Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 ?
Many epic anime series end with the resolution after a final big battle. Sword Art Online: Alicization also does that...sort of. In this case, the real climactic battle was three episodes back and the one in this episode is just one final chance to be cool. And naturally, given that Underworld has been a traditional fantasy setting, you'd expect that battle to involve spaceships and an abyssal space monstrosity, right?
Some explanation is probably warranted here for anime-only viewers, as this episode has to adapt 54 pages (a rather large count for this series) plus hint at one earlier skipped scene, so naturally there were going to be some cuts on details. The biggest chunk of these cuts happened in the space scene and involve the Integrity Pilots of the spaceships (aka dragoncraft). The last names of the two pilots hint at this, but the source novel more clearly specifies that they are the descendants of Ronie and Tiese. However, the anime does not even vaguely hint at why they are out there: Underworld has colonized a second planet due to the lack of arable land in the Dark Territory, and space critters like the one shown here have been wreaking havoc on transport between the two worlds. Also missing is any reference to a warning that Kirito gave to the people of Underworld before leaving it: that the gate to the outside world opening again would be a time of upheaval. The one conspicuous detail that is retained is the emblem on the inside of the spacecraft, the one showing Kirito's twin swords. (But I doubt anyone watching needs further affirmation of Kirito having been the king of Underworld at some point.) One neat detail that the anime adds in is that that Laura's and Stica's spacesuits are distinctly patterned off of the common ALO sylph color and salamander color schemes respectively.
The way the other cuts were handled is interesting, as some scenes were left in that I expected to be cut and other scenes that I expected to play out more fully were shortened. The episode does not detail how Alice managed to ship herself to Kirito or get herself to fit in that box (she undid her joint locks). In fact, the adaptation conspicuously avoids just about every detail reinforcing that Alice is in a mechanical body; the only real indicators are the brief appearance of the charging cord, the way she prints just by looking at Kirito's printer, and that she does not cry until she returns to Underworld. I was a little surprised to see the family dinner scene retained, though in retrospect that scene needs to be there for sake of completeness. Kirito does have things to apologize to his parents for, after all, and Alice's speech to Kirito's (adoptive) father is fitting. The cryptic email was also a much bigger challenge to sort out in the novel version of that scene, and Yui commenting on Alice being in Kirito's room at 3 a.m. is conspicuously absent. The scene at the end, with the robot Niemon laying at the bottom of the sea with a cable in its hand, is a reference to an earlier skipped scene which shows that Kayaba, using that robot body, is responsible for hooking up Underworld to an outside connection by tapping into a transoceanic cable.
Setting adaptation points aside, Alice finding her stability though the Kirigaya household's dojo may have seemed abrupt, but the sense of normality that wielding a sword (even if it is only made of bamboo) provides gives her the foundation that she needs to connect to her origin. Her ending up on top when she and Kirito collide also seems fitting, since she has the most forceful personality of any of the girls in Kirito's “harem.” None of the rest of what happens in the episode should be too surprising, either, including Alice's jealousy over Asuna's connection to Kirito coming up. (Even though that should have been there, I could have done without it.) I also liked how it wasn't just Kirito defeating the space creature; Asuna actually landed the killing blow and Alice handled the clean-up.
And so, with this episode, the story of Sword Art Online comes to its original conclusion. The anime adaptation even throws out a nice homage to the source novel by ending on the shot and lines of text on one side of a trifold illustration at the end of the novel and using the picture on the other side during the credits. Those who want to see some of what transpired in Underworld during those 200 years should check out volumes 19 and 20, both of which are now available in English and detail events a year or two into that period. Also, the Japanese broadcast ended with the reveal that the Sword Art Online: Progressive novels (at least the first few, anyway) are getting adapted, so more SAO is coming if you still haven't had enough.
The Alicization arc had its rocky points, and I did not always agree with the adaptation choices, but on the whole the adaptation is a good enough one. The story also satisfyingly advances the setting while retaining most of what made earlier installments entertaining.
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, HIDIVE, Hulu, and Funimation .
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