There was something oddly fishy about Linel and Fizel from the beginning. I considered the slight possibility that they were integrity knights, but pushed that idea away, instead assuming they were our seasonal dose of moe from Sword Art Online. Their naive curiosity and simple personalities tricked Eugeo into lowering his guard, but fooled me as well. The red flags were really bright such as why they had swords on their waists, their eagerness to catch sight of warriors from the dark territory, and how they’re breaking the rules by searching for the intruders. But my suspicion was disarmed by my previous history with anime, and the expectation of moe. It wasn’t until they started approaching Eugeo that I grew a tad bit suspicious, but at that point it was too late.
Fortunately for Kirito and Eugeo, these girls weren’t interested in slaughtering them off guard from the start. Instead opting to impress Administrator by making sure the Integrity Knights on the 50th floor saw their work. On the way there, we’re given a minor backstory for the two. If I’m understanding correctly, Linel and Fizel are the result of a resurrection experiment conducted by Quinella. In an attempt to perfect her resurrection art, Quinella set up an arena of sorts where children would kill each other and be resurrected. Sadly for Quinella, her attempts failed, with children morphing into flesh heaps or simply exploding. While Linel and Fizel were smart enough to conclude that a quick blow would increase their likelihood of resurrection, this twisted childhood has definitely taken a toll on their sanity.
The two taunt the Integrity Knights of the 50th floor, believing themselves to be on a similar playing field. I half expected the Integrity Knights to kill or capture Linel and Fizel, before offering an honorable duel for Kirito and Eugeo. It doesn’t happen, but we get a nice taste of justice from Kirito instead. You just can’t stop this guy! He deduces that they’re not just students, and knows from prior experience that their swords are made of poisonous steel. A part of me is calling Kirito plot armour coming into action, but another part of me expected Kirito to have something like this up his sleeve. Not only does he spare the two to prove a point, he praises the power of the Integrity Knights before approaching the five on the floor. Sasuga Kirito.
The combat sequence between Kirito and the four whirling knights is extremely short, but absolutely superb. He spins past all four of them, making them seem like children. It’s quite clear that of the Integrity Knights, there are some clearly superior warriors and a decent number of fodder. Kirito runs at Sir Fanatio in typical fashion, but holy moly is Fanatio’s armament ridiculous. With what is essentially a railgun powered by the sun, Fanatio hits Kirito twice. I expected Kirito to dodge the shots since he casually dodged or intercepted bullets in Gun Gale, but I suppose interception is not an option since the armament is “Heaven Piercing.”
As Fanatio prepares to deal the final blow, Kirito uses a mirror element to reflect the beams of light. Here is revealed the fatal flaw of Fanatio Synthesis Two, a woman who’s fearful of being revealed to be a woman. Her short backstory is enough to tell us that there was someone in the past who pitied her because she was a woman, and that has clearly traumatized her to this point. Kirito rightfully says he’s lost plenty of battles with swordswomen, and it made me a chuckle a bit. Who’s he talking about? Asuna or perhaps Konno Yuuki? The fight between Kirito and Fanatio is gorgeous as I’ve come to expect from Alicization, but draws to a close as Fanatio uses what seemed like an ultimate, final blow. The beams of light from her blade shot at everything in the room, Kirito, her allies, and even herself. Unwilling to let Fanatio kill herself and everyone else, Kirito disrupts her ultimate ability, as Eugeo casts his armament, and boy is it amazing. It covers the entire room in ice, completely freezing the other four Integrity Knights, and almost capturing Fanatio as well. Unfortunately, she’s a bit too experienced to be caught so easily.
Pushing through the ice through sheer will, Fanatio charges up her final beam attack towards Kirito and Eugeo. Eugeo tells her to stop, and his desperation is made super clear through the amazing facial animations. But he’s not strong enough to stop her, only Kirito is right now. Not because Eugeo is weak, but because he’s channeling hate against the Integrity Knights, rather than his love for Alice. Alicization has made it clear time and time again, that one’s spirit wins battles, not just one’s ability. And during the final shot as Kirito enhances his own blade, it’s painfully obvious that Kirito has the strongest spirit in that room by far.
This episode of Sword Art Online is amazing. It’s gorgeous in every way, from the armament animations to the fight scenes themselves. Fanatio, Linel, and Fizel have backstories of sorts that aren’t truly the most moving due to how short they are, but they’re there. But the best part is how we’re seeing Eugeo grow thanks to Kirito’s influence, beyond the boy that couldn’t do anything when Alice was taken, and into someone who’s love for Alice will take him far.