Sword Art Online's third season was one of the best received in the series since its incredibly popular debut season. Alicization brought a whole new virtual world to the series with the Underworld, and offered a whole host of new battles for Kirito and new deuteragonist Eugeo to face. With so many shifts away from what fans have come to expect for the series, there was a major amount of pressure to bring such a season to life.
Speaking with ComicBook.com, director for the season Manabu Ono and character designer and chief animation director Shingo Adachi revealed some of their biggest challenges and gripes with bringing the Alicization arc of the series to life in the anime.
When asked about the sword fights in the third season, Ono revealed that bringing them to life was tough considering the amount of bloodshed when compared to past seasons, "One thing that's different is that there is a whole lot of sword fight that results in blood shed. And depicting that with appropriate realism for television was a big challenge." Depicting this blood was a bigger challenge, too, considering Ono's overall task for the season was to show the Underworld with its clean aesthetic, "[M]y personal task was to depict underworld as beautifully as possible."
Adachi's challenges for the series as character designer is a lot more surprising, as his frustration was rooted in the fact that Season 3 was so battle focused for the most part, "[S]ince the story is continuously in the underworld, my favorite part of dressing up my characters in their daily clothes has no opportunity. So that's been a point of frustration for me."
The Alicization arc of Sword Art Online was particularly intense, so it appears that it has resulted into surprising challenges and frustrations for the staff to bring to life. There will be even more challenges on the horizon, however, as the series will return for the second half of the third season in October for the War of Underworld arc.0comments
If you have yet to catch the newest season of Sword Art Online yourself, the original Japanese release of Sword Art Online: Alicization can currently be found streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu and Sword Art Online: Alicization is officially described as such, "Where... am I...?” Before he knows it, Kirito has made a full-dive into an epic, fantasy-like virtual world. With only a murky recollection of what happened right before he logged in, he starts to wander around, searching for clues. He comes upon an enormous, pitch dark tree (the Gigas Cedar), where he encounters a boy. “My name is Eugeo. Nice to meet you, Kirito.” Although he is supposedly a resident of the virtual world - an NPC - the boy shows the same array of emotions as any human being.
As Kirito bonds with Eugeo, he continues to search for a way to log out of this world. Meanwhile, he remembers a certain memory deep down within him. He remembers racing through the mountains with Eugeo as a child... A memory that he should not have in the first place... And in this memory, he sees someone other than Eugeo, a young blond girl. Her name is Alice. And it is a name that must never be forgotten...”