Sword Art Online: Alicization - 1.02 The Demon Tree

The first episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization ended on a major cliffhanger, with Kirito's fate unknown after he was injected with poison by Johnny Black. As the story resumes in The Demon Tree, Kirito unexpectedly wakes up in the Underworld, but there are several problems. First, he has no idea where he is (his memories from the first episode are still blocked); he remembers the events leading up to the cliffhanger (but does not remember being poisoned); most importantly, he can't log out. Once again Kirito is trapped inside a VR environment, but he doesn't panic (which is odd, given how traumatizing the first season was for him). Instead, he sets out to orient himself in this new world with humorous results.

With only brief mentions of the previous episode, the bulk of The Demon Tree follows Kirito as he tries to figure out how Underworld works. He spends most of the episode believing he's in another game and that the characters he encounters must be test players or NPCs (non-player characters). This is what he assumes when he meets Eugeo in the forest (neither remembers the other). Now grown, Eugeo informs Kirito that six years have passed since Alice was taken away (in the first episode, we learn that time passes at an accelerated rate in the Underworld) but he believes his childhood friend is still alive.

There follows a hilarious scene where Kirito offers to help Eugeo cut down a massive cedar tree (the titular 'demon tree.') Still believing this is a game, Kirito attempts to activate his sword skills with an axe...and fails miserably. Given how overpowered Kirito was when he entered Alfheim Online (in season one) and GGO (in season two), it was refreshing to see there was at least something he couldn't do in this world.

I say that because when Kirito finally makes it to Eugeo's village, he discovers he can still use his sword skills after all (which probably means he's going to be an expert swordsman once again). I was almost disappointed, but considering Kirito literally knows nothing about the world he's in, it seems fair to give him at least one skill set so he can make himself useful.

This episode does a good job in setting up Kirito's path in the Underworld (establishing his sword skills exist, referencing a capital city where he might be able to re-enter the real world), but I am wondering when we'll get an update as to what's happening in the real world? There's no way Kirito can be okay after what happened and yet the episode did nothing to reveal how he ended up in the Underworld again (though it's likely the series is playing the long game in that regard, as this arc is scheduled to last fifty episodes). It will be interesting to see where Kirito goes from here, as he now realizes that, wherever he is, he's not in a game.

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