Sword Art Online is a divisive show. Many people dislike it for its flaws, some people adore it and ignore the flaws and others can appreciate it despite those flaws. I tend to be in the last camp. While I have never considered the series to have brilliant writing and cannot ignore the elements that make the haters despise it, I do find it vastly entertaining. I have never read the novels and probably never will so I have to base my assessment entirely on the animated adaptation. The characters in Sword Art Online are a sticking point for a lot of critics and that is understandable. I feel each of them have a lot of wasted potential. I’ve seen some folks suggest the series would be a lot better without Kirito as the main character or if various characters had more screen time. I can agree on the later because more Klein, more Agil, more Sinon and more of just about everybody except Kirito would enrich the story a great deal. However, I’m not so sure the story would actually be more compelling without Kirito. I happen to like Kirito.
It took me a while to nail down exactly why I like Kirito because I do agree with many of the popular criticisms surrounding his characterization. He becomes overpowered very early on and he conveniently remains overpowered and capable of handling most any situation throughout the series. He actually was a lousy shot in Gungale but he was able to use a sword so it did not matter. I appreciate that Death Gun actually gave him a run for his money. I also like that Kirito won that fight through quick thinking and some help from Sinon as opposed to breaking the game. The cockiness that comes from being so overpowered is also quite off-putting and I can’t help but feel his desire to live with Asuna and Yui in the virtual world is pretty stupid, he should just live with Asuna in the real world. Lastly it is indeed irritating that every girl falls for Kirito. There is really no good reason for that aside from the author’s desire to build him a harem. I might not mind that quite as much if it did not undercut the love story between Kirito and Asuna. Imagine if Tenchi clearly loved one of the girls in his harem, essentially married her but the other girls still competed for his love. That would be pretty messed up. Those are the issues I have with Kirito as a character the last one is not entirely on Kirito.
Let’s start with the harem issue. Despite all the other girls vying for his affections, Kirito has only had eyes for Asuna, though he also loved Sachi before she died. He has flirted with at least some of the girls but he has never attempted to be romantically involved with any other girl since he fell for Asuna. He even tried his best to let his sister cousin down easy when she declared her feelings for him. None of the other girls have been particularly forward about their feelings. If he’s doing anything wrong here, you could argue he is still leading them on but that’s not entirely on him. They all know how much he loves Asuna and how he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. It’s time for them all to look for someone else, though good luck with that since it seems ninety percent of all male characters in SAO are psychotic creeps.
A lot of the characters in SAO lack purpose after a point but surprisingly enough, Kirito has some aspirations in life. While his reasons for developing new technology are associated with trying to interact more with his digital daughter, he’s still studying and bettering himself and possibly the world around him. I suppose it is a bit idealistic for him to be following his dreams instead of becoming a salary man or working some other job but I won’t knock the guy for following his passion. It is not out of character for him to be interested in developing new ways to bring the virtual into reality.
Kirito’s interest in expanding the tech field comes back to another reason I like the guy and the main reason I can relate to him. He is a dork. He gets excited about things that are largely frivolous and geeks out at the chance to get Excalibur, try out a beam saber or flaunt his feminine avatar to mess with other male players. He’s also shy around the girls who pine for his attention. He even tried to avoid looking at Sinon when she unknowingly stripped in front of him thinking he was a girl. He does get into awkward situations a bit too often but I tend to find those moments very entertaining. So remember how many times that guy got slapped for a misunderstanding before you hate him forever for kicking Klein in the face that one time. Though for the record, that was needlessly harsh of Kirito even if his hands were full. At any rate, I do enjoy the overall dorkiness of Kirito throughout the series.
The last aspect of Kirito’s character that I appreciate is his willingness to help others. Early on in SAO he was a loner and kept to himself but gradually he came to understand the importance of helping others and relying on others in order to escape the game. Later he risked his life again to put an end to the murders of Death Gun. Even if you do not like when Kirito constantly saves the day you have to admit it is admirable that he takes on these life-threatening tasks in the first place. He is not one to abandon comrades regardless of the circumstances. I firmly believe he’s a good man.
These are my reasons for liking Kirito. If you hate his guts, I do not expect I managed to sway your opinion but I hope if nothing else you found this to be an interesting read.
Written by: Sketch
Editior in Chief of ToonamiFaithful.com