Toonami to Premiere the Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 Anime on November 7, 2020

The official Twitter account of Aniplex of America and the official Facebook account for Adult Swim’s Toonami programming block have announced that the Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 anime will premiere on the block at 12:30 a.m. EST on November 7, 2020 (effectively November 8, 2020).

The full lineup for November 7, 2020 includes:

  • 12:00 a.m. – Dragon Ball Super
  • 12:30 a.m. – Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2
  • 01:00 a.m. – Fire Force Season 2
  • 01:30 a.m. – Assassination Classroom
  • 02:00 a.m. – Gemusetto: Death Beat(s)
  • 02:30 a.m. – Naruto Shippūden
  • 03:00 a.m. – Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2, the anime’s “Final Season,” premiered on July 11, 2020, and the series ended on September 19, 2020.

Source: ANN

Yen Press Announces Sword Art Online Platinum Collector’s Box Set

Yen Press, LLC has announced the acquisition of the Sword Art Online Platinum Collector’s Edition, a deluxe limited edition box set of the iconic Sword Art Online light novel series written by Reki Kawahara with illustrations by abec.

Spanning twenty volumes of Sword Art Online, this special boxed set includes exclusive prints and a poster featuring gorgeous art by abec. With two beautiful collector’s edition volumes, this boxed set is an absolute must-have for fans of the series.

For nearly a decade, Sword Art Online has been one of the most beloved franchises in the world of light novels, manga and anime. This deluxe box set appeals greatly to passionate fans of the series as well as collectors of limited edition offerings, such as the Spice and Wolf Anniversary Collector’s Edition and the PandoraBox: Limited PandoraHearts Collection previously released by Yen Press.

Sword Art Online Platinum Collector’s Edition is on sale December 22, 2020. Pre-orders are available now on YenPress.com.

Anime Spotlight: Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld 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 first part of the series aired on Japanese television from October 12-December 28, 2019. The second half aired on Japanese television from July 11-September 19, 2020. As of this writing, Aniplex of America holds the North American license for Sword Art Online: Alicization.

Early on in this series, I felt like these episodes had a better grasp of pacing and story momentum than Sword Art Online Alicization did. In my reviews for these episodes, I kept commenting that this is the type of storytelling and pacing that the first series should have had.

It was an interesting plot point to see that Kirito had become mute and emotionless after the ending of Sword Art Online Alicization. In fact, this plot point is there from the beginning of this series and lasts through a good portion of the second half of Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld. But when Kirito finally snaps out of this, that’s when it felt like the pacing of the story started being rushed. It was giving me flashbacks to the rushed ending that Sword Art Online Alicization had.

One thing that this series had going for it was the fact that were getting a lot more intercutting between the events of Underworld and what was simultaneously going on in the real world. Of course, considering the plot of this series, the storytelling had to change in this manner. We have some “baddies” in the real world who have infiltrated Ocean Turtle… hired Americans who have a mission to steal Alice. Two of the “baddies” dive into Underworld with superaccounts for characters in the Dark Territory. They decide to use these accounts to encourage the inhabitants of the Dark Territory to launch a war against the humans and others in Underworld. This actually makes up a good portion of the story of this series, hence the addition of “War of Underworld” to the title.

The two main “baddies,” Gabriel and Vassago, are both rather messed up individuals. There wasn’t going to be any redemption for these villains, that’s for sure. They were definitely the kind of villains that you “love to hate.”

This series also allowed Kirito’s and Asuna’s friends, who had been all but sidelined in Sword Art Online Alicization, to play an important role and become involved with the events taking place in Underworld. We also get to see more of the characters from Rath who are on Ocean Turtle and how they have to deal with the invaders.

The first half of Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld was very strong, and it felt like it had been quite the improvement over the previous series, which I had been disappointed in by the time it ended. The second half of this series had started out strong, but after Kirito came out of his catatonic state, it felt like the story was being rushed again. And I wasn’t satisfied with how this series ended. The ending felt vague, and I found myself wondering why I spent time watching all 47 episodes (between Sword Art Online Alicization and Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld) if this was the ending it was going to bring me to. The endings for the previous series of Sword Art Online didn’t leave me feeling so underwhelmed. Will I watch anything more from the Sword Art Online franchise in the future? Probably. However, I’ll be going in with lowered expectations.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2: Episode 11 – “New World”

The episode opens with Kirito getting a call from Rinko that Alice has disappeared from Rath. Suddenly, his doorbell rings, and there’s a deliveryman with a large package. It was pretty easy to guess that Alice had mailed herself from Rath headquarters to Kirito’s house. At first, Alice is rather angry with Kirito and she lets out all of the emotions she’s been feeling. Kirito finds the words to calm her down.

A lot of the episode shows Kirito interacting with Alice at his house. First, there’s a scene in the training hall, and we see they have a sparring match. It’s pretty short, though, because they both break their wooden swords, and Alice manages to get a headbutt in with her metal head. Ouch, that had to hurt. But they end up in an awkward position of Alice being on top of Kirito. I bet Asuna would’ve been ticked if she’d seen that.

We also get a scene of Kirito, Alice, and Suguha talking at the dinner table with Kirito’s parents. I remember seeing the mom in previous series, but I don’t recall seeing the dad prior to this. I could be misremembering, though. Kirito gets a talk from his parents, with the dad emphasizing Kirito’s future. Kirito announces his intentions to change his focus when he’s out of high school, which includes studying at a college in Japan and getting what he needs in order to work at Rath. This makes Alice happy, of course, because that would allow the two of them to be near each other. We see that while Kirito’s parents want him to think about his future, they’re also proud of him for how he’s saved both game worlds and the real world. His dad even knows Kirito’s nickname of “The Black Swordsman.” It was amusing to see Kirito’s reaction when his dad referred to him by that nickname.

Alice receives a message that she shares with Kirito. They determine it’s a code to reveal an IP address. Kirito believes it’s the IP address that will allow them to return to Underworld. Rinko believes this is Heathcliff’s doing, and she sends Kirito, Alice, and Asuna back to Underworld with that IP address. What they find there surprises them… and me. They end up in outer space, and are looking down at the planet that Underworld inhabits. A lot has changed since we last saw it. The descendants of Kirito and Eugeo’s pages are now flying fighter jets in order to fight against space monsters. While there is a gap of generations, these two girls look eerily similar to the pages. It must be something in the DNA, but they recognize Kirito and Alice. Yeah, I guess it was interesting to see this, but at the same time, I was kind of like, “Uhhh… what?” I know 200 years had progressed, but goodness! I was not expecting to see fighter jets.

To be honest, though, this episode is kind of a letdown. The ending was quite vague. Yes, it was leaving open the idea that there can be adventures in the future with these characters, but still. At least the previous Sword Art Online series didn’t have such unsatisfying and vague conclusions. And we still have the major loose end of Vassago’s whereabouts. I’m sure that if the story continues at some point, he will likely reappear as a villain. But this ending, though. It’s like, “I followed this series all the way through, even though the pacing was awkward in the first series, and this is the conclusion we get?” Can you tell I’m disappointed with this ending?

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2: Episode 10 – “Alice”

I wasn’t expecting the episode to open with Rinko holding a press conference and announcing the existence of Fluctlights to the world. And I especially hadn’t expected to see Alice “brought to life” in the real world as an AI, especially not at the beginning of an episode. The press conference was quite interesting, but it wasn’t surprising to see the reporters asking certain kinds of questions about common fears about AIs. And I couldn’t help but almost laugh at the one reporter who was trying to cite all the movies and books that have been created over the years depicting the dangers of AI. Even though I found it amusing, I know that this would realistically happen at a press conference announcing the existence of an AI.

We then see Higa watching the broadcast of the press conference on the Ocean Turtle. We find out about the various political intrigue that went on between the end of the episode and this point through dialogue between Higa and Kikuoka (and part of this scene reveals the fact that it’s believed that Kikuoka is dead). We also learn the justification for why it was decided to reveal the existence of the Fluctlights, which unsurprisingly, is politically motivated. But while this is going on, Kikuoka notices on a display that Kirito is awakening. The two of them rush to where Kirito and Asuna are, and Alice ends up joining them. When Kirito awakens, he requests that his and Asuna’s memories of the last 200 years in Underworld be deleted. But, as we later see, Higa doesn’t entirely honor this request… and this act seems to be setting the stage for what will happen in the next episode.

When Kirito awakens, he utters the words, “the queen and I” (the queen being a reference to Asuna), so it appears that the two of them were rulers of Underworld at one point. Unfortunately, in this episode, the best we get is a montage of some still images from early on in their 200 years in Underworld, so the audience still doesn’t truly know what happened to these two characters during that time frame.

Earlier, I referenced that Higa didn’t entirely honor Kirito’s request. Behind the others’ backs, he managed to make a copy of Kirito’s Fluctlight, and we see him conversing with the copy near the end of the episode. The copy of Kirito’s Fluctlight seems to have a plan to protect Underworld, and he says that he will fight for it. The copy even starts laying out plans, even though Higa tells him about the political realities of the current situation. But it looks like this conversation is setting in motion for the fluctlights of Kirito and Heathcliff to meet (since we learned in the previous episode that Heathcliff was in the robot that disappeared at the end of the previous episode).

However, we still do have one loose end from last week’s episode… what happened to Vassago? He disappeared last episode, and we saw neither hide nor hair of him in this one. So I’m sure he’ll pop up again in next week’s episode, especially since, from my understanding, it’s supposed to be the last one. I read a review elsewhere that this episode and next week’s episode need to cover a little over 100 pages of the light novel, so I’m concerned that next week’s episode is going to be rushed, and end up being just as rushed and awkward of an ending as the boss battle with Administrator at the end of Sword Art Online: Alicization was. Because from what I’m piecing together here, the meeting of Kirito and Heathcliff’s Fluctlights needs to happen, as well as whatever plan Vassago has when he returns. I can’t see this being developed well in one episode, hence the concern for next week’s episode to feel rushed.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2: Episode 9 – “Beyond Time”

The vast majority of this episode focuses on what’s happening on Ocean Turtle. Which makes a lot of sense, since there are loose ends to be tied up in the real world. The episode opens with seeing what happened in the real world when Asuna logs Alice out of Underworld and announces her intention to stay with Kirito. I thought this was a good way to open what’s happening on the real world side, since it directly connects back to what we saw in the previous episode.

The immediate concern is trying to log both Kirito and Asuna out of the STL, and we see Higa and Kikuoka opening the bulkhead again in order to work at accomplishing this task. The American troop invaders notice the movement. The computer expert guy (I forgot his name) sends most of the troops to one location, but he and Briggs go to the bulkhead. There, they find that Yanai has been killed, and that Kikuoka and Higa are there. Kikuoka is armed and shoots at Briggs, killing him. Computer guy goes to find Gabriel and Vassago, and finds that they’re both dead. He starts panicking, because he’s so used to be ordered around by others and not being in charge.

Speaking of Gabriel, we get a horror movie-like scene of Alicia, the girl Gabriel killed when they were kids, taking his soul. It was kind of creepy to watch, but there was some serious poetic justice there. And why am I not surprised that the expression on Gabriel’s corpse looks so twisted?

Well, computer guy is badgered into doing something by another member of the team, who had been close with Briggs. They decide that if they can’t retrieve Alice, that they’re going to blow up Ocean Turtle and flee. So the stakes are upped once again.

The mission to remove the detonator has its own twist when the robot Niemond appears on the scene. And this robot has a secret, which is the major twist of this section. But let’s just say that Niemond manages to get the job done and save Ocean Turtle.

There’s another twist right at the end of the episode, and I believe this twist is setting us up for one more major incident on Ocean Turtle in next week’s episode.

Oh, and there’s a final scene after the credits of Kirito and Asuna in Underworld, which picks up where the final scene of last week’s episode left off. Basically, they decide they’re going to try to make the best of their current situation.

I hate to be so vague in some of this write up, but I say anything more, I’ll be providing spoilers… and there could be readers looking at this who haven’t watched this episode of Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 yet. I don’t want to inadvertently spoil any surprises.

With what is set up here, I can see how they can get another episode out of the story. But how are they going to get two more, I wonder? I guess I’ll have to find out by watching the final two episodes.

Netflix to Stream the Sword Art Online: Alicization Anime

The Fandom Post is reporting that Netflix will be begin streaming the first 12 episodes of the Sword Art Online: Alicization anime on October 1, 2020. Language options will be announced at a later date. It will be listed as season three on their site when it goes live.

Manabu Ono is directing the series and A-1 Pictures handling the animation production. Gou Suzuki, Tomoya Nishiguchi, and Shingo Adachi are handling the character designs.

Source: The Fandom Post

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2: Episode 8 – “The Night-Sky Blade”

The episode opens with Asuna using her abilities to create a staircase to the World End Altar, and she and Alice begin running up it. Kirito, meanwhile, engages in a battle with Gabriel.

The focus of the episode is on this battle. In true shonen style, Gabriel has a couple of power ups, until we see his final form. That final form, though, shows just how much humanity he’s lost (not that he had much to begin with at the beginning of this series). At the very beginning, it looked like Kirito was going to be overtaken by Gabriel. The question that stumps him being, “Who are you?” This was kind of an nice touch, since Kirito is still healing from his issues that put him in the comatose state to begin with, and this shows that the procedure that was used to bring him back didn’t necessarily heal him 100%. But, this starts a chain of events that turns the spirit of Eugeo into a “deus ex machina.”

To power up to the final stage of the battle, Kirito uses his Night-Sky Blade to stir memories of everyone in Underworld. In the end, it’s the power of love that saves the day (how cliche is this?). This sequence reminded me a lot of when Goku uses the Genki Dama in Dragon Ball Z, and how this power up is a convenient way to stretch out the episode by showing various characters’ reactions.

And… this big battle ends in this episode. Yes, we build up to this battle, and it’s decided by the end of one episode. To me, at least, this battle felt even more rushed than the battle with Administrator. I remember complaining about how rushes Kirito’s battle with Administator felt… and this feels worse. And this feeling is intensified by how much Eugeo’s spirit was utilized as a “deus ex machina” during this battle. To be fair, though, it probably needed to go quickly, since the 10 minute time limit was established at the end of the previous episode. If the original light novel hadn’t painted them into that corner, perhaps the anime could have given this fight a little more justice. Because if the anime had given this battle the amount of time it needed, I probably would have been complaining about how this seems like an awfully long 10 minutes. In this case, I think the anime couldn’t win with how the fight was depicted.

So, yes, Kirito defeats Gabriel after he reaches his final non-human form. We see many of the characters logging out of the game, and we even see Alice disappear. The episode ends with Kirito realizing that he’s trapped in Underworld, and he thinks that he’s alone… but right at the end of the episode, when he reaches the World End Altar, he discovers that Asuna is also there. When I saw her appear, I realized that she was the one character we never saw log out. We saw Alice disappear, but not Asuna. So it wasn’t really a shock when Asuna appeared at the end.

Asuna and Kirito are trapped in Underworld, and there are still three episodes of the series left. Obviously, these two will be trying to find a way to get out of Underworld, but do they really need three episodes to cover this plot point? I’m just afraid that we’re now seeing the pacing issues that the Sword Art Online: Alicization had, which is going to hurt the ending of Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2. But perhaps the execution of these final three episodes will make up for the 10 minute time limit leading up to the final battle. I’ll only know that once I see these final three episodes.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2: Episode 7 – “Awakening”

Now that Kirito is up and about, he goes about starting to take on Vassago. At first, it looks like Vassago has the upper band, but the spirit of Eugeo appears to Kirito and helps him to log out the American, Chinese, and South Korean players. From there, Eugeo’s sword regenerates, and now Kirito has two swords at his disposal. Kirito is able to utilize the Night-Sky Blade’s abilities to ultimately take down Vassago. Since his sword was made from the demon tree near Alice and Eugeo’s village, he uses the memories of the blade to trap Vassago in Underworld with a kind of “poetic justice,” if you will. But, finally… Vassago has been defeated! And after a brief reunion with everyone, Kirito whisks Asuna away so they can go save Alice.

But on Ocean Turtle, events take a turn for the worse. One of Gabriel’s men is supposed to accelerate time more in Underworld, but discovers he needs a key for an override. One of the other guys decides to shoot at the panel, and it triggers a warning. Through an explanation, we learn that it’s going to reach maximum acceleration in 15 minutes… and if they can’t get Kirito and Asuna to log themselves out of Underworld by the end of the time limit, they will die. As we learn, 200 years will pass in Underworld once maximum acceleration is reached, which is beyond a human lifespan.

Even though this is relayed to Kirito and Asuna, they’re both convinced that they can save Alice and log out by the end of the time period. The episode ends when Alice is trying to part ways with the dragons, and Gabriel appears… and Kirito jumps in to save the day. The final shot is a side-by-side of Kirito and Gabriel, both looking determined. So in the span of roughly ten minutes (since five minutes had already elapsed before Kirito was contacted), they will need to defeat Gabriel, save Alice, and log out. This seems like a tall order, but I’m sure Kirito’s “protagonist powers” will save the day. The question is more, how exactly will he use them to pull off what currently seems to be impossible.

Wow… the stakes were upped quickly in this episode. It appears that there are supposed to be four more episodes coming up, and I’m just afraid that this final battle between Kirito and Gabriel is going to be stretched out. We’ve had good pacing up to this point in Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2, so I’d hate to see it get bogged down right at the end. I know stretching out a battle that has a time limit is a hallmark of shonen anime (for example, like Dragon Ball Z), but I was hoping to avoid that here. The title of the next episode is “The Night-Sky Blade,” so it appears Kirito’s weapon will be playing an important role somehow. It’ll be interesting to see how this series ultimately executes its final episodes.

Hulu Adds the Dubbed Version of the First Season of the Sword Art Online: Alicization Anime

The Fandom Post is reporting that Hulu is adding the dubbed version of the first season of the Sword Art Online: Alicization anime, in addition to the subtitled version that the service has already been streaming.

Manabu Ono is directing the anime and A-1 Pictures handling the animation production. Gou Suzuki, Tomoya Nishiguchi, and Shingo Adachi are handling the character designs.

Source: The Fandom Post