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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