How Kirito From SAO Influenced Modern Day Isekai Characters | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/
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How Kirito From Sword Art Online Influenced Modern Day Isekai Characters (Including Regular)

Kirito (Kazuto Kirigaya) from Sword Art Online has been influencing Isekai characters from the moment the anime debuted.

This was back on July 8th, 2012, when the intense first episode aired that had fans HOOKED.

Many might not like Kirito, but his influence on Isekai’s characters is undeniable.

Let’s talk about the how, the what, and the why.

Here’s a list.

 

1. Same face syndrome

kirito lookalike | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

When it all comes down to it, Kirito’s influence can’t be denied with the similar faces that have been painted across the board of Isekai characters.

Not only were the faces you see in many Isekai in 2024 influenced by Kirito, but the hairstyles, expressions, and standard expressions of the character were as well.

There is only a set of anime in the so called genre of Isekai where you can say the character has unique features or was deliberately designed to stand out, rather than using the same template.

Those anime would be shows like Ascendance Of A Bookworm, though this is female lead. As well as anime like Tensei Slime, despite the MC not being the pinnacle of uniqueness by design.

Re:Zero is also an anime where the MC is clearly unique with his facial design (Subaru Natsuki) while still maintaining the typical Isekai look.

Everyone else, even from anime like The Eminence In Shadowdespite its comedic elements, tends to run to the Kirito face for its MCs.

This is why so many of them aren’t memorable, and why so many Isekai don’t reach masterpiece status in my eyes.

Isekai Cheat Magician might be the worst offender for the same face syndrome when talking about the Kirito template.

 

2. Overpowered MC

The trope of Overpowered Mcs didn’t just start with Isekai or Shonen, but it’s true that Isekai in general takes advantage of the overpowered MC trope in many ways.

In fact, one of the biggest Isekai besides SAO (No Game No Life) had an element of this but that anime is unique and didn’t take from SAO to begin with.

In the world of SAO, Kazuto Kirigaya, aka Kirito, is so powerful that he’s known as the black swordsman, and he even says he spent a whole lot of time gaining his strength before everything was turned upside down in VR.

Either way, in most fights, especially when he has twin swords, we see how powerful Kirito is in the game.

 

cid kagenou | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

To contrast Kirito’s influence yet again, let’s talk about The Eminence In Shadow.

The main character Cid Kagenou clearly has the Kirito template, and most wouldn’t deny it. While the series might not have intentionally borrowed from SAO, the influence started with SAO in the Isekai world.

 

mochizuki touya mc | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

In Another World With My Smartphone is yet another Isekai series with the overpowered MC trope. Plus the main character Mochizuki can be compared to Kirito as far as his template.

The only difference is the fact these overpowered MCs have been taken to extremes in the modern day, where the characters may not even have to work hard to gain strength.

 

3. The hairstyles

 

This style of hair for the main characters after SAO’s debut is very typical and has been rinsed out to the max.

In fact, you also see this even with anime that isn’t Isekai at all.

 

rio anime kirito lookalike | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

There is RIO from the anime Spirit Chronicles. In his regular form, he looks just like Kirito, hairstyle, face, and everything else.

The template is visible.

 

Masamune Makabe wet | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

In the anime Masamune Kun No Revenge, you have Masamune Makabe who looks like he could be Kirito in another universe all together.

A taller version and more muscular.

The Kirito without an interest in games, VR, and swordsmanship.

 

Ichikawa Ochimura infinite stratos | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

Ichikawa Ochimura from Infinite Stratos has the typical Kiirto look, hairstyle and everything.

This anime is a harem/ecchi series, unlike SAO, but considering the elements of both anime, it makes the influence from Kirito all the more obvious.

 

Tatsuya from The Irregular at Magic High School | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

Tatsuya from The Irregular at Magic High School can easily be compared to Kirito not just for his face, but hairstyle hair colour, and so on.

The template is undeniable. He’s an older version of Kirito.

 

Hodaka Morishima | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

Then there is the character Hodoka Morishima from Weathering With You, who might look the most like Kirito of anybody.

His template is clearly influenced indirectly or directly by Kirito, and it’s too identical to downplay in this case.

 

4. The seemingly bland personality types

kazuto kirigaya overpowered | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

While it’s not entirely true that Kirito has a personality type that’s bland and dead, stereotypes stick and so does the influence.

Many of the characters already mentioned, including others from anime shows like High School DxD, or better yet, Shido from Date A Live have perfectly borrowed from Kirito’s look, feel, style, circumstances, and how he’s perceived in general relative to other characters.

Even Cid Kagenou from Eminence In Shadow has this, despite the comedic elements of that anime and it doing things on purpose.

You could even say KAZUMA on a parody level plays into this as well (before he came to another world).

 

5. The unemotional, bland facial features

Shinichi Kanou | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

Shinichi Kanou from Outbreak Company is one such Isekai character. This anime came out around 2016.

It’s a harem/Isekai.

The main character might have brown hair in this case, but the facial features and the influence of it is typical and obvious.

The template is there.

We see this with Tatsuya from Irregular at Magic High School as well.

 

Naofumi Iwatani facial expression scaled | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

There is also Naofumi Iwatani from Shield Hero. Not the most appealing-looking character or expressive, and it’s an Isekai, and he has black hair, etc.

While it’s true he does initially have more energy in the first episode, his typical personality, as we come to see, is of the unemotional type of protagonist.

 

6. The power to attract a harem of girls without much effort

shido harem | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

Whether it’s Date A Live’s Shido who attracts harems of girls without much effort, or its Issei from DxD, or that guy from High School of The Dead, or a direct comparison like Isekai Cheat Magicians MC.

In fact, you can even throw in that guy from the anime Assassin’s Pride, the influence of this trope with Isekai and non Isekai characters has become extremely popular over the years.

It’s usually paired with all of these other tropes that Kirito was known for, making it a whole package rather than bits and pieces.

 

Conclusion:

kirito face slight smile | https://animemotivation.com/how-kirito-from-sao-influenced-isekai-characters/

In the end, Kirito isn’t the only single character to have kicked off these trends obviously. But his influence is heavy in the game and can’t be ignored.

Especially when you realize how successful SAO was and has become ever since the beginning. Topping the novel charts constantly, and being one of the top selling novels to this day.

It also beat out “Your Name” for its movie sales back then.

Not to mention the wave of controversies, the hate train, and the constant bashing of SAO which only made Kirito and the anime more popular than people would have liked.