"Where...am I...?" Before he knows it, Kirito has made a full-dive into an epic, fantasy-like virtual world. With only a murky recollection of what happened right before he logged in, he starts to wander around, searching for clues.
He comes upon an enormous, pitch dark tree (the Gigas Cedar), where he encounters a boy. "My name is Eugeo. Nice to meet you, Kirito." Although he is supposedly a resident of the virtual world – an NPC – the boy shows the same array of emotions as any human being.
As Kirito bonds with Eugeo, he continues to search for a way to log out of this world. Meanwhile, he remembers a certain memory deep down within him. He remembers racing through the mountains with Eugeo as a child... A memory that he should not have in the first place.
And in this memory, he sees someone other than Eugeo, a young blond girl. Her name is Alice. And it is a name that must never be forgotten...
Finally, a SAO with interesting aspects going for it. The writers seem to focus on avoiding what the previous seasons did wrong, and they are doing very well. For all you leaving negative reviews, I can't help but think you don't know why the previous few seasons are considered such a disaster. Let me explain.
What was the initial premise of SAO? It was to explore the possible consequences of VR worlds. Now the first few seasons did a great job of setting the exposition up--a VR world where the meaning of living is as consequential to living in the real world. What better way to
demonstrate that then the shared inevitability of death. The love Kirito finds, and his bro friends seem like a good way to compare the two worlds.
However, the anime falls off when the focus stops being about the consequences of VR, and starts being about Kirito's harem, his love for Asuna, and pointless quests to show how OP he is. I have nothing against these (except maybe the harem), but the fact that the focus of the series grew to focus on these aspects is what caused its fall.
Now, consider Alicitization. From the very start, Kirito experiences death--almost as if the writers are saying we are killing off the old Kirito, and here is the new one. When he enters the VR world, he relies on the one true thing he was good at in the original SAO--using a sword. Sure, this arc is similar to the previous ones in that he is trying to save a girl locked away in a tower, but this time, there is actual meaning. Kirito realizes all the characters are Fluclights, and furthermore, progresses through the story to figure out what the heck he's doing in the VR world. He believe that finding Alice is the key to figuring out what happened.
The other story, with Asuna, is just brilliant. As the reader, we know with dramatic irony what Kirito is doing in the world. And, for a totally different reason, we assign significance to this Alice. Knowing more about Alice corresponds to uncovering the consequences of VR.
So both of the protagonists, finally again as strong individuals of their own right and not Kirisuna, search for Alice for totally different reasons. And both are as meaningful as the other. As the namesake character, the discovery of Alice will clearly bring revelations to both Kirito and Asuna. Hopefully the series keeps driving forward to this one destination, and doesn't fall into the trap of focusing on something different as the first seasons did.
Usually, I don't write reviews of a show that hasn't been finished yet, let alone the fact that I've never written in a review on MyAnimeList in the first place, but with the arrival of the latest TV anime adaptation in the Sword Art Online franchise that adapts the Alicization arc along with the fact that there are already reviews out for it even as the third season is still airing its first batch of episodes, I feel now is the perfect opportunity to give my thoughts on Sword Art Online: Alicization.
To begin, it goes without saying I was always a huge Sword Art Online
fan when it came to the anime. Through its ups and downs, I've stayed loyal to the anime since Aincrad, Fairy Dance, Phantom Bullet, Calibur, and Mother's Rosario. And now that we live in a timeline where Sword Art Online has now established itself as a franchise that won't be going anywhere anytime soon what with its theatrical anime film Ordinal Scale and its anime spin-off Alternative: Gun Gale Online, this brings us to my review of Alicization.
While I have always enjoyed the story of Sword Art Online in the first place, I am aware that lots of people have come to see the story as flawed in terms of pacing, world-building, etc. And it looks like it's going to stay that way as time goes on. Do I understand why some people think the story is flawed? Yes. Does it necessarily mean I agree with them? Not exactly.
Regardless, Alicization is already well on its way to improving the quality of the story. Trust me, if you thought Aincrad, Fairy Dance, Phantom Bullet, Calibur, or even Mother's Rosario (honestly, I can't fathom how anyone could dislike this arc's story) were flawed in their stories, then Alicization is almost guaranteed to show you how much the franchise's storytelling has improved. With 6 episodes in, Alicization has already given us a much slower pace of storytelling that previous arcs like Aincrad needed back then. Especially since Aincrad definitely needed that back when it was suffocated with time-skips to the point even Reki Kawahara himself started writing the Progressive manga series primarily for the purpose of truly fleshing out what the story of Aincrad should have been floor by floor. In addition, seeing the story take its time to actually flesh out the medieval setting of Underworld and what purpose it serves to the company Rath that is developing this new virtual world gives a breath of fresh air to those who felt there wasn't enough world-building in previous arcs.
Of course, some fans may feel the pace is too slow for their own tastes and that the exposition is too heavy in the beginning. However, I do believe that Alicization taking its time with its pacing and getting all the info dumps out of the way will ultimately pay off in the long term. After all, why do you think ufotable's Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works anime adaptations are so acclaimed for their story? Both had 1-hour prologue episodes and got all the exposition out of the way in the beginning so the story could pay off in the long term. In fact, something tells me the Fate series might be influencing Sword Art Online in the right direction.
Speaking of ufotable, Alicization's art and animation carries over from Ordinal Scale, in which its animation was practically a huge upgrade to the franchise. That said, while Sword Art Online has always done well in the animation department, Ordinal Scale truly set the bar high for the franchise's animation quality (and story too, but I'll just be discussing art in this section). Alicization's art is clearly more detailed and crisp than previous seasons, truly showing how dedicated A-1 Pictures is in caring for one of it's most popular franchises. Along with the great use of lighting and the fluid animation, as long as A-1 Pictures doesn't slack off, it's guaranteed that Alicization's art and animation will stay consistently perfect throughout the entire run of the anime. While there were some seldom uses of CGI that didn't blend too well with the animation such as the few scenes of the goblins rendered like something out of Overlord or the helicopter that flew to Ocean Turtle, fortunately these seldom uses of CGI can be overlooked in favor of the much phenomenal overall quality of the art and animation. After all, Kirito's fight with the leader of the goblins was nothing short of magnificent to the point that it was comparable to an animated fight in a ufotable anime adaptation of the latest main Fate installment due to its amazing choreography. If only A-1 Pictures dedicated this much effort to the animation of Fate/Apocrypha...
What can I say? LiSA, Eir Aoi, and Yuki Kajiura never fail to deliver on their musical contributions to the Sword Art Online franchise. The opening song, "ADAMAS" by LiSA, is just outstanding in that it gives you vibes of thrill and excitement like you're about to go on a long journey and unravel tons of mysteries and encounter many battles down the road. Honestly, "ADAMAS" is so incredible that it's probably just as good or even so good that it surpasses "Crossing Field" by LiSA, which was the first opening song for Sword Art Online. "Iris" by Eir Aoi, while not the best Sword Art Online ending song yet, fulfills its purpose as ending song, putting us in the shoes of Eugeo as we're wrought in lyrics that speak of tragedy and despair even as we live with what we still have left. As for Yuki Kajiura, we haven't really gotten a lot of new soundtracks by her for Alicization yet since it's still using older soundtracks from previous seasons, but one new soundtrack that stands out to me in particular is Alicization's rendition of Swordland, which has a hint of chorus put into it to really fit in with the medieval setting of Underworld. Other than that, the sound effects are spot on and I can't find anything wrong with sound whatsoever.
Now don't get me wrong, Kirito is without a doubt my favorite anime character since I can relate so much to him as a gamer and what he's been through in the entirety of the franchise's story. However, I am aware of how many people complain about him being overpowered and/or being bland. However, I do feel that ever since Ordinal Scale, the people behind Sword Art Online have learned how to improve Kirito's characterization. Come Alicization, those improvements on Kirito's characterization will come in spades. Not only is he truly no longer overpowered, but he actually has to learn from the ground up what the world of Underworld is like and will truly have to work his way up gradually to become strong instead of becoming suddenly overpowered in 4 or 5 episodes. And believe me, him being able to put a big cut on a huge tree after gaining experience is only the beginning. Which brings me to Alice and Eugeo. For Alice, while we won't see her for a while due to her disappearance and where she is being a major mystery for the story, we did get a good feel of what Alice was like as a child. So we can only wait in anticipation of how differently she'll be like when we eventually see her later in the story. As for Eugeo, in exchange for Alice being out of the picture for a while, the first parts of Alicization are meant to develop the friendship between him and Kirito. If Kirito teaching Eugeo how to fight like a swordsman isn't any indication that their bonds as brotherly friends will be well-developed, then I don't know what is. That said, the last focus of the characters would have to be Asuna. Having gotten 2 exposition-heavy info dump episodes already, Asuna has truly grown as a character. Being able to take initiative and pay back the favor for Kirito by going to save him like how he saved her back in Fairy Dance, it makes for a great use of Swapped Roles. And if I'm not wrong, the story of Alicization will shift from Kirito and Asuna's perspectives, though how frequently is what I'm unsure of. Regardless, I'm liking how they're approaching Kirito, Alice, Eugeo, and Asuna so far. I can't say much about Sinon, Leafa, or even the side characters, but while I know Sinon and Leafa will play a role in the later parts of the story, I guess side characters like Silica, Lisbeth, Klein, and Agil will still have to sit on the sidelines.
I may have enjoyed Sword Art Online throughout all of its seasons, but believe me, Sword Art Online's third season has me enjoying it like no season before. To see Alicization finally improve on the flaws of previous seasons shows that the creators of Sword Art Online truly care for their fans and that they're willing to listen to criticism and make any changes necessary for the better. In fact, Sword Art Online has practically been going through a renaissance of improvement in recent years. With Ordinal Scale being acclaimed and successful to the point it was even a submission for an Oscar nomination and Alternative: Gun Gale Online being so good that its reception was much warmer than its parent series, Alicization is pretty much here to put the cherry on top of Sword Art Online's renaissance of improvement. And as long as Alicization keeps up the trend of improvement and tells its story like it's supposed to, I will be honored to stay invested in Alicization and see what mysteries and twists will be unraveled in Underworld and what's to come.
While my review may not change the opinions of those who refuse to acknowledge Sword Art Online's improvements, I do believe I have done well in expressing my honest opinions in a fair fashion of explaining why I feel the franchise has come a long way and improved significantly. I may be one person, but so is every single individual who is a fan of the franchise. Whether you like Sword Art Online or not, I can guarantee you that even if there are a few nitpicks along the way, Sword Art Online: Alicization is a significant improvement over previous seasons and will continue to be that way over the course of its run. And that is why I sincerely feel that Sword Art Online: Alicization deserves a perfect score of 10/10. Not a 5. Not a 6. In fact, 7 is not enough. A third season like Alicization that greatly improves upon previous seasons in the franchise is a season that deserves 8's, 9's, 10's all around. To all of the people who worked on Sword Art Online: Alicization to make it the best season yet, I want to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for pouring all your efforts into doing so and improving Sword Art Online for the better. Keep up the good work.
I read at present the first 14 volumes in the Japanese size of the novel which went out in my country, and I can you assure that the novel written by Reki Kawahara is a real masterpiece.
At present there are the first 6 episodes which went out and which I obviously well looked and I admit you that I am a little disappointed by the first episodes of the anime up of made that they jumps a great deal of passage of the light novel original, and when they do not jump they botches it too quickly what makes me a little bit sad, but
on the other hand the opening is of very big one quality even if I find that it spoil a little too much. The chara-design of the characters does not change and does not need beings to change, it is always a pleasure for eyes even if it is not at the level of Kyoto Animation.
Now come the animation made by A-1 Pictures who is not absolutely disappointing, to see even magnificent at the level of colors.
As regards the sound, and well they did not change the OST but it is not so grave because the olders grant very well with the universe of SAO.
For quite these reasons I note it 8 on 10, what is one very well in itself.
Story : 8/10, Art : 9/10, Sound : 8/10,
Character: 7/10, Enjoyment : 8/10, Overall : 8/10
Personally I there concluded that if there are reproaches it is because of the studio (maybe due to director's change) which does not manage well enough the formation of different scene and not from Reki Kawahara.
To prevent: it may not be seen but the story is a bit slow to start (really) :D
Now I shall just like that you note honestly and clearly Sword Art Online Alicization because I was able to noticed by the negative criticisms without the truth valid reason on the previous seasons what I do not find very nice for those who shape and give pleasure to us.
Sword Art Online, a show that blew up and suddenly became mainstream in 2012, loved by many and hated by just as much. It was a show that started the anime career of many modern day anime fans and created such a great impact on the entire genre that we still to this day see the results of these effects(mainly Isekai shows).
But while SAO was so influential, it lacked just about everything that was needed to create a strong story or strong characters, a show that was heavily criticized for lack of character development and too many plot holes.
So if seasons 1 and
2 of SAO were mediocre at best, what exactly makes Alicization different? Actually, quite a lot.
When SAO comes up in discussions, it’s often clear that most people agree; SAO had a lot of potential but sadly, this great potential was almost completely ignored. The idea of characters being stuck in a death-game has great potential, as there really aren’t any limits to what you can do with this type of plot.
Alicization takes this unused potential from the previous seasons of SAO and releases it, showing the audience how much more amazing SAO could have been if it had at first used this potential. Of course, Alicization is not perfect, there’s many flaws but it finally does what SAO didn’t do before.
Characters: Already at the start we are given a background story of the newly introduced main characters Eugeo and Alice, something we have not seen for almost any other character in the series. Although not required, backstory makes a major contribution to the understand of a character and to better see how a character develops, as we are able to delve into the past of these characters. To see this backstory of Eugeo and Alice we are already given great detail on their personalities as well as how much they have and will develop throughout the series.
To many, Kirito was an annoyance, a character that almost no one could stand due to the ridiculous plot armor that surrounded him. While it’s hard to say whether a lot of the plot armor has subsided due to the lack of episodes released, we can definitely see a change in Alicization, as he does not seem as ridiculously overpowered or completely invincible.
You can still see the effects of poor character development in SAO from previous arcs in Alicization. Many of the characters previously introduced, such as Klein, Agil, Leafa, the rest of his harem, are nowhere to be found, and judging by where this show is going, will most likely rarely appear again. It is hard to find any use for these extra characters as it would take up too much time and be a waste to try and re-develop these characters. So in the end, they’ll still be fighting for “more deban!”.
Story: Alicization properly does something that was rushed by previous arcs; worldbuilding. In the Fairy Dance Arc, Phantom Bullet Arc, Mother’s Rosario, we are given little to almost no sort of worldbuilding, and understanding of the environment Kirito is placed in. We are simply given the basics, no details or anything that heighten our interest of the new world or show it’s complexity. In Alicization we are shown this new “Underworld”, a world so real that even Kirito found it hard to differentiate between reality and the virtual world he was in. We are given many episodes to carefully analyze the world and to see the many details and systems that govern it. As well as this, we are also given much more information and shown the complexity of the world created by the Rath system. There are many info dumps throughout the first couple episodes that further explain the system and how it functions, despite there still being many parts still yet to be known. There is also a connection between the real and the virtual world, instead of the audience being constantly shown what happens in game and not what could possibly be happening in the outside world.
One of the factors of SAO’s Aincrad arc(the first arc) was the idea that dying in-game would result in great consequences such as the death of yourself or the people around you. When this important factor went missing throughout the following arcs, SAO had lost much of what made it “good”, or that is better than average.
Alicization brings back this factor, as dying in this new Underworld could possibly mean the end of Kirito’s life in this new world, no longer being able to help his friend Eugeo on his course to reunite with Alice. He would lose a friend, his life in the new Underworld, and possibly more, which has yet to be revealed.
Art and Sound: A-1 Pictures has done a great job at using their skills in art to produce a beautiful virtual world that contains both wonder and mystery. Alicization needs to capture its audience in its virtual fantasy world in order to better strengthen the audience’s want to continue investing time to learn and solve more of the world’s hidden mysteries. A-1 Pictures does this well, as you can see a vast land, filled with forests, mountains, small towns, yet still seems to be boxed inside by large marble walls. We watch and look at the world in amazement yet still wonder what could possibly be behind those walls. As for sound, Yuki Kajiura never ceases to amaze me, her unique music nicely fitting the show’s mysterious yet amazing world. Her use of music shows the peace and tranquility of the world, yet still contains a hint of sadness that just cannot go unnoticed. As well as this, SAO is quite well known for having catchy opening, and I can’t lie, ADAMAS definitely doesn’t fall short from the others of the previous season.
Overall Verdict: SAO Alicization is definitely a leg up from the previous seasons. Many problems that the anime community constantly bickered over have been dealt with, such as lack of world building, overuse of plot armor, negligence of new characters, and so on. Eugeo and Alice have been given proper introductions and back stories, we can see clear goals that the main characters want to achieve, there’s a proper mystery needs to be solved, and a world, the Underworld, is like a treasure box, waiting to be opened and show us what’s inside, despite the fact what’s inside may not truly be what we were expecting. However, I cannot ignore the fact that characters introduced from the first and second season are still being neglected and most likely will hardly show up anytime soon. There are many issues with the show that cannot be fixed and we must bear with. Yet by how this show is going, I can ensure that this will be a great ride and time well spent, searching for the keys to unlock the answers to the mysteries of the Underworld.
Story:8 Art:9 Sound:9 Character:8 Enjoyment:8 Overall:8.4