Sword Art Online

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The Male-Gaze and Feminism in Sword Art Online

While wildly popular with fans, Sword Art Online has many problematic instances of perpetuating gender stereotypes through the anime. The male gaze is very prevalent throughout the series whether it is consciously acknowledged or not–the camera lingers on women’s anatomy unnecessarily, even in serious conversations between characters (think Sinon’s and Kirito’s episode in the cave where they are talking about serious issues and the camera focuses on Sinon’s posterior even though she is talking). The anime also appeals to the "harem-genre" where every single female character becomes infatuated with Kazuto/Kirito.

Young women in the series, while considered strong like Asada/Sinon or Asuna, ultimately fall into negative female stereotypes. Even though the young women reach out to those around them, and do have agency, however they depend heavily on Kazuto/Kirito to come to their rescue. While both young women seek out their own rescue, they are ultimately powerless unless Kirito is there to rescue them.

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    Characters That Deserve Their Own Series: Klein

    The topic I would like to discuss focuses on side characters that could be used for a spin-off series and how it can be done. First off what is a spin-off series? A spin-off can be defined as: Something that is imitative or derivative of an earlier work, product, or establishment; especially: a television show starring a character popular in a secondary role of an earlier show.

    In the West, there are plenty of series that get spin-off to try and continue squeezing out of the success of a popular series. In anime, there have been many successful spin-off series such as Scientific Railgun and Fate/kaleid, but also plenty that have not had as much success as their originals such as Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals or Soul Eater Not!

    So what exactly are some qualities that make up a good protagonist? The first and most important piece is that they must be able to "Stand Alone" in their own series. How tied to the original protagonist of the series are they? Is it going to be in continuity to the original series?

    So who is a character that can have a great spin-off series? An example of which being Klein from Sword Art Online. Personally I loved Klein from the moment I met him, but his character often became forgotten until seen once again. He had that kind of comedic but strong personality and had the potential to be more of a fan favorite but never really got the amount of time he deserved.

    Klein is the first person Kirito, the protagonist of the series, is introduced to. In the first episode, an inexperienced Klein is taught by Kirito how to defeat monsters, with Klein thinking that a boar was actually a boss monster. Later on we see Klein actually leading his very own guild, Fuurinkazan (lit. "Wind, Woods, Fire and Mountain") and coming just as far as Kirito has without his wide range of experience and skill.

    Instead of this being a lone wolf series, it will be one more about Klein’s growth as a player and as a leader of Fuurinkazan and the brotherhood within his guild. It may deal with the death of some of his closest comrades, but the ability to continue on even after their deaths. The series can go more into detail and information about the world of Sword Art Online from the experience of a first-time player compared to Kirito as an experience beta-player.

    • I think this is a potentially engaging and hilarious idea, but I would say that whoever writes it should probably find a different character or characters to headline, as 'Klein deserves his own show' has become kind of a meme and it would be really hard to determine the tone of the writing by focusing on him seriously in this way. – ChristopherKay 4 years ago
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