Sword Art Online: Alicization – Episode 5 “Ocean Turtle”

Sword Art Online finally returns to the real world and provides some long-awaited answers in this episode five, “Ocean Turtle”. Highly enjoyable in its own right yet thanks to some changes from the novel, the episode is actually an improvement on its source material.

After the poison assault by Johnny Black, Kirito is taken to the nearest hospital for emergency surgery. He survives, however, the doctor tells Asuna (along with Suguha and Mrs. Kirigaya) that he has suffered brain damage and may never regain consciousness. As Asuna and Suguha try to come to terms with all that’s happened, who should show up but the one and only Seijirou Kikuoka. He somehow already knows about Kirito’s condition and tells them there is only one place in the world where he can possibly make a full recovery. In short, he’s asking for their trust.

It’s an interesting change from the novel, where Kikuoka never appears at the hospital at all. On one hand it makes no sense, because after Kirito is abducted, Asuna and the gang already have some idea of where to begin looking. On the other hand, it’s much more realistic that teenagers (plus Yui and Klein) were able to reach the conclusions that they did with some ace detective work. It was also nice to incorporate some worthwhile screen time for Suguha, Yui, Klein, Lisbeth, Silica and Sinon – reminding us they all remain as close as they were in season one, and making a more seamless flow to the episode’s end. (In the novel, Asuna and Yui do much of the legwork themselves.)

Asuna confronts Kikuoka on the Ocean Turtle, demanding to know where Kirito is. (Photo courtesy of A-1 Pictures)

This episode introduces two other critical components: 1) the Ocean Turtle, a top-secret military project that is, yes, in the middle of an ocean and 2) Dr. Rinko Koujiro, creator of the Medicuboid technology and former lover and co-worker of Akihiko Kayaba. After Asuna reaches out to Dr. Koujiro to explain Kirito’s abduction and to ask whether she knows anything more about Rath, Koujiro – who had been getting numerous emails from Kikuoka asking her to join the mysterious project – decides to help Asuna. After going to extraordinary lengths to “confirm” Asuna as Koujiro’s assistant, they travel by plane to the Ocean Turtle where the two safely pass multiple security scans and at last confront Kikuoka.

The Underworld’s storyline has been compelling, if a bit slow-moving, but this return to the real world was necessary and highly anticipated as well. “Ocean Turtle” delivers some answers while teasing more for next week and nicely incorporating much of the cast from seasons 1 and 2.

Though there are many different threads to follow right now, SAO is doing a good job of keeping it all streamlined and it’s clear that season 3 is even more ambitious in its scope than season one. If the Soul Translator was created from the same technology as the Medicuboid, as has been suggested, then perhaps it has an ability to heal the damage done to Kirito’s brain? And what were Kikuoka’s real intentions for abducting Kirito? What is the purpose of the Ocean Turtle and how does it connect to the Underworld? We may well get answers to all of these questions next week.

Sword Art Online: Alicization is currently airing in North America every Saturday at 12:30 am EST/11:30 pm CST on Toonami.

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Author: Joe Ballard View all posts by

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