"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...
"Watch Alicization, it's SO much better".
Literally equally bad as the other seasons and movie.
Should have noticed that before, since the creator wrote the movie while he was writing this arc, and the movie is also terrible.
But no, I'm a complete fucking idiot, and decided to waste my time.
So now I'm wasting my time writing this. Enjoy the ride if you can.
Some scenes could be enjoyed as a comedy. They are absolutely hilarious, but these don't happen that often.
Reminder: if I don’t go into exaggerated detail, I have no argument and I’m a baiter; expect this to be very long.
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR EPISODES 1-10.
So Kirito is in this high tech virtual reality.
It starts off with blonde Kirito and kiddie Kirito cutting down a tree. This tree is literally the villain of the first arc, by the way. Then, Alice goes there and gives them food. That’s her personality: She cooks food, and is kind of responsible, I guess (So Asuna after the first arc, basically). [Kiddie] Kirito’s personality is slightly more childish, but mostly the same from the original. Blonde Kirito, aka Eugeo, is the same but slightly more responsible and more shy. There aren’t many things that distinguish their personalities apart.
Anyway, we get into a boring exposition dump (Just like in any other SAO season) that takes around 7 minutes. Conveniently, they explain the dragon, the good/bad guys, Alice’s backstory, his dad and what happens when you go to the evil land: things that literally happen and are explained again in the next 2-10 minutes. They were already aware of these things before. Why are they explaining these things if they already know? This is just a problem throughout SAO entirely. The writer doesn’t know how to deliver information to the viewer.
So something, something, they want to go for some ice somewhere, and it could be in some cave apparently. They go in a cave where the [dead] dragon is, grab some ice and realize they are lost. They go through a random entrance of many and it’s the evil land.
Then they see two good/bad guys fighting. “So the guy in dark clothes is from the dark organization”- the kids say. The bad guy falls and points at the kids. Alice runs to him, even though he’s the bad guy and that’s the evil land, falls, and her fingertips touch the evil land. It’s so over-dramatic that it’s comical. If they made it less dramatic, I would have taken it seriously.
Next day, the good guy goes for Alice to arrest her in some kinky handcuffs. They also explain again that the mayor is Alice’s dad, by the way. Kirito tries to stop him, but the other guy is too powerful. Eugeo also tries it but is stopped by an “Alert System” he has implanted. Why didn’t those work when they were getting close to the evil land? Even though they over explain most things, I’m still left with questions.
Kirito wakes up from the virtual thing, then goes to GGO. Mostly uninteresting choreography. Also, weird to see Kirito in the girl skin while everybody else has a model that is exactly like in real life. Another plot-hole, I see.
So, Sinon asks Kirito [and Asuna] to go the bar another day to ask him something/talk. Why don’t they stay there to talk? Oh, right! Because then he couldn’t die.
So they go to the bar and there is ANOTHER exposition dump. It goes on for 4 minutes, then Asuna interrupts, then it goes on for another 7 minutes. They aren’t even explaining necessary plot points, they are just wasting my time here.
Then, Kirito and Asuna go outside, mention more stuff and the last bad guy from GGO appears, with an injection of poison, somehow (they forgot that plot point from GGO). And the moment where Kirito tries to grab his sword is hysterical. How could the show screw up the tone so badly? This is comparable to the homing bullet in GGO.
Bad guy runs towards him, Kirito pushes Asuna, grabs the umbrella, and instead of Kirito going for the chest (because the bad guy wouldn’t have reached him that way and stopped) he goes for the leg and gets injected in the heart. Hilarious. Also, I noticed that when Kirito stabbed the bad guy, a knife effect was heard. Great sound design!
Episodes 2-6 are very boring (Tree is the bad guy until episode 4). They barely even advance on episode 4; little development that won't pay off happens, and nothing interesting happens.
Some things I will mention however:
1.- Kirito still instantly trying to grab his sword is hilarious.
2.- The part where Kirito is scared because of his bleeding arm? He just uses it later like nothing happened (it's later explained, but the explanation is so ridiculous OMG).
3.- When Eugeo gets hurt in the goblin fight, Kirito talks to him for a minute straight when there is a giant, expert, pissed off goblin right there behind him. It ruins the tension.
4.- The scene where Alice appears behind Kirito is ridiculous. No explanation could mask how stupid and convenient it was. It's just there to explain where Alice is EXACTLY.
5.- "This tree is incredibly powerful, even the Rose Sword doesn't do much damage"
"Now it's instantly easy!"
6.- Why did Kirito need Eugeo to go to the capital with him? He could have went with literally anybody else after they finshed their easier calling. Wanting him because he's "familiar" is a terrible excuse.
7.- Eugeo's training with the sword is skipped over, just like any moment when Kirito "trained".
8.- The security for The Ocean Turtle was really weak.
9.- Asuna is still ruined (she was somewhat healed in season 2, but got fucked up again in Ordinal Scale). She hates the guy that made the AI for war, but doesn't hate the guy that killed thousands of people "because she could spend some time with Kirito" and "her selfish needs".
10.- The characters just mention confidential stuff to their friends like if it didn't even matter.
11.- The SCI-FI in this is completely stupid and overwritten (guys the souls/fluctlights are tubes of light or some shit. Very necessary info, according to the show).
Episode 7 really shows how all the problems from the first two seasons are still present.
Time skip… Fuck me.
Literally one of the main problems of SAO is now necessary. Why bother for character development? Or good pacing? “But in the novels-“. I’m criticizing the show, not the novels. And the novels also has time skips, right?
We are told literally everything that happened in those two years in the form of exposition. Why even care about showing a story when we could just have a character on screen explaining the entire thing for 50+ episodes? This is so bad.
And then we are force-fed EVEN MORE exposition. This is a more insulting version of exposition, however. Not only are the things mentioned stuff we and the characters already knew about, but they even mention the most basic things imaginable. “If you are low-level you can only do simple spells, but if you level-up you can do more complicated spells”. This is another main problem from the first two seasons. The show acts like the audience is mentally challenged,
“If you believe in yourself, your power will amplify many times, to the point where you could rewrite the laws of the world”… People lied to me. The show hasn’t gotten any better, it’s just as bad as ever. People actually defend this. Wow.
I don’t care if another shitty show made by the same creator is related to this concept (Accel World), it’s still the most stupid thing I’ve ever seen in any show.
We get a fight with no tension. The choreography is pretty bad, too; only one character is shown on screen receiving/giving hits at a time, and the red lines feel very out of place overall. Animation is good, as usual.
When the fight finishes, we get some dick-sucking for Kirito in the form of words. “You have shown me that my sword-fighting isn’t perfect (even though I’ve been training since I was little and you haven’t shown me anything specifically but let’s just ignore that). You haven’t shown you’re true potential. BLEH BLEH BLEH”. Just like the first two seasons…
Nothing happens for a while, but then two of the most cliché characters show up, and clichés are unbearable to me. They also piss me off because they are completely unnecessary characters.
OVERDRAMATIC BREAD EATING.
Now Kirito shows some flowers he’s planting for Liena in the garden.
Then he gets a sword that was being worked on for a long time and wasted more resources than usual for free, just because he can hold it: Literally.
Then he trains with the sword and accidentally gets dirt on Uolo Levanteinn: the biggest cliché character so far. “Hey you got dirt on my shirt, nOw We hAvE tO dUEl”. And Kirito agrees to his conditions that “could kill him” because he is as cocky as ever and he will not get hurt because the plot still needs him.
Now for episode 8.
We get what is essentially a recap before the fight, but in the moment that Liena grabs Kirito’s shoulders, her mouth is very out of place for 15 seconds.
This fight has the shittiest choreography in the entire show. Uolo screams, and Kirito can see what Uolo feels? Not very well explained, but hilarious nonetheless. Uolo slowly swings his sword forward, and instead of dodging it he attempts to parry it three times (which means clearly enough time to dodge but whatever). Kirito imagines all the bland characters he’s met, and that gives him enough power to stop it. Has he never done that before? Because he could beat Liena if he wanted to. Why has he never used the power of imagination before? Or did he use it before and the show just forgot? Confusing as hell.
After some more laughable choreography, the battle is stopped. Why even make it a cliff-hanger? This was disappointing and short as hell.
Didn’t Kirito win though? “First blood”, right?
Also, most background characters looked so uncanny/goofy during this battle.
Then we get into 2 minutes of exposition for Liena.
Also, Gorgolosso doesn’t do anything for episodes 7-8.
After the exposition scene, Kirito goes outside and meets the two cliché characters. One of them gives Kirito one of the flowers he planted, all ruined. I can’t feel anything for the flowers if they were introduced one episode before and this was their only part in the story. Also, the flowers suddenly bursting was funny.
Kirito crying over flowers?
Then some Deus Ex-Machina voice comes and says “Yo, you gotta imagine stuff, something, something, don’t give up”. Kirito explains what he was just explained and the flowers are restored. Yay, I guess. We spent 6 minutes in the garden, somehow.
Another battle with nice animation and terrible choreography happens. We don’t even see swords hitting until the last blow. Liena just had to believe in herself to win. This sentence is stupid.
Kirito gives Liena the flowers.
We are introduced to two bland waifus that act the exact same way, and the episode ends.
This Episode feels very long and stretched out. Some users mentioned that it’s because after the last scene of this episode a lot of important things happened, and they didn’t want to end it on a cliff-hanger. But in that case, why didn’t they animate a little bit more of the content that was cut off? That would have evened things out without one part feeling too rushed and another feeling too slow.
Apparently the two evil cliché guys are actually #1/#2 there. But Eugeo without any imagination training could easily go against the second best guy, and most likely even win if the fight wasn’t stopped. This makes no sense.
Then, Kirito and Eugeo are invited by the two bland waifus that were introduced last episode. The one that isn’t as bland anymore is Tiese, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Kirito and Eugeo are told that one of the evil cliché guys are forcing a character to inappropriate acts. And this somehow relates to Eugeo? Were they planning on Eugeo knowing somehow? What if they didn’t tell him? They are the most cartoonish evil cliché guys I’ve seen. And somehow the things that they are doing aren’t recognized by the Taboo Index? You’d expect sexually suggestive acts to be priority if you can stop people from doing something before the act. This is just a cheap way to introduce the fact that some things aren’t picked up by the Taboo Index, mirroring laws and morals of the real world.
Then Kirito monologues the most basic and obvious things of laws/morals, and the characters act like it enlightened them and it changed their lives? The information was some of the most obvious things ever! Come on!
“Stay cool” was terribly foreshadowed. Kirito tells Eugeo to use it to say goodbye, but only on very important events. But why did Kirito say it before? Why not just say “Say ‘Stay Cool’ only when I’m ABOUT TO DIE” or something like that, if you’re going to have bad writing anyway?
Then they confront the evil cliché guys. They were planning on provoking Eugeo and Kirito, but one of them still breaks their cool occasionally for some tame shit. Weird.
At last, the final scene, where Tiese gets to shine, but in a terrible/fucked up way. The actual dialogue is the best in SAO, but the implications might be the worst. Tiese asked Eugeo for a future marriage proposal, to which Eugeo said yes, but he actually wants Alice, so Tiese will [most likely] be cucked later. Fuck this Soap Opera.
Episode 10. The worst episode of the entire series so far.
So little actually happens in this episode.
They talk so much and it's so unnecessary. Do they have to mention 3 fucking times that their arms are bleeding out loud?
Eugeo basically gets NTR'd for a while. This is exactly why the Fairy Dance Arc got so much shit talk, yet the fans are going crazy over this episode. SAO fans are weird.
Everything was so exaggerated: The bad guys' personalities that are so smug the entire time, the faces from a comedy scene, the goddamn tongues, the gymnastic jump to get to the bed, the blood went like a sprinkler, everything. I cannot take this seriously. I couldn't stop laughing.
Why was Alice facing the other way? Cheap effect that doesn't even work prevails over logic again!
Fans were hyping this episode so much yet it's the embodiment of why this show is bad.
Things I like:
1.- The few seconds that Klein was on screen, especially when he's talking. His VA alone shows a lot more personality than the rest of the show.
2.- Animation and OST. Obviously.
There is this argument going around that the first episodes are bad but after those it gets good. I cannot comprehend this argument, no matter how much I try.
Why would the first episodes be garbage and then it turns out to be instantly good? The first episodes of the show are still a part of the show (a big shocker, I know).
Watch it if you enjoy it, but in my opinion: Still garbage; always garbage.
Covers as much ground as it can, but doesn't go in depth with anything it introduces. Lots of pointless content and irrelevant characters. Dreadful, pseudo-intellectual dialogue. Wine is often being drank when these conversations are had. Various things being shown from multiple different perspectives, or rather; realities. Hardly any plot advancement because showing a million different things is prioritized above all else. Good moments are scarce and typically enjoyable only because they suck so bad, but in most cases, the thing is just idiotic in a highly boring way and that's the end of this story. No, I didn't accidentally post my 'Legend of the
Galactic Heroes' review under wrong entry, but am actually talking about Sword Art Online: Alicization. Show which I was supposed to watch ironically and laugh whenever anything happens, but the problem is that so often nothing happens.
[Setup - Basically sums up episode 1]
The story start off with wood chopping and sandwich making scenes. Fair enough, Kirito trains and the newest harem addition shows how she contains many essential "ideal female" characteristics, such as being able to make sandwiches and knowing how to read because she is smart. Well, I didn't laugh there, but the mary sue factors seemed quite potentially lol-worthy, and that was just the beginning so whatever, I watched more.
So anyway, these three kids (they are kids now and there is 3 of them, and I still don't know who the third is, 2nd: Alice) go in this cave where some dragon used to dwell and they steal some ice from him Iunno what the fuck is happening, but they get lost and eventually end up in this place called dalukuu dellidoly (dark territory in English), and apparently crossing the border there is not simply illegal but super illegal. Just so happens to be this Alice girl is also showing how she is bit of a klutz -- which is another ideal female characteristics if someone doesn't know -- and falls down so her 3 finger tips cross the border and gets sentenced to death/is kidnapped. Lucky for them the 3rd kid awakens his Sharingan this very moment and not all hope is lost.
After this we teleport back into season 2 of Sword Art Online (I guess) because Kirito is now an adult female or a man with ridiculously long hair in this one and there are lolies with guns and evil people wearing masks all around. This part was pretty fun because Kirito and his/hers buddies use light sabers and there is another dude here who has sharingan, I wonder who on earth he might be and how these things are relevant. This is me trying to connect the dots and at the same time my facial expression when watching it ._.
At this point I had almost dropped the series. I was like "holy shit, I swear this episode is at least 50 minutes long and never ends." but then I noticed it is actually a double episode and literally 50 minutes long. That didn't really help, tho, since I was only 20 minutes in.. but I wasn't technically wrong, so I continued.
15 minutes later I came back to reality and realized I had been watching a scene where Kirito and harem have this really important conversation about some LED lights placed in the human soul or something, and lots of smart science stuff about some nerdy shit / someone trying to explain something regarding another thing, but it was basically about time functioning differently inside virtual reality, mind teleportation and finally confirmed this whole thing was actually inspired by Alice in Wonderland, which I had accidentally taken as a meme for years.... Neat.
Well, at least this was followed with some cringe-ass confession scene which was concluded with a terribly animated kiss just to remind viewers that lots of deep love to be found here, after which some random dude attacks Kirito who then wakes up in the alternative kids world which seen in the beginning and is like "oh yeah, this is the nerdy science shit virtual WORLD I just had a 15 minute dialogue about." How convenient, chaotically random and still didn't make me laugh because too boring, and more like offensively bad than lol-worthy. At least his body in real world paralyzed or something which is kinda cool and also happened in season 1, technically.. boy I wonder if he can ever turn back normal..
We have NPC's - just like in many/any other video games, and just like in many cyberpunk series: they are becoming self-aware, influenced by feelings and questioning their purpose in life. The vanity, the thought-provoking content and emotional depth create us a narrative that is about as fun to watch as it is intelligent.
So far, the entire main plotline in this alternative world is practically incredibly slowly moving rescue arc that keeps on introducing new content and side tracks with episodic cliffhangers instead of trying to master or advance anything it already has going on. Pretty much half of the damn thing is slice of life or sol-like filler that serves no real purpose in the series, other than to make it more lengthy. And so far, the main plotline in the real world is basically also a slowly moving rescue arc that keeps on introducing new content and side tracks..... Well, I guess point delivered: some similarities exist among the plots. Great.
In terms of directing or whatever we want to call it, scenes change with so little continuity and start playing out so randomly that it becomes highly noticeable: it stands out. This thing hasn't been build on very solid basis or structured in a passable manner. This level of story telling and directing would not be praised were this a new franchise. For example, even though the main storyline seems to be going nowhere, the series still has lots of content and is overall rather creating the illusion of fast pace and eventful story while really nothing happens.
Perhaps my favorite part of the writing so far has been Alice's astral projection just teleporting inside Kirito's brain because I am not sure if that was actually foreshadowing regarding the nerdy technology shite or just her being used as a plot device to allow the story advance. By allowing it to advance, I don't mean it actually advanced because things like chopping trees are prioritized over such things. This is the part that offered at least some lulz. The melodrama is also incredible because after Kirito was attacked he became some type of vegetable in the real world and lots of girls are real worried and crying. Such pathetic, try-hard shit-writing it's hard not to laugh when the thing is essentially worse written than average fanfiction. I just wish this was the main side of the story. Maybe later episodes will turn this thing into some sort of Sword Art Online 0, a story about depressed Asuna. #not_a_reference I dream.
'The Devil is a Part-Timer', anime from 2013, anyone? So this time around Kirito has a nice little side job, making Jesus a Part-Timer, too. Hah! Kirito is being Kirito here. The difference being that this time around he is not the most flawless being from day one, which is kinda cool I guess, especially when considering how the training side of this thing has been among the strongest parts of the series thus far. Still sucks, tho.
His name is Eugeo! The third kid I mean. His role in the series is pretty much solely to tell Kirito some lore, fill him with information regarding the world and say out loud how impossible and things are and how amazing Kirito can be. Occasionally he also does some incredibly stupid decisions and fucks everything uppa. I am not going to spoil how badly, but I did laugh there.
Alice's sister is pretty cute so I guess that's something + that carrying scene [by Kirito, naturally] was flawless in every way. She is especially good when considering most grills from this franchise were never even worth that much. Too bad she ain't a main character. As a whole, the cast surely isn't among reasons to follow this masterpiece, but it's still kinda worth it for the papa swag factor and council of neko-eared harem girls disgusting about issues. It's truly fascinating to see how 5 fanservice figures and Kirito's "daughter" have meetings and make plans. "We totally matter and can do things."
The more episodes there are, the more characters whose names I didn't even bother memorizing there are. That kind of amazing stuff going on here. I don't find mentioning anything about them to be worth of anyone's time, so I won't. Originally I planned also to write a section about the dialogue, but then I remembered I already said in the opening paragraph all that needs to be said about it. [Dreadful, pseudo-intellectual dialogue]. It also does amazing job making me not to like any characters because it is just that nauseating.
Not the worst A-1 character design, but those CGI goblins are on another shitness level completely. The animation can be pretty rough and far from fluid. Cheap stuff, but also making me more confident that hiatus/split cours won't occur. The character movements are often awkward as well and again, CGI exists. From its color pallet and backdrops the thing also looks like other SAO series. The voice acting is meeting the same standards with earlier seasons as well. In terms of songs, big names in the making of OP and ED, as usual. BGM-wise, not much of it is present. Dialogue is the main thing that is being heard hear [fuck me, I know], occasionally some uber quiet "menu music" plays at the same time, or alternative terrible emotional song that convey feelings similarly as fart jokes deliver luls. Some based wobsie wob songs are present during action, but they surely could be better -- like everything else in the series...
I am glad I didn't choose a career as a timberman. I am not entirely sure why I am still watching this. I rarely drop anime series these days, but this one is definitely getting closer and closer of getting onto that list.
From invincible action heroes to divinely powered chosen ones,
from arbitrary powerup masters to "willpower over logic" crusaders,
from technobabble technicians to omniscient pseudo-strategists,
from plot-powered self-inserts to absurdly popular harem leads.
Perfect in every conceivable way... except in terms of actually being well-written or compelling. And therein lies the problem with so many of them. Being overpowered is one thing, but they suffer from something far worse: being boring. They simply come across as bland and generic.
And I am not referring to the fact that they crush their opponents with ease. What I am saying is that their personality, motivations and dialogue tend to be
dull. It is not just about the characters themselves though. It is rather that the way the narratives are written, these characters are not challenged to question their values or develop their wit in any significant way. They are not allowed to truly think.
But don't just take my word for it. Let's hear it from the man himself:
"A human being's greatest power is to think. It's more powerful than any great sword or secret move."
‒ Kirigaya Kazuto
You know what? Kirito is right. This is precisely the main problem here. In Sword Art Online, the narrative too often focuses on swords and secret moves (read: plot-based powerups) over actual thought.
And he must have first-hand experience. After all, Kirito is the patron saint of overpowered characters, and you probably know why. He is the best swordsman in the land by a wide margin. He obtains arbitrary powerups whenever the plot demands it. He has saved the day from random villains. He has won the affection of many girls for poorly established reasons. He knows random technical details that nobody else seems to. He might not be the absolute worst offender on the anime scene, but he is perhaps the most notorious, due to the runaway popularity of the franchise.
But the true measure of a character is not his list of combat achievements but his personality, wit, moral struggle, perhaps even ideology.
Kirito tends to selflessly save the day and help everyone. His antagonists are either comically evil or their motives are vague, incomprehensible, or otherwise poorly established. This is done so that we never have to question Kirito's moral superiority. He is the good guy, the hero, the shining knight. To enforce this, everybody seems to like him to an implausible degree, except for the aforementioned comically evil antagonists. Consider what this does to the narrative. Because most of Kirito's friends and associates adore him, there is little meaningful conflict between them, and meaningful conflict is at the heart of good narratives.
And note that we are supposed to take all of this unironically. We are supposed to relate to a nigh-perfect protagonist who never has to struggle with any moral dilemmas of any kind because he is always placed in a position in which the antagonists are over-the-top evil or their motives are incomprehensible.
And the emphasis is on "placed." We don't usually get to see different sides of Kirito ‒ aside from his role as a heroic savior ‒ precisely because he is always placed in situations in which he is inclined to become a heroic savior. As I mentioned, he is facing sub-par villains, and he is also provided with the convenient opportunity to defeat them. This is precisely why he comes across as bland. At least, he has so far in the franchise.
So what does Alicization do to change this? Maybe a little. The premise is a little less black-and-white than some of the previous iterations and presents some moral ambiguity, but it is still fairly clear which of the characters are intended as antagonistic. The narrative also reverts to old patterns in this respect sometimes. I'll get back to this later.
There is also another notable issue. It seems as though the author sat down and figured, "Hmm, you know what this show needs? More exposition infodumps."
...which the show was never lacking in the first place and which does nothing to resolve the actual problems with the franchise.
1) First, it is time for the glorious infodumps.
To put it bluntly, this show comes with encyclopedic lists of technical details. So have fun with rants about Fluctlights, Stacia Windows, the Gigas Cedar, the High-Norkian Style, and the Light Quantum Gate Crystal. There is no shortage of these infodumps, and soon enough you notice that another episode is gone just like that.
As an example, here is a quote from Kirito himself.
"Where do you think the human soul is located? [...] The brain is more or less a clump of brain cells, right? So where among the brain cells does the soul exist? All cells, including brain cells, are supported by a structural network. Apparently, they're called microtubules. Tubes. In other words, hollow pipes. And there's something sealed inside those hollow pipes. [...] Light. Light. A fluctuating light photon. And that's what comprises the human soul, according to Rath."
Is that how it works? Given the context of the story, I am going to be generous and assume that "soul" is a metaphor for memories, personality and other mental qualities that comprise a human being. This may be giving the author too much credit. Perhaps he really is referring to souls in a literal sense. Who knows?
Kirito calls these lights Fluctlights. The thing is, they don't seem to contribute anything substantial that would not already be conveyed by memories or other mental qualities. Every reference to Fluctlights could be replaced by words like "memory" or "mind."
e.g. "Artificial Fluctlight" -> "Artificial intelligence"
It would get the relevant meaning across even without the imaginary technology. If your dialogue begins to sound like like an engineering booklet when a simple existing description would have sufficed, you are doing it wrong.
Incidentally, it seems that one of the main points the show is getting at is the fact that people are who they are because of their memories. A fair point but one that has already been overused in speculative fiction. If you want to take that route, you need to beef up your analysis and related dialogue.
Now, don't get me wrong. I can enjoy world-building, but you should not flood the viewer with arbitrary facts for the sake of itself. The details of the world should be constructed so that they support the underlying themes of the narrative. The world-building should actually pay off. For instance, do we need to spend several minutes on the origins of a legendary blade when it has nothing of substance to contribute? In comparison, when the show explains basic facts about their society, the information is actually quite a bit more helpful.
That is not the worst of it though. It is not only about the sheer quantity of the exposition but the way in which it is told. There is a right way and a wrong way to provide this information. You should do it naturally, in a manner that actual people might use.
Listen to this dialogue.
"Who would've thought that after [insert event here], we'd actually [insert event here]? Sometimes I think I'm dreaming."
"Come on now. It's already been a year since [insert event here]."
How convenient. The characters are recapping the events out loud just when the audience needs the info. They go on for a while, listing various facts about their new pastimes and acquaintances. It is all screaming "This is exposition!"
Kirito comes across as a kind of Mr. Exposition sometimes, now more than ever. He is all about providing lists of random facts. He lists descriptions of things to the viewer without thinking deeply into their implications. And, incidentally, the other characters do very much the same, often even more so. Just listing facts all day, every day.
All those lines could have been spent on other things. They could undergo some inner struggle every now and then. There might even be interesting moral conflict. Or how about examining their relationships with other people? But nope. While those other aspects receive some attention, they are usually pushed to the side in favor of further infodumps. Character interaction is really bogged down by this. If you have people acting as though they are reading straight out of an encyclopedia, they become difficult to relate to.
Character backstories are sometimes treated in the same way. On one occasion, an important character is introduced by delivering an 8-minute flashback infodump on their backstory before ever meeting them. They have never even been mentioned before. You can probably see the problem here. Can't we at least wait until the character has been introduced normally?
Also, the 8-minute flashback in question is narrated by another person throughout. Why? As I was saying, the flashback should wait, but if we must go forward with it, at least show it from the perspective of the relevant character. Show, don't tell.
2) Furthermore, too much time and effort is spent on fight scenes that ‒ while visually fine ‒ contribute little to the narrative and are resolved in a fairly arbitrary manner.
When this is taking place, the dialogue also becomes very centered on explaining the flow of the battle and little else. One episode was almost entirely about swords. Swords clashing repeatedly with simple choreography (mostly people pushing their swords against each other), with the majority of the dialogue focused on swords, swordsmanship and all things related to the weapons in question. This is related to section 1) because much of this is yet another subset of unnecessary technobabble and infodumping.
Now, if you are a diehard sword fan, this may be acceptable. (Or not if you don't like their portrayal of swordsmanship, and I can't really blame you.) But what if you are not into swords that much? I mean, the technical details. You'll have to sit through endless infodumping on the subject. Sure, the word "sword" is right there in the name of the franchise, but come on now. Twenty minutes of non-stop ranting about swords is a bit too much. You know, even fight scenes could be used for character development, moral struggle, etc., but that would take a different approach to dialogue and inner thoughts. Or at least try to be wittier about it. Don't just list the sword techniques in a bland manner.
So what determines the winner of a sword fight? Finely tuned tactics? No, of course not. In this world, the best way to power up your sword is... strength of will. Yes. You can pretty much beat anyone if you infuse your sword with your imagination, emotion and various reasons to fight. Along with it, various names of sword styles will be mentioned, but they do not seem to affect the outcome in any consistent way, nor are they used tactically in any way that would generate interest.
As a result, the battles easily devolve into showdowns of plot power. The winner is the one favored by the narrative. This is far from rare in shows that involve action scenes or various powerups, so this should not come as a surprise, but that does not mean that we should let it slide.
3) And now for another fan favorite: over-the-top evil villains.
Here's another quote from Kirito:
"That attitude your father taught you, Tiese, in Eng... no, in sacred terms, it's called 'noble obligation.' Nobles, that is, those with power must use it for the sake of the powerless. Let's see, you could also call it pride. And that pride is more important than any law or regulation. After all, there are things that you shouldn't do, even if it's not forbidden by law. And on the other hand, there might be things you should do, even if they are forbidden by law."
This is a bit better than what we would usually expect of Sword Art Online. It is also relevant to the premise and underlying themes. You see, this time the author has come up with an eerie medieval rural dystopia ruled by a dogmatic church. If this sounds familiar, you may have seen one in any number of JRPGs or fantasy in general. Which isn't necessarily a bad idea if done right.
You could use this line of thought to demonstrate why dystopian dogmatic churches are, well, dystopian and dogmatic. There is also some shady manuevering going on in the real world. Maybe it could be applied to that.
Well, at least in theory. Guess what kind of evil action Kirito is referring to? As is tradition in Sword Art Online, the evil action is... sexually harassing a girl.
Yes. You heard it right. Out of all possible evil deeds out there, the author went with sexually harassing a girl. Again. Or rather beyond mere harassment and in an absurdly over-the-top way as well. If this sounds familiar, you must have been watching Sword Art Online because this keeps happening like clockwork. When the author wants to designate a character as evil or antagonistic, this is his go-to trope. The villains tend to commit sexual harassment or attempted rape, as if they wouldn't be evil enough otherwise.
The author does this because he doesn't want the audience to have the slightest doubt over who is good and who evil here. So the villains just have to go for the same old sexual harassment or attempted rape. It would not have to be this way. There are other morally questionable things in the world, but nope. Can't write about those. Is the author legally obligated to write about sexual harassment and attempted rape, or does he not know that other topics exist?
So what is Alicization supposed to be?
A straight-up heroic fantasy?
A technobabble infodump?
"We are who we are because of our memories."
...Is that really all? This is not enough. Instead of original or inspired, Alicization comes across as bland. Yes, there is a fantasy world out there, arguably fleshed out by the infodumps, but that isn't enough. You also need to do something interesting with the world. The narrative needs more substance.
Remember when I quoted Kirito earlier on the superiority of thought over swords? He said so in the context of applying critical thought to law and morality. Fine. So give him a proper chance to think about it in detail and apply it in an interesting way. Instead, he (and sadly us, the viewers) are subjected to endless lists of arbitrary facts that are meaningless on their own. Or we get to witness action scenes which are resolved by plot power or used as platforms for even more infodumping.
For all the talk about human souls, it is precisely what the narrative is lacking. Where is the humanity?
For those of you who are unaware, SAO is the ISEKAI that brought the genre to immense popularity. While respecting that it is some what of a pioneer, the story tends to drag on unnecessarily and almost constantly views it's audience as unintelligent by walking everyone by the hand through plot points rather than allowing us to infer what is happening through context. It's SAO, so not watching doesn't make sense, but keeping it as a lower priority view for this season is recommended.
While the art is enjoyable and clean, they've left out other potentially visceral aspects. The story and characters are nothing
new, though aren't they expected to be, and the sound is underwhelming. Not pair the vivid enough visuals with similarly heavy sounds seems like some sort of crime. Episodes keep leaving potential on the table to the point that they cause annoyance. I can see more enthusiastic fans of the genre being irritated during viewing. Passive viewing is simply the most probable way to watch this series, which isn't that surprise, but is a little disappointing.