I will start this by saying that the first part of Sword Art Online: Alicization which is the first 24 episodes is the same SAO that we are used to. Its the usual Isekai power fantasy with Kirito destroying every antagonist that the story develops in a 2 episode period. Its a bit more nuanced this time around, this time Kirito has a partner in crime, Eugeo. Eugeo is not really an ineresting character but his story is compelling enough. It allows the viewers to see real character development and struggle without tarnishing the GOD status of Kirito. The first part is ok enough but its not the reason i’m writing this. I am writing this because i have just watched the first 12 episodes of the second part. These episodes have impressed me, i will however speak about the issues first to get them out of the way. This story reminds me of assassin’s creed video games in many ways where it has the two parallel stories being told inside the game and outside it aswell with the outside story affecting the inside one. I find the story outside the underworld in Aicization entirely uninteresting. I groan every time the story leaves underworld, primarily because the story being told there and the action sequences on display are so interesting. The secondary story which eventually merges with the underworld story feels like filler. The second problem is with the long history SAO has had with the previous 2 seasons. Kirito has a harem of sufficient size to fill a soccer stadium and there are enough side characters of note to fill another stadium so you can have a home and an away game. Yes i am a sports fan. The writers try to make all these characters have a meaningful role but this interferes with the amazing story being told in the underworld with the underworld characters. With the negative out the way, lets get back to why i wrote this. Integrity knights are amazing, the development they received in the first part of season 3 has not been wasted. In fact the writers build upon it by doing one critical thing. They removed Kirito from the narrative. They did this in an interesting way which i will not spoil. go watch it, i will continue to convince you to do so. With Kirito out the way, the integrity knights have become the main characters. Its interesting to follow these powerful but not overpowered characters as they battle against overwhelming odds. The audience has seen each and every one of these characters be defeated in battle before and since they are not Kirito, the audience know that they can die and thus the stakes are real. This season is a Kirito cuckold wet dream. The animation for the action scenes are stellar, on a par with the fate franchise even using similar sound design for when high level characters unleash powerful attacks, noble “not” phantasms. I am really enjoying the anime despite its issues and even though i expect for Kirito to eventually return to the narrative and just destroy everything and prove everyone else incompetent in comparison to his godliness. Essentially the ALicization story is an amazing narrative weighed down by the long history of the SAO universe.