The Seal of the Right Eye, the 19thepisode of Sword Art Online Alicization, is our first real step in seeing Alice becoming a protagonist of the story and the beginning of Eugeo’s descent into eternal love. This episode, we spend half of our time on the precipice, going back to Episode 17, where Kirito and Alice are hanging out. In the last episode, a recap, Kirito tells Alice of his and Eugeo’s travels thus far, and how they’ve come to where they are at the present. Episode 17 saw Kirito accidentally let slip that Alice had a younger sister, Selka, back in Rulid Village, and Episode 19 takes that and runs with it.
Kirito learned from Cardinal previously that Underworld is a manmade world. The Gods that their people worship are all entities in the real world, the equivalent of administrator accounts. The Axiom Church is naught but a giant web of deceit and cruel experimentation that involves memory alteration, and the swearing of absolute fealty to a false idea. Integrity Knights were supposed to be these divine beings, brought down from on high to enact justice in the name of the church, but in reality, they were nothing more than humans who excelled in sword fighting or were criminals who violated the Taboo Index. These facts are relayed to Alice Synthesis Thirty, who is shell-shocked at the revelations.
In Book 13, Alice is rocked to her core and she’s observed to cry at these revelations, that she has a family beneath the starry skies. Her plight illustrates Kirito’s deepest fear in Underworld, that in bringing back the original Alice Zuberg’s persona, Integrity Knight Alice Synthesis Thirty would be overwritten. Kirito values both personalities and in his heart, he knows that this is going to be a fight that he would have to have with Eugeo. Kirito doesn’t want to see these people hurt, and he wants to protect them from the invasion of the Dark Territory. By telling Alice this insane information, he’s hoping to sway her to his cause, and she actually listens! The anime, though, I felt fell short of these revelations. I felt that Alice’s pain was rather muted and a lot less emotional than what she experienced in Volume 13. Her tears were only for a few moments, with a stronger emotional flare at the end of this portion of the episode.
Alice, as the Integrity Knight, is a proud warrior, and she makes the conscious decision to reject the Axiom Church, siding with humanity. In doing so, however, she’s inflicted with the very same phenomenon that Eugeo endured back in Episode 10. This Seal of the Right Eye, as we learn, is incredibly painful to endure, making the physically powerful Alice feel agonizing pain. As a result of her desire to protect humanity, she makes her eye explode, with an intensive moment of a bloody fade to black on a moonlit night. I’ll give credit here, that moment was a solid one, coupled with the Yuki Kajiura-backed soundtrack. It sent a chill up my spine.
For the second half, we go to Eugeo, who wakes up from a bloody nightmare of him killing his family. He’s already in enough rage as it is, and this sequence is a decent adaptation from the novel for the most part. He meets Quinella, the Administrator, and she’s laying fast asleep, clothed. As he moves to strike her with Cardinal’s knife, she wakes up. Holy crap. The anime plays her as much more of a seductress than she is in the novels. From the decision to leave her fully clothed, to her placing the fake memories of Kirito and Alice sharing a potentially romantic relationship, it’s enough to befuddle Eugeo and break him mentally.
In the novel, I remember being eeked out by this part because it’s wrong. The words she uses are slimy, making Eugeo feel like he was never loved, and that love is a quantity, a good that can be exchanged. Him having been through his own share of ordeals, though, he falls for it, and the anime misses out on his own internal dialogue, where he knows that his recitation of the Synthesis command will result in him voiding his mission of rescuing Alice. Eugeo literally got fucking played. I hate swearing like that, but man, she played him hard. The moment his eyes glazed over, it was all over. Quinella knows that Eugeo wants to be loved and plays on his naïvete by disrobing and seducing him. The anime sort of had its own moment where he hears the voices of his friends Alice, Kirito, and Tieze calling to him to fight, and the resulting effect of him being in this boxed-in prison of his own memories is the stuff of nightmares. Nice catch that those three pillars of his friends represenetd the shape of the piety module. That’s dark. The episode closes on him reciting the final word of the Synthesis chant over the ending of ReoNA’s new piece over the rainbow.
The first half of this episode fell a bit short of what I wanted it to be, given the significance of Alice shedding her right eye to side with humanity. Maybe my expectations are a little too high. I’ll need a rewatch again and read the light novel one more time. The second half was its own hellish reward, as we watch Eugeo descend into darkness, shedding his mission of rescuing Alice in favor of a sexual hell given by Quinella. It’s a chilling sequence and seeing that part animated… man it was rough. I felt way more for Eugeo than I did for Alice, which was the opposite from how I read the novels. That, though, is how Eugeo becomes Quinella’s new servant, and the next episode, titled Synthesis, is going to be insane.