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Addressing the reoccuring sexual assault theme of SAO from a survivors point of view ***TRIGGER WARNING***

Recently I was asked my thoughts on the reoccurring sexual assault themes in SAO. My friend knew I had PTSD and wanted to know how I felt about it. After watching more of the series I felt I needed to revisit the topic in a blog post. First, I believe the topic should be talked about in any medium. Whether it is a TV Show, Book, Movie, or mature Anime. It is important to get the conversation going and raise awareness. It must be addressed in such a way as to educate and not romanticize the topic. These are my opinions on the subject and not how anyone should feel. If these scenes bothered you and you don't think they should have been included, that is your right. You have to do what makes you comfortable.

The first time sexual assault came up in SAO was Season 2 Episode 13. Sinon was attacked by her friend and he tried to rape her. The episode gave me pause. At first, I was triggered by the scenario. It really upset me. Here was this already broken character, who had been through enough as it is, and now we are going to add rape to her PTSD? The scene is honestly not as bad as people made it out to be. The only thing I would have changed is the way it was addressed afterward. There wasn't much conversation and Sinon did not seem overly affected by the interaction. In fact, she forgave him. I think this was the writer's way of showing her character growth and her overcoming her PTSD.

Episode 24 we have Asuna's attempted rape by Oberon. He held her prisoner and chained her up. He told her he was going to do the same thing to her physical body in her hospital bed. Oberon pinned Kirito down so he had to watch helplessly as Asuna was sexually assaulted. They showed him licking her and just plain being a creep. This was not triggering to me. It wasn't too graphic. The worst part about the whole scene was him licking her and Kirito having to watch. I was not prepared for what would come next.

Episode 10 of Alicization was a game-changer. It blew my mind how far they went in this episode. I don't think it should have gone that far in my opinion. It was a little too much. This scene out of all the instances was by far the worst. Seeing Ronie and Tiese getting assaulted by the entitled noble assholes was the worst. Even though it was graphic and went a little too far, this scene is important in the character development of Eugeo. It is also important to look at the message behind the scene. Eugeo and Kirito know how wrong this situation is and that they need to stop it.

This is a very important lesson to be teaching young boys. That they should not stand by while sexual assault happens. I live near a large University and there are reports all the time of sexual assaults happening at frat parties. That is what this scene reminds me of and that is the lesson I took away from it. Was it graphic and triggering? Yes. Was it necessary for the storyline? Maybe not as graphic as they made it, but YES. Sometimes it takes shock and awe to make a point.

Episode 4 of Alicization: War of the Underworld was the most triggering for me because it mirrored something that happened to me and part of the reason I have PTSD. It was so violent and real to me. Nost people think that Anime is just a cartoon. Well, they obviously haven't watched an episode of SAO. SAO is as real as it gets when depicting these types of situations. They touched a nerve with me and I know others as well. Even the Creator wasn't happy with these scenes in the Anime and apologized to the voice actors. I will post some links below regarding the comments made by the writer and some other articles written on the subject. The last thoughts that I have are that these are just three scenes. They were necessary for the progression of the storyline and to teach a greater lesson.

Reki Kawahara Apologizes to Voice Actors for Latest Sword Art Online Episode
'Sword Art Online' Creator Explains His Use of Sexual Assault as Plot Device
Why does this series have so much rape?


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