Our look at the anime series Sword Art Online has reached its conclusion. The final half of the last arc, the great climax, and end of all things. It’s been a wild ride, and I feel a little bittersweet about it. Regardless, let us bring this journey to its conclusion. After the cut, let’s take a dive into the final half of War of the Underworld: Alicization Awakening and Alicization Lasting.
The phrase “they fight” is probably the best way to sum up what happens in these last handfuls of episodes. Like all of War of the Underworld, this entire journey has been one big climax, where the actors are in place, all the words have (mostly) been said, and all there is left is to smash swords against each other. These last eleven or so episodes don’t deviate from that set-up, which is good in many ways, and not so good in others. Kirito’s return to the spotlight, helped in no small part by Eugeo, who just may go down in anime history as the best wingman, is the season at his best. The relationship between these two young men has remained the best part of both Alicization and War of the Underworld, and to see Eugeo help as much as he does makes me glad that he wasn’t forgotten about after his death. In fact, even when Kirito returns to the real world, his memories of the last 200 years erased, he still has to grieve for the death of his best friend.
The fighting itself is classic anime, with speeches about love, friendship, and the bonds that one makes. Everyone gets a chance to shine, and we even get a cameo (that feels rather out of place) from Eiji, meaning that Ordinal Scale is canon to the anime. Asuna herself gets to have a great moment, using the skills given by Yuuki to defend the man she loves. Of course, Kirito’s spirit-bomb attack against Gabriel feels pulled right out of the playbook of so many other series, but thankfully Kirito doesn’t wipe the floor with him. Even beforehand with Vassago, we see our main lead struggle to pull off his victory. Yet when Kirito does win, he is merciless in his treatment, and the fate of both Gabriel and Vassago, the most thug-like baddies in the series, is great karmic justice.
Alice meanwhile, is able to reclaim a bit of her prominence in the last half. While she dominated the first half of the season, once Asuna and the rest of the supporting cast arrived, Alice sadly fell to the wayside, not even appearing in several episodes. Her arrival to the real world, now with an android body (that raises SO many questions) means she’ll become a regular member of the cast, and I think that is good. The relationship between her and Kirito is unique even among all the other girls, and while I am sure that Asuna and Kirito are the only OTP, his bond with Alice and her affection for him isn’t something that is going to go away. I look forward to seeing how she is in Untial Ring.
If there is one thing that falls short though, it is again every time the action switches over to Rath. While I do understand trying to break up the constant action back with the main cast, Rinko and everyone else at Rath are just boring. Even a last minute cameo by Kayaba, now with a robot body of his own (which again raises SO many questions), can’t really save things. Higa’s saving of Kirito’s old memories, aside from giving me major “did he just make skynet?” vibes, feels rather out of place. I am sure it will all be explained during Unital Ring (in a literal decade from now), but having the focus on the real world after barely paying any attention it felt very much like too much, too fast.
Sword Art Online War of the Underworld: Alicization Awakening and Lasting are a good conclusion to a good final season. I have my overall thoughts on the whole Alicization experience, but those will be for a post on the entire season as a whole. Overall I enjoyed my return to Sword Art Online, and this last half is nothing but candy, a reward for all the development and time spent with these characters. And I can’t deny feeling emotionally touched by the final shot of Kirito, Alice and Eugeo, knowing everything has come to an end. You look forward to a final look back on War of the Underworld and my final thoughts on the anime series as a whole, later this week.