Dec 28, 2019
Inferno792 (All reviews)
Sword Art Online finally delivered. After years of mediocrity that’s polarized opinions: one faction in support of the apparently “different take” of Sword Art Online while the other pointing out the definite flaws in the series, one of the most popular anime franchises has lived up to the hype. I was a part of the latter faction for much of the time since the series blasted its way to popularity in 2012. And there were reasons for this: the series started off okay in the first half of Sword Art Online, but then fell off as it used sexualization to evoke tension and rushed through stuff quicker than its viewers could comprehend, in the second half of the season. The second season didn’t improve much on any of these aspects. In fact, it may have gotten worse.

Sword Art Online: Alicization did start off promisingly, building up characters and the new world that Kirito was thrown into, but the same old issues plagued this season towards its end as well. There goes another season, and there goes another opportunity for Sword Art Online to improve itself. I was on the verge of giving up on the series as whole, but decided to give Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld a try.

And to my pleasant surprise, this season did not disappoint. From start to finish, it had me excited for each episode, and finally there was some polished character development. It added on to the world that SAO Alicization had developed and enhanced the existing elements in supreme fashion. The issues afflicting the series as a whole were minimized, if not totally eliminated in case of some.

The story continues where Alicization left off with Kirito being paralyzed following the events that had occurred. Tripped by guilt and inspired by Kirito, Alice makes it her duty to protect him and find every way possible to restore him to a conscious state. To this end, she’s abandoned her post as an integrity knight, and started living in a remote place with Kirito. On the other side of the world though, things begin to get heated up as an unknown organization is targeting Rath’s ship in order to gain access to Project Alicization.

Because Kirito has been paralyzed, he’s not an active presence in the season. The main character of this season is most definitely Alice, and she carries the mantle of being the central character quite exceptionally. She’s developed a soft side, which we didn’t see too much of in the last season. And what lets her change is the fact that she’d been able to defeat the seal of the left eye. That’s the same thing that prevents Integrity Knights from going against the Pontifex.

But with the Pontifex defeated, the other Integrity Knights too, have elements added to their characters. They aren’t the stale fighting robots that they were in the last season, and it’s been shown how circumstances have changed them. Having to fight the Dark Territory as a whole, they show different sides to their characters. The great thing about the way the characters have been handled this season is that all of their development is done in a realistic manner which makes their development actually believable and not just a switch in personality.

The art quality is superb as is the animation. The fights have a lot of flair to them, and the effects have been done to perfection. As always, another new season of Sword Art Online brings more great soundtracks. One thing that’s always been good and never a cause for complaint throughout the many seasons and movies of Sword Art Online has been the soundtrack. Well, I guess the composer is Yuki Kajiura after all, and anything other than the best OST would be a disappointment when there’s her name involved.

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld just felt right. Finally, everything clicked for SAO this time, from story to characters to execution. Sword Art Online never had production issues, but managed to astonishingly fail in all of the other facets. This season just shows the immense amount of potential the idea has. There’s so much freedom in the way the story can be handled, and at times in the earlier seasons, Sword Art Online took this liberty to the extremes, never finding that sweet spot. War of the Underworld, though, found it and showed us the heights it can achieve. Let’s just hope this was a turning point, and the numerous following seasons maintain, or even exceed this quality. Because they definitely can.