Anime Review

Sword Art Online Season 3: Review, Premiere Date, Recap, English Dub

July 5, 2019
8 min read

Adaptation of light novels is quite common these days; not just in the case of anime but in the world of gaming as well. Out of all the light novel titles that have been adapted, ‘Sword Art Online’ is definitely one title that no one has been able to ignore. It has been almost 5 years since its last season was released, which is fairly a long time for a sequel. But even then, right after the second season came to an end, most fans knew that eventually there will be a whole new season. After this 5 year hiatus, the creators had a whole lot of source material in their hand and thus, they gave us a whole new 2-cour season with 24 episodes. Now although we’d love to see good anime like this one getting a continuation, sooner or later, most of these shows end up being mere cash grabbing machines for studios. Is it the same with ‘Sword Art Online‘ Season 3 or does this one manage to live up to the hype?

Unlike most sequels, ‘Alicization’ does not start with a recap of the previous seasons, so if you’re unfamiliar with the plot, then starting off here may not be a good idea. The first episode is more of a prologue that gives a general introduction of the entire season and is twice the length of other episodes. While most light novel adaptations fail to reach the standards set by the novels, Season 3 of ‘Sword Art Online‘ manages to stay loyal to the cast and storytelling style from the beginning itself. If you’re familiar with the previous seasons of the anime, you’ll be well aware of how it shifts between its time-jumping storyline and epic battle scenes. Season 3 pretty much gives you the best of both of these worlds and despite a few flaws, the outcome is a very compelling experience for most viewers.

Pretty much like all the other seasons, ‘Alicization’ jumps back and forth between two timelines where one is inside the game and the other one is in the real world. To form a more cohesive narrative, this season makes an attempt to make ties between the Gun Gale Online Arc from the second season and the Aifheim Arc from season one. The first half of this season primarily focuses on having consistent pacing along with some character development. But in the second half, it follows its old trend of forward-time-jumps and battle scenes that explain more about the world the main protagonist had found himself in.

‘Sword Art Online’ is indeed a pioneer of “ISEKAI” and continues to impress with every new season. If you loved the first two seasons of the show, then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well as it thoughtfully ties up links between all the current seasons by using its amazing characterization, unusually engaging storyline and well-detailed virtual world. So if you have made this far, you should certainly watch this season too and if you haven’t yet started watching the anime, then this would be a great time to binge on all three seasons.

Sword Art Online Season 3 Release Date:

‘Sword Art Online’ Season 3 premiered on October 7, 2018 and came to an end on March 31, 2019. During this span, the anime released a total of 24 episodes with each one of them being 24 minutes long, except for the first one. If you want to know more about the future of the anime, then you should refer to our anime preview of Sword Art Online Season 4.

Sword Art Online Season 3 Plot:

‘Sword Art Online’ Season 3 starts off with Kirito already inside the Underworld which is a new game world set in an era where science and technology are still new to most people. He sets out on a whole new quest with his new friends Eugeo and Alice and the true meaning of this new world is kept hidden. Later, it is revealed that Kirito is actually working as a beta tester in the real world for a fourth generation Fulldive technology is a renowned company known by the name of Raft. Compared to all the previous versions, this new technology actually allows the user to directly connect a part of his/her soul to the virtual world.

Another feature of this technology is that the user’s sense of time can be accelerated in the game compared to the real world. Which means that a span of many years in the virtual world would just be a few hours in the real world. After this introduction, Death Gun comes back and it is revealed that the game Sword Art Online never really came to an end. Kirito now finds himself stuck in the Underworld with barely any memories of how he can get out of there. This is when the project A.L.I.C.E (Artificial Labile Intelligent Cybernated Existence) is introduced and the true intentions of Rath are introduced.

Kirito slowly starts to realize why he was brought into the Underworld in the first place and also discovers the truth behind the project Alicization. It is slowly revealed that all of this is more or less of an experiment performed by Rath just to convince the peace-loving military forces that AI can be used to their advantage if one manages to find a way to do so.

Sword Art Online Season 3 Review:

The story is very well thought out and progresses rather slowly. A lot of questions arise from the first few episodes itself but very slowly, all of these are answered. Also, certain things that may seem completely irrelevant and mundane later fall into place and make a lot more sense. Even when it comes to the fight scenes, there is a lot of pain and bloodshed in them which just makes the overall plot much darker. A lot of focus also goes into the world building and several links are subtly made to the previous ones. This is the reason why one should know all about the previous seasons before watching this one.

Another reason why the story of this season is really different from the other two is because of its mature themes that explore the idea of humans trying to be God by taking A.I way too far. If you expect a lot of action scenes from this, then you will probably be disappointed as this season has more dialogues and lesser battle scenes. The pseudo-science discussions can be a little boring for some people but for others who enjoy science fiction, this season will turn out to be the best.

The main focus goes on a character named Eugeo in this season while Kirito just seems to tag along. A lot of Eugeo’s personality traits remind you of Frodo from the ‘Lord of the Rings‘. His character and his attitude towards other humans is continuously changing throughout the series and as a viewer, even your opinion about the society he lives in fluctuates according to what he thinks about it. Another character who surprisingly gets a lot of attention in the 3rd and 4th cours of the season is Alice, Eugeo’s childhood friend. A lot of side characters are also introduced throughout the story and while most of them aren’t explored well enough, their major role is to influence the three main characters in one way or the other. These characters don’t last for more than 3 episodes and most of them make an appearance only after the 2nd arc.

Probably the best thing about this season is its amazing animation and it’s impossible not to notice how much it has improved. Not only is the animation style much better than the first two seasons but even the imaginative virtual world has been designed to its fullest potential. A lot of detailing has also gone into the designs of the characters and also their expressions, which reflect their emotions in the best possible way. The character development of the antagonist was not really up to the mark but the mannerisms of the character and also the dialogues had the perfect villainous feel. The soundtracks are not too impressive and are in fact too underwhelming compared to the previous seasons. Most of them just sound like remixed editions of the old ones and the ones that actually sound good, don’t last too long.

Overall, like most viewers, you will probably be slightly annoyed because of the flaws of this season but apart from that, it is enough to excite you for the future of the anime as it shows its true potential. Despite all the controversies that ‘Sword Art Online’ has gone through in the past, it seems like it has finally managed to jump out of its rabbit hole to deliver something that most fans wanted to see. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this season a weak 8 in the hope that it will continue the momentum that it is starting to build.

Sword Art Online Season 3 English Dub:

The English Dub of ‘Sword Art Online’ Season 3 can be streamed on Aniplex of America.

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