Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
Sword Art Online Alicization continues to take its time as it moves into the 3rd week. With a glacial pace, the episode doesn’t really go anywhere for the majority of the episode. Unlike other shows that may have pumped the brakes, however, the interpersonal relationships aren’t strong enough to support such a dialogue-heavy episode. The result is akin to watching very pretty grass grow for about 15 minutes.
Kirito groggily awakens in the church and joins Eugeo at the Demon Tree once again. They have an extended discussion about his childhood friend, Alice. She was a gifted magic-user, but due to her accidentally entering the Dark Forest, she was spirited away by an Integrity Knight while Eugeo looked on helplessly. They also discuss his Calling as Kirito realizes that he wants Eugeo to join him as he travels to the central city – but first he needs to be released from chopping down the Demon Tree. Kirito asks if there’s anything sharper than the dragonbone axe that he’s currently using, and after a brief moment of contemplation, Eugeo returns.
Eugeo presents the Blue Rose Sword to Kirito – a mythical blade rumored to be a Divine Object, imbued with the powers of the Gods themselves. The thing apparently weighs a ton, as it took Eugeo 3 months of lugging it into town from the End Mountains. He shares that he had hoped one day to be strong enough to use it, but still can’t swing it properly. Kirito decides to test out the strength of the blade, and takes a swing at the Demon Tree. While he misses the carved section of the tree, it still manages to make a serious scratch on the steel-like bark, much to Eugeo’s amazement.
Kirito suggests Eugeo give it a try, providing some pointers as the woodcutter gives it a go. He also misses the mark, but the two feel emboldened by the sword’s effect on the Demon Tree.
After a long day of tree-chopping, Kirito relaxes in a bath back at the church before sitting down with Selka, Alice’s younger sister. She expresses the guilt she feels that since her sister was taken away, Eugeo hardly smiles. Furthermore, when people in the village see Selka, all they can seem to think about is her older sister. She vents her frustrations with Kirito, and ends their conversation by asking why she was taken away in the first place. Despite being her younger sister, nobody had the heart to tell her. So, naturally, Kirito tells her. There’s a moment of silence as Selka visibly thinks over what Kirito just said before saying goodnight.
To the surprise of no one, the next morning Selka is nowhere to be found. Kirito tells Eugeo the conversation he had with Selka, and the two make their way to the End Mountains. Hearing a scream from within, they venture further into the caverns and find a group of goblins, with Selka’s unconscious body on a nearby cart.
The episode ends as Eugeo calls out for Selka and attracts the attention of the goblin-horde.
I think I’m getting impatient in my old age, because this episode felt like dragging along a sack of bricks. A major part of this is because the opening episode laid out Kirito, Eugeo and Alice’s relationship, and now we’re faced with the unfortunate reality that he has no memory of this. So, both last week and this week we’re getting elements of “been there, done that” as Eugeo shares the formative memories and events from his childhood – specifically, Alice being taken away by an Integrity Knight. The result is walking on a narrative treadmill where there’s hardly any plot progression until the closing minutes – which is compounded this week by the added monotony of featuring goblins in the Fall 2018 season. Memes aside, we’re seeing a lot of goblins this season, so what would typically be an exciting reveal turns out to be rather ho-hum in the end.
The glacial pace could be forgivable if the characters and/or their relationships were more engaging – Goblin Slayer leaned on this a bit in its most recent episode, for example. Sword Art Online Alicization hasn’t developed that, largely because the tried-and-true cast has been locked away on the other side of Kirito’s consciousness, and so we aren’t able to reconnect with familiar faces like Asuna, Shinon, Klein or the others.
The show still looks great, and the introduction of the uber-powerful sword that Kirito will inevitably wield certainly opens some doors for some upcoming swordplay and action sequences, but the road to get there is oh so long and boring.
It’s not enough for me to walk away from the show, because everyone familiar with the source material says we’re in for some exciting stuff. Let’s just pick up the pace, huh SAO?
Here’s hoping things pick up next week!