Sword Art Online: Alicization

TV (24 eps)
2018 - 2019
Fall 2018
3.985 out of 5 from 18,985 votes
Rank #1,051

Kirito awakens in a vast, fantastical forest filled with towering trees. In his search for clues to the truth of his surroundings, he encounters a young boy who seems to know him. He ought to be a simple NPC, but the depth of his emotions seem no different than a human. As they search for the boy's parents, Kirito finds a peculiar memory returning to him. A memory from his own childhood, of this boy and a girl, too, with golden hair, and a name he should have never forgotten... Alice.

Source: Yen Press

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Ah, Alicization, the arc where Kawahara Reki finally makes SAO good… not. A) Over half of the duration is still wasted on people just infodumping. -There can be 3 episodes in a row where the characters are doing nothing but sitting down and talking before something happens. -There is a scene where women are being sexually violated and the villains are spending half the episode in infodumping the videogame terminology. -There is a scene where the heroes are in a hurry to escape from a prison. And yet they stop in the yard and have a five minute dialogue out in the open where everyone can see them. -There is another scene where Kirito is hanging from a wall, ready to fall to his doom, and instead of trying to climb up to a safe spot, he starts a friendly chat with a girl that is also hanging next to him and is about to fall to her doom.-There is a part where Eugeo is given the chance to kill the big bad of the arc, but he stops because he’s thinking about his brothers. Brothers they never bothered to show us, so this part has absolutely no emotional gravity. How deep can the themes be when you stand there listening to someone talking about his mommy, and how much can you care when his mommy was background decoration the whole time? All these hours of talking and they didn’t even bother to flesh out the characters we are supposed to care about. Reki Kawahara really improved his writing.-Whenever Kirito and Eugeo have a chat, usually with one of the two being heavily injured, time literally freezes. They can be talking for ten minutes in the middle of a battle, while the bad guy is standing frozen right next to them. It happened with the goblin leader and the administrator and it was laughably bad. -And if you think what they are saying has any depth to it, it just amounts to the generic protection syndrome of shonen heroes. Nagging about the human rights of NPCs, fighting the evil authority, and screaming about their nakama. All this talking just to get something with the same depth as Fairy Tail. B) And if you think the infodumping bullshit is at least making the videogame seem logical, you don’t even get that. -As long as you wish something in the game, it’s going to happen. Why do they waste all these hours explaining something that eventually is not going to make any sense, since it comes down to wishing? The main characters are constantly breaking the programming just for winning in every fight. The infodumps are pointless. -Kawahara thinks he is fixing the plot holes of the previous arcs by making it seem like using your imagination to win was always part of the videogame, thus it’s not a plot hole, while telling you at the same time this entire world is supposed to be a realistic military simulation for training soldiers. If you go to fight in a battle where you think all it takes is to wish for the enemy to be defeated, you are going to die. Because there’s nothing realistic when your army goes to battle and wishes the enemy to be defeated, exactly as he was trained to do in the simulation. The very premise of the arc makes no sense, and Kawahara has the nerve to say it’s not a plot hole anymore.-Injuries mean nothing in this setting, since they can heal someone even from the brink of death by transferring their hit points to him. Kirito in specific, can do that even when he is injured himself, and still acts completely fine the whole time. Eugeo at one point, has his eye blowing up, and he just gets a new one in the next scene, with no permanent scars or anything of the sort. -Death has no gravity. Why should anyone care about Eugeo or anyone else dying? He’s just a program in a videogame. Kirito can murder everyone in the setting and nobody will be actually dead. This is all fake feels. -Kirito and Eugeo can’t lift a sword, but after a battle with bottom rank monsters, now they can and they cut down a tree with a few strikes, despite saying it would normally take centuries to do so. It’s like they jumped from level 1 to level 90 by beating a couple of goblins. -Kirito and Eugeo are in chains. They want to break the chains with something that is a hard as them. How do they manage to do that? By banging one chain with another chain until they break. Holy shit, this supposed realistic simulation allows you to break anything, by hitting it with itself. Why do they even have prisons if anyone can escape that way?-The final battle is a non-stop line of power ups that happen just because the characters wanted it. Kirito gains his Sword Art Online uniform because he wanted it. Eugeo turns into a sword because he wanted it. The prime minister fuses with the administrator because he wanted it. They can say anything and it can happen with make belief alone. C) Not even character motivations make any sense. Everyone behaves completely nonsensical for the sake of the plot moving in any way the author feels like it, and not because it makes sense. -Why is Kirito helping Eugeo to cut down the tree for all those days? He has no reason to do that. Eugeo doesn’t know of a way to help him escape the videogame, they don’t have any means to cut down the tree any faster, and Kirito can always leave and go to the city whenever he feels like it. This part makes no sense. At least until you realize the plot was written backwards because Kawahara Reki is completely incompetent when it comes to writing.-Selka enters the same cave for no reason. She was told Alice was captured inside, so what was she trying to achieve by going there? Alice is no longer there, and she has no means to defend herself. -The spirit of Alice tells Kirito to come find her in the city. Why does she appear during the Goblin battle of all times? And why does she speak to Kirito, someone she doesn’t know of, and not to Eugeo who knows her very well and would give him the motivation to go to the city? Oh, that’s right, it’s because Eugeo is not the protagonist. Kirito is the one who beats the monster, saves the girl, and get to talk to plot devices that unlock the next mission, even if this is this has nothing to do with his own story. He just hijacks the plot of others and steals their glory. See guys? Kawahara Reki finally became a good writer. -And then the two of them decide to go to the city. Which again doesn’t make any sense, since Eugeo has no motivation to do that. He doesn’t know Alice is alive. The spirit appeared only to Kirito, only he knows it. -Then Kirito wastes years in training as a swordsman. How does that bring him any closer to getting out of the game or finding Alice? It’s like there is no urgency at all. Then he breaks the law and she instantly comes to see them. So why didn’t he simply break the law since day one and be done with it? Because Kawahara Reki is such a genius writer. -Then Alice and Eugeo get mind controlled so we can have some sort of internal conflict in the plot. Other shows do the mistake of trying to have legit reasons for why childhood friends turn against each other. Kawahara Reki is such a genius writer, he does not fall for that nonsense. He just takes away peoples’ memories and rewrites them however he feels like it so there can be conflict. But don’t worry, a nakama monologue is enough to break the mind control, since it’s that serious and well thought out. -Then the evil administrator wants to go to the real world. How will she do that? It’s never explained, it’s just there as a weak attempt to make her seem threatening instead of a simple computer program that will go offline if you pull the plug. D) Women are still completely useless damsels in distress. -Asuna is completely incapable to protect herself in the first episode (despite constantly telling you she is strong and dynamic) and Kirito saves her once again.-Alice does nothing but cooking in the first episode, falls down in the most convenient moment, and needs rescuing from the boys who do all the work and fighting.-Selka enters the same cave so she could get captured idiotically and the boys would have to rescue her. -The female swordsmen are just there to be sexually assaulted by one-dimensional evil rapists, so the leads can jump in to save them and treat them as trophies thereafter. After they are rescued, they do nothing but cook for the MEN and being all frustrated when the MEN have to leave. Kawahara Reki really improved his writing since the first arc, when Asuna was doing the exact same thing for Kirito all the time. They are basically waifus with only 20 minutes of screen time, so good luck giving a shit about them. Also, most of said screen time was spent on them getting sexually assaulted than being fleshed out. Also, they are programs, they are not real.-Kayaba’s lover is not sent to prison, although she helped him in killing thousands of people for no reason. As punishment for her crimes against humanity she becomes the head of the simulation project, and everyone’s fine with it. Because that’s how Kawahara Reki’s logic works. You sexually assault one woman? You are the worst piece of shit on the planet. You kill thousands of people for no reason because you were in love? You are a hero! -The only non-passive female character is the big bad, and only in the sense she is not molested and saved by Kirito. No, she’s far more respectable than a piece of meat that exists just to be f*cked. Which is why she’s whoring herself to a guy she just met, therefore being a piece of meat that exists just to be f*cked. And then two years worth of semen galloped endlessly into the main villain. SAO finally went hentai… I mean got good. Extra laughs when they try to make it seem like love is not something you get as a reward. That’s rich, mentioned in a show where Kirito adds every girl he meets into his harem as a reward for helping them. E) Also, despite everyone saying SAO finally became good, because it’s not time skipping in every episode, and thus the plot is not going to feel disjoined, or the characters won’t be acting differently in every scene, the plot is still doing exactly that. Entire years are skipped at points. Therefore every time you see someone changing after a dozen time skips where he did things we never saw, is still character rewrite caused by lazy writing. F) The villains are still one dimensional evil rapists, as before. One is the Laughing Coffin member, the others are cocky nobles. G) Kirito can still overpower everyone, without any logical reason. The Laughing Coffin member, the goblin leader, the elite swordsman, the integrity knights, the administrator. Many praise Kawahara for finally making it hard for Kirito to defeat an opponent and even gets injured in the process, but it’s just fake suspense, since Kirito still jumps out of nowhere to rescue someone at the last moment, still beats every enemy regardless of power, and still saves all the girls, who are still nothing more than damsels in distress. H) The fights are still crap. Despite the sakuga animation, the choreography makes no sense or is unimpressive. -When fighting the goblins, all of them besides the boss disappear from the screen when Kirito and Eugeo fight him. Also, the boss stands still in the middle of the battle for several minutes, which Kirito talks to the injured Eugeo.-When dueling the elite swordsman, there are a lot of stuff showing inside their minds as motivation, but the actual fight is just them pushing each others’ swords for several minutes.-The final battle with the administrator is just people getting power ups out of nowhere because they wanted it. No strategy or planning, or something that is actually good. Therefore SAO is still shit and nothing more than low effort pandering for gamers.


To put things frankly, Sword Art Online: Alicization as an anime is a huge letdown compared to its light novels (Volume 9 - 18).  As a reader of the original light novel version of the Alicization arc, I felt that the story was pretty decent and engaging except for the ending (of events in Underworld) which flopped lifelessly on the ground. When I heard an anime adaptation was coming out with the astounding animation from the Fate series (Unlimited Blade Works, Fate/Zero), I was genuinely excited to see an improved SAO, one that incorporated a more cohesive plot alongside its original spectacular - or at least entertaining - battle scenes. However, the series was/is not going the way I imagined it would. Technically, it does follow the source material but in a very awkward, unaesthetic fashion. (Positives) - I entirely appreciate the more human-like side that Kirito shows (though really inconsistently) and love even more the characters of Eugeo and Alice which are realistic and understandable. - Furthermore, Alicization creates a more developed setting for characters to journey through by introducing a new world and its concepts. - ADAMAS was really fun to listen to on loop~ For me, Episodes 16-20 were the high point where the anime became interesting and easy to follow. (Negatives) - The colorful sword fights were toned down and their lengths were chopped into unsatisfying bits and pieces.  - Kirito now acts like a mentor which weirds me out a lot.... (which is to say his character is like a mosaic made of a motley of pieces and parts) - Villains are still as cliched as ever. - The animation feels off sometimes. It's not dynamic enough during the already short battles. - But, as the greatest factor, the anime doesn't fit the plot line. Some scenes which were meant to be impactful come off as cringey or unsympathizable. Important character or plot development points are entirely skipped. This point probably encompasses all the other negatives (except for animation) because it means the anime as a whole just doesn't feel right. My conclusion and advice is: just skip the anime and read the light novels if you're interested to see how the SAO world advances. Even the battle scenes are better in the LN...

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