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.
Years and several seasons later, I’ve finally completed Sword Art Online: Alicization. That is quite the achievement if I do say so myself, after years of brushing it off to the side as something “I’ll eventually get to”. I’ve gotten to it and I’ve conquered it. But, after such a long wait, was it worth it? To put it simply, I do not think it was.
I think the biggest problem I had with this season was that it was so chatty. In every episode, we had to watch Kirito and Eugene talk and talk. That wasn’t really something I enjoyed. Furthermore, there were a few scenes that were highly questionable and I’m not sure whether or not if they offered anything of value to the story. There was one scene in particular that I felt extremely uncomfortable watching because it was something very graphic. When I wrote my blog on that particular group of episodes, I asked the question “Why was this even animated?” and that question still stands today. I’m convinced that that scene, in particular, did nothing to advance the story, I think it was there to spark emotion and drama within the characters. Other than that, I don’t think it should have been included in the first place.
There were many other scenes that gave off this “Why is this even here?” sort of vibe. Add those types of scenes, with episodes that were majority chatty, with every other episode being an episode where absolutely nothing happened. Then I consider that to be Sword Art Online: Alicization in a nutshell.
As you all know, I care deeply about character development. To me it’s what makes or breaks an anime, it is probably the biggest determining factor for me when I talk about overall enjoyment and entertainment. Originally the goal was to save Alice. Did we achieve that goal? Yeah, I guess you could say we did. However, it was more so Kirito saving her and Eugene doing pretty much nothing until the end. I’ll be honest here, I don’t anything Eugene or Cardinal for that matter were interesting characters. Like I said, Eugene did pretty much nothing until the end and Cardinal, who was basically a good person administrator, died before turning Eugene into a sword. I would also like to mention that the whole thing where Eugene turned into a sword was something I didn’t quite understand.
Not to mention, the final boss. This ‘Administrator’ was all kinds of suspect. For the entire anime, they were building up this administrator to be someone over absolute power, someone who should be feared and unbeatable. No one told me that the final fight against her would be so boring, no one mentioned how she would simply fight in the nude and what the heck happened to her at the very end? She basically lost to her highly perverted ‘Prime Minister’ who did whatever he did to her. Like you’re telling me that this person, this ‘Administrator’, who basically was a walking cheat code, would barely put up a fight?
It’s also a waste because in many ways Sword Art Online: Alicization is an evolution of an art style and animation that Sword Art Online. You’re telling that an anime known for its animation would not take any liberties in showing off just how great its animation is? All the fights against the Integrity Knights were epic, but they lasted half an episode. That’s a crime if I do say so myself.
I get that Sword Art Online: Alicization is the start of a war that will drag on for another two seasons, but I think that an ‘introductory’ season could have been presented better. I do not think Sword Art Online: Alicization was good enough, I actually think I prefer SAO season two over Sword Art Online: Alicization and that’s saying something. Because of all of this, I will have to rate this season a 6/10. It was alright, I definitely expected better from a twenty-four-episode anime. I hope that the War of the Underground proves to be something for the ages.