of the fight leaving a slight sour taste because not only is the character who literally bounced into the room clearly not a character we can take in any way seriously, it seemed kind of cheap to take the decision of how this fight would end away from Eugeo. Not to mention this bouncing ball of annoyance seemed more like a character who would drop into a Hunter x Hunter fight rather than Sword Art Online.

In case we thought they’d forgotten Alice and Kirito though, the final moments of the episode have them chilling and sharing steamed buns on the ledge outside the tower. It is pretty reminiscent of Kirito and Asuna sharing bread with cream in Aincrad but otherwise doesn’t have much going on. I mean, Kirito reminds Alice about her sister but given they then end the scene before that goes anywhere I guess we’ll deal with that next week.

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Karandi James
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DESKTOP ARMY SWORD ART ONLINE (SET OF 3 PIECES)
DESKTOP ARMY SWORD ART ONLINE (SET OF 3 PIECES)

They’ll Need Teamwork If They’re Going To Make It To The Top

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Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 17 Review

I’m going to start with Eugeo and Asuna before dealing with the bulk of this episode which was Alice and Kirito. Basically we don’t know what Eugeo is up to until the final couple of minutes and then we see him slinking around and entering the 90th floor a little worried that he’s on his own for literally the first time ever and then we set up a fight with a knight for next week. Eugeo’s role this week finished. Asuna equally gets sidelined though at least we see her for the first time in episodes. She’s eating and spots a ship that acts a bit weird and I guess this is set up for later but we’ve seen so little of Asuna, have no real clue what she is up to, so there’s just not enough context for me to care about this very brief sequence with her this week.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 17 Eugeo

However, primarily this episode focuses on Kirito and Alice hanging off the side of the tower. Thinking about it logically, the scene makes no sense as Kirito is hanging suspended by one arm from his sword and holding all of Alice + Alice’s Armour’s weight and then later we see him flipping around rods he creates like a champion gymnast before hauling Alice up one level at a time. But, they are in a video game, strength is entirely numbers based, and let’s just not try and care if it fits any version of reality. It was cool enough to watch so let’s just go with it.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 17 Kirito and Alice
If Alice has time to count how many times she’s been insulted, maybe she should try doing something.

He also manages to talk her into a truce for the duration of their time outside the tower. Of course, Kirito winning over yet another girl isn’t a new thing, but considering Alice is brainwashed this seems like a pretty impressive feat and it didn’t really take all that much.

Of course, I guess everyone realised you can’t just have two characters hanging off a tower for an episode and so midway during their climb they encounter some minions who fly around for a bit and then get turned into sushi because Alice and Kirito… Not sure what else anyone was expecting.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 17 Kirito

I did actually enjoy the dynamic between these two and they refrained from any massive exposition dumps, so all and all, this wasn’t a bad episode. More time with Asuna might have been nice (at any point during this series) but I guess that might happen later. Meanwhile, I’m now waiting to find out how Eugeo goes on his first solo fight against a knight.

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SWORD ART ONLINE: FATAL BULLET
SWORD ART ONLINE: FATAL BULLET