Kirito is a really overpowered guy who attracts all the ladies by not doing very much in particular. I think he’s an asshole. But I kind of like him.
There’s just something about this guy. When I watched the first season of Sword Art Online, Kirito’s brooding anti-hero persona struck me as childish and ridiculous more than anything. In fact, I went through this period in 2012 where I absolutely hated SAO because I seriously didn’t give a single crap about all the loving Kirito was getting. The problems with SAO and with Kirito’s role as a character are better expressed better by other bloggers, but suffice it to say that the story’s fixation on Kirito’s awesomeness made the other characters, the plot and the entire setting feel very unnatural, to say the least.
I’ve since loosened up with my opinions, so basically this is a post about how I learned to stop worrying and love the Gary Stu (despite him being an asshole). Maybe I was just jealous of him all along…!
I actually quite often like polarising, widely-hated characters. I end up feeling sorry for the way the fans trash talk about them, which makes me look more closely for human qualities in them. That kind of explains why I like Suzaku from Code Geass so much. Suzaku is a
slight major asshole, so observing the ways in which Kirito is not the nicest person on the block endears me to his character.
The fact that the story does not portray Kirito’s flaws as flaws makes it all the better, in fact! For instance, when he tortured Sugou, he was portrayed as completely in the right. Of course, there is the subtext that anti-social behaviour can get you the ladies, but I prefer to make jokes about it, just like this tongue-in-cheek guide on How to Pick Up Chicks in Sword Art Online does.
Basically, you shouldn’t be seeing Kirito as a hero. Nor should you be seeing him as an evil person, per se. In my eyes, he is a self-absorbed teenager with a passive-aggressive streak.
For example, Kirito gender discriminates so blatantly it’s hilarious. With the exceptions of Klein and Agil, Kirito treats every male he meets with varying degrees of hostility while rushing to the rescue of every female he comes across. All the females in this show are drawn to be cute and attractive, while pretty much all the males besides Kirito are not as good-looking as he is and/or a rapist.
Even when Kirito is supposedly friendly with another guy, you can actually see him mentally comparing the size of his dick to the other guy. Kirito doesn’t actually say it, but he can’t stand the idea that anyone could be better than him. After he supposedly gets over his lone wolf attitude in the Aincrad arc, he actually still remains a lone wolf, only everyone loves him for it. He just has a certain swagger about him now.
In the first episode of the second season, there’s this ten minute long scene of him in a coffee shop with this other guy, and I actually found it way more entertaining than any of Kirito’s interactions with his harem, because Kirito does pretty much everything he can to piss off the other guy while looking all cute and innocent. He deliberately orders the most expensive stuff on the menu just because the other guy is paying for him, and the only reason why he even stays to listen at all is because he is getting cake. Very romantic.
Even with Kirito’s interactions with Asuna, you get the sense that he is subtly trolling her at times. What’s this about them being equals? He doesn’t even tell her what he’s doing when he goes off to play detective.
This aspect of his character is more strongly emphasised in the light novels, but you can still see it come through in the anime somewhat, especially in ALO and GGO. In fact, my interpretation of the ALO arc is that he was deliberately doing everything he could to piss off the audience. I wouldn’t put it past that bastard.
I might sound like I hate Kirito’s character, but I actually find him strangely cute, in an annoying little brother sort of way. Well, actually, as a person he reminds me of my older brother. In fact, Kirito looks uncannily like how my brother did when he was that age. My brother has this baby-faced, effeminate look about him, which leads people to endear themselves to him almost immediately, but holy shit is he one of the most annoying people you could ever live with. He does jack shit around the house and I bet Kirito is the same.
So yeah, at first, I got pissed off at the idea that I was supposed to root for such an unlikable person in this show, but thinking about it more, I don’t think I hate Kirito as a person. I mean, he does that same thing my brother does, which is deliberately play with swords in games where everyone else uses guns. And he pretends he’s weaker whenever he plays multiplayer games, only to own his opponents as soon as they let their guards down. And he likes making his characters wear black. I can’t bring myself to hate anyone who is such a stupid dork.
Or maybe I decided I liked Kirito’s character because his GGO avatar is really hot.
tldr; I’m enjoying the latest season of Sword Art Online and I AM NOT ASHAMED.