Dear Lord, if there is one thing I hate more than a badly written harem, it’s power fantasies created by men who don’t know how women function. And unsurprisingly, Sword Art Online somehow encompasses both tropes. Look, I get this was the anime that boosted the Isekai boom and how it was extremely new for its time and all that. That doesn’t mean it was good. Or that it needed to go on for as long as it did. Speaking of, has Sword Art Online ended yet? Or are we going to suffer more?
Strictly speaking, no, Sword Art Online isn’t done yet. Yes, the main story going on in the light novel ended when it stopped getting further volumes. But as for the anime, Reki Kawahara, the creator, had stated that the Alicization arc would be the last one to conclude the series. However, he was convinced to write one more arc afterward, which is known as the Unital Ring arc.
I mean, first of all, no. No, Sword Art Online doesn’t need yet another arc. Things should be allowed to end, no matter how much you enjoy them. And, honestly, I know I sound like a hater right now. But that’s because I am. Yes, Sword Art Online popularized the Isekai genre, but since then, we have had some amazing shows come out that have definitely surpassed it in every way. And I don’t think there is anything left to say regarding Kirgaya Kazuto’s story.
However, this is one show that refuses to die. And again, I know there are fans out there who probably are the reason it’s going on. I’m sure the anime is still pulling major numbers regarding profit. But that doesn’t mean you milk a franchise to the point it becomes a mere husk of what it once was. That’s just prolonging something beyond its prime. So, while Sword Art Online hasn’t ended fully, here’s why we think it should.
Sword Art Online: Outstanding Or Overhyped?
Sword Art Online laid down some of the cornerstones for what Isekai is nowadays. It basically created the blueprint for more escapist fantasy anime that followed. But not all of those tropes were welcome additions.
There’s a reason why the franchise is so divisive amongst the anime community. You either love the anime with all your heart and soul, or you recognize it for its cons greatly overweighing what little pros it had. Sure, the premise was interesting, supplemented by gorgeous action sequences. And hey, each season was an improvement over the last. But that wasn’t enough to keep a lot of people invested.
The problem with Sword Art Online is the same as a lot of Isekai of its ilk; it does not know how to either write its female characters well or treat them with a modicum of sensibility. Beyond the fanservice pandering every season, you had at least one female character be sexually assaulted by a male character. And despite the outcry and assurances from the author, fans still had to suffer an extremely graphic scene up in the most recent season.
Combine that with bad pacing issues, and, well, there isn’t much to salvage here.
Kirito Is A Terrible Protagonist:
When I say I despise what Kazuto, aka Kirito did to Isekai protagonists going forward, I mean it. This man was the reason we have the bland male lead trope in the first place. Kirito wasn’t made to be a character that we see grow and have a personality.
He was created as a glorified fantasy for male viewers to project themselves on for wish fulfillment. And I know I use that term a lot, but it’s true. Kirito has zero intrigues. He is your basic edge lord who ‘doesn’t need friends’ and so will treat people around him terribly. And still, he’d have all women in love with him.
Like, it sold this idea of how an introverted loner can become a great hero in another world, and all his sins would be erased. It’s a fantasy that, sadly, many of us have had. And Kirito is a byproduct of feeding off of those insecurities. In the end, he doesn’t grow more compassionate or anything. He just remains this stoic, boring lead with little improvement.
Bleeding A Franchise For What It’s Worth:
In the end, there is not much to be said about a franchise that has entered its 10th year without changing anything. Most Shonen anime survive based on how they evolved over the years, such as One Piece.
But in the end, Sword Art Online refused to grow with its viewers. By disregarding all critique, it stayed stunted and offered nothing new. Sure, it has a loyal fanbase, but at this point, I think even they are tired. A decade of the same story with little to no growth?
Well, if it hasn’t ended yet, I think it should soon. There just isn’t any more intrigue left to the story.