「ニューワールド」 (Nyuu Waarudo)
I didn’t expect Alicization to wrap up here. But there was definitely a lot to unpack – including a fittingly open ending which lends itself to the possibility of a continuation.
Alice: Become Human
When Alice ominously whispered that she was withering, it’s now become clear that she was grappling with an existential crisis. All her life she’d been taught that her meaning revolved around serving Quinella and wielding a sword. But after breaking free of the Taboo Index thanks to Kirito’s help, and discovering meaning in fighting for his comatose sake, coming to the real world – which is mostly peaceful despite the underlying darkness, has robbed her of the meaning she had found. To that end, she runs away from the scientific conferences that were being held to flout her as the very first AI human, and arrives at Kirito’s house. Which is why Kirito received a call from Rinko at the end of last episode. And yet again, it is Kirito who rationalises her meaning. That she is the representative of all citizens of the Underworld, when it comes to fighting for and establishing their rights within real world contexts. And that she carries the hopes of many who died upon her shoulders – such as Eugeo and Bercoulli.
Now assured of her existence, Alice receives a mysterious message in the middle of the night, which turns out to be a secret yet public IP address for accessing the Underworld. This has huge implications where public access to the Underworld is concerned. It can probably be merged with the World Seed, meaning these artificial fluctlights will be able to travel between Aincrad, Alfheim, Gun Gale, etc to interact with real humans. Which is absolutely massive in helping the cause seeking to establish human rights for artificial fluctlights. And there is a distinct possibility I can envision here – fluctlight Kayaba has somehow survived at the bottom of the sea and secretly orchestrated this entire thing, and maybe even established contact with fluctlight 200+ year old Kirito to strike up a truce in forming a collaboration to protect the Underworld. I’ve heard there will be a subsequent arc – Unital Ring – and I look forwards to seeing it receive an adaptation, since my burning questions will probably be answered once and for all. With Sword Art Online: Progressive on the way, I’m confident that we will eventually see this continuation.
A Long Love Song to Alicization
Alicization has easily been my favourite arc of the Sword Art Online franchise so far. Reki Kawahara had some serious foresight when it came to exploring ontological issues – specifically the questions surrounding AI pertaining to how souls can be defined and whether AI can be classified as human, which are increasingly pertinent within modern society given the rapid progression that science is making in that sector. Most importantly, we finally saw some significant character progression for Kirito. And just as how Yuuki brought out the best for Asuna, Eugeo was the perfect foil to the Black Swordsman – the best friend he never had. Their bromance and camaraderie, from chopping down the Gigas Cedar to attending Sword Academy to fighting against the injustice of the Taboo Index to scaling the Central Cathedral in hopes of saving Alice Zuberg.
Despite only being acquainted for three years, Eugeo and Kirito truly shared in journeys of a lifetime. Only for Kirito to realise that re-instating the original Alice Zuberg would not be fair to the Synthesis Knight 30 consciousness that had inhabited her body for the past decade, causing these two best friends to point their blades at one another. Although sticking up for Alice the Synthesis Knight was the correct thing, it partially culminated in Eugeo’s death – a crucial flash point for Kirito’s development. Through the exploration of his fluctlight, we are exposed to his unseen PTSD and guilt which has been actively consuming him since his time in Aincrad. Despite being the Black Swordsman, who saved thousands from Kayaba’s cruel death game, and even though he had good cause and reason for killing some villainous curs who would directly hurt him or his loved ones, their deaths haunt him. And combined with the weight of Eugeo’s death, Kirito is brought to the brink of suicide where he prepares to crush his own soul.
However, it is a fragment of Eugeo’s fluctlight that appears to save him. To forgive him, and remind him that still had loved ones to fight for. So it makes sense that once Kirito had finished saving his loved ones, finished saving the Underworld from the threats of Vassago and Subtilizer, that he would go back to mulling over Eugeo’s death. Here, we don’t see a perfect Gary Stu who is exceptionally better than others and somehow always saves the day. We see an emotionally vulnerable and dorky kid, who only wanted to play video games. But ends up frequently having to do what’s right, because he had considerable talent in these games, and subsequently possessed the power to save the day.
But I suppose like Shinji from Evangelion, he never asked for these powers. And never wanted to be a factor behind Eugeo’s death. Not to mention Subtilizer’s powers far surpassed his own, if not for the collective prayers of the Underworldians. He came through life and death, was faced with insane trials and tribulations, and comes out at the end as a much better character. While memories of Eugeo bring him intense suffering, he’s the only person who can remember Eugeo’s sacrifice and give meaning to Eugeo’s existence. So despite how much it hurts, he remembers Eugeo to honour his best friend’s life. And for me, their relationship is the true beauty behind Alicization. For all its flaws, the series is anything but hollow or superficial. From Sachi, to Yuuki, to Eugeo, it has always possessed layers upon layers of meaning that haters have refused to see or accept. To surmise, I truly love Alicization from the bottom of my heart.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading these posts. It really has been one heck of a journey. And I hope to see you all next time when Progressive comes out.