Absolute Defense Shield, activate!
Hiyo, everyone! Today I’d like to talk about the Alicization Arc in a series I like both watching and reading despite acknowledging its many flaws! I’m aware that Sword Art Online receives a lot of criticism, much of it fair, and a lot of hatred, which feels a bit extreme. Regardless, I’ve been enjoying the latest arc in the light novels, and at least some of the content from that arc is going to be the subject of the anime’s upcoming season 3, so I decided to talk about it anyway! After all, I’m all about enjoying the best parts of a story despite its flaws and, in my opinion, this arc is the best that mainstream SAO has to offer so far. Flame me if you must – or try. This shield will never break!
An overview of the Alicization Arc’s role in the light novels – it encompasses volumes 9 through 18, so, by the end, it claims more than half of SAO up to that point. Until now, only volumes 9 through 14 have been officially translated into English, so even I don’t know how this all ends! However, as I understand it, the Alicization Arc can be split into two subarcs, and I’ve finished the first of those, and I really enjoyed it! I have no idea if season 3 of the anime can adapt 10 volumes of material – previously, the 25 episode seasons have covered 4 volumes each, so if season 3 is to tell us the full story of the Alicization Arc, I imagine it would have to be at least 50 episodes long. Maybe they’ll split it into two seasons.
I don’t want to ruin your enjoyment of the story whether you watch it or read it, so I plan to keep spoilers to a minimum. That said, I will touch on some plot points from volume 9 and hint at some facts from volume 10. Also, anything that happened in seasons 1 and 2 of the anime or volumes 1-8 of the light novels is fair game.
Volume 9 opens up… strangely. Kirito has somehow become younger. He lives in a small town called Rulid with his friends Eugeo and Alice. The setting is that of the start of a typical fantasy game. A simple village. Lush forests. A dark land beyond that none may enter. The people of this world are ruled by the Axiom Church and its Taboo Index, a set of rules that are not only absolute laws, but literally unbreakable. For most people. Heroes called Integrity Knights uphold the laws and protect the people from the denizens of the forbidden land. Rulid is to be a place of order and stability. As you might expect, that doesn’t stop Kirito – who has only ever known this world – from going on an adventure with his friends. An adventure that leads to dire consequences.
Then he wakes up. He was just testing a game for an acquaintance of his in the MMO industry. Whoops! That almost got dramatic! He recalls nothing of the time he spent in that world.
He then hangs out with his real life friends, including his girlfriend Asuna, his AI daughter Yui, and Sinon, a player of a competitive MMO called Gun Gale Online. The latter recounts the tale of her attempt to win a major tournament only to be defeated by an opponent who told her that her soul would be sweet. Creepy! Afterwards, Kirito and Asuna leave together – and are confronted with something truly frightening.
The Death Gun murders, previously stopped by Kirito and Sinon, were carried out by two former members of Laughing Coffin, a murderer’s guild from the original SAO, and one of their brothers. While the two siblings were brought to justice, the third person was never caught. And he – known as Johnny Black – wasn’t particularly happy with Kirito. So, in the middle of the night, Kirito finds himself the victim of a real life attack using the same substance that Death Gun used for his killings.
When Kirito wakes up, he’s back in that fantasy world, now his proper age – and with all his memories, save for the ones of his previous time in that world. Before long, he realizes it’s a virtual world, but that the inhabitants are not mere AI like in previous MMOs, but fully fledged people. With the help of a friend, he embarks on a quest to escape from this world – known as the Underworld – and to better understand the true nature of the people surrounding him. It seems as if his MMO insider acquaintance may have been more than he appeared…
That’s all I’ll say about the story for now! As I mentioned before, I really liked this arc. It touches on themes such as what it truly means to be a human being and delves deep into the characters’ souls. If you like SAO, I recommend reading the light novels and checking out season 3! If you hate SAO, I don’t recommend bothering! If you hate me for liking SAO, please don’t post in the comments below! Otherwise, though, I’d love to see your feedback. Are you excited for the next arc? Interested in watching season 3? Have you already read some of the Alicization Arc, and, if so, what did you think? Feel free to criticize SAO, too – just keep it friendly and civil. I hope you all have a great week!