Picking up immediately after the cliffhanger that was episode fifteen, Kirito unleashes his enhanced armament in full force. It’s a wonder to behold, with Fanatio’s light beam colliding with Kirito’s purple tendril-like attack. If I was an outsider watching this for the first time, one may think Kirito is the villain with his dark armament, fighting against a warrior of light. This is something that Alicization has been trying to do for quite a while now, shaking the line between who’s good and who’s evil, if there are any at all. The Integrity Knights believe themselves to be absolute good, and in their eyes, Eugeo and Kirito are absolute evil. In the eyes of Eugeo, he sees the knights as evil in a way as well, but Kirito persuades him that everyone is just human.
It’s rather refreshing to see how Kirito has guided Eugeo to this point, using whatever experiences he’s had from the past seasons, and hoping to move Eugeo onto a noble path. They’ve grown to appreciate each other quite a bit, and it’s apparent as Eugeo rushes towards Kirito once he collapses. He’s desperate to make sure Kirito is alright, immediately transferring his own life energy into Kirito. Best friends!
As Fanatio is dying on the ground, unable to be healed by the luminous element, Kirito gets desperate. Almost exactly like how Eugeo rushed to Kirito’s side, he does the same for Fanatio, determined to save every soul, since everyone here is human. Unfortunately the bleeding is too much for the luminous element, implying there’s a threshold of damage before luminous element simply doesn’t do enough. In his desperation, Kirito uses the knife given to him by Cardinal. Now I’m not going to question Kirito’s decisions, but they only had two of those. At Least Cardinal was kind enough to agree and transports Fanatio to her own realm for healing.
Kirito is even kind enough to send Eugeo with the antidote for the poison blade sisters from the previous episode. I sorta figured we’d get a scene of them reflecting on an Integrity Knight’s true power, and I was pretty surprised to get literally nothing. Are they just never going to show up again? Is there any closure to their arc? I hope there is, I would hate for that loose thread to be floating about.
The pair continue onwards and meet the Operator, a rather docile girl who operates the elevator system of the Cathedral. Her story is just straight up tragic, having been at her calling for over a hundred years. As Kirito mentions, one’s memory begins to chip away as you get older, and this poor girl has lost much of the spirit or personality that once made her human. Her emotions are nil, speaking neutrally to the fugitives of the citadel. However, there is a silver lining in that she has a dream of sorts. She dreams of floating through the skies on her platform, and it makes me quite sad. All the things that this girl has missed out on after being chosen as the Operator. This really makes me root for Kirito and Eugeo all the more, Administrator has to be stopped.
However, their next hurdle may be worse than all the others they’ve faced previously. Alice Synthesis Thirty. Sitting against the ancient form of her weapon, Alice has waited for the pair in the Cloudtop Garden. Unfortunate for our protagonists, but she’s already cast her perfect armament, changing her blade into a swirling force at her control. The two are forced into using their perfect weapon arts, but Eugeo’s ice is quickly dissolved by Alice’s swirling petals. Kirito uses this chance to unleash his dark tendril once again, and it does indeed create an opening. But things wouldn’t be this easy for our dynamic duo, and Alice and Kirito are launched outside as the Cathedral walls break open. I’m not sure if this is because of Kirito’s enhanced armament, or if it’s some mysterious force at work. However, the fact that it rebuilt itself afterwards makes me think it may be some outside power.