Sword Art Online: Alicization
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Sword Art Online: Alicization ?
In adapting the first 64 pages of Chapter 5 from novel 11, episode 9 actually moves the story along slower than I had expected. Still, it stops on a fitting endpoint, as the final scene with Eugeo's page Tiese is a culmination of everything that has come before.
Tiese (the redhead) and Kirito's page Roni (the brunette) were briefly introduced last episode, but this is their first substantive appearance. Tiese is the earnest one, while Roni distinguishes herself less beyond not being thrilled about Kirito's enthusiasm for coaching her on swordplay. Still, both are cute and likable enough. It's interesting that Kirito isn't the one getting the romantic attention for a change; I think this may be the first time that a guy other than Kirito is getting hit on in Sword Art Online, which is a welcome sight. Tiese's logic for wanting Eugeo as her future husband may not be the strongest, or at least it's more practical than romantic, but it does seem like she's more in panic mode than sincere about the commitment, which makes enough sense.
Her fear is also related to an issue that struck me right away; a male student having a female page seems like a situation ripe for abuse. While the Taboo Index may prevent certain illegal behaviors from happening, it doesn't actually dictate morality, so an immoral action that's not technically illegal can still be carried out. Kirito also raises the issue of which should take precedence – the law represented by the Taboo Index or personal morality – when the two come into conflict. Unsurprisingly, Kirito advocates for the latter, even though he can't seem to remember how Alice was taken from them when they were kids. But since Eugeo does, he applies the lesson in that direction. No doubt that's going to have major consequences.
The two nobles being such utter asses is still annoyingly overplayed, but Kirito posits that perhaps their arrogance is what gives them their power; in other words, their sense of superiority is intrinsically linked to their fighting power. This isn't an entirely unique angle, and it could be viewed cynically as simple justification for them being jerks, but it does provide broader support for the notion that mental image plays a much bigger part in the control of power in Underworld than in the real world. All of this feels like it's setting up for some kind of explosive confrontation next episode. This week was the (relative) calm before the storm, and it works well to that end.
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