I love Sword Art Online. Yeah I said it.
I love SAO.
Few fans will say that publicly, so I might as well be the spokesperson.
In the early stages of the anime it takes a unique turn for a gamers show. Essentially trapping gamers inside a virtual reality game, and forcing them to fight for their own survival. At the cost of killing other gamers if necessary.
It’s a cruel anime that uses romance to soften the blow. And that’s exactly why the life lessons are emotional and so heart-felt.
Real life obviously isn’t so dramatic in general, but the lessons learned can be applied to any situation you’re dealing with either way. With each character offering something different to learn from.
So let’s talk about that.
Life Lessons From Sword Art Online:
1. Bad things happen to good people
Akihiko Kayaba is the guy who’s responsible for the death of 1000’s of casual, professional gamers in Sword Art Online. We’re talking about teenagers and young adults here.
He created Sword Art Online for no reason other than to see how it all plays out.
At the end of SAO, he even admits he forgot his true purpose for why he did it (which doesn’t justify his actions).
The point here is: bad things happen to good people for no fault of their own.
Within 5 minutes of watching the mainstream news, “bad things happening to good people” becomes clearer than a glass cup full of orange juice.
Or how about the crazy mass shootings happening across America? Or the terrorist attacks that took place in Turkey?
Life’s not always fair, but that doesn’t change the brutal truths either.
Bad things happen to innocent people every day of the week.
2. For some people, it’s as if we’re destined to die from the moment we’re born
Some of us are born into the world, only to later find out we’re already on our deathbeds. With little time to experience life to its absolute fullest.
This is ruthlessly expressed in the second season of Sword Art Online. In the arc featuring Yuuki Konno. A girl who since birth has been dying from aids (spoiler).
What’s amazing though is how Yuuki Konno deals with her situation so confidently. Always keeping her head held high and doing her best to stay positive in spite of the pain (which VR makes easier).
Instead of succumbing to her disease and giving up, she decides to do everything she’s always wanted to do. So she can live without regrets by time the Grim Reaper comes knocking at her door.
The lesson here is: don’t take your life for granted, and live without regrets.
It’s disrespectful to people who don’t have the luxury of taking their lives for granted. And it’ll only be to your own detriment later on.
Related: 5 Life Lessons From Yuuki Konno
3. Playing video games has its benefits
For years the mainstream media has pumped out a load of bullshit about video games.
- Video games are BAD for you.
- Video games are the cause of the mass shootings (the batman murder in US).
- Video games make you lazy.
- Video games don’t teach you anything.
And like good little puppets, people (and even some parents) follow this advice like a Christian following the Bible.
But the mainstream media is wrong and always has been.
Even in exceptional cases, video games are NEVER the root cause. The cause is internal, not external.
Video games can:
- Help you develop better eye coordination (true fact).
- Socialise with others and meet interesting people.
- Build a passion for games which could lead to career/business opportunities (this isn’t even debatable).
- Learn things about life and cultures, depending on the video games themselves.
- Video games are a healthy alternative to things like drugs, crime and what not (self-explanatory).
- It can teach you perseverance, since you have to lose tons of times to win big and succeed. Just like in life.
4. Relationships are hard work
Regardless of what you’ve been brainwashed to believe, relationships are hard work.
Despite the fictional story, Sword Art Online expresses this perfectly. Even if in a way that’s different to reality (the context is still the same though).
Relationships are like businesses:
- It takes a life commitment to build one successfully.
- You WILL have obstacles that stand in your way. Whether they be people or personal challenges.
- You won’t always see eye to eye. In these moments it’s easier to just give up and walk away. But you have to do the opposite to keep it going.
- It will feel draining and pointless from time to time. But that’s only because you haven’t figured out the right “balance” yet.
Even as perfect Kirito and Asuna are for each other, it’s clear even their relationship isn’t perfect. As they’ve dealt with tons of challenges along the way.
5. Life is both beautiful and painful simultaneously
Sword Art Online has some cushy moments between Kirito and Asuna. And even between all the characters when they get together, hang out, chill, laugh and reminisce about the good times.
You get to see more of this as Yui, Kirito, Asuna, etc explore the worlds of ALO and other worlds that follow.
But in SAO, characters like Sachi die and lots of pain and tragedy comes from those experiences.
Let’s not forget: 1000’s die in SAO. While few others are fortunate enough to see the “bright side”.
Life is the same.
There are so many fun experiences that are mesmerizing and breathtaking. Laughing is one of those experiences.
But then there are ugly things like death, murder, disease, war and violence. The kinds of things that ruin families, friendships, and makes life in general more difficult to bear with.
Life is both cruel and gorgeous at the same time.
Related: 20 Heartfelt Sword Art Online Quotes
6. You can’t save or help everyone
This is obvious after watching the first season of Sword Art Online. Not even Kirito, as strong as he was as a gamer, could save everyone who was weaker and more fragile.
While Kirito was busy saving Silica, dozens of gamers died for no fault of their own.
This is the sad truth that relates to life as well.
Strength, power, money… none of these things are enough to save or help everyone. This is especially true if we’re talking about one person attempting to save or help others. But this is also true when we all come together and make a team effort.
Some people just can’t be helped (because they don’t want to be helped). And others can’t be helped because well, humans are imperfect.
We’re not superhuman like the heroes we watch on TV. But that’s just how it goes.
Kiritsugu Emiya said it best:
“When you save one life, you’re generally not able to save another.” – Kiritsugu Emiya
Which SAO life lesson struck you the hardest?
Do you have anymore to share?
Related: Sword Art Online Merchandise