Asuna, the second main character, the love interest. I hate her. I did not at the beginning, honestly, but slowly my disdain for this character grew and blossomed into a beautiful flower. But why? Why you hate something is of course rather subjective, but there is a couple of more objective reasons to dislike this character. First, a little summary of her role in the series.
The Early Portrayal
Asuna appears early, teaming up with the main character Kirito. She is here hooded and rarely speaks, which seems a little at odds with her later personality, where she was not afraid to speak her mind. But some change in personality is natural when suddenly thrown into such conditions. Anyway, the two of them fight together and defeat the boss of the first floor. Kirito becomes hated by the other players, but Asuna thanks him, and they split up. Here, they cooperate well and you might even call Asuna a powerful warrior, but alas, this is going to change.
They meet some time later, however, and investigate a murder case. Asuna has now become the vice-commander of the guild “Knights of Blood” and has now reached the design and personality she will have for the rest of the arc.
It is here that she becomes mostly useless. It is hard being a non-fighting character in an action show, but Asuna is basically in this category, as she never fights any serious opponent, the only fighting she does is defeating some nameless unimportant monster as we enter the scene, then she never does anything, as if ashamed to show her violent side to the audience. Instead we get some fairly typical romance scenes between her and Kirito.
No Respect at All
Is it wrong to say that I find the “Knights of Blood” guild's treatment of Asuna hilarious? The portrayal may be sexist, but...actually, that is what makes it so funny. It is like a stereotype of sexism. No one in the entire organization respects Asuna, who is supposed to be the second in command. Sure, they may salute her and such, but they certainly do not care about her opinions or take her orders. Look for example at a scene where the guild assigns a bodyguard named Kuradeel to Asuna. Asuna is not interested, and orders Kuradeel to leave. He refuses, and tries to make her return to the guild's headquarters. Apparently Asuna does not have the authority to make Kuradeel obey, and he indeed treats her like a child.
This being a conflict between Kuradeel and Asuna, or else an internal conflict inside the guild, it is a little bit strange that Kuradeel suddenly focuses on Kirito. But for some reason the two get into a duel, if Kirito wins Kuradeel will leave Asuna alone. I must ask, why is Kirito fighting this fight? Why does Asuna not make use of her authority, or else talk to the guild leader about changing Kuradeel's orders, or else have Asuna duel. Why Kirito, an outsider, is dueling in Asuna's place is beyond me, especially since Asuna is a powerful player. We are told she is powerful, anyway.
There is another great moment with Kuradeel. It turns that he is evil, and Kirito has to fight him, but he has been poisoned. So Asuna takes up the sword and fights in Kirito's stead. She pushes Kuradeel back, scoring hit after hit, not letting him slip away. And the entire time I am just waiting for her to fail. I am not disappointed either, as she struggles to land the final hit, and Kirito comes in to finish the job.
Then this amusingly repeats itself when Asuna wants out of the guild. The guild leader Heathcliff does of course not turn to Asuna to discuss this, he talks to Kirito. Again, Asuna has the same authority in this organization as a towel. So Heathcliff and Kirito starts dueling over Asuna, and Kirito actually loses.
But it turns out that also Heathcliff was evil, and Kirito and Asuna must face him another battle. Then he disables Asuna, as he has no interest in her, and wants to fight Kirito one on one. Her part of the final dramatic battle of the first arc is lying silently on the ground. She then sacrifices herself for Kirito, which accomplishes nothing as Kirito dies anyway.
An Amusing End
No, Asuna was nothing more than a love interest, and for the second half of the anime, a damsel in distress. But this is where it gets interesting. The helpless Asuna who would just watch Kirito fight is here transformed into a much more capable person, who tries to escape any way she can. She resembles her earlier character to a degree, and although she does not manage to free herself, she plays some part in the plot, and her determination is above all refreshing. Of course, she has to be saved again in the end, but that is what you should expect at this point.
It should be considered that Asuna's weakness may not come from a sexist world view. Kirito may just be a bit of wish-fulfillment from the author, and so all battles and all victories is fought and won by Kirito. It is not only Asuna who is showed into the background. But it is so much more apparent with her.
And that may be where my disdain for this character comes from. What is more annoying than a weak character? A weak character which the writers insists is great. They claim she is powerful and influential, and everything we see denies that. This makes Asuna seem so hollow, an empty character lifted up on a pedestal. If they had made her a healer, it would have been a cliché, but it would still be something. Yet there something how Asuna in the show differs from the Asuna the other characters talk about that I find extremely amusing. I did laugh a couple of times at her predictable failing at being important. That is kind of sad, thinking about it.
bright on January 29, 2020:
Rei Hime on October 15, 2017:
Ohhh yasss, I hate Asuna. She had no development whatsoever and seduced a clueless kid younger than her. She's not even badass, she doesn't deserve to be an anime character, she should go be some Disney princess.
I personally think Sinon would have done better as the main heroine. Kirito needs a fighter like himself, not some housewife. Asuna should just die.
Nidag the Goat (author) from Norway on July 23, 2016:
Well, thats what happens when you want a power-fantasy but still want to have strong female characters.
Adam Lafferty from Lawrence, KS on July 22, 2016:
Sword Art Online is a show that takes strong, capable female characters and gradually turns them into waifus and damsels in distress. Asuna in season one, Shino in season two...they start out strong but in the end turn into quivering masses who need to be rescued by Kirito.
And that's not its ONLY flaw...
Nidag the Goat (author) from Norway on August 07, 2015:
Yes, I did watch season 2, and the second part really did focus more on Asuna. Perhaps a tad stereotypical with the controlling mother, but she did finally get a life outside of Kirito.
Jeremy Gill from Louisiana on August 07, 2015:
Even an Asuna fan like myself can admit you have some valid points.
(Spoiler alert for Sword Art Online 2) If it helps, in the later episodes of SAO2, Asuna gets more character development and even receives an eleven-hit combo attack.
Nidag the Goat (author) from Norway on January 02, 2015:
As I have not read the books, I can not say how accurate your portrayal of Asuna is, but it would not surprise me. Asuna sadly was never much more than the girlfriend. I don't mind the last part of season 2 that much, though. I did not find it very engaging, but at least the author was trying something new.
And it is not Yuno who acts like that: Orihime from Bleach and Hinata from Naruto comes to mind.
Nagisa Mclay on January 02, 2015:
First I want to apologise for my bad english ^^° Just now I went through a couple of SAO character reviews (mostly targeting Asuna) and found yours. Well, I wanted to know why so much people seem to like her, because I don't understand it at all. I personally hate her. Yes, you're right, part I do hate her subjective but I also have some reasons to do so- others then these you already list, of course.
One the one hand she is- like you already said- a completely useless character. She doesn't really fight important battles, she has absolutely no character deep (unlike some other characters), she acts like she can't do ANYTHING without Kirito and her whole role in this show was, to be Kiritos wife. But it doesn't stop in the first season. Because we also have the second season and the light novels, I'm just reading.
In the second season she's just a side character who's totally obsessed with her boyfriend. But for some reason, as this very boyfriend sunk into depression, she doesn't even notice- leave alone try to help. So it's ended that Kirito gets comforted by a nurse, his cousine and Sinon. Yeah Asuna, you evem failed at beeing a girlfriend... the rest of the first half of the season she's just standing somewhere around Kirito and watches him fight. But ok, I give her so much credit that the last 5 (at least I think it were 5) are about her and a girl named Yuuki. She gets background and personal problems in this episodes but for me her background just seems a little bit cheap. Like the autor run out of time and just typed the first thing that came to her mind, as she wrote Asunas background. To be honest, I didn't watch all of theses episodes, because it was just getting boring for me. But I do remember the one fight Asuna and Yukki have and then they couldn't fight for some reason (like I said, I didn't watch everything) and guess who appears in just that minute? Right, Kirito...
Well, at least the autor tried. It just didn't convinced me. But let's move to the story that to this day ohly exists as the ligh novel. Well, Kirito is in an other virtual world (which is completely different from all SAO games) and attached to a strange machine that is called the RATH. This world and machine are completely new and are really complex, so we readers need some explanations to understand what this is all about. And there we come straight to the point. The most of this novel is written in Kiritos POW and he didn't even know how he end up in this world (because he forgot the last 24 hours) and of course he didn't know, how this machine and world work exactly and what's behind all of this. He is only able to make theories. And there you have Asunas role. She is the one who's searching for Kirito and come to the place where he's diving. There she met the person who set this up and he is explaining her how the machine works and what the original plan behind this was. That's it. Asuna just exist for the sake, that the readers know what's going on from a person of the real world. The rest of the time Asuna is lying on her bed or stalking Kirito trough a window, promising she will always watch him. The scientist (forgott his name, sorry) could explain the whole situation to a wall instead and we would still have exactly the same story...
Let's be honest there, the autor just needed Asuna to appear somehow in the story and so she gave her the most irrelevant role she could get. To say, Asuna is practically doing nothing in this 7 books (okay, at this time I just have read till the 12th book, but still, it were 4 books with her beeing useless and plot irrelevant), is needless at this point, isn't it?
So, that were my points for hating her that much (and yours of course)
Oh and my the way, she kinda reminds me of Yuno from Mirai Nikki/ future diary, because every time she speaks I just understand: "Kirito! Kirito! Kirito! I can't live without Kirito! Kirito! What should I were today? Let's ask Kirito! Should I take a step to the left or to the right? I do whatever Kirito does! ...my life is so depressing. My whole family dies, the world is on fire, we are all going to die....oh, screw that! I think I just saw Kirito over there!" (Okay, maybe the last one never happened, but I swear this is how it'll went)
hater on January 02, 2015:
I totally agree with you!!
Nidag the Goat (author) from Norway on November 05, 2014:
I really didn't feel much about their relationship, you are right that they get together because the plot demands it. Really both characters are supposed to be perfect with some reeeeaaally small flaws, so it shouldn't be a surprise.
Mary on November 05, 2014:
i really hated asuna mostly because she became this cry baby who would literally cry about every little thing. And kirito becomes basically obsessed with her when he finally beats the game. It's just really annoying how they made her out to be just this perfect girl.
Alex on December 10, 2013:
I gave it 8/10, so it's good IMO, certainly a nice setting again.
Nidag the Goat (author) from Norway on December 10, 2013:
Perhaps Attack on Titan is a little overrated, but I would say it is still a good show. Some really good animation and action scenes, though it is more like a depiction of the endless horrors of war than an action anime.
Alex on December 10, 2013:
Yea so I saw. To be honest the rave's gone to Attack on Titan now, not that I follow it, unfounded popularity doesn't do things favour in the long run.
Nidag the Goat (author) from Norway on December 10, 2013:
Yeah, Kirito is a bit of wish-fullfilment, I believe. I guess Sugou might count if you find "takes unrealistic pleasure in others pain" to be in depth. But I am sure you will be happy to know that a special is in the making, which I am sure will flesh everyone out some more.
Alex on December 10, 2013:
there are only 3 in depth characters in SAO, one of them is an OP gamer who's "incidentally" had sword training and was a beta tester -.-, Asuna we've discussed, and the third is... actually I can't think of a third right now.
Nidag the Goat (author) from Norway on December 08, 2013:
But she should still have some authority over Kuradeel, being the second in command, and even if she didn't, why is Kirito the one to fight him? She could have done that herself.
Lalalalalalalalalalala on December 08, 2013:
The Kuradeel example wasn't really good since he was assigned to her by Heathcliff, who is a higher rank than her. She does manage to send Kuradeel away since he was vulnerable to manipulation after being humiliated by Kirito.
Shizukarin on December 07, 2013:
I agree with this post in its entirety.
Also, in my own opinion, Asuna was the very book definition of Mary Sue. She was pretty, she was rich, almost every guy fell head over heels for her, and she was 'supposedly' strong. The only people who had slight dislike for her were those who liked Kirito, and they still mostly liked her. It's honestly irritating. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if the reason the writer kept insisting she was a good character was BECAUSE she was basically a Mary Sue.
Alex on October 26, 2013:
^ This. I loved the setting for SAO, that's what kept me watching the whole thing, but forgetting about the shoddy explanation of how the game worked and the frequent undocumented time skips, there's still the second half of the series to bring it down -.-
Kurakagagura on October 25, 2013:
The whole damn anime was just a mess...
Alex on August 12, 2013:
Well. This was certainly a rant. You could actually have gotten away with just posting the last paragraph thinking about it, but hey, whatever helps you get the point across xD I can definitely say I've had similar rants about anime in the past.