“‘Where…am I…?’ Before he knows it, Kirito has made a full-dive into an epic, fantasy-like virtual world. With only a murky recollection of what happened right before he logged in, he starts to wander around, searching for clues. He comes upon an enormous, pitch dark tree (the Gigas Cedar), where he encounters a boy. “My name is Eugeo. Nice to meet you, Kirito.” Although he is supposedly a resident of the virtual world – an NPC – the boy shows the same array of emotions as any human being. As Kirito bonds with Eugeo, he continues to search for a way to log out of this world. Meanwhile, he remembers a certain memory deep down within him. He remembers racing through the mountains with Eugeo as a child… A memory that he should not have in the first place. And in this memory, he sees someone other than Eugeo, a young blond girl. Her name is Alice. And it is a name that must never be forgotten…” -Aniplex USA
I honestly didn’t think that Sword Art Online would come back after the second season in Gun Gale Online, but man I’m not complaining. Starting off with a 40-minutes episode to start off the new portion of the show was a good idea, allows for an introduction to this new arc as well as some scene to remind the audience on what’s already happened. The art and animation already caught my attention within the first few minutes, ALMOST like something ufotable would’ve done. The coloring and lighting made everything pop and visually stimulating. But las it’s not ufotable and therefore will have some flaws, such as the loss of detail lines in Alice’s hair. On the story side, Alicization brings back the danger and fear of virtual reality, after watching both season 1 and 2 we’ve grown used to the idea of VR and “dying” as a concept. Alicization brings back death in a new frightening way, renewing that tension that we first experience in the first season of SAO.
The story seems a lot more solidified than it was when Sword Art Online first aired back in 2012. As most of you may know this is the fourth part in the Sword Art Online Series (Sword Art Online (anime), Sword Art Online II (anime), and Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale (movie)), so you’ll want to watch those first before starting this one. If you’ve already watched them then great!