Sword Art Online: Alicization is an anime series based on a light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec. The anime is produced by A-1 Pictures and is directed by Manabu Ono. The series aired on Japanese television from October 6, 2018-March 30, 2019. As of this writing, Aniplex of America holds the North American license for Sword Art Online: Alicization.
When I heard that there would be another Sword Art Online anime series, I was excited to see how the story would continue after Sword Art Online II. The opening episode for Sword Art Online: Alicization had a runtime of roughly 45 minutes, and it seemed a little on the slow side. However, I was willing to give the pacing the benefit of the doubt, since this first episode was trying to establish the new elements that would be introduced in the series.
Unfortunately, pacing issues kept coming up during this series. In fact, it got so bad that there were two episodes that were back-to-back which was essentially flashbacks accompanied by narration. While the information imparted during these episodes was important, the way in which the information was presented made these episodes boring to watch and helped the series feel like I was slogging through it at that point.
Then, there was the completely unnecessary recap episode that only helped to emphasize just how little plot had really happened over the previous 18 episodes. And then, in the very next episode, Kirito tells Alice in a quick piece of dialogue a summary of what had been seen in the recap episode. Honestly, instead of a recap episode, that slot could have been used to gain an extra 22 minutes to tell the story, because right after this, the pacing suddenly picks up at a breakneck speed. In fact, in a review of Episode 21 that was published on Anime News Network, the reviewer mentions that the episode covered 75 pages(!) of Volume 14 of the light novels.
I honestly got the impression that the writer adapting the light novels for the anime realized at Episode 21 that they were running out of episodes and had a lot of material of cover, so they had to suddenly rush through the rest of this section of the light novel’s story in order to fit everything into the episode count.
When it came to the new characters, I liked Eugeo, but was disappointed that he ended up being a sacrifice. I still don’t have much of an opinion on Alice at this point. Administrator was just ridiculous, and some of the plot points concerning her just didn’t work for me. Cardinal felt more like a “deus ex machina” instead of an actual character, so it was hard for me to get emotional when she sacrificed herself. Chudelkin wasn’t around for very long, but he was an obnoxious twit.
Now, I don’t know if the issues I’m having with Sword Art Online: Alicization stem from the original light novel or from the anime adaptation of the source material. But, either way, the series was a letdown after Sword Art Online and Sword Art Online II.
When the next series, Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld premieres in October 2019, I will be watching it as a simulcast. Unfortunately, I’m planning to go into it with much lowered expectations than I did when I started Sword Art Online: Alicization. I hope that the next series will surprise me and far exceed my lowered expectations.