Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 ?
Note: This episode is listed as #19 on Crunchyroll and HIDIVE and as episode 43 on Funimation.
Has any other episode of the SAO franchise been as filled with signature shots as this one is? That made choosing the most appropriate screenshot very difficult, but I am going with my first inclination: the one that draws the closest parallel to last episode.
Last time around, Asuna was aided by the ghost of a lost loved one in her battle against PoH. (And Yuki does appear again briefly this episode to advise her once more.) Hence it's only fair that Kirito should get the same courtesy. There's no doubt that Kirito loved Eugeo as much as Asuna loved Yuki, so Eugeo bolstering Kirito when he was having trouble getting his footing and standing by him as he powered up – exactly like Yuki did last episode – is quite a fitting bit of parallelism. It also leads directly to the first of the episode's two most rousing moments: the reconstitution of the Blue Rose Sword, which allows Kirito to force out the frozen Chinese and Korean players without harming them. (If you recall from the arc's first half, those ice flowers have a mana-draining effect.) That is then followed by a scene that many fans of the franchise have probably been awaiting since the beginning of the arc: the full visual return of Aincrad's Black Swordsman. That the music did not swell on that scene is a curious choice.
The ensuing finale between Kirito and PoH is not quite as flashy as, say, Bercouli's fight against Vecta, but it still delivers thanks to good design and being powered by the franchise's signature musical theme. What, exactly, is going on during this fight may not be clear to anime-only viewers, however. The anime adaptations of the franchise have always largely stripped out the technical details of how Sword Skills work, and this is one case where the exact technical aspects matter a lot. Kirito is not using a Sword Skill for dual-weapon use here; he is only using single-weapon Sword Skills. Those always come with a slight delay at the end, which is why Kirito seems almost frozen in the face of PoH's swing at the 9:04-9:08 mark. However, he offsets that by triggering a separate Sword Skill with his second sword. This is a feat that no one else has accomplished; he was trying to work it out during his time at the academy in the first half, but he did not pull it off even during the fight against Administrator. Sadly, its cool factor does not translate well to anime form.
For all of the feature moments in this episode, my favorite one is easily how Kirito shuts PoH down at the end when the latter threatens to keep pursuing Kirito and Asuna: he transfers the memory of his black sword, formerly being a giant cedar tree, to PoH, thus effectively turning him into one. It's the most effective of virtual prisons: he cannot take any actions in that form. What would prevent him from being manually logged out from the outside is much hazier, but as events at the end of the episode show, that point quickly becomes moot. With the acceleration being kicked up to an unhealthy-for-outsiders level (and especially with those outside not knowing what's going on), Vassago might age a hundred or more years mentally before he can be pulled out. To put this into perspective, at an acceleration rate of five million, one minute on the outside translates to about about 9.5 years in Underworld.
Tearful reunions aside, one final major piece of business awaits: stopping Gabriel/Subtilizer from getting Alice. He's finally able to chase her down even as she approaches World End Altar, but of course Kirito makes it in time, hence making the dragons' sacrifices to protect Alice not pointless. (I very much liked how one shot showed the dragon tearing up.) While a 10 minute clock to acceleration catastrophe is ticking down on the Ocean Turtle, the finale of the Underworld side of events awaits.
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