If you’ve been following the saga that is Sword Art Online, you know that Kirito constantly winds up in dangerous situations.
He survived a coma-inducing game in which dying in-game meant death in real life. Rescued a princess from captivity? Done that, too. Kirito even worked on behalf of the government, putting an end to suspicious real world murders with ties to an online MMO shooter.
You’re probably thinking there isn’t much else that Kirito could get mixed up in. You’d be wrong.
Kirito and Asuna have been enjoying time with their friends in ALfhiem and are gearing up to help Sinon with the Battle of Bullets event in GGO. When he’s not at school or in-game, Kirito has a part-time job testing dive equipment. His latest project is so secretive that the Ministry of Defense blocks his memories of the test sessions. But there’s more to life than this. And on the night that Kirito works up the nerve to ask Asuna to move to America with him, a real world run-in with Johnny Black threatens their future.
When he comes to, Kirito emerges from a strange forest and makes a new friend. Eugeo lives in Rulid and his Calling is to strike the Gigas Cedar every day. This world feels so real. If it weren’t for the status screen Eugeo shows Kirito, our hero would still be questioning whether or not this was reality. It becomes clear to Kirito that these are not NPCs inhabiting the world but Fluctlight constructs, artificial intelligence formed using human souls. He may not remember his dives but he knows who is in control. Efforts to contact the program administrators fail, leaving Kirito to search for more information and another way out of the game.
He cannot stay in Rulid forever and Eugeo tells him the story of his missing friend Alice, taken from their village 6 years ago when she accidentally broke a rule from the Taboo Index. The Axiom Church enforces the Index, sending Integrity Knights to collect the offenders and bring them to the church for execution. Eugeo wants to know what happened to Alice and Kirito sees a way he might reach the people running the game. Every day that Eugeo spends chopping that monstrous tree becomes a sword training session, until the Gigas Cedar comes crashing down. Free from this Calling, Eugeo is allowed to choose his next. Deciding to become a swordsman means he and Kirito can leave Rulid to find Alice.
Back in the real world, Asuna and their friends are searching for Kirito. His comatose body has been transferred from the local hospital to a Ministry building, but attempts to see him are futile. Something fishy is going on and this tight-knit online family is going to get to the bottom of it. It’s their turn to save Kirito, but can they do it in time?
SAO‘s Alicization arc is a lengthy one. There are nine light novels set in Underworld, and I don’t even have enough fingers and toes to guess how many episodes the anime is going to run. I can tell you that we’ve just started on the second part of the season. Part one ended with some BIG revelations and things are amping up. New episodes are ready to stream on your various services on Saturday mornings. Start your day right, wearing your comfiest pyjamas and scarfing down a giant bowl of your favourite cereal while watching SAO.