「アンダーワールド」 (Andaa Waarudo)
“Underworld”

What a way to kick off the season with a nearly hour-long episode.

General Impressions

If there was any show that was going to kick off the season with an abnormally long episode, it would be Sword Art Online. That said, who would have thought that it would have kicked things off in a totally different universe where all the characters (minus Kirito) we know and love have mysteriously disappeared? Or rather, didn’t exist? Luckily, I think this whole new world known as the Underworld is going to be one of the best things we’ve seen thus far.

Among all obvious fact that we’re going to have a whole new set of characters to meet and grow with, I’m sure that watching a totally different Kirito live out his life in a totally different way is going to be a blast. Not only do all the Kirito haters have nothing to hate on, but it feels good knowing that we’re going to get to watch Kirito progress from “level one”. However, I would be lying if I didn’t express how much I loved the Underworld and how it really sold the episode for me. As a completely new area that we’ve never seen before, I loved how the setting managed to grab me so quickly. As a world based in medieval times with an archaic system of rules and taboos that also embraces magic and mythical creatures, it truly felt like a great dystopian world where Kirito would have the perfect reason to get off his butt.

All that said, I couldn’t help but feel a little concerned about the whole thing after Kirito explained it all back in the real world. As a new technology that’s literally messing around with the neurons firing around in your brain, it sounds like an awfully easy way for someone to implant fake memories into your head. That and you have to wonder just what in the world that error message on Eugeo’s eye was. Besides making him totally look like an NPC (or AI?), it raises the question of whether or not everyone who Kirito is interacting with is real or not.

Luckily, it looks like we won’t have to wait long for questions since next week’s episode is probably going to be one hell of a rollercoaster with Kirito in a real bad spot. Last I checked, getting injected with the good ol’ Death Gun syringe isn’t necessarily an instant death but I remember it being real bad for you. In any case, I’ll catch you guys next week. See you then!

 

OP Sequence

OP: 「ADAMAS」 by LiSA

Preview

67 Comments

  1. The animation style for this season comes across like some sort of CG/Traditional animation hybrid and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that. The characters all seem very… sharp and angular… like it’s all being done in CG… yet not? Kinda like it’s being hand drawn and then digitally coloured in a partial cell shaded/Valkyria Chronicles art style way. So, it comes across very digital.

    dave_k
  2. The Alicization arc is hailed by many LN readers as The Best of SAO’s arcs, and given the massive popularity of the franchise in Japan and overseas, I can see why a lot of care and effort was invested into the anime.

    It’s not a small one either; it spans 10 volumes from Vols 9-18 of the SAO LNs. The producers have confirmed they’ll adapt all 10 books, hence the 2-cours of 20+ episodes each commitment.

    zztop
    1. HAHHAHAHAHAHA!

      No.

      I forced myself to read that garbage since I was SAO fan once upon a time.

      Conclusion: Nope. Still garbage and allow me to explain without any spoilers.
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Ginobi47
      1. I have a feeling some will probably mention the slow pacing when it comes, and it will. It’s great that we’re getting four cours but without spoiling, the pacing does become an issue.

        Lyfe
      2. Unfortunately, it happens right in this very first episode.

        We spend half the episode (pretty much equal to a whole episode given the length) on stuff related to Alicization…and then suddenly, rather than getting further into it, instead, we’re back in GGO (only everyone else there) and STILL going through Death Gun-related stuff? It feels like how the Excalibur stuff felt just thrown in for filler and didn’t mean anything in the long run. Seems like we’re going to be going through a whole ‘nother GGO-related arc (which most likely won’t feel too good after the much better GGO Alternative series) before Alicization truly gets started.

        HalfDemonInuyasha
      3. For me all boils down to a matter of taste, I have been a SAO fan for may years, I read the original novels long before the anime was on sight so I have to say that this new season will be divisive, many will call it the Best of SAO and many will call it the final nail on the coffin. On my part I would call Alicization the best of SAO even when the fanchise is not perfect I still love every peice of it like no other.

        haseo0408
      4. Jesus Christ dude shut the fuck up. You’ve forced yourself to read all the LNs just to shit on it and now you’re going to watch the same episodes of what you’ve read just to do the same thing? If you don’t like it then stop going onto blog websites to comment on them. There’s a lot of popular manga I’ve read far into that I think is garbage like Tokyo Ghoul and Boku no Hero Academia but I don’t go into threads and comment sections giving whatever reasons why I think it’s bad and ruining it for people that like it. It’s not like you’re a huge YouTuber that’s making money for ad revenue views so just stop. It’s fucking toxic.

        Shoot
      5. @BROOKLYN otaku

        If this comment is supposed to thank him for reaffirming your SAO hate from blindly believing every word he said without reading the source material then this is the saddest comment in this thread.

        Shoot
      6. @Shoot

        Aww, butthurt much?
        Am I not allowed to voice an opposing opinion anymore?
        If your so triggered by my opinion, then show me why I am wrong.
        I’ve stated my facts as to why I hate it, and Haseo0408 made a perfect counter argument.
        What’s yours?

        As for the Tokyo Ghoul and Hero Academia examples of yours, I cant comment on them since I dont watch them or read the source material.
        I’m not a fan of either.
        If I did follow them and found them shitty, I would have done the same thing as I have done here in SAO.
        I posted my opinion with all of the proof as to why I think so.

        And Toxic? Really?
        Are you new to the internet?
        Last time I checked, the internet is a toxic landfill where insults can go as far as targeting your grandmother.
        And I haven’t started being ‘Toxic’ yet.

        Well then MR. butthurt SAO fanboy, I think Alicization is the worst of all the SAO novels. Show my some proof why you think otherwise. I’m open to have my mind changed.

        Ginobi47
    1. I recall the author apologizing for Alfheim (it was either an interview or book afterwords).
      He said the reason for Asuna’s kidnapping was to increase the urgency and danger for Kirito in that arc as otherwise the problem would’ve been solved too easily if they were together.

      He apologized for having to use that setup, saying it was due to his weakness as a writer back then and not being able to think of a better scenario. He even says the Mother’s Rosario arc with Asuna was written to make up for shortchanging her in Alfheim.

      zztop
    2. Kirito x Asuna is definitely a cute pairing. That and I’m glad Kirito was able to express some emotion (finally!) toward Asuna.

      That said, Ordinal Scale was pretty good at showing off some of that dynamic too.

      Takaii
      1. Later arcs have less of the dynamic of Kirito and Asuna as our hero went one man army on both Fairy Dance and Phantom Bullet but Mother Rosario was a beautifull examof how our hero soppourts Asuna from the back. I hope Alizacition gives more interactions of the two.

        haseo0408
  3. I have a lot of thoughts for the episode. The first part in the underworld and the filler ggo fight were great! I love all the new characters introduced. However the rest of the episode was a bit of a drag. The ggo cafe scen bugged me with Kirito’s silence. The cafe exposition dump was kind of boring, Kirito’s not telling Asuna about the stalker annoyed me, and the ham in that last scene kind of mad it hard for me to take seriously.

    Mami
    1. That said, I still enjoyed the episode a lot, the op was what convinced me to give the season a chance,and while I find real world Kirto kind of boring for some reason, his underworld self feels more lively and fun to watch, and Even then there’s still Eugeo to grab my attention. So I plan to go through with the arc, even if I dislike one or two spoilers I stumbled into for it

      Mami
  4. Not only do all the Kirito haters have nothing to hate on, but it feels good knowing that we’re going to get to watch Kirito progress from “level one”.

    Takaii, I admire your optimism!

    Indeed, at best, this new arc seems to have the potential to offer a new start, a new look at Kirito and the potential of a new supporting cast. However, this is SAO we’re talking about, and the potential to repeat the vices of old is very much there, regardless the setting change.

    I haven’t read this Alicization arc, so I’m going blind. Off the top of my head, though, I can think of a potential bingo card of pitfalls:

    -Kirito will soon become overpowered and/or have a game-breaking skill/weapon/whatever that only he can use.

    -Any other member of the supporting cast won’t be able to catch up. If they are shown to be equal or better than Kirito at some point, they’ll be imprisoned, broken, suffer som kind of limiting trauma or just die.

    -There will be a new heroine who will fall in love with Kirito. But it won’t amount to anything, because he loves Emilia Asuna. Bonus points if they’re multiple heroines.

    -We’ll have male characters who will become ineffectual, or comic relief, or turn evil, or be rapists. Bonus points if they are all of the above at the same time.

    As I said, I haven’t read this arc, so this is a joke, not spoilers. When the arc finishes, I’ll go back to this and see how many points I got.

    Mistic
    1. “-Any other member of the supporting cast won’t be able to catch up. If they are shown to be equal or better than Kirito at some point, they’ll be imprisoned, broken, suffer som kind of limiting trauma or just die.”

      This reminds me of a scene in the SAO Progressive where Kirito finished a training exercise in 3 days, but later Asuna and a new character finish it in one day. Kirito is so shocked that he proclaims that they must have been cheating because they couldn’t possibly be better than him XP

      Nayrael
    2. -We’ll have male characters who will become ineffectual, or comic relief, or turn evil, or be rapists. Bonus points if they are all of the above at the same time.

      LOL! How consistent Reki is about this one is HILARIOUS. Just wait for it guys!

      Flamestrike
  5. I still haven’t seen the OS film yet, so I gotta check that out before watching the new arc. I’m really curious as to how they will incorporate OS since it’s an anime-only thing.

    FYI, the drug is called succinylcholine. It causes short-term paralysis as part of general anesthesia. Some side effects include malignant hyperthermia, muscle pains, and changes in cardiac rhythm, including slow heart rate, and cardiac arrest.

    That new OP….they have a secret handshake. Wow, I feel very old. I read the novels, but I’m curious as to how they’ll portray the bond between Eugeo and Kirito, as Eugeo is technically the first male character that we’ve seen that is at the same age as Kirito, not like Klein or Agil who are already adults.

    Anonymous
    1. Thanks for the drug name! It was getting a little late and I was lazy :< They incorporated Ordinal Scale in the opening! It was a nice plug for what I thought was a fun movie

      Takaii
  6. So Kirito is playing Underworld as a pre-adolescent and his spunky girl friend gets captured and taken away to be tortured and executed, but it’s OK because she smiles at him and then it’s time for him to wake up and go play his next game as a young adult. Difficult to make an emotional commitment to any of this, the ‘real world’ scenes least of all.

    Kling Klang
    1. If your gripe is focused on Kirito as a character and how he isn’t agonizing over memories he doesn’t have, then that is misplaced.
      If your gripe is over the author’s pacing of the story and the sudden mood shift was jarring to you, then sure.

      Regardless or which, adding “but it’s OK because she smiles at him” made no sense in the context of your criticism.

      hoshi
      1. “but it’s OK because she smiles at him”. This just reinforces the ‘It’s all a game and none of this really matters’ attitude.

        “how he isn’t agonizing over memories he doesn’t have”. So Kirito doesn’t even remember his game experiences? I never knew that. If that’s true then what’s the point of playing?

        Kling Klang
      2. Kirito explains that he have no memory from his work and he does it as he gets paid to do it. There is an easy reason as well that is hinted at in this episode:
        Show Spoiler ▼

        Znail
      1. fanboy found, but i’m very serious, i watched this one before Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc to Renkin no Kishi episode 1 and they felt of the same caliber, generic slot-filler isekai anime

        john
  7. https://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20Alicization%20-%2001%20-%2037.jpg
    Must be really awkward for Lisbeth. XD
    Really glad to see her and Asuna again.

    Anyway, funny enough, the only reason I wasn’t too fond of the first part of the episode is because the title is SAO. I find it hard to believe that anyone would swing an axe at a tree for more than a year in a virtual world. Where’s the fun in that? Would’ve been okay with it if it was a different title. Glad they sorted it out in the second half.

    And yeah, Asuna and Shion has a right to be worried. That device sounds real dangerous. Any device that alters memory and cause memory loss certainly is.

    theirs
    1. I feel that there’s an old Sci-Fi movie about things like this, but for the life of me, I can’t think of a specific one about messing with memories. Would Total Recall work?

      Anonymous
      1. That would be an extreme case. Right now he says it’s just like a dream. Still can’t dismiss the possibility of a rewrite instead of minor alterations. I’d really pity Asuna if something like that happens.

        theirs
  8. I have a feeling Alice Zuberg will become a fan favorite for anime only viewers watching with no prior knowledge of the arc. There’s so much cool stuff around the character, plot related too.

    Lyfe
    1. I FEEL.

      As someone in the game industry it was blowing my mind how nonchalant he was when he was talking about some of the proprietary tech involved with the new fulldive machine.

      I mean, sure, we need exposition and there’s no other way we’re getting it minus Kirito talking about it. But boy, I can only imagine the repercussions of speaking so freely about it.

      Side point, because they were at Agil’s bar and I think it was empty, I can understand Kirito being rather open since it’s not like anyone there would have said anything. But I mean, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Takaii
      1. Considering he got the job form that guy with strong ties to the Minestry of Defense I highly doubt the Soul Translator is just a full dive game machine. That guy probably got Kirito to test it because there is nobody more suited for it than a SAO Survivor, even more after the events of Phantom Bullet.

        haseo0408
      1. I found an information form an interview of Yui (Kirito and Asuna’s daughter) saying that her parents are very afectionate with each other in private. This could mean they have indeed done it in both the real and virtual world. After all they live with Yui in the House on Floor 22 of New Aincrad.

        haseo0408
      2. That one obviously happened. There is no mention about it happening for real later, but I can’t really see a couple date in real life and know that the other wouldn’t mind having sex and not do it.

        Znail
  9. When Kirito was talking about the legend of white dragon, was it just me or did he channel a bit of Betelgeuse Romani-Conti DESU!

    No neck twisting, but that exagerated pose… I smell a seiyuu joke in there.

    ruicarlov
    1. With so many episodes conformed they have the luxury to develop the story fairly well before unleashing all hell on Kirito, poor bastard can’t catch a break, it’s like he’s a magnet for craztness both in the real and virtual worlds.

      haseo0408
  10. I’m not going to spoil anything with specific details, but things here have been portrayed a little differently than the novel. I wonder how future episodes will account for this change and whether it will present the same gravitas as the light novels did. I still haven’t watched the first episode, so perhaps my worrying will be all for naught.

    Also, we desperately need a prequel episode of everyone getting together in GGO laughing at Kirito’s avatar.

    Also, nice shout out to Kureha from Fatal Bullet.

    Anonymous
  11. Ok, so, on to the important question for the LN readers:

    How much of what’s coming up are Asuna and the Haremettes going to be left out of this time? 50% 75%? Never appear again after this episode?

    I don’t hate SAO as much as a lot of people, but I do hate how it likes to make new characters and then leave the others just sitting on the sidelines doing absolutely nothing.

    Aex
    1. Asuna gets a much more significant role in the story later on. I would spoiler tag some details but considering Takaii hasn’t read the LN, and with him being a moderator, I’d feel bad doing it knowing he’d be obliged to check.

      Lyfe

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