Sword Art Online: Alicization, Episode 12 & Episode 13 Review/Recap
I am terribly sorry for the delay on this, but I was busy all week, and now I’m trying to play catch up. However, Episodes 12 & 13 both tell the same important story. That story will define the remainder of the first half of SAO: Alicization. So I figured, just kill two birds with one stone and do them both at the same time. And that’s why we’re here now.
“The Sage of the Library”
Eugeo can’t shake the feeling that he’s heard Eldrie’s name before, but considering how they’re about to fight him with only their chains and system commands, that’s not as important. They do their best, but they can’t beat him. Just he has them on the ropes, Eugeo remembers who Eldrie is: Eldrie Woolsburg, the winner of the most recent Unification Tournament.
Since this means that that whole “summoned to this world” thing isn’t true, Eldrie starts to mentally break down, and its revealed that he has some sort of crystal implanted in him that blocks his real memories. Before they can make him remember everything, another Intergrity Knight ruins everything, and they have to run for it.
Just as they hit a dead end, a glowing door appears in the courtyard, with a girl inside beckoning them inside. Inside is a massive library, containing the history of Underworld and the Sacred Arts. More important, though, the girl’s name is Cardinal, the former regulator of Underworld.
While Eugeo goes to take a hot bath, Cardinal tells Kirito the truth: while the Gods of Underworld are super-accounts for emergencies, everything else is a lie made by the Axiom Church. Cardinal is, in fact, the manifestation of the Cardinal System that has run nearly every VR world Kirito has been in. Then she tells the true history of the world.
One of the four Rath employees who built Underworld was corrupt and instilled a sense of arrogance in his children, which led to the creation of the nobles. From their ranks, a girl named Quinella was born. Quinella attained an unheard of mastery of the Sacred Arts, which she used to fool everyone into believing she was a prophet of the gods. She then built the Axiom Church and the Taboo Index to ensure no one else could surpass her.
When she eventually grew old, she used the Sacred Arts to restore her youth, and then usurped the Cardinal Systems authority over Underworld, becoming the Administrator.
“Ruler and Mediator”
Even with all her power, Quinella hit another wall: her fluctlight had reached its memory capacity. Thus, she used a young girl as a test dummy to gain control of another’s Fluctlight. That would become the basis for the Integrity Knights Synthesis.
While it helped save her memories, Quinella’s plan backfired, and allowed Cardinal to use the body of the little girl as her own. Quinella was too strong for her to defeat, though, and she was forced to flee to the Great Library. She’s been hiding there while she sent animal agents to find someone who can help her take down Quinella.
It gets worse: Rath has designed an endgame to Underworld. Very soon, the inhabitants of the Dark Territory will invade the Human Territory, which will result in Underworld’s bloody destruction. If Kirito and Eugeo help Cardinal defeat Quinella, though, she will make them a deal. She can save ten people in Underworld, while she deletes the rest. Even though Kirito agrees to help Cardinal, he refuses to give up on Underworld.
After meeting up with Eugeo, Cardinal explains how to break the brainwashing of the Integrity Knights: by recovering the memory fragments of the Knights, located in Quinella’s quarters, and put them back in the Knights. Which means they need to fight through all the Integrity Knights to get to Quinella.
Cardinal then gives them some power-ups that will help them beat the Integrity Knights, and then she sends the two of them on their way, towards the fight of their lives.
Now you see why I loathe the Axiom Church, the Noblility, the Taboo Index, and Quinella. That woman represents everything I despise in those who govern: she’s arrogant to the point of considering herself a goddess, and she abuses her power to oppress those beneath her and keep them from standing up to her rule. Her dumb rules are why Alice was taken away, and why Ronye and Tiese were nearly raped. She’s everything wrong with Underworld, and I am looking forward to the day that Kirito takes her down. It’s already happened in the anime; we just need to get to that point in the dub.
What should be of greater concern, though, is Cardinal’s prediction for the fate of Underworld. I know for a fact that she’s correct. The Dark Territory will invade, and the Integrity Knights won’t be able to stop them. The only chance Underworld has to survive is for Kirito to take down Quinella and rally the humans of Underworld. That, though, will be a story for another time.
Regarding the episodes themselves, I personally enjoyed them. I know that a lot of people may not like having to deal with exposition and flashbacks in shows, but they are necessary to move the plot forward at times. In this case, these two episodes establish what we had already suspected: that Underworld wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Next week, we start a new chapter in the Alicization saga, as Kirito and Eugeo must fight to save Underworld from Quinella’s tyranny and the coming apocalypse. If Karandi is right, then the next few episodes are going to become repetitive and boring. Since I didn’t start watching until the dub, though, I reserve judgement. I’m hopeful, though.
These episodes had far more talking than they did fighting, but they were some of my favorite episodes of the show so far, as they revealed a lot of important information about what’s happening. That, and I’m a sucker for a good flashback story