Sword Art Online: Alicization
Episode 3

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization ?

Episode 3 confirms the uniquely slow pace of this new SAO arc. This story isn't always going to be so devoid of action and major events – after all, the episode does end with the strong indicator that next week will deliver some major action – but this seems unlikely to be the last time we have a whole episode play out in such a relaxed fashion.

Actually, this episode could be even slower if the adaptation was perfectly faithful. This episode covers most of part 3 and some of part 4 of Chapter 1 of the first novel (I misspoke last episode and was labeling parts as separate chapters), and in the course of covering roughly 50 pages, it does cut out a lot. Most of what's missing are Kirito's extensive ruminations on the nature of his new world and the people he meets, which would have been difficult to smoothly include without bogging down the story. The production staff does compensate for that in small ways in Kirito's bath scene and his contemplation of Object Control Authority, but some of his thought processes are definitely being skipped over. Other bits removed include more details about Selka and Kirito pestering Eugeo over learning how to do the light spell, which are much more trivial to the overall story.

These cuts do allow the episode's story to flow along smoothly. Selka gets more formally introduced as the younger sister of Alice this week. The implication that she's trying to take Alice's place in more than one way isn't as obvious but it's nonetheless retained, and that gives Kirito and Eugeo the impetus to go back to the cave in the End Mountains. The Blue Rose Sword that the trio found among the dragon's bones also gets properly introduced, which leads to the suggestion that it might be the key to eventually chopping down the Gigas Cedar, perhaps in combination with Sword Skills.

The other important event is Eugeo's use of Alice's light spell from episode one. With more firm knowledge now that this is an artificially-created setting, the wording “System Call” to begin the spell now carries more meaning. It raises the interesting notion that spells in Underworld are actually just voice activation commands portrayed as something arcane; Eugeo's mention that “System” is just a command to him, not a word with meaning, is key to this interpretation. This is certain to have bigger impact down the road.

The technical merits of the series are holding steady, but the real test will be next episode, when the next big action sequence lands. For now, the series is just in a holding pattern as it nudges along the character and world-building developments a little more.

Rating: B

Sword Art Online: Alicization is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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