Sword Art Online: Alicization
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization ?
This is the other part of this story arc that I was concerned about, though for utterly different reasons than the scenes that have now infamously defined episode 10. Once the encounter with Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One wraps up, an epic-level infodump begins, spanning 48 pages of novel 11 and a fair chunk of novel 12. To keep it from bogging down the story too much, the adaptation takes the same approach and inserts a break partway through.
But before that, we get the first significant action scene since the fight against the nobles in episode 10, and it's a different flavor from the ones we've seen so far. Kirito has always exclusively been a sword-user, but this time both he and Eugeo are fighting with the chains that once constrained them. This gives the battle a slightly different dynamic, especially with Eldrie using his sword in a more whip-like fashion. But more interesting than the action is the fallout and the truth of Eldrie's identity. This revelation suggests that Alice might not be a special case; all of the Integrity Knights might be regular people who were memory-wiped and manipulated into believing that they are divinely-summoned agents, and Kirito and Eugeo's appeals to Eldrie suggest a way to draw out these captives' real memories. Eldire's use of Recollection for his weapon is also significant, as it hearkens back to what Kirito's dorm master had mentioned before. This will be much more important in future episodes.
The infodump is initiated by the formal introduction of the studious-looking girl from the show's opener. She's revealed to be Cardinal, which indicates a strong relation to the Cardinal system that Kirito knew from Sword Art Online, and she apparently knows everything about the history and true nature of Underworld. Her account of this world's history eventually focuses on this arc's chief villain and her rise to power: the mysterious Administrator. This story also explains why the Taboo Index exists and how it came to be, and the reveal that it exists purely to discourage anyone from leveling up enough to challenge the Administrator is a sensible but perverse twist. This also explains why it has gaps glaring enough to allow the behavior of the nobles towards Ronie and Tiese; since their crimes technically didn't cause death, the nobles aren't leveling up through their evil actions, so it's not a concern. The notion that she's melded with the Cardinal system governing Underworld, forcing her to obey a programmed directive, doesn't make the end result any less villainous. And not to be overlooked is the fact that one of the Rath employees is involved with their own sinister motives.
How Cardinal came to be is not explained in this episode, but that's presumably coming next episode, so this is certainly a good time to get comfortable. Seeing this part in animated form, I'm struck by how much Administrator's actions smack of aggressive RPG gamer attitudes, so I have to wonder if that parallel was intended. Regardless, this episode moves the story forward, establishes new foes, and starts to fill in the necessary details to flesh out the setting's structure, making it important to the story even if it isn't terribly exciting.
Sword Art Online: Alicization is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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