Sword Art Online: Alicization
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization ?
With episode 24, the first half of this adaptation comes to a close in exactly the place it should, with the defeat of our first main villain, the death of a protagonist, and the series' biggest plot twist since episode one that leaves us on arguably the biggest cliffhanger in SAO history. What a way to go into the seasonal break!
The first of the episode's three feature scenes is the inevitable climactic showdown between the still-naked, one-armed Administrator and Kirito back in his Aincrad garb. The way it plays out is relatively predictable – who could be the slightest bit surprised that the showdown would feature Kirito dual-wielding his Gigas Cedar sword and the Blue Rose? – but it still makes for a dynamic fight. The exchange of severed arms is certainly novel, but that's only one highlight of many. The series saves some of its finest action animation for this fight, including some neat first-person perspective shots, though what happens after, with the remnants of the not-quite-dead Chudelkin clinging to Administrator like a fiery baby as she tries to exit, may be the visual highlight of the whole series.
The second feature scene, covering Eugeo's last moments, gets dragged out long enough to lessen the full emotional impact that it was aiming for, though the source material also had the same problem. It does at least cover all the necessary bases, especially reaffirming that Kirito now remembers their childhood together and showing the full context of the key moment that Administrator used to turn Eugeo. It also brings up a point that is established better in the novels, that Kirito might have an interest in preserving the Integrity Knight Alice's personality. The conflict over this that was briefly raised in their conversation on the wall could have given the content more weight if it was explored more explicitly. The series certainly takes the easy way out by having Alice's lost memories accompany Eugeo on his departure, though that was also the most touching moment of the season finale.
This brings us to a conclusion that was only faintly hinted at throughout the series. Kirito finally gets through to Rath only to find out that the Turtle is under attack, and his adventure in Underworld is far from over. Actually showing some of the attack provides enough content to fill out the episode's screentime, with the story borrowing from novel 15 for some details. (Novel 14 ends with no elaboration on what was happening in the real world.) Those scenes on the Turtle give some hint of what the attackers are after, with the comment about being careful not to damage the Fluctlight Cubes, so their motivations can be reasonably assumed from here, but we'll still have to wait until Part 2 to see them confirmed, along with whatever effect that power surge might have had on Kirito.
So the season wraps up in suitably dramatic fashion, despite the dampened effectiveness of some protracted scenes. For those concerned about Kirito once again hogging the limelight, don't count out Alice and Asuna for the action to come in Alicization's second half.
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