This one won’t be spoiler free, because there are things I wanted to write about in this one. I’ll try to spoil as little as possible, but I do want to write about the aspects of it that irritated me, because they played a large role in my thoughts. So there will be spoilers.
And there will definitely be spoilers for Alicization, the previous story arc, as this is a direct continuation. You shouldn’t read this if you haven’t seen it. And speaking of, I do have a review for Alicization here, although it’s in my old format which included spoilers.
And throughout this post, when I mention War of the Underworld, I mean both parts. They’re separate on MyAnimeList but may as well just be one full season I think.
War of the Underworld continues off after Alicization. I guess a decent amount of time passes in the Underworld, with Alice taking care of Kirito who is in a comatose state due events from the end of Alicization. After this, the enemies in the real world who had infiltrated the base of operations end up in a situation where they have to secure Alice in a limited amount of time, and their best course of action is to enter the game themselves in order to do so.
Coming from Alicization, War of the Underworld starts out real strong I think. Just like Alicization was a nice breath of fresh air in the series that I really enjoyed (with what happens with Eugeo being the only really questionable part of Alicization from what I can remember), this follow-up season feels real fresh for different reasons.
Last season felt fresh because we were introduced into a new and interesting world that was isolated from everything else we’ve seen in past Sword Art Online installments, with Kirito being on his own and working upwards from the bottom, so to speak. It was great.
And this season, we get a completely different vibe, as we actually follow Alice for the most part, due to Kirito’s condition. It’s actually real neat to follow someone different, and see where things go. In addition, the anime introduces an interesting element with the enemies – as they end up joining into the game as enemies of the humans. Meaning the war that takes place in this season is sort of a proxy war for what is happening in the real world. It’s a cool idea.
Real World Interference
Speaking of the real world, I will say that just like last season, I never really cared about what was happening out there. I’m interested in the fantasy elements, and what’s happening in the Underworld. I understand that everything happening in the real world is justification for what we see in the game world, but it’s all just so ridiculous at this point that I just can’t be bothered to care for it.
However, last season anyways, it wasn’t difficult to just ignore the real world. Skim through the scenes and whatnot until we’re back in the game world, watching Kirito, battles, and so on.
This season, it just got to be too much.
Basically, what made the Underworld appealing to me was it’s isolation. It was a fresh thing, away from everything we see in previous seasons of Sword Art Online. Sure, Asuna gets sort of involved, and I have no issues with that, but basically it was isolated. And rightfully so, considering this is some top secret project to develop AI or something like this.
I thought the concept of the Underworld being used as a proxy war for what was happening in the real world was a cool idea. I was even fine with Asuna joining in. After all, all of these people are physically on-site, so it’s justified enough, as ridiculous as everything going on is.
But then, the anime decides to just kill the isolation. Somehow, the infiltrators are able to open up the game to everyone in America, who can all join as generic characters. And then, again, somehow, all of Kirito’s friends from other MMOs are able to join the game, as their OWN characters!
The isolation at this point was completely killed, and none of this even makes any sense, that somehow the entire world can not only just log into the servers of this top secret project, but that they can port their characters over as well. How could this completely separate and isolated game even support such a thing? None of this made any sense.
But I didn’t drop it yet.
The killing blow was at the end of episode 14. Basically, one of the infiltrators, who was playing on a premade “Dark Emperor” account, which allowed him to kick off the proxy war, died ingame. And when he wakes up back in the real world, what does he do? He tells his guy working at the mainframe they’d secured to port over his personal character.
In the end, this all just became too stupid for me to continue.
Dropped / 10.
I actually dropped War of the Underworld after episode 14.
What really did it for me was the idea that apparently anyone can just port over any character from anywhere into this formerly isolated, top secret AI developing project, without any issue. I really tried to ignore all the real world stuff, because it was already ridiculous. But it wasn’t THAT bad, and to be fair, they had to do something to justify this new fantasy world and so on. Which is why I enjoyed last season and the first half of this one.
But then they decided to just trample on all of that, and when the entire real world just stormed into the Underworld, it killed any interest I had left in this game world. I don’t care what happens there anymore. It’s just another crowded MMO now, filled with Kirito’s friends, enemies, Americans, whoever. It may as well not even be a different game anymore – it may as well be the game that Kirito and his friends were playing before all of this, or Gun Gale Online, even. What’s the difference at this point?
I held out, hoping that the story would sort itself out, but in the end I just couldn’t do it. I can’t be bothered to skim through the last 9 episodes to see how things go.
It just didn’t work out, and to me, it was like the anime took a gun to it’s own head.
I wasn’t really that into the later half of the first SAO season, nor was I a fan of SAO season 2. But I did like Alicization, and enjoyed the direction it was headed in. SAO is obviously a big franchise, so I was hoping to be able to continue to enjoy it. But after this, I likely won’t touch it again.
Hopefully the spoilers weren’t too bad, but in cases like this I feel like I have to properly explain why I dropped the anime, and being vague about it seemed too difficult. I truly did enjoy the first half of this one, but it just killed everything that I liked about this story, from Alicization onwards, when the Underworld opened up to the entire real world.
It’s unfortunate, but you can’t win them all.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.