Alicization’s reliance on the power of will and imagination is quite the interesting approach to combat, something that Sword Art Online had kept static since Aincrad. The fact that one’s power could literally be strengthened by arrogance and weakened by anxiety puts such a strong importance on the stability of one’s mind. It’s ultimately up to how the user perceives themselves that determines their strength, and Eugeo struggles to find his own drive, unable to draw on his ancestors like Levanteinn does or conceit as the nobles do. His quest to find his own resolve is quite short lived, as he remembers the key component that set this entire adventure into motion. Alice. As Kirito demonstrated in the previous episode, something like the belief of friendship was enough to stand up to Levanteinn’s monstrous strength. Relative to that, it’ll be no surprise if Eugeo’s power is just as or even more powerful as Kirito’s.
Our favorite pompous noblemen appear during Eugeo’s training, doing what they do best as complete jerks. At this point, I have given up on them receiving any noteworthy characterization whatsoever. They’re just the run of the mill antagonists before the really villains every appear, and I just wish it’ll get over with soon. I was however, surprised that they’re actually strong swordsmen. I figured they’d be bitter at Kirito and Eugeo for becoming elite disciples, but they’re actually seat one and two! I greatly underestimated how much strength once could draw from conceit, but I’m quite confident Kirito and Eugeo could still defeat them. The duel with Humbert goes exactly like this, with Eugeo drawing the match with him. The noblemen leave with some mischievous words, and I’m worried as to what they plan to do. Gah, I hate that I have to worry about such pathetic hooligans.
This episode also gives us more of an insight into Tiese and Ronye’s characters, fleshing them out with a pleasant picnic scene. Not only do we learn of the system of nobles in Alicization, we learn something quite disgusting about Humbert. The accusation is that Humbert is forcing his valet to perform devious tasks, essentially sexually harassing her. As if I didn’t hate his character enough, this is enough to completely drive me over the edge. Not only does he lack the skill fitting of the second seat, his personality is atrocious. Being the white knights they are, Kirito and Eugeo vow to speak with Humbert, and put an end to this disgusting behavior.
I’ll be honest, I was really hoping for a fight scene with a glorious triumph for our main characters. Unfortunately, we instead get the natural result of the taboo index, with two noblemen flaunting their status over the helpless Kirito and Eugeo. Humbert is as disgusting as he seems to be, bragging about the devious things he forced his valet to do. Even under threat of investigation, Raios seems confident that Eugeo cannot do anything to truly harm Humbert. Here we see the limitations set by the taboo index, staying the hand of both Eugeo and Kirito.
The episode ends with quite the emotional spilling of the beans from Tiese, who visits Eugeo in his room. She explains her noble heritage once again, this time with the added fact that she’ll have to marry a nobleman in the future. Her anxiety is not surprising, she knows how terrible men such as Raios and Humbert can be after all. What is surprising, is her thinly veiled confession to Eugeo himself. She requests that he wins the Unification Tournament, granting him the rank of aristocrat and saving her from the possible fate of marrying a man like Humbert. This leads to quite the conflict within Eugeo himself, who knows full well that his ultimate goal is to save Alice. Nevertheless, he is too kind a man to say anything else, and agrees to Tiese’s proposal. In the face of a girl so fearful of the future, what more could you really say?
Overall, the episode is solid. Besides Raios and Humbert being unbearable, I feel like the arc will come to climax and a close very soon. Hopefully those two get what’s coming to them, but I have a bad feeling about what they’ll do before they’re beaten. Looking forward to next episode!