Aniplex of America Details the Home Video Releases for The Promised Neverland and Sword Art Online Alicization Anime

Aniplex of America announced at its panel at Anime NYC that it will release the first season of The Promised Neverland anime on Blu-ray Disc on March 31, 2020. The release is available for pre-order on the Right Stuf retailer’s website. The release will include English and Japanese audio tracks and Englsh subtitles, all 12 episodes of the first season, a deluxe booklet, and video extras such as a Japanese and English “Mix-up Video.”

The company also announced it will release the first season of the Sword Art Online: Alicization anime on Blu-ray Disc on April 21, 2020. The set will include all 24 episodes plus episode 18.5.

Source: ANN

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld: Episode 5 – “The Night Before Battle”

So, apparently, there wasn’t a time skip at the end of the last episode. At the beginning of this episode, Alice and Kirito join up with the Integrity Knights after seeing the cracks in the Eastern Gate… and this is the first time Alice has been in contact with the Integrity Knights.

Eldrie, Alice’s former student, is apprehensive about having Kirito around. But Alice’s mentor proves with a test that Kirito still has a will to protect others. So, he isn’t going to be the “dead weight” that Eldrie fears that he’s going to be.

Most of this episode sees Alice becoming reacquainted with people she hasn’t seen for a while. Of these encounters, the most touching is the reunion with Kirito and Eugeo’s pages from the academy. Their reactions when they see Kirito’s state and find out that Eugeo is dead were heartbreaking. But it’s during this scene that Alice learns why Kirito and Eugeo had violated the Taboo Index and killed another student, since she had never heard the reason why before. And Alice is also important here, when she comforts and gives advice to the two pages. But, with this reunion, there are now people to watch over Kirito so Alice can be fully engaged in the upcoming battle.

Oh, but prior to the pages showing up and talking with Alice, Alice almost kisses Kirito. So in this world, it looks like both Alice and Kirito’s former pages have feelings for Kirito. Asuna would be jealous if she only know. Speaking of Asuna, we still haven’t seen her appearance in Underworld yet. Where the hell is she?

We also get an amusing scene between Fanatio and Alice. When Fanatio mentions potential romantic actions with Kirito, Alice becomes jealous. They try dragging Alice’s mentor into the argument, but he’s a smart enough man to know when the walk away. Fortunately, he can use the excuse that the War Council meeting is about to begin.

Before the battle, we see Alice telling Kirito that this may be their last goodbye. Alice also has a heart-to-heart with Eldrie, and orders him to survive the battle so he can regain his former life.

Right at the end of the episode, the two sides are gathered on either side of the Eastern Gate. The words “FINAL LOAD TEST” appear, and then the Eastern Gate shatters spectacularly. The title for the next episode is something about battling between knights, so it looks like we will be continuing the story in Underworld.

Like I asked earlier, though, where’s Asuna? We know she started her dive into Underworld, but we have yet to see her anywhere. And what’s going on at Ocean Turtle? I was hoping the next episode would take us back to Ocean Turtle to see what’s going on there, but the title seems to indicate that we’ll be focusing on Underworld.

And we’ll be starting this big battle in Episode 6? There’s supposed to be 23 episodes, so how long is this battle going to take? Will we be seeing more intercutting between Underworld and Ocean Turtle in the not-too-distant future? As of right now, the pacing seems a little strange, but perhaps there will be more to the story than just this major battle at the Eastern Gate? So many questions still. Hopefully I’ll have a better sense of how this is going to go within the next few weeks.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld: Episode 4 – “Dark Territory”

The episode opens with Gabriel (the leader of the forces that attacked Ocean Turtle) having a flashback, which shows that he was obsessed with the idea of souls as a young child. As part of this flashback, we see him wondering about where the soul of his friend, Alicia, is stored. It’s interesting to note that at one point in the flashback, we see Alicia reading a particular book: Alice in Wonderland. Now, remember Alicia, because we’ll come back to her later.

We then see the various races in the dark territory rushing to the emperor’s palace, since the emperor has now returned. Gabriel makes it clear that the Eastern Gate will be falling soon, and that he wants to spread death and destruction in Underworld. He wants the “Angel of Light” (aka Alice), but he tells the forces that they kill all the rest of the humans. Not surprisingly, most of the people and creatures gathered in the throne room are exuberant. The leader of the Dark Knights, however, is not, since we saw previously that he desires to achieve peace with the people of Underworld.

That night, Lipia, the girlfriend of the leader of the Dark Knights, takes on a mission to try to assassinate Gabriel. Unfortunately, her attempt fails. As Gabriel kills her and sees her soul leave her body, he finishes his childhood flashback… where he sees that his curiosity about Alicia’s soul has resulted in him killing her. Not only that, we see her soul leave her body and enter his. Ummm… okay. And content warning here: during this particular flashback, there is blood, for those who may be squeamish about that. After the flashback, we see Gabriel absorb Lipia’s soul, and he goes off the deep end. Apparently, in the real world, he’d done more experiments on trying to find human souls, but hadn’t really had any success since Alicia. We then see him nearly having an orgasm as he thinks about what Alice’s soul will be like once he absorbs it. OMG, Gabriel is one sick fuck. Sorry for the language, but this guy is just nuts.

When Gabriel addresses everyone in the throne room the next day, he mentions the assassination attempt and brings out Lipia’s head to display. Her boyfriend, obviously, gets really pissed and tries to attack Gabriel. One of the members of the Assassins Guild shoots a strong poison into him, but the leader of the Dark Knights goes to his Lightcube to find more power. With this newfound power, he manages to blow away some of the people and creatures in the throne room, and then attacks Gabriel directly. He enters Gabriel, and sees that he doesn’t have a soul of his own and thrives on others’ souls. Unfortunately, Gabriel defeats the leader of the Dark Knights… which means that the one hope for achieving peace has been destroyed. Gabriel declares that the Eastern Gate will crumble in a matter of hours, and then they will begin their battle.

Right at the end of the episode Alice and Kirito arrive at the Eastern Gate riding on the back of Alice’s dragon. She discovers that the words, “Destroyed at the Last Stage” written on it, and that the gate is already cracking. She flies above the gate and peers over to see that the forces of the dark territory are headed that way. The episodes ends with the dragon flying off.

OK, I think we had a time skip for Alice’s story here, because there was nothing previously to indicate that Alice would be headed to the Eastern Gate. Why do I have a feeling that after this, we will be going back in time for Alice’s storyline to see what happens before this point?

Also, during the last episode, we saw Asuna starting her dive into Underworld. What’s happened to her? Where is she? Hopefully we will finally get the answer to this in the next episode. BTW, the next episode is titled, “The Night Before Battle,” so I’m guessing we will be linear in the storytelling.

I hope this isn’t a sign that the pacing is going to start getting of whack like it did with Sword Art Online: Alicization. But this seems rather soon to be launching the fall of the Eastern Gate, considering this is only the fourth episode out of a planned 23. But I’m honestly starting to feel concerned that after the first three to four episodes seemed so promising, that the series is going to start experiencing the same pitfalls that the previous series had. I hope I’m wrong, but this starting to not feel as promising as I had hoped it would be.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld: Episode 3 – “The Final Load Test”

Roughly the first half of the episode introduces us to the group that has stormed Ocean Turtle, as well as gives background on who’s behind this and how this group got involved. Of course, it turns out that the U.S. is the one behind the attack on Ocean Turtle, and using a Japanese group to do their dirty work. It’s also revealed right at the beginning that the leader of the group that infiltrated Ocean Turtle, as well as his right-hand man, had a run-in with Kirito and Asuna in one of the games from the earlier seasons of the series.

As part of the first half of the episode, we also get to see the character dynamics of the group that’s infiltrated Ocean Turtle. The leader’s right-hand man and the hacker of the group definitely don’t get along, and some of their interactions (especially the hacker’s dialogue) are a little amusing. But, as far as the plot goes, after doing some digging around, they find two Underworld superaccounts that don’t have any passwords in the Dark Territory area: a dark knight and an emperor. The leader of the group decides to dive in as the emperor, and his right-hand man as the dark knight.

Meanwhile, in the sub control room, the Rath team is discussing some things, including the final load test that’s referenced in the title of the episode. Apparently, when this is run, the gate between the human world and the Dark Territory in Underworld will be gone, and the Dark Territory forces will invade. With Kirito having destroyed the Axiom Church in the previous season, they’re not sure if the human world could withstand the attack from the Dark Territory.

Last episode, it was hinted that Asuna was thinking about diving into Underworld. She confirms this when she joins the meeting of the Rath team, as they’re discussing needing someone to go into Underworld, give Kirito forgiveness so he can move past his guilt, and get Alice safely to the World’s End Altar so her lightcube can be ejected into the sub control room. Asuna sends a text message to her friends before proceeding into the dive. Unfortunately, we don’t see Asuna appear in Underworld during this episode. Hopefully in the next one.

We also get to a couple of scenes of Asuna and Kirito’s friends in the real world, with the first being Sinon having a dream of having an encounter in one of her games with the leader of the group that stormed Ocean Turtle. She’s rattled by this dream when she wakes up. We also see the group gathered together, with Yui explaining the situation at Ocean Turtle. Yui does hint that the others will be necessary later, so I think it’s safe to say that we’ll actually be seeing more of Sinon and the others during this section of Sword Art Online.

Right at the end of the episode, we get to see interactions between two people in the Dark Territory. It turns out that one of them wants to pursue peace with the human realm, but knows that they will have to take some members of a particular council if entering into peace negotiations are going to ever be a reality. The episode ends with the leader and the right-hand man making their entrance into the Dark Territory as the emperor and the dark knight, respectively.

While there was a lot of exposition early on in the episode, it was needed for the audience to finally understand who was behind the raid on Ocean Turtle. But even with the exposition, the story still moved along with the scenes that weren’t exposition heavy. Right now, I’m still glad that I took the chance to watch this after my disappointment in Sword Art Online: Alicization. It’s still disappointing that the lead-in to this material was so weak, though. I hope that my interest in this series continues to hold as these episodes continue.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld: Episode 2 – “Raids”

The first half of the episode focuses on what’s happening in Underworld. At the beginning, we see Alice riding on her dragon toward Ruild after seeing Kirito trying to get to his sword when he senses that the village is under attack. When she sees that the villagers aren’t trying to retreat south, she goes into the village to talk with her father and the others. He says that what they’re doing is by order of the man-at-arms, and that they can’t violate imperial law.

Well, Alice has hidden the fact that she’s an Integrity Knight from the village (hence why she’s seen wearing a plain looking robe up to this point). In order to save her family and the village, she reveals her armor and finally explains that she’s an Integrity Knight and that this was her punishment for the crime she committed as a child. The shocked looks on the villagers’ faces, especially the cocky rich guy who was using her to get work done so he could become richer, were priceless. But as an Integrity Knight, she has the authority to cancel the order of the man-at-arms. At this point, the villagers begin fleeing.

Then, Alice, along with her dragon, go to face the evil forces, head on. This is a very impressive scene, because she finally makes the resolve to protect the world that Eugeo and Kirito fought to save. As part of this resolve, she removes the eyepatch that she was wearing to cover her eye that had been affected when she violated the Taboo Index. With this, she affirms her identity as Alice, an Integrity Knight. I just loved the symbolism of this scene, and we’re starting to see that Alice could become a major badass.

After driving away the forces of evil, Alice decides to return to the Integrity Knights, and is taking Kirito with her. While her initial reason for leaving was in order to protect Kirito, I have a feeling she’s gained more confidence in her ability to be able to protect him. I hope I’m right on that.

The second half of the episode sees what’s happening at Ocean Turtle. What we see is taking place about a half hour after the raid on the facility. Asuna and the others have been able to retreat to another area of the facility, and we get a scene getting the audience up to speed on some things. We learn that they don’t know who these forces area that have attacked the facility, but it seems they start piecing some things together. Also, we learn why Kirito is in the state that he’s in at this point in Underworld. It’s also revealed that when they sent Kirito back into Underworld after he was attacked, they had tried to suppress his memories of the real world… but they weren’t suppressed. So he is in Underworld as his real self, not as his game character (which could be seen early on in Sword Art Online: Alicization when we first see him reappear in the game and his confusion and lack of memory of Eugeo and Alice). But, as his real self, he has knowledge of the game and the fact that these “people” are actually fluctlights, and this is part of the reason why he was trying to contact Ocean Turtle right at the end of the previous series.

But it’s made clear that Kirito is on the edge of the worst-case scenario for his situation. Right at the end of the episode, we see Asuna with Kirito in the room he’s in, and she seems to notice another machine like the one Kirito is one. I have a feeling that she may be getting an idea involving herself and that machine. It’s something I could see Asuna doing.

Speaking of Asuna, she has a great scene of showing how badass she is when she grabs the main researcher by the shirt and shows how angry she is about what’s happened to Kirito. She later apologizes to him for overreacting, but I was like, “Don’t apologize, girl. He had that coming. He actually kind of deserved that.”

So far, Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld is off to a good start. It’s just disappointing that it took the story this long to finally get to a point of being truly riveting viewing. The slog that was Sword Art Online: Alicization almost made me not want to continue on, but I decided to give Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld a chance, anyway. Right now, I’m glad I did. But it’s still disappointing that the lead up to this section of the story was on the weaker side.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld: Episode 1 – “In The Far North”

The episode opens six months after Kirito fought Administrator. Kirito is now in a wheelchair, mute and without emotions, and is living with Alice in a cabin outside of Ruild (Alice and Eugeo’s home village). It’s also established that if Kirito is taken out of the cabin, he will use gestures to indicate that he wants to take both his and Eugeo’s swords with him. This becomes an important plot point later in the episode.

Alice has a flashback to what happened at the end of the battle with Administrator, as well as some of the events that lead up to where we are now in the story. We see Alice take Kirito to Ruild, as she feels that’s the only safe place for him (especially with the Integrity Knights talking behind her back about the idea that Kirito needs to be executed for what he’s done). We see Alice return to Ruild, but she’s not welcome back with open arms. We can see how painful it is for her father, the village elder, to send her away. But since the people in Underworld have a strict adherence to their laws, he feels obligated to turn both her and Kirito away. Since Alice doesn’t know if she’s been absolved of her crime from when she was a child, and with Kirito branded a criminal, he has no choice but to turn them away.

Even though they’re not allowed to live in the village, the villagers have no qualms of using Alice to get tasks done. There’s a scene where she is asked to cut down a large tree, one that several strong men have been working on all day and have hardly made a dent in. With her abilities, and getting permission from Kirito to use his sword, she cuts it down. But while she’s doing that, some of the men grab Eugeo’s sword away from Kirito, knocking him down in the process. We can see Kirito desperately reaching out for the sword as the men taunt him. Alice, of course, is pissed, and gets the sword back. It’s not surprising that this moment makes Alice question why they went through what they did to save these people.

Near the end of the episode, Alice receives a surprise visitor… the Integrity Knight that she had mentored. He reveals important information about the movements of the Dark Territory, and we also see that he holds the same beliefs about Kirito as the other Integrity Knights. He implores Alice to come back to the Integrity Knights, in part by telling a lie that her she no longer has the same abilities for swordfighting that she used to.

The episode ends with another cliffhanger, as it appears that the Dark Territory has begun its moves. This is first brought to Alice’s attention by Kirito suddenly reacting to something in the middle of the night.

While this episode may not have had much in the way of action, it didn’t really need to. The purpose of this episode was to establish what had happened after the defeat of Administrator, as well to set up where the story will go in the Underworld portion of the story. We’ll obviously have to have story taking place in the real world, too, especially after what happened to Kirito at the Cathedral that turned him into the state that he’s in. We know Asuna’s not going to take this lying down, it’s just not know what she can or is able to do. As the audience, it would also be nice to know what Kirito’s state is like in the real world. If he’s as bad off as he is in Underworld, I suspect he’s worse off in the real world. I’m really hoping that this season, we will start seeing more of what’s going on in the real world, especially in comparison with what we saw in Sword Art Online: Alicization.

Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld: Episode 0 – “Reflection”

I had heard there was a recap episode that aired in Japan last week, but had never heard that Crunchyroll was streaming it. When I went by the Sword Art Online area to find out what time the series is supposed to premiere on Saturdays, I discovered that this recap episode was available for streaming. I figured it’d be a good idea to watch it in order to jog my memory of what happened in the previous season, since it’s been a while since the final episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization aired.

Almost the first half focuses on Asuna recapping her side of the story. Of course, this meant that this section focused more on dialogue than on action, since her side of the story in the series was very dialogue-driven. Her side was more for exposition than anything else in that season.

When we switch to the Underworld side of the story, it’s from the point of view of Alice. This means that we don’t get to see any of Kirito and Eugeo’s early journey in the series. It jumps right to the battle with Administrator, and Alice showing us some glimpses of her meeting Kirito and learning the truth before this battle takes place. The frustrating part here, though, is that the final battle between Kirito and Administrator is shown as a series of still shots as the credits roll to the side. I understand why this was done, because they needed the last couple of minutes to recap the audience of what happened in the real world right at the end of the final episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization, especially since this final scene sets the stage for Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld.

Even with its faults, I still applaud the idea that this recap prologue episode was put together for this series, due to the gap between the end of Sword Art Online: Alicization and the beginning of Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld. When I begin watching the new season, I won’t be feeling terribly lost and trying to remember what happened previously.