Sword Art Online: Alicization – 06 – One Big Weapons Project

Now that Asuna has revealed herself, Kikuoka must answer some questions for her. It turns out he wasn’t lying when he said Kirito was receiving treatment he couldn’t receive anywhere else. They have him in a full-spec STL that is gradually rebuilding his damaged brain, though they still don’t know if he’ll ever wake up.

However, Kikuoka didn’t bring Kirito to Rath HQ out of the kindness of his heart. As an SDF official, he has always sought new ways to fight wars ever since the NerveGear came out. When fully copying the souls of fully-formed real-world adults failed (none will ever accept they are copies), they had to use the copies of infant souls, and raise them in a controlled virtual environment where they’d accept their existence—bottom-up AI.

While that in and of itself was a major achievement, it caused problems for Kikuoka vis-a-vis his ultimate goal: to develop a new weapon for the defense of Japan. The AIs followed the law—the Taboo Index—precisely and without exception. The Underworld was a utopia with no crime…until Alice crossed that border as a result of her dealings with Kirito, whom they placed into the world after wiping his memory.

In effect, Kirito was the chaotic element they needed in order to “teach” their homegrown bottom-up AIs to break the law; even to murder. Alice, or A.L.I.C.E. (a rather tortured acronym I will not repeat), was the first product of introducing Kirito to the project: the first AI to dissent and resist the Taboo Index (even if it was accidental).

That, Kikuoka hopes, is the first step towards building an army of artificial fluctlights capable of killing an enemy, which will mean no longer having to sacrifice real-world soldiers in conflicts—a huge strategic advantage that could elevate real-world Japan to the highest echelons of global power.

Of course, this opens up a tremendous ethical and philosophical can of worms; one so large Kikuoka himself isn’t interested in pondering it beyond the limited scope of what is essentially a weapon R&D project. But having experienced about as much virtual life as Kirito, Asuna is not okay with exploiting souls that are the cognitive equal to real-world humans as, well, cannon fodder. Perhaps they’re not real humans, but they’re close enough for it to be wrong.

Nevertheless, in the imperfect human world, two or more wrongs often make a right, and while Kikuoka is definitely putting out some serious supervillain vibes with his secret base and yukata, his intentions to eliminate the human cost of war are noble. But he execution has yielded the creation of a new race of beings that aren’t necessarily his to do with as he pleases.

Project Alicization is, in a way, one massive crime against virtual humanity. While she loved Kayaba too much to kill him, Koujirou Rinko is still aware of the role she played in his crimes.  But when she confesses that role to Asuna, Asuna is forgiving, because she doesn’t feel she’s in any position to forgive.

Asuna and Kirito, like Rinko and Kayaba, have also committed crimes in their various virtual dealings. But all they can do is accept that and move forward, learning the lessons that had to be learned. And right now those lessons are telling Asuna that Kikuoka is doing is wrong, even if it is saving Kirigaya Kazuto.

I imagine at some point Asuna is going to plug into one of those unused STLs, to reunite with Kirito and, if he ends up remembering her, confer with him on how they should deal with Kikuoka and his monstrously advanced experiment.

Even assuming Kikuoka had free reign to do as he pleased, there are so many complex variables in his system that something unexpected is sure to arise. If and when it all blows up in his face, he’ll need people like Asuna and Kirito to clean up his mess.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

2 thoughts on “Sword Art Online: Alicization – 06 – One Big Weapons Project”

  1. Man…to be fair, I can’t watch this until it’s free on Crunchyroll, so I’m just going off by what I read about the episode. Things are very different than how they’re played out in the novel. I don’t know if you have read the novels of this arc or not, but if you don’t mind me posting a little spoiler or two, I’d like to compare some things about the novel, not that they really would change much here. I can’t really tag them here cause I don’t know how.

    First off, Kikuoka never took Kirito in the previous episode so directly by approaching his family. He just took him to save him, though I’m unsure whether he had plans for Kirito to continue with the Project. Honestly, in a way, he reminds me of Urahara, always in the background knowing more than anyone else, and certainly not a person to be trusted. Asuna only found out that it was him once she got onto the Ocean Turtle.

    In the novel, Asuna was very deductive in the situation, as Kirito explained lots of it at the Dicey Cafe in the first episode. Asuna managed to come to realizations without being told by Kikuoka, including the newborns and why the project needed Kirito and his experience in a Full Dive environment, which is pretty cool of her as a character. Also, she never really told the gang about what happened to Kirito like this in an effort to not make them worry (only Suguha and Sinon); in all honesty, you were pretty spot on about the idea of information leaks. Also, (again, I don’t know if they covered this), she also found out the truth about the FLA; unlike what Kirito said about 3 days, it was 10 years. Big difference.

    One last spoiler that I wanted to mention here was how she was adamant in the fact that had Kirito knew about his plans, then he would have not helped at all, due to their beliefs in the rights of AI, referencing that incident back in episode 5 of the Aincrad arc. Nice shoutout, but it really shows how Kirito influenced Asuna and changed her beliefs.

    With this, how does that make you feel about the changes made thus far? Do they make you view certain characters in a different light? I know that making cuts is normal in adaptations, but I wonder if by doing so you’re leaving out some character development, or at least reinforcement of characters that we already know and love.

    Also, Rinko looks kind of adorable in an apron.

    1. I haven’t read any of the source, so there are no ‘changes’ to the story from my particular POV.
      And honestly, that’s the way I likes it :)

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