Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld
Episode 6

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld ?

With episode 6 the War of Underworld is finally underway. While the episode does drag its heels for more than four minutes at the beginning recapping the end of last episode and looking at the sense of anticipation or dread on both sides, once the battle finally starts the rest of the episode is an orgy of flashy powers, violence, and bloody death.

In fact, the bloodiness of this all should not be underestimated. This is easily the franchise's most graphic non-sexual content to date and one of the most graphic episodes of any series (outside of perhaps Blade of the Immortal) this year. All of the pixelated harm seen in earlier settings in the franchise has masked over the fact that this is actually a pretty violent franchise, but that is fully on display here. Bodies are torched, heads lopped off, limbs dismembered, and torsos slashed or cut in half in spurts of blood which the production is going out of its way to emphasize. Easily the most gruesome scene is also one of the episode's top visual highlights: watching the body of one of Fanatio's underlings buckle and break as she defends a paralyzed Fanatio against the giant chief's berserk attack, then throws him back with a final manifestation of her Incarnation.

Dakira, the underling who sacrifices herself, is far from the only one to get a flashy scene. As much so as at any other place in this arc, the story is fully exploiting the Incarnation quality of the setting, where desire and imagination can directly translate into power. For Integrity Knight Deusolbert, that means barrages of flaming arrows and even a phoenix-like effect. For Fanatio, that means first a ranged sword strike and then a beam of light which can be used as a massive blade. For the giant chieftain, that means paralyzing with fear an opponent who would not normally be susceptible to it. The glitchy visual effect used with the giant, whose image of a proud, indomitable warrior is shaken by the fear struck into him by Fanatio, is quite interesting, but sadly, the series cannot afford to look at soldiers' reactions to it in the middle of the battle.

The tactics and behaviors of the individual commanders are also interesting. The source novel (novel 16) goes into much more detail about this, but neither goblin chieftain is a mindless buffoon. While one uses smoke screens to infiltrate past the front lines, the other uses battle tactics to try to overcome Deusolbert – and if they're rather dirty, who cares, right? This is war. Given that Eldrie's unit was one of the two in front of the supply camp, and the other is now missing its leading Integrity Knight, that Kirito and the girls looking after him are going to come into play next episode seems likely. Given that he's hiding in that camp, I also suspect that Renly's going to find his resolve in the midst of that mess. Though he is powerful as an Integrity Knight, it seems fitting that one who hasn't been on the front lines to this point might not be as resolute at the others. Looks likely that Fizel and Linel, the two young Integrity Knights Kirito and Eugeo encountered while going up the tower, are also likely to get involved. That just leaves Sheyta Synthesis Twelve as the only Integrity Knight revealed so far about whom we know nothing.

The one thing I didn't think worked was Dakira's death scene. She hadn't been established at all as a character, so there was no emotional connection. Beyond that and the slow start, the episode did its job quite effectively at giving a rip-roaring start to the battles to come.

Rating:

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and HIDIVE.


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