I’m not ashamed to admit that, out of all the anime I choose to watch, a great deal of it is influenced by how much I can ship two characters in it. Like, does the anime have two characters with instant chemistry that I can obsess over through various means such as fan art and fanfiction? Great, I’ll take twenty more! Look, romance in anime does matter to me, and if characters don’t have an emotional investment, what’s the point? Take Sword Art Online‘s Kirito and Asuna, for example.
Fans of the popular Isekai have always known that the main characters, Kirigaya Kazuto aka Kirito, and Yuuki Asuna, were going to end up together. No matter how many women came and went in Kirito’s life, it was always going to be Asuna who stayed. I mean, she is his closest confidante, especially during the events of Alicization. So, when the War Of Underworld arc happened, and it was revealed that, for 200 years, they ruled the Underworld as King and Queen respectively, well. That’s as good as a sign we’ll get that they were married during that time.
Honestly, though, is that even a surprise? I don’t even actively keep up with Sword Art Online much anymore, and I still know that Kirito and Asuna were always going to be the end game. It’s just how the show is built, with tropes that haven’t aged well since its initial airing. Where Kirito is the cool and calculated protagonist who will always have this one female sidekick by his side. And, I sound harsh, but that’s because the characters themselves don’t have much else going on for them.
I like romance when the characters’ dynamics can sell it to me. Characters that are together for the sake of being together, don’t appeal to me. Because when they do get together, it isn’t satisfying to see. But that’s exactly why we are going to discuss Kirito and Asuna’s companionship in today’s segment of Lore Analysis. Today, it’s how Kirito and Asuna fail to do in multiple iterations, what some couples can do in a single season.
Kirito And Asuna: Match Made In Gaming Hell?
I have never made my disdain for Kirito and his character arc a secret. I simply don’t like how he goes about with his actions, and the show portrays it as peak ‘Hero’ behavior that other men should emulate because he’s awful.
This is a byproduct of the harem anime genre, in general, where you have the main protagonist be so utterly oblivious when a woman shows their interest in him. It lends them to not be invested in their love interest, putting the onus on said love interest to carry the relationship forward. And look, oblivious characters falling in love is something I enjoy incredibly, but only when their relationship is written in a way that it’s engaging.
And with Asuna and Kirito, that just doesn’t happen. The show practically screams at us about how in love they are, or how they will be the main couple by the end. But the characters themselves don’t showcase it very well. And that’s partly because they are watered-down versions of weak tropes. Asuna plays up the damsel in distress act, Kirito is a glorified Gary Stu and both of them together make for a milquetoast coupling. So whatever milestone they do end up achieving, like a confession or even marriage, does absolutely nothing for the viewer.
Why Couples With No Chemistry Drag A Show Down:
And that’s the real problem here, pushing a couple with no actual chemistry or compelling character growth between them is what ruins a show. The premise is important for any anime, but for it to be executed well, you need compelling characters as well.
And Sword Art Online has no idea how to do this. As stated before, Kirito and Asuna seem to be a couple for the sake of a story, and not because their characters work well together. There is no banter, no inherent motivation behind their actions towards each other beyond pushing the plot along. And then makes for a very bland watch. Like, who’d watch an anime where the characters are such watered-down and tired stereotypes?
Honestly, I’d rather watch a single season of a loosely tied plot with compelling characters, rather than see multiple seasons of an anime with boring ones.