Sword Art Online and Gender Roles

Tons of SAO spoilers ahead.

When watching SAO, there was something that really struck me. I know it only really struck me due to our societal obsession with women are just as good as men, that they can do the same things, and that we’re all made equal. SAO did not bow to this. They rose above it. Or maybe it’s Japan.

The basic premise is a bunch of people play this MMORPG and become stuck in it. If they die in the game, they die in real life. Moving on.

Kirito is our protagonist. He’s a loner, sixteen years old, and feels MMOs might be the way to feel like he belongs. After watching a small guild die under his care, he goes solo, which is considered a sure way to die.

Asuna was just jumping on to play. She is taught early by Kirito to join a guild as soon as possible, but as soon as he’s done with the mission with her, he walks away, doing all he can to alienate other players.

Asuna eventually shows him it’s okay to care about people while Kirito shows her it’s okay to enjoy life inside the game. She saves him and he saves her several times. Kirito says many times that Asuna is faster than him. Overall, however, Kirito is better and actually enjoys combat.

The two complete each other. They don’t compete to show who is better at this or that, but accept their roles and do their best to achieve them.

Kirito is at home on the battlefield. His awkward teen self sheds away in the face of overwhelming odds, and he gets restless when stuck at home for several months. He loves with purity and innocence. When he asks to spend the night at Asuna’s house, and she starts getting undressed, he freaks out. To him, he was literally just spending the night at her house. They even get married, and it looks like they never have sex. The marriage is because they make a good pair and enjoy being around each other.

Asuna cooks. She is heralded not only as the fastest player in the game, but also as the best cook. Kirito makes note of this several times, and when in the real world, she shows the same aptitudes. She is talented at bringing people together. She also brings out the best in Kirito, making him open up to other people. She is older than him and more experienced in life, even if not on the battlefield.

The two complete each other. When in an easy dungeon, Asuna watched over their “child.” She did not do this because she wasn’t able to fight. Kirito hadn’t been in a good fight for months. He was getting anxious at home. When a companion asked Asuna if they should help him, Asuna said, “No. He really gets into this and it’s been a while. He’ll be fine.” She let him take it himself because she knew he had steam to let off.

Shortly after, when facing a boss they could not defeat, he told Asuna to get behind him. She refused. Asuna did not love battle, but she would do it for the good of others, and she trained to be talented at the skill.

This is what we should aim for. One sex is not greater than the other. One is not equal in all things to the other. They are each unique. They are puzzle pieces, and when you put the right two together, Asuna and Kirito, they fit to complete the picture.

This is why SAO captured me. Sure I was drawn in by the selfless deeds of Kirito, despite his fear of getting close to anyone. But at the end of the day, it was the love between these two characters and the way they showed it that kept me. It’s the reason I got a little weepy. It’s what made the entire story beautiful. I hope you give it a shot.

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3 responses to “Sword Art Online and Gender Roles

  1. I really like this show I’ve watched several episodes with my boys.

    It’s interesting that you see it as gender equaling since anime is research-proven to be a direct gateway to pornography. I spent time during the show pointing out the girls’ costumes and the poses that the ‘camera’ angles capture of the female behind, all the way up to their crotch under the little skirts.

    I do like the story line and the characterization. SAO Is the best one I’ve watched

    • I didn’t notice it until Alfheim. And I agree most anime is immensely male favored. I liked that the male charact’s response to a naked woman was “put your close on.” Try Psycho-Pass. That was a pretty awesome show as well.

    • Though I do have to admit, the portrayal of the cousin was creepy to me due to the sexualization. Which is why I don’t want to watch SAO II, a fear of it completely sliding into that territory.

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