From the very beginning, Sword Art Online has often thrived on surprising audiences with interesting turns of events – but upon the latest arc, Alicization, fans were thrown into a story riddled with exhilarating, unforeseen twists. The first half of the saga (excluding War of Underworld) was a true roller coaster ride.
Alicization threw Kirito into the Underworld, a new kind of VR realm with circumstances entirely distinct from any video game environment he’s entered before. How he wound up in the Underworld, and how he navigated through it, makes for intricate complications. Let’s dive into the five most monumental plot twists in Sword Art Online: Alicization.
Johnny Black Stabs Kirito After the Death Gun Incident
A major Sword Art Online: Alicization twist comes in the arc's very first episode. Kirito and Asuna are walking home together when Johnny Black suddenly pops out and attacks Kirito, injecting him with a lethal dose of poison. This shocking event is what sends Kirito into the Underworld after the scientists from Rath take him to an advanced facility for treatment.
Johnny Black, whose real name is Kanamoto Atsushi, was also an antagonist in the Aincrad and Phantom Bullet arcs. He’s most known for his involvement in the player-killing guild Laughing Coffin. After the Aincrad story was resolved, he joined up with his guild cronies to create Death Gun, an avatar in Gun Gale Online who simulated the ability to kill players in the game to kill them in real life. When the villain was exposed as a fraud who was using succinylcholine on VR players in real life, Black somehow evaded arrest and had a syringe of the poison left with Kirito’s name on it.
Integrity Knight Alice Has No Memory of Eugeo & Kirito
The premiere of Sword Art Online: Alicization shows Kirito living as a child in the Underworld alongside Eugeo and Alice. The three of them are friends, but when they get lost and Alice accidentally breaches the Dark Territory divide, she’s immediately sentenced to execution by the Integrity Knights. However, at the end of Episode 10, “Taboo Index,” Kirito and Eugeo discover that she’s not only alive, but she’s also now a powerful Integrity Knight herself.
Alice dutifully arrests Kirito and Eugeo for breaking the Taboo Index, and, though Eugeo instantly knows this is Alice, she has zero recollection of either of them and gives them the cold shoulder. Soon afterward, they discover that all Integrity Knights have erased memories so they will unquestionably serve under the evil Administrator.
Rath Intended to Use Alice as an AI Military Weapon
When Kirito agreed to work as a tester for Rath’s new full-dive technology known as the Soul Translator, he knew nothing about Project Alicization or what the Underworld was intended to be. After finding out that the Soul Translator was developed by Kayaba, Asuna manages to track Kirito down to the Ocean Turtle. She then questions the Rath company and deduces the true objective of their top-secret Project Alicization: to create AI murder machines for Japan’s military.
After being called out by Asuna, Kikuoka reveals that the NerveGear's development was created for the sake of this research, labeled “Project Alicization.” The special bottom-up AI intended to come from the project is none other than Alice, who, thanks to Kirito, became an advanced AI able to break the programming of the Taboo Index, asserting an advanced kind of AI free will.
Eugeo Becomes an Integrity Knight & Fights Against Kirito
The most tragic part of Sword Art Online: Alicization was undoubtedly Eugeo’s valiant death. However, the unique way he went out was especially shocking. The manipulative Administrator captured Eugeo and managed to turn him into one of her Integrity Knights before sending him to fight against Kirito and Alice with no memories. Eugeo regained his sense of self while battling, but still magically froze his friends.
To defeat the great sword golem challenging the trio -- and eventually, the evil Administrator -- Eugeo convinced her to fuse himself with his crystal Blue Rose Sword. In this form, he deftly defeated the golem but was slain while directing his aggressions toward the Administrator herself. As he died, he poured the rest of his soul into his sword to create the Red Rose Sword, which Kirito dual-wielded to essentially defeat Administrator.
Kirito Goes Catatonic During the Ocean Turtle Attack
In the conclusion of Sword Art Online: Alicization, shortly after the Administrator's defeat, Kirito finally manages to communicate with the real world and he learns that the Ocean Turtle -- where his real body is located -- is under attack. A squad of American soldiers infiltrates the ship in an effort to steal the military technology being developed by Project Alicization. In the chaos, the attackers manage to shut off the power at Rath which sends out a surge that hits Kirito's comatose body, dealing major damage to his fluctlight and rendering him completely catatonic in the Underworld.
This unexpected turn means that the majority of the Alicization arc's second half, Sword Art Online: War of Underworld, was spent without Kirito acting as the main protagonist. While SAO has taken brief departures from the character’s point of view before, never has he been sidelined on such a grand scale. This twist gives an opportunity for Alice, Asuna and many others to take the stage as powerful fighters in Sword Art Online: War of Underworld.