Sword Art Online: Alicization-War of Underworld Episode 39 Review/Recap
You know that moment in a story where you think things can’t worsen, and then they do? Well, I’m sad to say that SAO has officially reached that point, both in terms of the plot and the pacing. This episode sees hope begin to give way to despair as the boogeyman of SAO returns: PoH.
Sinon manages to find Alice mourning the death of her mentor Bercouli, and promptly curses herself for being too late. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Sinon has to tell Alice that Vecta’s still alive. He’ll likely log back in on another account and resume his hunt. As a result, Alice heads straight for the World’s End Altar, while Sinon stays behind to buy her time. Sure enough, Gabriel returns with his personal account. To Sinon’s horror, though, it’s that of the legendary GGO player, Subtilizer. The one that beat her in the last GGO tournament.
Meanwhile, Asuna and the others are dealing with their own nightmare. Just when it looks like the Japanese and Underworlders have the enemy on the ropes, a figure wearing a raincoat and carrying around a giant meat cleaver shows up. It’s someone that Asuna and Klein know all too well: PoH, leader of SAO’s murder guild Laughing Coffin. Worse, PoH brought more reinforcements from China and South Korea. Tens of thousands of players get duped into logging into Underworld and attack the heroes.
Oh, and RATH’s plan to connect Kirito to his friend’s fluctlights hits a snag when one of the people who went to do it turns out to be a traitor.
….. Kirito, if there was ever a moment for you to wake up and pull a “big hero moment,” now’s the time!
I’m going to be completely honest with you guys: I thought that this episode was disjointed and all over the place. It kept leaping between at least four plot threads in less than twenty-four minutes. First was the meeting between Alice and Sinon and Gabriel’s return. Then we saw Iskahn and Sheyta, who I had largely lost interest in, and their fight. Then the story shifts to the perspective of some gamers from Korea and China who get duped by PoH into diving into Underworld. I know that stuff’s in the book, but I don’t think having all that will work in an anime.
I get why those players from the other countries were added: to give us an outsider perspective on this whole thing. But is that necessary in this anime? And for those who wonder why so many were quick to jump against the Japanese players, don’t be surprised. Eighty years later, and China and Korea’s still have a lot of animosity for Japan’s actions in World War II.
The one good thing I liked about this episode was the reveal that Vassago was PoH. He’s been the closest thing the anime’s had to an overarching villain. PoH’s the boogeyman of SAO, and his followers have tried to kill Kirito and friends several times. As a result, it makes sense bringing him back for the final battle—a nice way to tie everything together.
The next episode should have a lot of exposition and pain for the heroes. I’m counting down until Kirito finally returns, though.
I Give “Instigation” a 2/5
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