As a blogger, I've been following the Sword Art Online (SAO) phenomenon since its inception. The story began as a light novel series in 2009 and quickly gained a devoted following, leading to its adaptation into a popular anime series in 2012. It's set in a virtual reality MMORPG, where thousands of players are trapped and must complete the game to escape - with the catch that if they die in the game, they die in real life. As the series has grown in popularity, so too has the controversy surrounding it. In this article, we'll delve into the key reasons why Sword Art Online is such a controversial topic.
One of the main points of contention in SAO is the sexualization of its female characters. While many fans appreciate the strong, capable women in the series, others argue that their portrayal is often overshadowed by their sexualization. From skimpy outfits to suggestive camera angles, critics argue that these elements detract from the characters' depth and agency. The issue has sparked debate over whether SAO is a progressive or regressive representation of women in anime.
Another major criticism of SAO stems from its storytelling and pacing. Some viewers argue that the series starts off strong, with a compelling premise and engaging characters, only to lose steam as it progresses. Certain story arcs have been deemed superfluous or poorly executed, leading to a disjointed narrative that can be difficult to follow. Furthermore, some fans feel that the pacing is off, with critical moments receiving too little screen time and less important scenes dragging on.
The protagonist of SAO, Kirito, has become a divisive figure among fans. While some appreciate his heroic qualities and impressive combat skills, others argue that he's overpowered to the point of being unrealistic. This has led to criticism that Kirito's character development suffers due to his seemingly unbeatable nature, making it difficult to create tension or stakes within the story. Consequently, some viewers find it challenging to feel invested in Kirito's journey.
SAO's romantic subplots have also stirred controversy among viewers. While some enjoy the romance between Kirito and his love interest, Asuna, others argue that the series devolves into harem anime tropes. This refers to a situation where multiple female characters are romantically interested in a single male protagonist. Critics argue that this detracts from the overall narrative and reinforces gender stereotypes, ultimately doing a disservice to the characters involved.
Given the high-stakes, life-or-death nature of SAO's virtual world, the series features a significant amount of violence and trauma. Some viewers argue that these elements are necessary to convey the gravity of the situation and the characters' experience, while others believe that the show goes too far. Critics argue that the series can be gratuitously violent, potentially alienating viewers who may find the content distressing or triggering.
Another source of controversy surrounding SAO involves accusations of plagiarism. Some critics argue that the series borrows heavily from other popular anime and light novel series, with a particular focus on similarities to the .hack// franchise. While some similarities may be coincidental or result from common genre tropes, others argue that the extent of the similarities is too significant to ignore.
As with many popular series, SAO has developed a devoted fanbase, and with that comes inevitable fandom wars. Fans of SAO often find themselves in heated debates with fans of other anime series, leading to a toxic atmosphere within the community. Unfortunately, this can detract from the enjoyment of the series for some viewers, as discussions become less about the content itself and more about defending one's favorite show.
Ultimately, whether or not the controversy surrounding SAO matters comes down to personal opinion. For some viewers, the issues raised may be deal-breakers that prevent them from enjoying the series. For others, these criticisms can be overlooked in favor of the aspects of SAO that they enjoy. As with any form of entertainment, it's important to remember that personal preferences will always play a significant role in determining what resonates with an individual viewer.