ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY ANIME ANGEL GAVE TO ME…..
Four+ Misogynic Scenes I’d Prefer Not to See; SWORD ART ONLINE
(trigger warning: rape)
When I first stumbled across SAO, I was half amused, half anxious. As a great fan of Bee Train’s .hack//SIGN, SAO to me, was both a flaring alarm and a treasure. On one hand, it boasted the lack of depth and psychological elements .hack//SIGN had, but on the other hand, the production values seemed far more superior and colorful, with a soundtrack composed by Yuki Kajiura. And hey, who doesn’t like a pretty show which seemed to be a ‘worthy’ sucessor to dot hack? I decided to take the shot and go for it…..with heavy-handed consequences biting me back in the foot.
Let me rephrase. Sword Art Online was similar to my Guilty Crown experience last year. It is so flawed in every angle I couldn’t even start with where the problems begin and end – from Kirito, to his massive online harem, to his treatment of romance, to his flawed heroism that the show only continues to support, to the incessant rape scenes, to the loss of agenda for many of the women in the show, to the ridiculously cheap deus ex machinas, to the lack of moral and psychological themes the show tried to instill in the first place – the list could potentially, go on forever. There was no way for me to take SAO seriously. And I didn’t. Each episode, in all of its cringeworthy and distasteful execution, was a sort of horrible beauty that I could only awe and pout at. For a good 3 months, Sword Art Online was the chink in my armor – that one show I hated so much, but couldn’t stop watching because it was so bad.
But as Click has already written, Sword Art Online soon became less about the show and more about the experience. I started watching the show with a fellow group of anibloggers who all shared my same loathing of the show, and suddenly what became a dull, sort of unsatisfying Saturday event turned into a joyous celebration of pained laughter and remarks. We even started a drinking game! Well, sort of. But for the next 12 episodes, Saturdays became something remarkable as I got to share my feelings about SAO with other people – discussions which then diverged onto other topics as we tried to constructively talk about why SAO was bad, and other shows we thought were either horrible or great. Things like if Guilty Crown episode 18 was better than Episode 14 of SAO or why Jojo was better than SAO despite being equally cliche were discussed. Personal tastes and opinions for other genres of anime were shared. At the end of the day, it all came together and made me realize: ironically, the show had paved a way for me to make new friends and have a great time. In all of its disgusting, misogynic (let’s talk about how I was in a state of seething rage after Episode 24) and toxic formation, Sword Art Online taught me a lesson. Anime, which has always been a personal hobby of mine, and a journey I have walked (until this year) alone, can be something even more wonderful when shared. It doesn’t have to be a good show or bad show – heck, we could have all watched Serial Experiments Lain – but things are infinitely more fun and enjoyable when you’re in good company. Oddly enough, the times I shared with others during our SAO watches are probably some of the best times I have had this year altogether, which is why it is the last and most interesting addition I have to add to the 12 Days of Christmas, ’12 edition here.