The Summer 2020 Preview Guide
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 ?
What is this?
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 is based on a light novel series and streams on Crunchyroll and Funimation at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Saturdays.
How was the first episode?
After three months of planned and three months of unplanned downtime, SAO is finally back to finish out its Alicization mega-arc. It picks up exactly where it left off back in December 2019, only this time we learn that Sinon is in the account of the sun goddess, Solus. That leaves Leafa to fill the third slot in the goddess triumvirate worshiped by the Human Empire inhabitants. She isn't named at this point in the anime content (and may never be, since she introduces herself using her ALO identity), but she is Terraria, the Goddess of Earth. Sinon can fly, and Leafa can apparently regenerate and grow plants, while Asuna can alter the landscape – all of which are reasonably in line with the goddesses they are playing. The bigger difference between Sinon and Leafa's situations is that Leafa arrives back at the original battlefield instead.
As a result, the episode breaks up into three venues. Of these, I found Leafa/Lilpilin segment to be the most visually problematic but also the most interesting in content. The heavy emphasis on Lilpilin earlier in the War of Underworld suggested that he would pop up again in an aggrieved state, and that is exactly what we get. His scene with Leafa here builds on his frustrations over the way orcs are treated in general and his anger over the callous sacrifice of his troops by Vecta; he was pretty nearly at a breaking point earlier, so pushing past the right eye seal when faced with the combination of Dee Eye Ell's belittling (“missing” means “not dead,” naturally!) and the one person who unhesitatingly regarded him as human being treated badly is a natural progression. On the downside, Dee comes off too cartoonish, the blood spurting from her cheeks does not work visually, and what she does to Leafa is more skeevy in portrayal than it needed to be. However, Leafa finishes the scene satisfyingly by destroying Dee.
The Kirito front, on the other hand, is mostly a big action sequence after initial introductions are made. Asuna gets to show off some more fighting technique, but the big moment is Klein's dramatic arrival on the scene (complete with the triumphant return of SAO's core musical theme) and the suggestion that more – a lot more – are coming. Vassago also shows up again, and the robes he's wearing look suspiciously like the ones that Laughing Coffin members wore back in Aincrad. Given his disposition and that he recognized Asuna and knew of Kirito, him being one of the other Laughing Coffin members who got away makes total sense. The visual presentation here was better, but I had to chuckle at the horrible Engrish spoken by the American player. Native English speakers do exist within the anime dubbing community in Japan, so surely someone better than that could have been found?
The third front is the most immediately important: Becouli Synthesis One facing down Vecta/Gabriel with the unconscious Alice at stake. The earlier foreshadowing about Becouli's impending death seems to be pointing to this scene, and certainly the battle against Vecta is not going well at the end of the episode. However, I cannot see Bercouli going down without giving a more effective fight than he has so far. He isn't the strongest Integrity Knight for nothing. Besides, Sinon is in pursuit as well.
In a pure adaptation context, this episode takes us through page 103 (out of 232) of novel 17. It cuts out some of the actions of secondary characters in the battle in the ruins, presumably so it can end at the most dramatic points on that and the Becouli/Vecta front, but it is very accurate on the content it does
adapt. The series typically adapts 45-50 pages per episode, so that puts the adaptation right on pace for the remaining nine episodes. Hence I am not, at this time, expecting any filler or any major component to be skipped. Things are not desperate enough yet for Kirito to return, so Kirito fans will have to bide their time for a while longer.
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