My Love/Hate Relationship with SAO (Post – Ordinal Scale watch)

(audio version TBU tomorrow)

I have a history with a little show called Sword Art Online. You’ve probably never heard of it but basically it’s an anime where you draw 2 cards from your deck to your hand. (laughs) But seriously, I rewatched SAO like 3 times and it was during an extremely depressing point in my life. Even as depressed as I was, I didn’t willingly watch it that many times; I was kind of forced into it because I had a friend that wanted to watch it with me. Same guy that ruined Fullmetal Panic! for me, if you know about that story. If you don’t; another time, then. Thankfully I watched Eureka Seven right after and it was like God decided to just barf life into me and I had to formulate that mess into an actual human being. Besides the point, though.

For all the complicated and really in-depth criticism that SAO garnered- it’s simply just that it had a lot of ideas and intricacies behind the world that was missing. Some of the ideas just seem to have been forgotten, as well. I would reference Silica as one of the most worthless characters in anime simply because her entire purpose was to introduce this, like, “hunter” class where pets follow you and that kind of stuff. Nothing came of that. There was no other character that had that trait. As far as we know, she’s the only one with that ability. Even then, she hardly puts Pina to good use. I just thought of someone using Yui as a counterargument and, not gonna lie, I just killed a brain cell. But my point is: They completely forgot the core functionality of Silica’s character and that was to introduce something that you’ll never see again. That’s pretty much SAO in a nutshell.

What can I say? It’s a terrible show. You just gotta admit these things but that’s all my “hate” amounts to. I don’t find it offensively bad. I mean, people who legitimately think shows like SAO is “offensively” bad or any show they love to stroke their dicks against are complete knobheads. (laughs) Hell, it’s better than the lot of anime that are about doing literally nothing. Any credible critic or filmmaker or artist will probably feel the same sentiment.

What I love about SAO is that it looks like something different. It has amazing art with some level of depth that most shows of its genre can’t touch. The level 1 armor and clothing is a good example. In fact, character designs have a unique aesthetic to them that doesn’t look like a 9-year old barfed all over the canvas after playing a Fate visual novel. Which generally have designs that look like a preteen barfed on them already. When I first saw Lisbeth I thought she was one of the coolest looking heroines. Then I realized Asuna was main girl and there was no hope. Asuna’s great when they let her be but she definitely look as interesting a character Lisbeth. Despite Lisbeth being a terrible character. But it all comes back to how SAO looks. It looks like a world I’d love to be in. It looks like a world that can easily contain a show worthy of a 10 out of 10 ranking. It has details within it; those details just aren’t written in a way that makes sense or, as I mentioned, just seem to be forgotten. Visually, it’s a great show. Except for Kirito; he’s an all-round awful character that looks generic as fuck. But visually, this is a anime that stick with me, whether I like it or not.

Of course, that’s all in the context of the Aincrad arc. Every other arc looks like shit even if it looks good. Like, Alfheim doesn’t have half the intrigue of the Aincrad arc. It just looks like a straight-up fantasy world. It has some good shots but other than that it is boring to look at. Gun Gale Online looks even worse. Just a bunch of Sci-fi donkey anus with a bunch of desert-looking landscapes that bores me to tears to look at. I’ve never hated a setting more than a barren and sandy wasteland. Well, actually space sucks pretty hard, too.

And then there’s Ordinal Scale; movie I watched just recently. It actually looked decent. I loved seeing Asuna wearing a few different outfits that were vastly unique compared to her original. There was this one outfit she wore when she was going on some kind of date with Kirito and it looked amazing! It didn’t even really look Japanese. I’d say it was inspired by maybe India, if I had to say off the top of my head. I could be wrong but whatever. Besides that there was not much appeal. It had less detail to it, therefore, it was kind of better…? That’s a leap of logic I cannot quite explain to you. Either way, it was pretty bad. Just take what you will. But watching that definitely triggered a lot of thoughts that I wanted to let loose. 

From a writing standpoint, I will constantly think about it. Because it had so much potential. It really did. It’s just… First of all, Reki Kawahara is a dreamer first and writer second. That’ll always be true. I can relate to him as a dreamer myself but as a writer I think he’ll always forget the importance of creating a coherent world. I think Kirito is an absolutely awful protagonist in every thing he does and I think no matter how you write him; he’ll always be terrible. The rest of the cast can still be salvaged; even Silica. I firmly believe that. But because they’ve written Kirito so far down this rabbit hole we call Sword Art Online; I see no hope. I want there to be. Realistically, there is none. Even if this abomination got rebooted with an incredible protagonist; that might illicit a positive response but I would not feel comfortable watching the same world unfold with a different protagonist. That kind of re-imagining just feels inorganic and cheap.

With all that said, I’m going to read the Progressive manga because I am like a wrestling mark that won’t give up on his favorite wrestler no matter how shitty they are. Good fuckin’ night!

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