Anime is known mostly for its Shounen exports, some of which are the most celebrated works of fiction coming out of Japan. Anime, in general, is prone to using the same plot devices, reinventing them as time goes on. One such device is the “Power of Friendship” trope, which is pervasive in all kinds of media. The trope has a unique relationship with anime; however, even within the medium, the trope has reached a new level of tired.
Sword Art Online is a series that uses a hefty amount of clichés, the most notable being “the hero always wins”. Regardless of what we think about clichés, Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld Season 2 makes use of the power of friendship in an interesting way, one that is worthy of discussion, so let’s get into it!
The Twist is in the Personification
Let’s talk about personification – the attribution of human characteristics to a non-human subject. Sword Art Online: Alicization presented us with a brand-new world and two new main characters: the titular Alice and Eugeo, both of whom Kirito had befriended and grew up within his “life” in the Underworld. These childhood friends are important to the developments of the lore in this iteration of the Sword Art Online franchise because of their impact on Kirito as a character, as well as their relevance to the major conflict that permeates this season. When Alice is taken away after committing a grave sin, Kirito and Eugeo grow up with the intention of rescuing her. Eugeo’s relevance is incredible because his name, “Eugeo” is phonetically similar to the Japanese word for friendship 「友情」- “Yuujou”. This is important to note because of Eugeo’s significance to the series, as well as his friendship with Kirito.
Kirito and Eugeo grew up together. Maybe not in the life that Kirito left behind every single time he hopped into the STL; however, the relationship that developed in that virtual world was every bit as real as the relationships that Kirito had developed in the so-called real world. Eugeo was Kirito’s best friend in this life, and his death in the battle against the Administrator rubbed salt in one of Kirito’s deepest emotional wounds. When Kirito’s soul was badly damaged in the aftermath of that fateful battle, he could barely move or speak, but he held fast onto what remained of Eugeo’s beautiful Blue Rose Sword. The sword came to be Kirito’s crutch and even assisted him in the final battle.
The Blue Rose Sword contained the memory of Eugeo and repaired itself to assist Kirito in his battle against Bercouli and Subtilizer. In the dramatic finish against Bercouli, Eugeo could be seen fighting alongside the severely injured Kirito in a fashion reminiscent of Dragon Ball Z’s famous “Father-Son Kamehameha”. This obvious Deus Ex Machina is an iteration of the aforementioned power of friendship trope seen pretty much everywhere; however, the idea that “Eugeo” is supposedly “Yuujou” introduces the idea that it was written into the very lore of the series, and in this way, Eugeo can be considered the series’ personification of friendship. This is similar to when Yuuki appeared to Asuna when she had come close to giving up. “Yuuki”, as in the Japanese word for “courage”.
Clichés can be absolutely annoying for someone who has been consuming a medium for a long time, but they can also be a lot of fun, especially in seeing how they morph and change as anime changes. Sword Art Online did an interesting spin on a well-known cliché and even managed to heap more clichés on top of it; however, the sheer rollercoaster that the Alicization arc has been makes it bearable. What do you think about clichés in anime? Let us know in the comments below!