Sword Art Online: Alicization
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 14 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization ?
With this episode, the adaptation forges on into chapter 8 of book 12, and the more action-oriented part of the story. It wastes little time in getting to the first of many fights that Kirito and Eugeo will have to wage against Integrity Knights as they climb the tower, and it's a fun one: an all-out battle against a red-armored Knight with a flaming bow, the same one who was taking potshots at them back when they confronted Eldrie. He's also the same Knight who carried Alice away eight years ago.
This is the kind of fight where Sword Art Online excels: a dramatic high-stakes battle against a capable foe who can push both Kirito and Eugeo to the limits of their capabilities. Director Manabu Ono and his A-1 Pictures team stage the combat well while still remaining faithful to the source material, giving the series that jolt of excitement it's been lacking over the last couple episodes. It's also noteworthy that Kirito is not the one who swoops in for the last strike this time; that honor instead goes to Eugeo and the ice generation capability of his Blue Rose Sword, which makes it the ultimate counter for Bercouli's flaming phoenix bow. If memory serves, I think this may be only the second time that Kirito has been present for a fight but not landed the final blow. (The one other time that comes to mind was in Aincrad during the first series, when Yui defeated the Grim Reaper.)
The downtime that follows drags by comparison, but it's still a fairly important conversation. It more firmly establishes that the Integrity Knights are victims of the whims of Administrator, with even Bercouli's memory of recovering Alice having been wiped. That casts them as more sympathetic figures and could have consequences in the long run. It also gives Eugeo a chance to come to terms with his feelings and raises the question of whether it's worth getting vengeance on someone if they legitimately can't remember what they did. That Eugeo and Kirito are later able to traverse the next couple dozen floors without encountering anyone definitely seems odd; where are all of the building's personnel? The episode finally ends with them meeting a pair of girls in religious dress, but these are the same two girls who appear in an extremely brief but also bloody shot in the new opener, so it's safe to say that they are probably the next opponents for our intrepid duo.
Speaking of the new themes, new opener “RESISTER” is a decent song but not on the level of the original opener. New closer “forget-me-not” be ReoNa (who also sang the closer for Happy Sugar Life), which almost exclusively features Eugeo, is a better song with a fitting title. Add to that some strong technical merits and a sharp depiction of Bercouli's style and you have one of Alicization's more satisfying action episodes.
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