Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 ?
If I had to say what my favorite part of the entire Alicization arc is, it would probably be the content covered by this penultimate episode. For all of the dramatics, big flashy battles and fun character interactions, this is what the entire arc is ultimately all about and what the entire franchise was ultimately leading up to: the emergence of a new life form into the real world, with all of the consequences such a feat entails. Because of that, the episode being named after the arc's titular character, the girl who is the subject of all of this, is only fitting.
Alice has had only a minimal presence in this cour of the arc up to this point, so seeing the episode both start and end by featuring her was a welcome return to her activity level earlier in this half of the arc. She has the mode of a diplomat down pat during the news conference, but the feistiness which has always defined her is back and quite evident, even if restrained for politeness. Seeing her in the school uniform for the SAO survivors' school should be no surprise, given that Alice is very briefly shown in that uniform at the end of the opener, but the purple dress and matching shoes she is wearing in the final scene are much more of a visual highlight. (I already have a figma of Alice in full battle dress, but if one is ever made of her in that dress, I would probably have to buy it.) Her lament in that scene about withering away seems ominous and will have consequences in the final episode, but it's to be expected; she has, after all, been thrust into a center-stage role in a wholly new environment, and even if she has been here for a month, that kind of pressure would take a toll on anyone.
But this episode has a lot more going on than just Alice's situation and her efforts to convince the public that she isn't a threat. Kikuoka is letting everyone believe that he's dead, and the status of Underworld – which is fully dependent on the real world for power and physical structure – is precarious for understandable political reasons. Kirito and Asuna finally wake up after a month, but Kirito's first request is to have their memories of the last 200 years purged, just like they were when he was working for Rath at the beginning of the arc. That does not answer the question of how they survived past the theoretical limit, though one detail in this episode suggests a possible solution: Alice's sister Selka going into Deep Freeze to await Alice's return. When Administrator found herself hitting her fluctlight's memory limit (as described in part 1 episode 13), she tried to subordinate another fluctlight to deal with the overflow. The more ethical Kirito and Asuna could well have gone into Deep Freeze themselves when they found themselves hitting that limit.
That's not the only issue at hand, either. Remember back early in the first half the demonstration about attempts to make a copy of an existing fluctlight, and the resulting personality crash? Of course Higa would try to make a copy of Kirito, as he would want to know – just like we do – what happened in those 200 years. And of course Kirito's copy is stable; the episode doesn't point out that the conversation the copy has extends well past the lifespan of previous attempts, but that is evident. That copy doesn't spill more than one random detail about what happened, but it has other interesting things to say, such as vowing to be a defender of Underworld and suggesting seeking out Kayaba's copy. (Seriously, did anyone think he was out of the picture for good this time?) The brief flashbacks of Kirito's memory do not reveal anything more than expected reunions within Underworld, but two random lines – when he calls Asuna “Her Majesty” upon waking up and when the copy refers to Asuna as “the queen” – provided tantalizing hints. Either could be casually taken as a general reference to his strong-willed beloved, but they seem a little too specific here. The truth of that should come out in the final episode.
In terms of story completeness, I also felt that Kirito's final emotional breakdown was a necessary scene. He's had a lot to cope with even from the stuff he does remember, and spilling on Eugeo to a sympathetic Suguha is quite fitting.
One episode remains to put a cap on this story. If the anime ends the way novel 18 does (and at this point I have no reason to believe that it won't) then I will be very curious to see how anime-only viewers react.
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, HIDIVE, Hulu, and Funimation .
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