Sword Art Online: Alicization | First Impressions

I must say, getting back into watching Sword Art Online again has been refreshing. Being able to watch something else that isn’t ‘current’ and doesn’t feel like an anime that conforms to current trends in the anime world has been great. If you have followed me from the very beginning, then you’d know that SAO has been one of my favourite anime for a long time. I remember watching the first season with my cousins in their basement before we’d play “Brother’s Smash Brawl”. When the first season of Sword Art Online aired, I was thirteen fast forward many years later, here I am writing on a blog as a Twenty-two year old. On a season that aired back in 2018.

The Soul Translator is a state-of-the-art full-dive interface which interacts with the user’s Fluctlight—the technological equivalent of a human soul—and fundamentally differs from the orthodox method of sending signals to the brain. The private institute Rath aims to perfect their creation by enlisting the aid of Sword Art Online survivor Kazuto Kirigaya. He works there as a part-time employee to test the system’s capabilities in the Underworld: the fantastical realm generated by the Soul Translator. As per the confidentiality contract, any memories created by the machine in the virtual world are wiped upon returning to the real world. Kazuto can only vaguely recall a single name, Alice, which provokes a sense of unease when mentioned in reality.

When Kazuto escorts Asuna Yuuki home one evening, they chance upon a familiar foe. Kazuto is mortally wounded in the ensuing fight and loses consciousness. When he comes to, he discovers that he has made a full-dive into the Underworld with seemingly no way to escape. He sets off on a quest, seeking a way back to the physical world once again.

So what were my thoughts on the third installment on the Sword Art Online world? Given that I got into watching the third season because I wanted to experience something different, something a lot more polished in nature. It’s safe to say that my first impressions on the third season have been great. Without a doubt, the art style, while similar to most anime feels different, the characters for one, are extremely well done (as expected from an anime as old as it is).

The beginning few episodes have been great because like Kirito we’re learning about this new world he finds himself in. Unable to remember anything about his ‘current’ life, we see him thrust into a virtual game that feels unusually real. A virtual world where the characters, Alice and in particular Eugene say that Kirito had grown up together and were all from the same town. Which in itself makes no sense because we all know where Kirito’s from and everything about him. That fact that we’re in this new world, where the main protagonist doesn’t remember a thing is something that’s very interesting.

Every world, every game that Kirito had stepped into and played, he’s always remember where he’s from and never forgot about his current life. Except for this one. Albeit the reason why he’s there in the first place is a mystery (I know why he’s there). Being able to explore a world where Kirito isn’t the defacto God or best player in this world is nice for once. Kirito has always been on the list of most OP characters in anime, I think everyone agrees, but to see him rebuild himself up while not knowing his current self is something that very much interests me.

Story aside, nothing about the four episodes I’ve seen have stuck out at me. Probably because I know what Kirito is all about and like all things he’ll figure things out eventually. Furthermore, it also doesn’t help that I spoiled everything about this Arc years before the actually adaptation. I will admit, looking back at it now, it wasn’t the best of moves, however, I also didn’t expect SAO to be sticking around for as long as it had. The first season aired in 2012 the most recent addition to the SAO world last aired in 2020.

While I did spoil the beginnings of the arc, I certainly do not remember anything else and that’s why I’m excited for once. With anime nowadays, you can sort of expect the same things, once you find out the trend or where the events are leading up to, then you’ll be able to predict what happens next. I think that’s what one of the major flows of current anime, is it’s predictability. In my opinion, SAO has always been far from predictable (unless you’ve read the light novel/web manga). Everything about Sword Art Online comes from a time where storytelling was much more important that it is now (in my opinion).

Which is why I’m genuinely excited to get back into the swing of things. I know the Alicization was the best work of Reki Kawahara for the series and I’m looking forward to experiencing that. In short, it feels like I’m that thirteen year old watching Sword Art Online and to me that’s fun. I’m looking forward to what this Arc has in store.