This episode is actually perfectly timed. I never got the chance to write about the first fourteen episodes, but I can cover them now. However, the context of what happened isn’t as important as what we lost from the novels, which is a lot of the internal dialogue that better fleshes out the characters. As an opener, we get Kirito and Alice on their ledge, with Kirito telling Alice his side of the story, what he believes in to be the truth. A key difference, though, is that Kirito’s story in the anime sounds like he was a direct participant in those events, whereas the novels had him questioning just how he knew those details with such depth. It’s a key difference because as we remember from the first episode, after Alice is taken away, Kirito wakes up in the real world again, only to be put into a coma after being injected by succinylcholine by Johnny Black. He shouldn’t be having these detailed memories.
Anyway, we get to recall the events leading to Alice’s capture, from her trespassing into the Dark Territory to the chopping of the Gigas Cedar in Rulid Village. I actually wished that A-1 took the time to put in the cutscene with Eugeo and Jink, the local village sword guard. We see him briefly in an episode, in which he taunts Eugeo and Kirito for having a weak Calling. Speaking of Eugeo’s calling, a lot of his anger and resentment is about his Calling. The reality of it is, Eugeo’s got a great Calling that has good pay, but because he comes from a family of farmers, him being Called to cut down the Gigas Cedar impacted the family’s farm work, leading to his siblings resenting him and his father scorning him. His mother chose not to intervene on his behalf. A lot of his anger has already been there from the start, but his sealed right eye prevented him from doing anything. It’s only when his seal breaks that he’s seen acting more rashly and angrily.
Going back to Jink, though, the night that Eugeo was given a new Calling of Swordsman, in the novels, Eugeo was stopped by Jink, who requested a duel as he could not tolerate Eugeo becoming a Swordsman like him. Using Kirito’s training, he mops the floor with him in a satisfying moment. At that point, Kirito and Eugeo leave the village, to head to Zakkaria and then Centoria. After having Zakkaria cut the first time, the anime skips it again in this recap, instead focusing on the major plot of the academy, in which Eugeo violates the Taboo Index to save his and Kirito’s pages from being violated by upper-class noblemen. For a 23-minute episode, this was about three minutes in length. It quite honestly needed to be that long, because it’s in this episode (Episode 10) that the series turns, which happens to coincide with the name of the novel, Alicization Turning. Eugeo becomes the first criminal of the Human Empire, and a cornerstone of the bottom-up artificial intelligence that Kikuoka Seijirou is developing in the real world. It’s not Alice who is considered the bottom-up AI just yet, as she hadn’t broken the Seal of the Right Eye! Viewers need to both remember and know, this is not Kirito or Alice’s story. This is Eugeo’s story. As Eugeo swung his sword at Humbert and Raios, he knew that his journey and desire to become an Integrity Knight would come to an end… although, as we know, there are multiple ways to become a Knight.
After being arrested, Kirito and Eugeo are thrown into prison, they escape, and then they start fighting the Integrity Knights on their way to stop Quinella. As we see in the Cardinal recap sequence, the world is scheduled to end when the Dark Territory invades the Human Empire during the “load test phase.” Quite simply, the Human Empire is screwed if that happens, because they’re limited to showmanship fighting that is focused on a single strike. As such, Kirito’s goal is to prevent that from happening and allow the Underworld to live on peacefully, as he states to Alice.
I liked how A-1 weaved these events together with background narration from Kirito’s perspective as he explains these events to Alice. It’s a concept that works well in its execution, getting viewers quickly up to speed again before the story continues. I did not like that there wasn’t any new information, nor was there any new dialogue that explained character motivations. It’s a little bit disappointing that we skipped over the Eugeo and Jink fight, as well as the Zakkaria Tournament part though. Two years is a big time skip and as we saw from Sword Art Online: Progressive, a lot can happen in two years. We’re starting to get to the crazier part of the first half of this story, and next week’s episode follows up with Seal of the Right Eye.