SAO was one of my starting animes. I still to this day could vividly remember the days when I stayed up all night binging a whole season in one night. As I watched more and more anime the way I consumed and viewed them changed. I grew more critical and my opinions on shows I watched changed but SAO holds a special place. Despite how bad it is it is in my opinion the goto power fantasy show. The writing may be lacklustre but as long as you keep ur brain shut it is the highest quality trash you can find in anime. When this season aired it promised to be different it promised to be better to fix the flaws of its former self. After seeing the first few I was convinced this was going to be a better SAO but ultimately it falls flat on its face. This season starts with soft rebooting the SAO story by trapping Kirito into this world that he was testing in. People praised this decision and I do agree with a soft reboot but what baffles me is the fact that he keeps his memories IRL and forgets about his testing memories. This is such a missed opportunity if they had done the precise opposite the story could have been much more engaging going with a storyline of something like this: Kirito uses the fluclight machine as treatment He logs in sometime after Alices kidnapping 15 years after He and Eugeo make a promise to save Alice together. They train together while trying to finish the thick tree flashes of his IRL memory including details of what the administrator is planning. The Plan not shown to the viewer beforehand so it is more engaging. Plus some SAO training montage so he gets mad skills it also flushes out the OG SAO story. Finish tree and goto capital. The school part mostly stays the same but make the discrimination against lesser nobles more prevalent things like different uniforms different treatment since Kirito and Eugeo are both the ONLY nonnobles they get bullied hard. They didnt show nearly enough of what it is actually like being a student the whole time it was just Kirito being Kirito. The Misfit of Demon King Academy is partially what I am aiming for. Kirito and Eugeo start the tower. somewhere along the way Kirito figures out the administrators plan through the pieces of his memory he has regained They save Alice tries to kill the administrator but ultimately Eugeo dies and Kirito for the first time losses a fight leaving him in the state he is now. The administrator is badly injured and has to flee to the outer worlds as she was secretly the leader of the outer world but only kept the humans alive so the devs dont restart the sim has been restarted before and eventually find a way out and rule the living world. Alice drags Kirito back to her hometown and start of next season. There are many missed opportunities like this but overall the story was engaging enough and it does in SAO fashion provide a lot of power fantasy. The only issue I had was the last fight it took so long as if there was tension like OMG Kirito actually won? If they didnt spend so many episodes animating a naked woman fighting Jesus himself and flushed the story out it wouldve been much better. In the end this was a fine season people flame SAO for having bad writing but at least it is very enjoyable with your brain off and this season stayed true the good old SAO formula while providing us with an acctully new and engaging story. what didnt though is the War of the underworld seasons it deserves a comprehensive review after a rewatch if I ever muster the will to of what the hell happened to that cluster fk.