Visualizing a Novel: Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18

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Well, you know that an episode is going to be great when it starts immediately with the opening song. It’s, for the most part, a solid episode, with much of its focus on the clash between Eugeo and Bercouli, the aptly titled Legendary Hero. We’re introduced to some new characters mainly the main elder, Chudelkin, and developing the plot a bit further as the first cour rapidly approaches its endgame.

The big moment is what a lot of fans had been waiting for with the introduction of the Integrity Knight Commander, Bercouli Synthesis One. Voiced by Junichi Suwabe, he’s absolutely confident in his skills with the sword. In the light novel, he allowed Eugeo to chant his Perfect Weapon Control Art incantation while holding a light conversation with him. His sword, the Time Piercing Sword, also got a bit of a makeover from its novel component, being much bigger and a lot more fantasy-like, in comparison to the katana-like weapon design from Alicization Dividing. It’s a powerful weapon that was built from a system clock in Underworld, therefore giving it the ability to manipulate time. This episode foreshadowed its power by demonstrating its future cutting abilities. With a bit of inference, though, you can figure out the “other side” of the weapon that Chudelkin referred to.

As the legendary hero, Bercouli has fought countless Dark Territory minions over centuries, noting the practicality of these fighters as they used “continuous attacks” over the Human Empire’s one strike model. It’s an interesting paradigm because the Dark Territory fights to survive, while the Human Empire is akin to “show fighting.” Bercouli lets Eugeo fight how he pleases, and Eugeo ends up delivering, big time, with some tactical thinking that would make Kirito very proud of his swordplay. In the light novel, he fakes Bercouli out with an icicle after using his first stage of the Perfect Weapon Control Art. In the anime, you learn that he used the ice shattering effect as a smokescreen to push Bercouli to the water and with a well-placed elemental discharge dislodges his sword from the ceiling. We get to see his Blue Rose Sword’s memories unleashed as he performs his second stage of the Perfect Weapon Control Art. He freezes everything with ice, and as the blue roses blossom they sap the life of their wielder.

When you think about it, the fight was over in a flash, but I kind of enjoyed that because it’s akin to those old samurai duels where the battle is over in an instant. Bercouli got played, and despite not going all-in with his Release Recollection (he chose to spare Eugeo for letting his disciple Fanatio live) he’s honorable and gracious in his defeat. Side note, the fact that Bercouli asked about Fanatio specifically leads to other questions about him possibly reciprocating her feelings. It’s a note that will be developed as the Alicization series continues to build up. Eugeo got him here with the play, gambling and correctly deciphering that Bercouli was synthesized at an older age, thus having a lower Life. His Release came all the way down to the fact that he would have more durability and outlast Bercouli.

However, the fun doesn’t stop there as we’re introduced to Chudelkin. I hate this guy, but I will admit I enjoyed seeing him get introduced in the anime. He’s oily and condescending, a tacky clown, and you guys are going to hate him and love him at the same time. He freezes Bercouli into stone, not satisfied with the fact that he didn’t kill Eugeo. Oh yeah, Bercouli hates this guy. The contempt in his voice is entirely noticeable. And just like that, Bercouli is out for the count for the remainder of this arc, with Eugeo having been captured and foreshadowed for a confrontation in future with Kirito and Alice.

In the last few minutes, we’re back on the tower with Kirito and Alice, who are both pretty hungry. It’s where you can see the animation and art take a dip. What was pretty sharply animated up until now, the budget definitely took a bit of a break on this part. As Kirito humorously “summons” food and almost chars it, Alice shows off some magical skill and makes them fresh again. The episode has (kind of) missed the mark with Alice’s recall of her sister, Selka, as in the light novel, Alice had started crying at the intro, but this honestly might not be a huge deal as we’re at the beginning of Kirito’s story. There’s still a lot of room to maneuver here, but it’s something that was definitely noticed, as Alice truly wants to recall more information about her family, and if you connect two and two, the Piety Module is blocking the memories of her family whom she holds dear back in Rulid.

Well, there is yet another solidly animated episode that unfortunately slipped at the end. As this season approaches its endgame clash with Quinella, people are going to be really concerned about Eugeo moving forward. He is in a serious bind and without Kirito he is definitely in trouble. This arc more than likely will end with the close of Volume 14, Alicization Uniting. It’s a perfect place to stop and a great place to get people ready for the Dark Territory invasion.