Sword Art Online: Alicization Part 1 Review
Well, people, after 24 episodes, we have reached the end of disc one of SAO. Sword Art Online: Alicization has finished its first half on Toonami. Rest assured, I plan on only doing my reviews of the new episodes when they come out subbed. I don’t want to wait who knows how long for Aniplex to dub the lines. I like Bryce Papenbrook and Cherami Leigh, but I can’t remain forever.
I came into this season having high hopes that this would be what would recapture the spark that launched SAO to international fame/infamy. After all, it’s the most extended story that Reki Kawahara wrote for SAO, covering almost ten light novels altogether. Then it turned into a dungeon crawl halfway through. With part one over, I want to review Sword Art Online: Alicization.
I could make this longer, but for fairness sake, I think I want to focus on three of the big gripes I had with this season: wasting Eugeo, techno-babble, and exposition, and worst of all, the music. Let’s start with the least obvious choice.
I’ve enjoyed the soundtrack to Sword Art Online. I have at least half a dozen songs used on the show or SAO: Ordinal Scale on my phone. I count “Swordland” among my all-time favorite battle songs. So what problem did I have with the music this season? They kept using “Swordland” for several fight sequences.
I noticed it as early as the goblin fight: they were using a remix of “Swordland” in the battles. At first, I loved it, was happy to hear it some more. Then, I noticed that they started using it over and over, for almost every big fight. I felt that it devalued the song and made it less special. For some reason, that became a pet peeve.
Too Much Talking
My next gripe is techno-babble and exposition. Thanks to knowing about this beforehand, I understood the concepts behind. RATH somehow copied human souls, created a virtual world for them to live in, and all the magic’s them using the computer commands. It’s an easy enough concept to understand, but the way they teach it to was, at times, pure nonsense. I still don’t know what “release recollection” means. I bet SomethingWittyEntertainment could explain it better. By the end of the season, I stopped trying to understand everything.
In hindsight, I think this kind of lengthy exposition’s better suited for the Light Novels the anime’s based on. There you need to describe everything through words instead of visuals, so it makes sense. In Alicization, though, it didn’t translate well.
Then, my biggest complaint of the season: wasting Eugeo. I read the Light Novels, so I knew that Eugeo would die, but I still couldn’t help but be upset. Eugeo had potential as a character.
The way I see it, Kawahara created Eugeo to be a foil to Kirito. Whereas Kirito’s confident in himself and his skills, Eugeo’s more insecure and unsure. With Kirito as his best friend, we saw Eugeo steadily develop himself as a swordsman and as a better, to the point where Eugeo openly broke the Taboo Index to save his apprentice. Given time, Eugeo could have rivalved Kirito as a swordsman. His death felt like a massive waste of potential. Worst of all, though, is the fact that Kirito lost the only guy friend in his age group. Klein and Agil are both adults, so I don’t count them.
Despite what some people may think, I don’t think this season was a total loss, as it did have a few good things going for it. Chief among them, the fights, which have always been the big draw to SAO for me, were on point. Kirito didn’t get as much time to fight this season as he usually does, but when he did, it was a blast to watch. The bloody fight against the goblins in the cave at the start to the battle of wills between him and that guy from the sword academy, Kirito was as cool as ever while fighting.
Good Fights. At Times
If I haven’t said it before, then I think his fight against Fanatio was the highlight of the season. It was a fast-paced duel between two swordmasters and was bursting with energy and excitement. In my review of the episode, I said that both were enjoying themselves fighting. I only wish the other fights this season were as impressive.
Eugeo had some excellent moments to show off his skills, too. The big one, though, was battling the leader of the Integrity Knights, Bercouli, to a draw. Bercouli was someone not even Alice or Fanatio could defeat, so that’s a testament to how good Eugeo’s became under Kirito’s tutelage. That just made watching his death all the harder, though.
Bring On the War
As of right now, this was my second least-favorite arc in SAO. If it weren’t for Sugou being the worst, it would take the bottom rung. Even after all this, though, I refuse to give up hope on Sword Art Online.
In October, the second half of Alicization begins, and it’s going to be the biggest story SAO’s ever seen. After centuries of waiting, the Dark Territory is about to start its invasion of the Human Empire, as Cardinal warned Kirito. If they succeed, RATH will destroy Underworld. At least, that’s how it would have gone originally.
RATH’s under attack by an outside enemy that’s after Underworld and what it has to offer. They’ll use any means necessary to get what they came for, even manipulating events in Underworld to do so. War’s happening, and if done right, we could get fights that will make Game of Thrones green with envy. The best part, though, is that all of Kirito’s friends and allies will be making a return and will have a role to play; especially Asuna.
Alicization: War of the Underworld will either be what brings some measure of greatness back to SAO or will kill it forever. Either way, though, I’m looking forward to it this fall, and you can bet I’ll be covering it when it comes out.
Until then, I have two words: LINK START!
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