Why is Sword Art Online (SAO) hated/bad?

If you’re a fan of Sword Art Online, you must have seen the hate for it all over the internet. Why do people hate that show so much? What is it? The plot, the characters or ALL OF IT?

Sword Art Online is a virtual reality MMO game which people connect to through a VR headset known as Nervegear. The Nerve Gear is connected to your head from where it detects every nerve in your body and paralyzes it so you can gain control of it in the game.

If you’re wondering why people hate Sword Art Online even though it has a really strong plot, I’ll help you out. The show had potential in the start with a good and strong storyline but by the end, it is reduced to a run of the mill popcorn anime

SAO is an MMO game and any MMO player will find an Aincrad/ALO system very absurd. Even if you count SAO as a VRMMO it is not something that gamers would like.

The Potential of the Protagonist Kirito

Kirito is a really good gamer and a cool guy and is unbelievably powerful in the anime. If you’ve played any MMO RPG game you would know that it’s really hard to succeed without joining a guild. Kirito never joined a guild but defeated every Boss level with ease. This is where things start going south. Further, along with the story, Kirito’s romantic arc with Asuna is shown more than the Boss levels in the anime. The whole world of Sword Art Online is meant for exploring which Kirito didn’t have to do that because he was “powerful” according to the anime.

Epic battle between Kirito and Integrity Knight Lady Fanatio
Source: Stormy, YouTube

Kirito’s Sword is inspired by Guts’ sword (Berserk), which doesn’t suit him at all. Guts was a maniac who was defeated by demons countless times, whereas, Kirito is just an average teenager who just happens to be undefeated. Because of Kirito’s highly powerful character, he is also known as the undefeated “Jesus-Kun”. This does not add much character development to the plot. If the protagonist is always a prodigy undefeated, where is the room for him to grow?

The Side Characters

In the pilot of Sword Art Online, Kirito meets a guy named Klein. Klein is a typical shonen side character. The trouble starts when there’s very little involvement of the secondary characters in the show. We see Klein 5 times in the entire first season. Basically, if all the secondary characters from Sword Art Online are removed, it won’t change the storyline at all. The secondary characters have no development and are basically of no consequence throughout the anime.

Unnecessary Sexual Deviance

Anime is essentially known for being weird. Some sexual deviance is accepted in every anime, even in anime like Berserk. In Sword Art Online, we see Kirito’s cousin having a crush on him. The sexually playful direction of the show makes it weird for the audience, because of which the show isn’t taken seriously by many watchers. With a really strong plotline, the incest and 5-second clips of Sugu’s boobs make it awkward for the audience. Every girl in the anime has a crush on our over-the-top gamer Kirito-Kun. If it’s Kirito’s underaged friend or his cousin, they all ultimately have a crush on him.

The ultimate goal of Akihiko Kayaba

Akihiko Kayaba is the inventor of the online simulation Sword Art Online. He wanted to make a Virtual reality world which is better than the real world. Virtual reality can’t be a real one if you don’t add the element of depth to it. Akihiko Kayaba gave all the players their real appearance inside the game too. The question that arises is “Why?” – Why did he do it? It’s understandable that he wanted to make a VR world better than the real one but at what cost? He traps 10,000 players where most of them die by the end. The funny thing is, he wasn’t portrayed as a bad guy in the end. Akihiko Kayaba’s motives weren’t sturdy enough to be a villain. Yet as a consequence of his actions, a lot of people died for no reason. May well have just been lazy writing (don’t hate me!)

Women Empowerment in Sword Art Online

This bit is very elusive. When the show starts Asuna is shown as a very powerful character. Just like Kirito, she also plays the game without joining any guild. She’s a sole player just like Kirito. The scenes in which they fall in love are really cute. What concerns me is when she’s with Kirito, her character development takes a backseat. She isn’t shown as an independent strong woman. She’s clingy and needs Kirito to protect her and is basically reduced to a damsel in distress. Throughout the anime, Kirito and Asuna live an amazing life inside the game. Both of them are happy – going on side adventures and exploring the world of Sword Art Online.

Sword Art Online – Beater
Source: Animelab, YouTube

But then season two arrives and the first thing you notice is that Asuna is trapped inside a cage and is being molested by Nobuyuki Sugō who wishes to marry her. Asuna becomes pretty useless when Kirito is around. Asuna is helpless during most parts of the second season, which is drastically different from how she was portrayed in the first season.

Another reason why people don’t like Sword Art Online is the hype. Sword Art Online has a rating of more than 8 on MyAnimeList. The fanbase of Sword Art Online is huge and essentially wherever you go they will be arguing about why it’s not worth it. Some people just hate anime for the sake of hating it. It might annoy some otakus that people have gravitated towards Sword Art Online while there’s a ton of quality alternatives which guarantee a good time.

In the end, either you hate Sword Art online or love it. The show has made a lot of money and new seasons now and then (currently they’re airing Sword Art Online Alicization). Sword Art Online will always be a big franchise – no matter the amount of hate it gets.

Plot

At the launch of the game, 10,000 people had connected themselves to the virtual reality of Sword Art Online. The plot takes a twist when people realize that they can’t quit the game. Soon after the players realize that there’s no escape, the creator of the game makes an appearance in the virtual world of the game and warns everyone that if they forcefully quit the game or die in the game, they’ll die in real life too. Protagonist Kirito, who is a pro gamer and was present for the beta launch of SAO, starts planning to clear levels as soon as possible. Throughout his quest to finish the game, he meets many friends and also a love interest, Asuna. The plot and the whole premise of the show are remarkably unique and quite believable in some futuristic sense. 

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