A little bit late here, but this is an episode we don’t want to be missing out here. There’s a little bit less to talk about because of the majority focus on action sequences, so if this is a bit shorter than the usual, I’m sorry. This episode showcases the major battle between Kirito and a brainwashed Eugeo, who is now Eugeo Synthesis Thirty-Two hence the episode title. We also see a new version of the opener, which officially declares the beginning of Alicization Uniting, the end of the second cour. Eugeo clad in armor is great. A-1 did a fantastic job on that, and they really spent the time this episode making the battle as visceral as possible.
Kirito vs. Eugeo
In the first half of the episode, Kirito struggles to get his partner to remember why he set out on his journey, to begin with. He’s still a little bit stunned that his partner fell to his temptations and Eugeo is cold, only showing minor flickers of emotion at the mention of Alice, who is standing just a few feet away from him. In this battle, though, even though Kirito has taught Eugeo most of what he knows, the key is the word most. He still has a few new tricks up his sleeves, such as using his boots to try and get the upper hand, but Eugeo has tricks of his own. They pretty much adopted this spot-on from the novels, from Eugeo showcasing the Baltio style that he learned from his mentor Gorgolosso Baltio at the Swordcraft Academy back in Centoria. The use of this technique further explains the Piety Module further, and how it blocks access to certain memories.
Realizing that the only way he would get his partner to remember his identity was to clash swords, Kirito does just that. The two are seen fighting on-par with each other and not missing a single beat. After finally breaking through, he and Alice are both frozen by Eugeo’s Enhance Armament. The novel made mention of how Eugeo told Kirito and Alice not to follow him, and the anime did cut this step out.
Eugeo vs. Administrator
Eugeo returns to Quinella to receive his reward, and after a berating from Chudelkin, proceeds with his original plan to stab Quinella with Cardinal’s dagger. Quinella, though, has other plans. In this part, she explains to the audience and to Eugeo just how he was able to become so powerful as an Integrity Knight, with an enhanced Piety Module that allows him to access the power of Meaning, which gave Eugeo the ability to fight at the level of a master in Sacred Arts as well as mastery of Incarnate Arms. She removes this module from his forehead to re-insert it and block his memories perfectly, as she detects some imperfections.
Now, the novel explains this in a lot more detail, but essentially, during the fight with Kirito, Eugeo describes the sensation like that of a thorn embedded into his forehead. It causes him a great deal of pain, muddling his memories. As Quinella pulls it from him, he’s rendered numb, but overcomes it and attacks Quinella with the dagger, only to be stopped by a shield that prevents metal objects from piercing her, which makes it entirely convenient that his Blue Rose Sword is made of ice.
I loved the part where Eugeo muses about how Quinella cannot provide love, as she desperately sought love herself. He truly seizes the moment and redeems himself for falling for Quinella’s temptations. The novel covered this as well, and I was excited to see the moment brought to life.
As Eugeo gets thrown into a wall by Quinella’s attack, Chudelkin makes his appearance again from the floor below, struggling to escape from Kirito, who grabs his shoe in the process. Eugeo is relieved to see his best friend again and apologizes to Kirito for falling to his temptations, to which Kirito quickly replies that he knew exactly what his partner had been thinking. As Kirito and Alice had been encased in ice, a reminder is in order that Alice can cut through ice with her Osmanthus Sword.
There we have it, the trio from Rulid have now officially reunited and are on the same side. Alice gets a nice moment for her own where she calls out Quinella for her lies and deceit, and it’s an impressive moment. Quinella truly sells her power, though, and her voice actor does an incredible job at making her sound motherly at first to utterly contemptible. Quinella, wanting to observe Kirito a little more, puts Chudelkin in the fighting ring to take care of the three, but not before Chudelkin voices the insane request of having Quinella’s body for the night if he won.
“…Very well, Chudelkin,” she murmured. “I swear to Stacia, goddess of creation. When you have fulfilled your duty, you shall have an entire night to do with my body whatever you wish.” Because I [Kirito] came from the real world, with all its lies and deceptions, it was laughably obvious to me that she didn’t mean a word of that promise.
This is an excerpt from the light novel, and what we can understand here is that Quinella swore a vow to the Goddess that she fully knows does not exist, given that she addresses Kirito as the irregular unit and mentions the breaking of the Seal of the Right Eye as a different entity. It’s sneaky, but a nice bit if you caught it. I just loved the faces that the three had while listening to Chudelkin’s request.
We do see the true strength of Chudelkin, and while it’s easy to dismiss him as a weakling due to his dress and his behaviors, he is in actuality quite terrifying. As the second best user in Underworld, he demonstrates a mastery of fire. He summons twenty-two fire elements using both hands, his feet and even gives up his eyes to be points of power. This is channeled into a huge fire genie, and the episode ends with a staredown.
And that’s Episode 21. We got Eugeo back, the trio reunited, and an insane fire genie diced in with some comedic moments. It’s full tilt to the end of the volume, and it only gets better from here.