In this article we return to talk about Alicization. If you are not familiar with the series, we recommend you to retrieve the reviews of the other episodes to this link.
We are approaching the end of the narrative arc with the first part of a rather peculiar epilogue: abandoned the lights, the colors and the grandeur of great battles we find, by resizing ourselves, the results of what the whole Alicization project had as its ultimate goal: the birth of a new form of artificial intelligence.

Alicization: King and queen

After a start particularly focused on Alice, War of Underworld had left her (although always important) a bit on the sidelines in favor of the other characters in the story: her reduced presence despite being the object of contention for all sides of the war allows this beginning epilogue to represent a breath of fresh air for the narration, of which Alice is strongly protagonist here.

Without any warning, in fact, we find Alice in the role of diplomat, as the representative of a new form of life exposed to the public as the result of Rath's research.
Given the premises and what we have seen on Ocean Turtle, seeing Alice free as a normal person instead of being used as a weapon is certainly surprising, as is seeing the girl in different clothes from that of a knight, with a mechanical body. who faithfully reproduces his features dressed in a common school uniform (specifically, at his request, that of the survivors of SAO).

Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld 22 and Alice's declaration of love

Alice's situation and her efforts to convince the audience that not only is she not a threat, but that she is in effect a human being is just one of the first issues addressed in this episode.
The survival of Kikuoka is confirmed, although he has actually faked his death by disappearing from the public eye as a strategic move but, above all, we see the awakening of Kirito and Asuna a month after the final events of the Underworld War.
Fortunately still alive, Kirito's first request once he is awake is the cancellation of the last 200 years of his life from his memory, as happened at the beginning of the narrative arc during his work for Rath: a necessary gesture for their survival but would forever lose any information on what the two have operated in Underworld.

This information is secretly preserved by Higa and his personal curiosity: although previously shown as a failure method, the copy of the Fluctlight is possible and it is what is accomplished by the man who, before erasing Kirito's memories, duplicates it. memory to find out what happened over the course of two centuries.

Previously the copies had proved unstable and unable to accept their artificial status, but we quickly discover that Kirito and Asuna had already foreseen the possibility of being copied, having established a precise course of action in case that eventuality should occur.
We thus witness a surreal conversation between Higa and a Kirito (who suggests, in his words, that he reigned for 200 years on Underworld along with Asuna) elderly, cynical and tired but determined to protect Underworld as its self-declared guardian.

Although his words sound more like a threat than heroism, Higa seeks a solution to prolong the existence of Underworld, with Kirito suggesting a meeting with Kayaba, an encounter that could lead to unpredictable consequences.

In the real world, finally, a necessary emotional breakdown of Kazuto is actually staged: after all, from his point of view, a few hours have passed since his fight with Quinella, therefore Eugeo's mourning is still to be worked out, given how much the war with Vassago and Gabriel have postponed the boy's chance to stop and reflect on his (or this version of him) recent experiences.

Judging from what is written in the final part of Volume 18, viewers of the adaptation will have a bit of perplexity about what awaits us in the next episode: despite this, "New World" will in effect be the conclusion of this arc. narrative and, basically, all of Sword Art Online.