Can I begin by saying how hard it is to make a short post title when the name of the anime you’re going to talk about is Sword Art Online Alicization: War of the Underworld Awakening? It’s really hard, even when collapsing it to simply SAO. Anyway, today we’re going to be talking about the absolutely EPIC return. Of course this episode had it’s highs and lows (I mean, we’ve all been on anitwitter recently I think). Here’s just a few of my thoughts of this first episode.
Let me begin with a small prayer. Bless this anime for the opening song. If there is one constant in all of Alicization, it has been the banger openings. What did shock me (pleasantly) was that this season, the last season of Alicization, did NOT have an opening sung by LiSA. Which, y’know, LiSA is like known for doing the powerhouse work on SAO openings and endings. I know she hasn’t done all of the openings recently, but I had thought she’d finish it out, so it was definitely a shock. But you know? I’m totally fine with it, because instead my girl ReoNA hopped up to the plate to deliver an amazing song for the end of Alicization. Not only is Anima a superb song, but the animation that it matches with is actually top quality. The usage of black and white to represent the way catatonic Kirito sees the world, intermixed with those flashes of color in his memories and on people important to him is just–*chefs kiss*. My boy Eugeo has a hot moment in that opening there too, which I love, and Kirito even has his own magical girl transformation sequence (again, gorgeously animated).
Meanwhile, the ending song was very interesting. It too was really good, but it was really not what I was expecting. Eir Aoi’s song is gorgeous and her vocals are amazing, but it’s definitely not the strongest ending song that Alicization has had, nor was it the kind of song I’d imagined for the last season of Alicization. Despite that, it’s still a solid piece. I think what really sells me on this ending is the animation and narrative choice of the ending (and, again–my boy Eugeo). It’s very surreal in a way–Kirito floating down this river towards Eugeo only for our boy to realize Eugeo is in the boat with him. The metaphor here is quite beautiful–Kirito believing he should die like Eugeo but then realizing Eugeo is always with him. Then of course near the end we see him plunging up through the water–while in the opening we saw him falling down into the water–and resurfacing in the ocean Asuna was looking out at. It was all very beautiful and well done. So while it wasn’t what I expected, I was thoroughly impressed.
So onto the actual content of the episode. First off, Sinon–you really bout to hug and kiss Kirito right in front of Asuna? MANNERS. No I’m kidding, this was a cute scene, and I especially liked the comment “why are they all girls?”, when referring to Kirito’s friends. It felt like a poking fun moment. Also, Sinon’s goddess outfit is some A+ material that has blessed this earth. She looks so badass. But uh, some others didn’t get as fortunate–like Leafa. She looks great…but like…compared to Asuna and Sinon? Well they could’ve given her a little more of an epic outfit. But that’s okay. Leafa has other issues to worry about. After all, I think we all want me to address the thing that has anitwitter in a huff. Yes that scene that happened about 9 minutes in and lasted a good five minutes. The tentacles. Personally, this scene made me feel slightly uncomfortable, but it also wasn’t…surprising. The animation framed it very hentai-esque, but I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of including such a scene (and if it was, shame on me. Shame on this animation studio. And how rude). SAO, especially Alicization, has been very gritty and in many ways, brutal with the kinds of violence and manipulation it’s played with. Think back to season one where the two girls nearly get sexually assaulted were it not for Eugeo stepping in, and also even the way that Quintenella brainwashed Eugeo. So am I surprised about it in War of Underworld? No. But I also understand that part of the issue with having such as scene is that SAO seems to do this a lot. However, opposed to other seasons, I feel like Alicization has always had some sort of narrative reason for the apparent sexual assault involved. Still, I can’t say it didn’t make me uncomfortable and I can’t say that it felt unnecessary to drag it out for so long. After all, this was like the one scene Leafa had in this episode. It just didn’t seem fair to such an OP character, and her reasoning for not fighting back didn’t make a ton of sense and could be misconstrued. But despite my dislike of this scene, it did not ruin the episode nor the anime for me in any sort of way.
Moving straight along, Bercouli Synthesis One was probably one of the best parts of this episode. His pursuit of Vecta to save Alice ends up with the two fighting atop a plateau. Vecta seems to easily overpower Bercouli Synthesis One simply by canceling out all of his time sword powers, rendering them essentially useless. However, Bercouli Synthesis One doesn’t back down like a wimp–nah, our man is a sexy package of pixels who decides he’d gladly die if it meant he could protect Alice. This is going to be prime content in the second episode–seeing him fighting (and hopefully defeating) Vecta.
And finally, at the end of the episode, we had the epic return of the second best boy of the whole series–the one and only, the legendary, the fan-favorite who needed more screen time, KLEIN. Yup, our boy Klein came in clutch at the last second to help Asuna and the army who were getting overwhelmed. I really have nothing other to say except that I am delighted to see Klein. Before Eugeo became my ultimate best boy, my OG best boy was none other than Klein. While I’m sure he won’t have as big of a part in this season as the girls will, I’m really looking forward to his involvement.
Was this episode the best opener in SAO? No. But that’s not to say it wasn’t good. Like I said before, it had its highs and its lows, but overall I think this season is going to be LIT. And remember, I’m not a huge SAO fan, so saying that is holding SAO in pretty high regards. Alicization has been my favorite season yet since it’s featured longer narratives and darker themes. While I’ve been enjoying the lack of Kirito, I’m looking forward to his eventual return and hopefully a few cameos from Eugeo. I can fully say that I am excited to see how Alicization ends. What about you? How do you feel about SAO and it’s first episode of this season? Let me know of any of your strong negative or positive feelings about it in the comments! Til next time!