A new world. A new deep dive. A new virtual reality. And this time, Kirito is a child. Together with his friends, Eugeo and Alice, he explores a cave in a mountain that borders the world between humans and darkness, and what the group discovers, and who they see, will have a drastic impact upon their lives. But what’s the connection between this fantasy world and reality, where Kirito continues to play GGO with his friends, but can’t remember the events of this deep dive (which he does as part of a new part-time job)? And what dangers await Kirito in true reality, outside of the virtual environment?
A 45-minute episode of Sword Art Online feels a bit of overkill, but after completing the episode, it does seem necessary, since it is split between the two halves it seems the season will jump between. The first half of the episode drops us into this new world, and it is both the weakest and strongest part of the episode. Virtually all of that time is spent as an info drop, presenting us information about this new world that is loosely based on Alice in Wonderland (the “Alice” character is meant to look like Disney’s version). The scriptwriting here is weak—no surprise out of this series—and it gets weaker in the second half, which brings us back to the familiar, with a bookend that also drops a lot of information. Here’s where the writing really stinks. We’re given the SAO version of midichlorians, it seems, as Kirito explains the science behind the soul (see the featured image). All that said, I’m gonna check out the next episode. Why? It’s not because I love the franchise (I haven’t enjoyed it all that much since the very first cour), but because the ED revealed some awesome character designs and art direction that have me wondering if the new world in this season is going to be worth the watch.
Oh, and that ending was quite something, too.
NegativePrimes: My reaction was similar. Weak opening scene? Check. Too much info dump? Yup. Felt like midichlorians? You got it. However, it did improve later on. I will be following this one not just because, hey, it’s SAO (and yes, I’m a fan; not gonna hide my light under a bushel basket). The primary attraction to me is that episode one is very explicit–explicit, that is, about philosophy. The first major philosophical question it pulls out is metaphysical, namely “What is the nature of the soul?” The initial answer is typical modern/materialist stuff, which leads me to suspect non-typical answers will be brought up later. After all, what good writer tips his hand completely at the outset? I’ll be very interested to see if SAO Alicization can break the philosophical mould.
The second theme comes when Kirito says he’s going to fight against the philosophy of the original creator of SAO. What that philosophy is, and how Kirito will respond, have yet to be worked out at length. And I want to see how it will work out.
Sword Art Online: Alicization can be streamed on Crunchyroll.