Details: More information can be found at https://www.swordart-onlineusa.com/ and https://myanimelist.net/anime/40540/Sword_Art_Online__Alicization_-_War_of_Underworld_2nd_Season
I am so glad this season and story arc are over because it has gone so far off the rails of what is believable. I mean, none of it was that believable. This is fiction. But one hopes that a fictional story can stick to the rules of the universe it has created or tell a proper story with a proper build up, climax and payoff. This season failed to do any of that and still somehow managed to lean into all the shounen and Sword Art Online tropes that made me cringe in the past.
Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season is the second part of the most recent third season. What they’ve been doing recently in anime is that they divide up the seasons into two parts. Personally, I like that they do this because the quality of the shows has gone up tremendously ever since they started doing this. It feels like this helps the creators focus their efforts into higher quality shows by lowering the number of episodes which require their attention at a time. I guess its more manageable.
In any case, we pick right where we left off. Kirito’s crew, video game players from Japan and the artificial intelligence army he’s leading are fighting against the combined might of mercenaries who’ve invaded the virtual world and all the online video game players in the entire world. This all takes place in a virtual fantasy world by the way. Kirito is still catatonic and the only hope anyone has is for him to wake up and beat all the bad guys by himself.
As you can tell from reading the above synopsis, the story is pretty damn dumb. This is probably the worst written season of all the seasons. The pacing is horrendous. The concepts are cliche and not set up well. Watching this felt like watching the final season of Game of Thrones or the Star Wars prequels. It was just immensely disjointed and felt awkward throughout.
Making things worse was how they leaned into the classic shounen and Sword Art Online tropes. One such trope is how all the female characters are in love with Kirito. Another particularly horrific trope is that there is always a pseudo rape scene in every single season of Sword Art Online. There are also often tentacles present. It’s uncomfortable, awkward, kind of grotesque and just reflects badly on not only anime, but Japanese culture as something like this is permitted to be broadcast on Japanese television. Considering this is shounen, which is meant to target younger audiences, I wish they would lay off the rape-iness a little. It’s really weird.
The animation also isn’t amazing. It’s just very stiff and stutter-y. Even certain fight scenes where they clearly put more effort into the animation quality felt awkwardly animated and not fluid. I have no idea what went on behind the scenes, but something was lost in the creative process.
Overall, this season was a disappointment. I’ve read a lot of comments hating on Sword Art Online, but I still mostly enjoyed it up until now. This season changed that. The quality of the story fell off a cliff. My only relief from this disappointment is that this season may be the last season of Sword Art Online sequentially. That means no more stories that take place after this point in the story. There will be a new Sword Art Online anime coming out in the future, but that will be a prequel supposedly starring Asuna.