Let’s Talk About: The Over the Top Sword Art Online Hate

I’ve been meaning to do this post for the longest time, but until today, I’ve never found myself in the mood to write this up, nor has the topic really felt relevant.

It still doesn’t feel all that relevant, but after seeing yet another ridiculous and over the top, hate-filled tweet about this show, I decided: “Why not now? Now’s as good a time as any.”

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Now would also be a good time for a nap.

So here we are. I’m going to talk about Sword Art Online. I’m going to talk about what a large percentage of Anime fans consider to be “the worst Anime ever made” and I’m going to completely tear their arguments to shreds in the kindest way possible because I honestly feel that a lot of the hate is misguided and a little bit silly.

It’s okay if you hate this show. I won’t judge you for hating it. However, I think it’s time someone on my side of the debate provided a solid and concrete argument for Sword Art Online along with actual responses to the criticisms that people tend to use when ridiculing this mediocre at worst series.

So let’s just get stuck in:

Haters Claim: “Sword Art Online is the worst Anime ever made and is totally soulless.”

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Is it True? : Not even close.

This is one of the most common claims made about Sword Art Online in the Anime fandom, and it’s something that honestly baffles me every time I see it.

The worst Anime ever made? Sure, I can understand if it’s your least favourite Anime, but the worst Anime to ever be created? What nonsense.

What do I even use as my counter point here? There are so many things I could use to disprove this idiotic claim that I’d be writing about them all night…

…I guess we’ll go with the presentation. That’s the easiest one. So much heart and soul has been put into this production. The effort is evident in countless moments and the directing and choreography of almost every scene is handled stunningly. The series may not be perfect, and may sometimes fall flat on its face, but it’s always trying.

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Yeah, totally soulless guys.

And the fact that it tries so hard to get you invested already catapults Sword Art Online miles above what you could consider a candidate for the worst Anime ever made. Look at Big Order as a recent example of this. It’s messy, it’s ugly, it has no heart and it genuinely feels like no one even remotely cared about its production.

Are people honestly trying to tell me that Sword Art Online feels as soulless and dry as Big Order?

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*screams internally*

No? I didn’t think so.

Sword Art Online is a very inoffensive series and I honestly feel this claim comes from people trying to be “cool.”

It’s cool to hate Sword Art Online now. Remember when it was airing and everyone loved it? People love to ride the bandwagon. Don’t ride the bandwagon. Form your own opinions and arguments instead of copying others.

Haters Claim: “The series is just empowerment fantasy for gamers.”

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Is it True? : I guess, but it’s not a good criticism.

This one is something I’ve always found to be incredibly stupid. Empowerment fantasy is not an argument because the majority of Anime is, in some way, empowerment fantasy, an agent of escapism or wish fulfilment.

From Gurren Lagann to K-ON! and all the way back to Neon Genesis Evangelion, Anime is primarily aimed to be a form of escapism from the mundane, stressful and potentially tragic lives of its audience. That’s one of the biggest functions of any form of entertainment: to suck us into its world, teach us something about ourselves and motivate us to do better. Sure, that’s not the message of all media, but it’s definitely a prominent one.

Sword Art Online is no exception to this. It is indeed empowerment fantasy in some way. But why is that necessarily a bad thing? I have no idea. Wish fulfilment is only a problem when you consume it in such heavy doses that you prevent your actual growth as a person. So what are people even trying to say here? I have no idea! Do you?

Haters Claim: “Kirito is an overpowered protagonist who gets all the girls.”

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Is it True? : Yes, but it’s completely justified.

Is Kirito overpowered? Yes.

Is he overpowered for no reason? No. The series makes it very clear why Kirito is overpowered.

Kirito is probably the highest levelled player in the game during the series. He’s achieved higher stats in most combat skills in a faster time than anybody else. Now, that may sound convenient, but there’s a reason why.

In Sword Art Online, most of the other players work together to fight mobs and gain items and experience. This means when they do, their experience, loot drops and other things gained from taking our NPC’s is divided up amongst the team.

Kirito on the other hand has been battling these very same mobs of NPC’s by himself. This means he gets all the experience, loot drops and other things that are normally divided up amongst groups of three or four people, for himself.

Sure, you can argue that this sounds a little far-fetched, but it’s a logical conclusion that the series explains time and time again over the course of its run, and it makes sense for Kirito’s character. He’s a socially awkward guy who doesn’t like interacting with other people. He prefers to be alone and therefore, he does it all alone. He’s also a former Beta Tester for the game, meaning he had a huge advantage at the start of the game, knowing where a lot of the starter content of the game was and how to beat it quickly.

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You could definitely argue against that, and call it “convenient”, but that doesn’t make it bad or illogical character writing. “Convenience” is a part of life.

I should probably mention that he doesn’t even always win. He got wrecked by his little sister at kendo and lost against Yuki in the Mothers Rosario arc.

As for the “getting all the girls” argument, it doesn’t hold up all that well when you really look at it. The girls are all teenage girls. They aren’t mature in the slightest, they’ve been put into a life or death situation and their first interactions with Kirito were always through him saving them from some kind of imminent danger.

Unlike most Anime leads who “get all the girls”, Kirito actually earns their respect by actively doing something to gain their affection. He doesn’t just stand around and do nothing, he actually performs tasks that could be considered flattering and kind-spirited. It’s completely normal for a girl to fall for a guy who is nothing but nice to them. Does it a seem a little shallow? A little, but these girls are teenagers. What are you expecting?

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As for Asuna and Kirito’s relationship, it speaks for itself. It’s one of the only romances in Anime that was ever fully realised and made perfect sense.

 

Haters Claim: “The writing is bad and predictable.”

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Is it True? : Absolutely not.

Alright, let me start by saying what’s classed as good and bad writing is completely subjective. I’m not really going to get into that, since I’ve already done a post about this before. Twice.

However, what I’d like to know is what’s so bad about the writing? No one ever really seems to be able to actually tell me other than “it’s bad lmao”, “Kirito just wins all the time lol” or “its all so predictable roflmaololxD”

As for it being predictable, cut the nonsense.

You’re honestly telling me that from the first episode it was obvious that the final boss fight was going to occur more than 20 floors earlier, that Kayaba was actually Heathcliff, that Asuna and Kirito would enter a fully realised romantic relationship and that by the halfway point in the series, that characters would be in an entirely different game without real death mechanics?

If so, congratulations on having ESP. I’d love to know your secrets.

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*laughs at own joke*

Seriously though, while you can most certainly argue that the directions the plot took were bad, you can’t call them predictable. Because they weren’t and they still aren’t. No one saw that coming.

Haters Claim: “Asuna becomes a damsel in distress during the Fairy Dance arc.”

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Is it True? : No.

Asuna gets captured in the second arc and people suddenly decided that ruined her strong, independent character that was established during the Aincrad arc.

What people seem to be forgetting though is that Asuna actually plays an instrumental part in her rescue.

Remember the key card that Kirito finds that ultimately lets him into the tree to save Asuna? Remember who dropped it? Remember who formulated an escape plan and who actively managed to get far enough from her cell through manipulating her surroundings to drop that key card down to the world below?

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Remember this?

Asuna did, and without her actively doing those things, she would never have been rescued and would have become Suguou’s brainwashed waifu.

What kind of damsel in distress actually assists in her own rescue? None, because Asuna isn’t a damsel in distress. She was just limited to what she was able to do because she was imprisoned by a villain who was literally the god of the world she was trapped in without any means to fight back. Considering those circumstances, she did a heck of a lot more than any of us would have in that situation.

Haters Claim: “Suguha being in love with Kirito is disgusting, fetishist incest garbage.”

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Is it True? : Did people even watch the show…?

I don’t really want to have a debate about incest, so instead I’m just going to talk about Suguha’s feelings and how they differ from most “disgusting, fetishist incest garbage”.

In most Anime, incestuous relationships are fetishised like crazy. The siblings grab each other, they lust for one another, and it often gets very uncomfortable and creepy.

But Suguha has real, genuine feelings for her brother which develop in a very realistic and logical way.

She spent most of her life disconnected from Kirito, and when he gets trapped in SAO, she comes to the realisation she might never see him again. She visits him every day, and during this time, she finds out that they aren’t really related, they’re cousins.

Then, when Kirito comes back after being away for two years, a more mature and grown up person, she winds up confused. She no longer see’s him as the annoying, weird brother she used to have, but a responsible and adult man who she wants to take care of and never lose again. And this, combined with the realisation that they aren’t even real siblings, makes her think “this could work.”

But despite this, she doesn’t want to fall in love with Kirito. She actually hates herself for it. She views herself as a disgusting person who doesn’t deserve to be loved back, and she tries to escape the reality of herself by playing Alfheim Online, where she meets Kirito in-game without knowing he is Kirito. Then she decides “hey, this guy is nice, maybe I can finally stop loving my brother”. Then she finds out that guy is Kirito, and the cycle of self-hate begins again.

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This isn’t some simple “Oni-sama sugoiiiii” aspect of the story that’s there for the sole purpose of fetishism. This is a genuinely well written and emotional insight into Suguha’s character. It’s a realistic look into what can really happen to people in these situations and how many people like Suguha really feel about themselves and their feelings. To label this as “disgusting” is discrediting it, and if you failed to see the deeper meaning, I pity you.

Haters Claim: “The game mechanics don’t make sense.”

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Is it True? : …I don’t care.

I don’t give a toss if the game mechanics are illogical. The series is about full-dive virtual reality technology and you’re complaining about game mechanics when it comes to logic?

The game mechanics are actually pretty well thought out and unique. Do they all work? We’d need to apply it to an actual game to find out, but they’re far from illogical. Take a Game Design class.

I studied Game Design by the way. Just wanted to throw that out there. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m right, but hey, I’ll take it for what it’s worth.

Haters Claim: “The lack of perma-death ruined the second arc.”

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Is it True? : Yes, if death is the only stake that matters to you.

I never considered this a problem, since the second arc revolved around a completely different set of stakes that had nothing to do with death.

Sure, Kirito can’t die any more, but that’s not what’s at risk here. Asuna and several other players are trapped in ALO, and need to be saved before their brains are used for cruel, inhumane experiments.

In the case of Asuna especially, Kirito is limited by time. He needs to save her because he loves her. She’s his everything, and without her, his life will be ruined.

But sure, there’s no risk at all since no one can die now. Yeah, nothing is at stake any more. Death is the only risk in life.

…Ugh.

Haters Claim: “Sugou is an irredeemable, cardboard villain”

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Is it True? : Yes!

I’ll give you this one.

But isn’t that the point?

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Alright, I think I’m done here.

Sword Art Online is a mediocre at worst series. It is far from the worst Anime made. It is one of the most inoffensive shows ever produced in the medium and I am sick and tired of seeing everyone dump crap all over it.

Go watch Big Order or Mars of Destruction. Maybe then you’ll appreciate just how good you’ve had it if you consider this to be the hellspawn of your Anime experience.

8/10. I thought it was great. Feel free to disagree. Do so responsibly.

Thanks for reading everyone!

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Me running from the SAO haters

What are your thoughts on the criticisms of Sword Art Online?

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34 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About: The Over the Top Sword Art Online Hate

  1. I’ve still not seen Sword Art Online. It’s really interesting as someone who is basically an outsider seeing both the love and the hate that the series gets. I guess this is what can happen when a series has a lot of mass-appeal and popularity. There’s always people who like to rain on that parade, but it’s a shame they can’t do it in a thoughtful manner. If there’s one thing I dislike seeing, it’s people stating an opinion in such a way that there’s a tacit assumption that if you don’t agree with them you are an idiot or a bad person. There’s always reasons why we think in a particular way and it’s good to be able to articulate them.

    I guess part of the problem here comes with people unable to separate technical merit (story, artwork, music) from personal enjoyment. If asked about which anime are my favourites, I’d give an answer different to what anime I think are the best. Some of my favourite shows are not amazingly well crafted, but they have something which makes them personally very enjoyable. Obviously the same applies for things you dislike; it doesn’t inherently make them the worst. Even if you really disliked SAO (for instance a friend told you it was the best and you went into it with really high expectations), it doesn’t make it the worst anime. You could hate fantasy anime and it still wouldn’t be the worst anime (though why did you watch it?).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I might not agree with you on some points, but SAO certainly isn’t the worst anime ever. Among other positives of the show the soundtrack could be mentioned – it’s done by Yuki Kajiura after all (also it has “coffee, soda, toffee pasta” and that’s something).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love SAO. I actually do dislike how Asuna is treated in the second arc and I do feel that a lot of the tension leaves the series once the perma death element is removed, but I still really loved watching this series and it is one I’ve watched with several other people who don’t normally watch anime and they’ve really enjoyed the show (once they got over the Asuna being groped by the tentacle tihngs, that one is hard to explain).
    Kirito is also one of my favourite anime characters ( and I know a lot of people are screaming at me right now about how bland and boring and overpowered he is, etc, etc). The thing is, I never found that while watching the show. I found an interesting and socially awkward teen put in an impossible situation and trying to cope with it the best way he could and when that didn’t work adapting to the situation until he found a way to make it work.
    Thanks for sharing such this post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh yeah, I agree with you there, the tentacle scene was a bit much (and was more of Anime exclusive thing, the novels just had snail-like characters with no tentacle groping or anything like that).

      I agree that Aincrad was still the most tense of the story arcs, and if we ever get a season 3, the stakes will be similar if it follows the next arc. Alicization is probably the best arc in the series, even better than Aincrad was, so I hope they adapt it sometime in the future.

      I agree, Kirito is also one of my favourite characters and I didn’t find him bland at all. He was a breath of fresh air and he reminded me a lot of myself at the time, being a teenager who struggled with social anxiety, so I felt I could relate to his character a lot and it was motivating to see him overcome it as the series went on.

      His relationship with Asuna also has a lot of parallels to my real life relationship, which always made me root for them. I even made an AMV of the two of them many years ago as an anniversary gift.

      My point is, I really enjoyed both Kirito and Asuna as characters. I feel they get discredited far too much and it’s a real shame.

      Glad to see some positive words about SAO for a change.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll start off with the obvious problem first. They aren’t siblings, however they are blood related. Doesn’t matter how you try to see it; it is incest one way or the other. Suguha isn’t seeing Kirito as in family love, but love as in potential lover.

    As an MMO player I can give you a first hand insight. Yes Kirito is a solo player (much like myself) whilst loot, gear, items & exp varies from MMO to MMO. As does exp being distrubuted. This is where the problem arise. In the first arc he soloed, that’s fine – despite content being “hard” and having limited knowledge beyond the starting areas & bosses. He just face rolled the bosses whilst everyone else where getting killed / struggling by it. Either the content is easy or everyone else are incompetent. Certain content are designed so they can’t be easily soloed, yet he gives the impression he can solo an entire raid wing??. However in the fairy dance arc …. he pretty much didn’t solo or lvl up accordingly and by admission was pretty much playing on an even playing field with other low lvl players.

    Yet he was able to best an experienced player in an open world pvp – gears gives u an advantage but it doesn’t determine the skill level – he was hitting like he was in BiS gear. In Mother rosario arc, he was going up against a raid group of 20+ players who were probably playing at max lvl (same as he is)…. he gets the upper hand on the majority of them (yes Klein and his group came in too & helped). In this instance he CAN afford to lose because he has nothing to lose other than be a distraction to the raid group.

    I’m interested in his friggin build. He comes across as balanced, but hits like a zerker. And to boot, zerkers rarely use one handed swords as they lack the dps found in two handed weapons. Asuna is known as the zerker/healer. Well that’s nice … never seen two diameterically opposite play styles.

    Just my two cent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s not only about the first arc.. During the second arc, there is explanation about his daily life… During his childhood when he found that his mother and sister were really not his family, he indulged himself into games and software, (btw the way he found that info cleary meant he was a born talented person).. So being exposed to a lot of gaming, I am sure he can understand the basic of every game quickly and since he was made to be a born talented guy, he can adjust gears to master them… this was actually about a talented guy, not as talented as Sora/shiro.. Still that Asuna being a healer/zerker is not something for me to explain.. Well there are games where there is no class system being done.. Where you can combine any classes you want, but they are pretty much low level games (but not bad) mobile gaming toram also is no class game, buy any skill set and combine them as you like… So expect the future gaming to adapt them too, maybe? So it’s not like whatever you accuse is impossible.. And I am not a die-hard fan of SAO, nor a hater… I like it because of showing the realistics..

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh yeah, I never denied that it was still incest and morally questionable, they are indeed still blood-related and it is indeed still incest, but that wasn’t really what I was getting at. What I was getting at is that it is far from the usual “disgusting”, “oni-sama” fan-service fuelled sibling relationships we always seem to be getting in these kinds of shows.

      Suguha genuinely loves Kazuto and she doesn’t lust after him nor does she even approve of her own feelings. She knows that her feelings are wrong and she acknowledges that she shouldn’t feel the way she does, and that’s why I’m defending this aspect of the series.

      Is it still wrong? I guess, but it’s not sexualised and it is there for thematic depth and character exploration. It’s a realistic portrayal of these kinds of feelings and how people deal with them, and I feel it should be appreciated more than it currently is.

      I also play MMO’s myself. Playing video games is both my hobby and my job, so I’ve had a lot of experience playing MMO’s both recreationally and for work. Obviously it varies from game to game, but in the MMO I played for 5+ years, I was always able to solo content if I played with the correct set up. With the right gear, I was able to solo the toughest of bosses and get all that juicy EXP and loot for myself. Was it tough? Extremely, but it was far from impossible.

      As for the Fairy Dance arc, the series actually explains why he’s able to overpower the other, more experienced players.

      Alfheim Online was created by copying and altering all of the data stored within the Cardinal System which made up Sword Art Online. The game is literally a modified copy of the original Sword Art Online. When Kirito enters ALO, he is reunited with Yui, who was an administrator for the old Cardinal System. The old Cardinal System also has Kirito’s old character data stored on it. So what does Yui do? She hacks the system to give Kirito access to all of his old SAO skills, which are converted into ALO’s new skill system. It’s why he also has a ton of in-game currency when he starts.

      So Kirito has essentially joined ALO with a new account but with all of his old SAO stats, which were implied to be maxed out, which is why he’s able to take out the best players. The Anime skipped over it all fairly quickly, but it was most certainly there. The novels spent a lot more time on it than the Anime did though.

      As for him beating up 20+ players in Mothers Rosario, he did have Excalibur. The legendary ultimate weapon that has only one of its kind in the game, so that’s most likely why.

      Is all of that a little convenient? Sure it is, but it’s logical and it makes total sense.

      As for the class thing, I’m not too sure how to defend that one, since the series doesn’t really go into depth about its class system or how it works.

      There are definitely MMO’s that don’t even have a class system though and support the hybridisation of multiple play styles. Despite the jokes about it, Runescape is the best example of this. You have access to all skills at any time and can combine them in multiple ways. You can be a Berserker class with a focus on attacking, yet you can still cast healing spells or stat reduction spells at the same time if your Magic level is high enough and you have the appropriate runes.

      Perhaps SAO is a similar style of game? We don’t really know.

      Interesting discussion, it’s nice to see some discussion happening in the comments!

      Thank you for reading, I enjoyed seeing your thoughts on this!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re referring to the emotional / psycological aspect of her feelings – which is v interesting. There is a simple reason why she didn’t act on her feelings and its pretty much obvious; Asuna. I suspect, if Asuna wasn’t in the way. I don’t think she wouldn’t deny making her feelings more open to Kirito – to make it more understandable; she’d cave in to her emotional desires.

        Convoluted plot convience. It would have made more sense to grand father in his SAO account, since ALO uses a modified game engine from the original SAO. That way everything he had would have been transfered over; stats and all. Instead the whole hacking thing was a way to re-introduce Yui to the story. Now this is where I do go against my own argument. MMO’ in these day and age give out instant level boosters to max level. Some ppl do want to skip the grindy levelling process – however that should be done with maybe with your 2nd toon – as the first gets you to understand the class etc. However in the context of the story, they didn’t want Kirito to be some n00b and lose to anyone, so they skipped the levelling process. And conviently bumped him up to max lvl via Yui hacking.

        Is the max lvl booster item a convience? yup.

        Having a legendary / prestiage weapon isn’t a mark of skill (so much). It’s a mark of dedication and time spent in game. I’ve seen a small number of pvp matches, where players have multiple legendary weapons and still have their ass kicked. Kleine also had a legendary axe – which he couldn’t wield because of his class. And he got it in the same arc that Kirito got excalibur. That 20+ raid group were either made to look; weak (under lvl) or incompetent or both. You don’t enter a raid wing with shoddy gear.

        Very few MMO’ ever use the hybridisation playstyle. There is a main problem with that. I’ve played Guild Wars 1 briefly. Similar to runescape, it allowed you to combine two different class skills and mix them up. So I could play as a ranger and have skills from a monk. Whilst it had a very diverse build. It also had a plethora of very shoddy, unoptimised, cheese builds. And this is where the main problem was; balancing. Skill balancing for the devs was a nightmare to deal with in pvp. Buffing & nerfing to skills really did some damage to builds. So in GW2 they did away with hybridisation and went traditional with a soft-core trinity.

        Whilst in agreement, SAO does hint at a traditional MMO style.

        Cool what MMO do you play??. I’ve been playing GW2 for 3+ years :D.

        Like

      2. Another matter that always gets overlooked regarding Kirito’s ability in ALO is reaction time. In any MMO, reaction time is kind of a deal. Kirito spent a couple years living in an MMO full time, and as such, would have much faster mental reaction times than someone who has played ALO.

        Basically, Kirito’s able to process and react to information and situations in a game environment better than others, because he’s been doing it longer and has developed that ability. That’s just a side effect of being in Aincrad. People always seem to overlook that.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Just a few thoughts on your points:

      As far as Kirito’s solo status, he makes it clear that he’s only a solo player (at least in terms of hunting on his own) in the dungeons and wilderness area, and when it comes to dealing with bosses, he always teams up with the boss raiding group. This is almost directly what he tells Kikouka in Extra Edition when giving a debriefing on his time in SAO.

      In Fairy Dance, it’s not that Kirito had an equipment advantage (Eugene even notes that his gear is crap), but rather that his skills are completely maxed out due to the game porting in his SAO stats. This plus his fighting experience and dual wielding ability are what allowed him to best Eugene in their fight.

      And, as far as his build, Sinon comments in season 2 that he’s an STR/AGI build, so it’s likely that he’s best when he can hit hard and quick while dodging or blocking enemy attacks. He’s clearly not designed to be taking hits, which should be obvious given that he’s not wearing real armor of any kind.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wanted to add something here, second arc was not involving death, still it pretty much involved the memory manipulation, which is worse than death… Considering that I think it was a pretty much death/life one too, at least for me?

    And Kirito was said to be a talented in computer, so he found out about his family, ever since then he was involving himself with games.. So he was a pretty hardcore gamer imo, being made as a talented guy, that adds up to his overpowered character, maybe?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Excellent post and I loved reading it. As much as I am a Sword Art Online, I couldn’t find any evidence to defend it. You did an excellent job on collecting the facts. I agree about Kirito being OP. He has been doing things by himself. I am one of the few that actually likes this anime. I really like the art, characters and animations. I always wondered about the girls but you did an excellent job on explainning why they joined Kirito. I will admit, the love themes about Suguha made me skeptic and I am not into incest. However, after you mentioned her deep emotions, I feel pity for her and made me rethink the pain she goes through.

    Once again, I really love your Sword Art Online article! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      It’s great to see that there are still people that enjoy SAO, we seem to be in the minority these days, which is a real shame.

      Yeah, I’m not particularly into the whole “I love you oni-sama” thing either, but this was a little more excusable because it wasn’t there for fan-service, it was a legitimate character arc with a purpose.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I feel like this anime gets treated unfairly. Maybe I am just biased but I don’t Sword Art Online is the worst anime. Besides the flaws, I can still enjoy this anime.
        Yeah you’re right. It wasn’t just for fanservice but Suguha was there with an actual plot and was needed to understand her character.
        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! While it isn’t perfect, Sword Art Online is an excellent series and one of my all time favorites. I agree with all of your points, especially about Kirito. People hate him for being overpowered and being a ladies man, but there are valid reasons for him being so, which you outline wonderfully.

    And thank you for making those points about Asuna. Yes, she gets captured, but she never stops fighting for freedom, which proves she isn’t a damsel in distress.

    I agree that the writing isn’t bad at all. Yes, there are some plotholes in the anime, but if you take the time to actually read the light novels and the side manga, most of those holes get filled in and you will realize that this series is excellently written and well thought out.

    Thanks again for writing this!

    Like

  8. Anyone who thinks this is the worst anime ever, has clearly never seen Voltage Fighter. Now that is possibly the worst anime ever, but even it had several redeeming qualities. Bad is subjective when it comes to any medium of art.

    You raised a lot of valid arguments for why SAO isn’t as bad as people claim. Thank you for that. I’ve been making some of these same arguments for a while now.

    Regarding Asuna in the Fairy Dance arc, my biggest problem with that really was the tentacle thing. She does actively make effort to save herself, and is key to finally being rescued, so hardly a damsel. Similar to that is the sister matter, which wasn’t actually a sister matter at all, and was a major character arc for Suguha learning to be okay with herself, and who she was and wanted to be.

    As for Kirito, I disagree that all the girls fall for him. They might get a crush, but Kirito is a pretty nice guy, which is a pretty decent message to send to guys. Be a decent person, and people will like you. Besides, he only ever had eyes for Asuna, and they had probably the most normal and functional relationship in anime ever.

    Much of the hate SAO gets comes from either misunderstanding the show, or focusing on the areas where it actually is weak, and trying to extend that to the areas where it’s actually well done, to justify not liking it. However, considering the SAO franchise is pretty much a multi-million dollar global success, I think most of it just resentment that, as you put it, a mediocre show gets more attention than shows people think should get more.

    Far as I’m concerned, like what ya like, and don’t let anyone else tell you what is okay and not okay to like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t seen Voltage Fighter, but it surely can’t be as bad as Mars of Destruction… Right?

      I’m glad I’m not the only one making these kind of posts about SAO. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in my love and defense for this show. It’s always struck a very personal chord with me and although I can acknowledge its many flaws, it hurts to see it get ridiculed to these ridiculous levels by people who just seem to be riding a hate bandwagon to appear smarter than the “masses”.

      Another recent example of this kind of behaviour is Re:Zero. I feel a lot of people are bashing that show in a similar way for the very same reasons, despite it being a pretty great show if you look beyond the nitpicky issues.

      Exactly correct about Suguha. Too many people see “incest” and instantly label it as disgusting, fetishist nonsense, when really it was never trying to be that at all. It was aiming to be a character arc that was instrumental to the plot.

      At the end of the day, all that matters is that we like what we like and we dislike what we don’t. Discussion is great, but arguing isn’t nor is degrading people who disagree with you.

      Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for contributing your thoughts! Discussion is always fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve not seen Mars of Destruction yet, but now I’m scared to. I may go look it up and let you know how it stands against Voltage Fighter.

        I caught SAO when it was first airing, so I remember when everybody loved it. Of late, it seems, anime reviews have gotten kind of elitist, with folks wanting to sound like they are smart and into shows that are deep, rather than remembering that this is just television, same as what we have everywhere, just animated in a particular style. It isn’t some great art form. Granted, much more complex stories are frequently explored in anime than in most other formats, but that doesn’t make the entire concept some higher form of entertainment. For every deep and philosophical series, there’s ten goofy ones. Because television.

        Really, though, you nail it with the idea that we should enjoy what we do, and that’s it’s just as okay to dislike things, without foaming at the mouth over them. That’s what folks really need to remember.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice post, although, I disagree with some points.

    While the production does have some ambitious moments, it is only within certain scenes that are suppose to matter. It’s not bad, just doesn’t pump out the fluidity it should have for the little things. For Kirito being overpowered, it is not justified because of how it was displayed and executed. Telling me “He got powerful because he trained for a lot of time” isn’t enough to establish any worth. Montages or even screenshots of training segments would help suffice to show Kirito’s struggle and effort. Kind of like what they did in HXH. They did a looot of training and showed it too.

    As for the harem, I know teenage girls in real life who wouldn’t get with Kirito, even if he did save their lives. Sure, its fiction, but that still doesn’t make it a worthwhile harem. Harems only work if each character is unique and has something interesting to offer. SAO’s harem is just to fulfill Otaku fantasies and nothing more.

    While the plot may not be predictable (due to pulling ass-pulls and skipping LN content), that doesn’t make it good. I feel like you didn’t explain any story and narrative technique that SAO did to make it good. Suguha’s crush on Kirito is indeed unhealthy. I wouldn’t go far as to call it logical because knowing she liked him without seeking some professional help is illogical. Still, her escapism of going into Alfheim all because of her cousin is something that could have been handled better too. Wouldn’t the Alfheim arc be better if it focused on Suguha’s unhealthy crush and explored how she struggles to deal with it? Also, wouldn’t it be better if we got more of her perspective on what she went through when Kirito was stuck in Aincrad? There was potential there…and everywhere.

    About the game design thing, I totally disagree. If SAO were passionate about gaming, it would have went out of its way to describe details of MMO’s, like Log Horizon did. I’m actually bugged about this part because it is something YOU should care about. It tries to make you care by half-ass attempting to include mechanics that don’t even make sense. If you’re going to make a series that will focus on MMO mechanics, details would be nice for the audience and narrative.

    Sugou is indeed a fuccboi JRPG villain, but if that was the point then it was stupid and…pointless. Smart villains make things seems more rational. They challenge your perspective and if done right, can even persuade you to root for their cause. Sugou is just another doll for Kirito to own and that is boring.

    With all that being said, I do agree with some points. SAO isn’t the worst anime ever, but thats because “the worse anime” doesn’t exist. Due to opinions, anything can be good or bad, thus my quote of “All opinions are subjectively good or bad”. Since I feel that is obvious, I don’t believe it adds any merit to SAO’s worth as a series.

    For Asuna being a damsel, she did try, but it was her attitude that didn’t convince me that she tried to save herself fully. I remember her crying Kirito’s name to save her. To me, it conveyed that she was still relying on him to do the rest instead of coming up with a plan B plan in case he failed. It would have been fine if she did something like what Shirayuki did in Akagami no Shirayukihime. For the lack of death part, I agree. There was nothing at stake in Alfheim and it felt meaningless to me.

    If I may be honest, I feel like you’re ignoring some important parts of SAO, like what it is attempting to convey and be, along with how it executed its themes and messages. SAO is bad because the concept is good, but delivers poorly in practice. It is also bad because its writer for the LN, Reki Kawahara is a hack and doesn’t know the first thing about creative writing structure and MMO gaming. Yes, the LN is horrible too; I own it.

    In conveying my thoughts and opinions, I hope I didn’t make you upset. I just don’t like SAO and seeing why you do, while was a fine read, raises more questions on why people like it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t feel like creating an endless comment chain of lengthy comments, but I’m going to reply this once.

      First of all, thanks for reading. I appreciate you taking the time to actually read my points instead of jumping straight to the comments section and bashing me for liking the show.

      If you don’t mind, I’m going to stand my ground and provide my own counter to your points, because I genuinely feel I’m able to do so. No hard feelings, I hope.

      I strongly disagree with your take on the production values. They aren’t as consistent as I’d like them to be, but for an A-1 Pictures show, and for Anime in general, they are above and beyond average. The fact that the show has a dozen or more scenes that could be considered “sakuga heavy” gives the show more than enough worth on the production side of things compared to a large number of shows out there that don’t have nearly as many. The little things could be better, but you can’t call it soulless because the effort is clearly shown in every form of the production. Not everything needs to Redline or Gurren Lagann to be considered sincere in its visual presentation.

      But of course, presentation isn’t all that matters.

      While I agree the execution of Kirito’s overpowered strength could have been handled better, I strongly disagree that everything needs to be shown for it to be considered a worthy explanation. Just because a show doesn’t flat out show you something happening, doesn’t mean it isn’t real or that it doesn’t have value. Are you telling me that Shirobako doesn’t have any sense of danger because we never see them fail in the industry? Of course not, because even though we don’t see them fail or see the danger there, we still know it’s a thing because we look beyond what we’re shown. We read deeper into what’s presented to us. I believe that showing is better than telling, but it’s not the only way to deliver information to the audience. The logic is there, even if it’s not explicitly shown.

      I also disagree with your points about the harem. Sure, you can think it’s not worthwhile, but each of the characters were diverse and unique enough from another to me that I felt it was fine. As for fulfilling “Otaku fantasies” that’s silly. Kawahara himself has even admitted in interviews at the end of the novels that he never intended to make the girls fall of Kirito and that it was done purely by accident due to the spontaneous nature of the situations they were thrown into. Even if it were, as I said in my post, there’s nothing wrong with wish fulfillment anyway.

      Good and bad is completely subjective. You may think the unpredictable plot is bad, but I think it’s fine and you can’t really prove me wrong or convince me otherwise. I of course can’t do the same to you. The mentioned sources of unpredictability also aren’t asspulls, aside from ghost-Kirito killing Kayaba. The show explains these thoroughly in a way that makes sense.

      I didn’t explain what makes SAO well written because I don’t feel doing so. What qualifies as good and bad writing is completely subjective. What I consider to be good writing is most likely very different to what you consider to be good writing. There is no definitive and objective standard for what is considered well written. I also don’t see anyone explaining the opposite other than a few basic points that I mentioned in my post.

      On the subject of Suguha it’s not illogical that she didn’t seek help. Just take a look at how many people suffer from emotional issues or unhealthy thoughts that don’t seek help in the real world. Hundreds of people. It’s not illogical, it’s what a high percentage of people actually do, even if they are aware that they need it.

      And the arc DID explore Suguha’s unhealthy crush on Kirito. It explored it in great depth, especially in the novels. I’m actually a little confused by this point. It was explored to extreme lengths and was one of the main character arcs of the series. However, I do agree that we could have probably seen more of how she was feeling when Kirito was stuck in Aincrad. I’ll give you that point.

      Who said SAO was ever striving to be passionate about gaming? It’s a series set inside a game world, but that’s just the setting. Log Horizon and Sword Art Online have very different narrative focuses and comparing the two shows is like comparing apples to oranges. Log Horizon focuses primarily on its setting and its world building with very little actual plot progression. Sword Art Online is less focused on its world and is more narrative and character focused. They have two different approaches to a similar premise. Unlike Log Horizon, Sword Art Online was never aiming to focus on game mechanics, that’s why I don’t care about it. Even if it were, I still don’t care about it. People value things differently in the shows they watch, and as a guy who studied Game Design for 4 years and works with video games every day, the last thing I want to see is more game mechanics in my downtime away from games. I also think the few mechanics we’re shown are fine.

      Not every villain needs to be a smart supervillain. Some villains are just there to be morally black and pure evil. Not every villain needs to be someone we can potentially root for of sympathise with. That’s not how evil people in the real world necessarily always work after all. Sometimes I just want my villains to be outright evil.

      I’m glad you agree with my stance on objectivity and how everything is subjective. It’s nice to see more of that.

      I guess you can argue my points about Asuna, but I do defend this in my post. She WAS powerless because of clearly explained reasons. She’s imprisoned and stripped of all her powers by a man who has complete authority over the world of Alfheim. Considering that, she did a remarkable job in aiding her escape which is more than any damsel would normally do in any other show.

      That’s fair, but as I said, death is not the only stake. To say nothing was at stake in Alfheim is weird to me. Kirito could have lost the love of his life, his reason for living. That’s a stake that exists, whether you care about it or not.

      I agree. I am missing out those things because that was never the intention of this post. This post was never a review of Sword Art Online not was it aiming to be an in depth look at how it presents its themes or its narrative. It’s a rebuttal to people who feel the need to crap all over a show years after it ended for no good reason other than for their own satisfaction.

      You say that you agree with my take on subjective experience, yet you outright claim that the show is bad. That’s not fair. The show is bad to you, but it’s not bad nor is Kawahara a bad writer; he’s bad to you. I think Sword Art Online is a good show. I think the novels are fine. I also own them.

      I too want to make it clear that I have no ill intention replying to this nor am I the least bit upset. I actually really appreciate your comment. It’s nice to see someone engage in a discussion without being mean for once. You’ve presented your thoughts in a clear and concise manner without being a total wishy washy douche nugget and I respect that.

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Sword Art Online like I did, and I understand why you didn’t.

      As for why I like the show, that should be obvious though. I liked the show because I liked it. I don’t think I need to offer any further explanation than that. Sometimes, people just like things because they do.

      Again, thanks for reading. I apologise for the long comment. I probably won’t carry this discussion further though. I’m sleepy and I’ve been doing this for too many years now 😛

      Like

      1. Although I disagree with some stances you have, they are both our own unique takes on subjective topics that we prefer. We could go on, but it would take forever and go nowhere, which would be in vain, haha. If there is one thing I would add, it would be my fairness in calling things good or bad. I feel like I’m entitled to that as a consumer, so because I buy and support the content, labeling it good, bad, fair, or unfair is just, despite the harsh criticism.

        Other than that, thanks for the discussion. I haven’t made a post for SAO, but maybe the movie will spark something in me to make a post about. It’ll probably be constructive criticism if anything else. If so, give it and read and share your thoughts; I’ll respond!

        Take care!

        Liked by 2 people

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