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Old 2012-10-24, 03:15   Link #101
relentlessflame
 
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Originally Posted by Key Board View Post
Spoiler for Sword Art Online comparison:
Spoiler for SAO Comparison, alluding to the larger issue:


P.S. I'm putting this behind spoiler tags because I don't want people who have not watched SAO to be spoiled, but by the same token I don't want this to just become an SAO thread. I do think it's a useful illustration of a problem that authors can sometimes find themselves in when trying/intending to write strong characters (female).
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Old 2012-10-24, 09:52   Link #102
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Regarding a solution... hmm..

how about this.. instead of trying "fix" things, how about playing said flaw as a strength?

why not go all the way?

why not make Asuna an enchanted talking sword?

And I suppose this can apply to every other characters like that as well. Your character isn't its own person? Why bother making it a person?

Why not make it a talking sword, or an android, or a sentient space ship?
Good solution, I'd say..
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Old 2012-10-24, 10:32   Link #103
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Because a show generally needs more than 1 character. Even if all characters except the mc are "characters" in form only.

Also, enchanted talking swords aren't cute enough.
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Old 2012-10-24, 12:29   Link #104
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Originally Posted by Key Board View Post
Your character isn't its own person? Why bother making it a person?

Why not make it a talking sword, or an android, or a sentient space ship?
Good solution, I'd say..
I give you partial-points for ingenuity, but none for "taking the problem seriously".

One thing that has been a bit interesting about this particular case is that I've actually seen many female viewers defend the characterization in the show and say that the accusations in this regard are overblown (whether they find the writing of the show to be particularly good or not). This is one of the reasons why I think it's likely more a case of a failure to fully realize an intention rather than a deliberate effort to "objectify" the (non-protagonist) characters.

(And, as an aside, I have also noticed that some of the people making this complaint most loudly (not you) would be totally fine with the story if the protagonist were female and everything else essentially the same -- a large part of what they don't like is that the overpowered protagonist is male. So I think another aspect of this is more about annoyance about certain gender-based clichés and stereotypes. And or those people -- again, not you -- I think their concerns would largely have been abated simply by having the current situation be reversed, since it would subvert a disliked trope.)
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Old 2012-10-24, 12:49   Link #105
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Originally Posted by Key Board View Post
Snow Black: Deeply in love with Haruyuki. Some say, unrealistically. However, she has her own ambition and goals which are UNRELATED to Haruyuki. Her original intent was actually to use Haruyuki to fulfill her own goals. She has since became more personal with him, but at her core she's still ambitious and unwavering.

Asuna: One of the best players in SAO. She falls in love with Kirito and... that's just it. I really don't see anything other facet of her other than "I want to be Kirito's wife". The treatment of her in the show doesn't help either. She is a prize for Kirito. She is something that he tried to win from Knights of Blood in a duel (why did she even consent to this? why didn't she fight for her own release?). And how she is something for him to win in ALO. It's hard to see her as a character instead of a trophy.
Hmm, from what I've seen yea I would say KYH is by far the better character. I simply can't associate Asuna away from Kirito when i think of the two, while I can definitely seperate KYH from Haru.
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Old 2012-10-24, 13:39   Link #106
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
I guess the point I'm trying to get at is that, at least sometimes, I think authors get themselves trapped in this situation not because they hate women or want the women in their stories to be weak, but because they can't figure out how to properly build it into their narrative once it's taking a certain trajectory. So my question is: how, now, can the author fix this sort of problem, if that were a goal?
I think that this is really part and parcel of the problem with sexism. Most writers do go out with the intent of diminishing female characters. They just end up with that result because they don't know how to do so otherwise. In many ways, this is as bad as the more active version of sexism.

The solution itself isn't really all that difficult: just write women as full-fledged people with their own ambitions, desires and foibles. Real people don't tend to be solely adjutants of other people, so the result should be far more enabling. Ellen Ripley is a good example. At the beginning of Aliens, she's isolated in a world where her former skills are rendered largely useless, so shes' forced to do menial work to make ends meet. All of a sudden, she's offered a chance to change all this provided she performs a dangerous task. There's all sorts of depth to this kind of portrayal, and it greatly elevates her character.

Something similar can easily apply to specific example of Asuna. Many of the obstacles brought up involve her directly, so simply make her more of a locus for the action. Explore how these various events affect her, and give her the power to effect change.
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Old 2012-10-24, 14:38   Link #107
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He is talking about the portrayal of lesbians in anime tho. In my opinion, those are just a poor reason to keep the girls celibate because the target audience would not stand their objects of adoration to be "just another guy's girl". I think this is what the Swede meant by "otaku pandering". As for the issue, I still stand by the opinion that it is still possible for a female character to kick ass, to be a loving wife and/or mother, and still be a strong and dignified character. My role model in that archetype, in fiction, is Sarah Connor. I can't think of an anime character that can stand the comparison to her.
And if they want to be a wife/mother. They can adopt a child with their female love interest nowadays. In fact the action girl industry is thinking of as many ideas to minimalize male presence.
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Old 2012-10-24, 15:01   Link #108
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Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
I think that this is really part and parcel of the problem with sexism. Most writers do go out with the intent of diminishing female characters. They just end up with that result because they don't know how to do so otherwise. In many ways, this is as bad as the more active version of sexism.

The solution itself isn't really all that difficult: just write women as full-fledged people with their own ambitions, desires and foibles. Real people don't tend to be solely adjutants of other people, so the result should be far more enabling. Ellen Ripley is a good example. At the beginning of Aliens, she's isolated in a world where her former skills are rendered largely useless, so shes' forced to do menial work to make ends meet. All of a sudden, she's offered a chance to change all this provided she performs a dangerous task. There's all sorts of depth to this kind of portrayal, and it greatly elevates her character.

Something similar can easily apply to specific example of Asuna. Many of the obstacles brought up involve her directly, so simply make her more of a locus for the action. Explore how these various events affect her, and give her the power to effect change.
That is exactly what most people are saying in the TVTropes forums. Make the female characters as actual people and not just a bunch of stereotypes or tropes. It is somewhat difficult but still Whedon and Cameron did it, why can't other writers?
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Old 2012-10-24, 15:23   Link #109
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Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
The solution itself isn't really all that difficult: just write women as full-fledged people with their own ambitions, desires and foibles. Real people don't tend to be solely adjutants of other people, so the result should be far more enabling.
That sounds simple, but I think I'd go back to what I said earlier about this requiring the author to really think through the characters in multiple dimensions, and to re-imagine the plot presentation to converge multiple separate timelines into one narrative. Basically, I think it's trickier to do. The fact that the author did manage to do this more convincingly in his subsequent work probably shows increasing maturity and the benefit of experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
Something similar can easily apply to specific example of Asuna. Many of the obstacles brought up involve her directly, so simply make her more of a locus for the action. Explore how these various events affect her, and give her the power to effect change.
In truth, I think the show has actually done this to a fair degree (she got a number of rather detailed explanations of how actions affected her personally, and her actions certainly propelled the plot). But the counter-argument being offered is that it doesn't count because it was presented in the context of her relationship with the protagonist, and because the protagonist's own actions overshadowed hers (because again of the protagonist-centric nature of the story). (She is in fact stronger than most of the men in the game... just not the protagonist.)


And incidentally, I would also point out again that I don't think the real issue here in this specific case actually has much to do with gender. I don't think any of the other characters in the story, gender-notwithstanding, are treated any differently. You could probably argue that it's a story with only one character, and a whole lot of supporting characters. And that's why I have a bit of a problem construing it as a truly sexist portrayal.



Edit: Now that I think about this a bit more, I think part of the problem is also the age of the characters portrayed. If we were talking about adult characters in their 20s/30s/40s, then it's a lot easier to portray them as full of independent, ambitious, and distinct: they can have jobs, they can have past relationships, they can have a whole mess of scars from the past, and so on. There are all sorts of natural circumstances emphasizing their independence that are easy to portray without much explanation. But here we're talking about teenagers, and more specifically in this case we're talking about a teenage girl's first love. Do we expect more maturity, independence and ambition than we should expect from characters their age?

Spoiler for Accel World comparison:
So, I wonder if part of this is just wanting more maturity in the characters portrayed. It's interesting to me that a lot of the characters mentioned as models are older.
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Old 2012-10-24, 15:51   Link #110
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Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
Hmm, from what I've seen yea I would say KYH is by far the better character. I simply can't associate Asuna away from Kirito when i think of the two, while I can definitely seperate KYH from Haru.
Well the thing with KYH is that she all but changed the way I look at female anime characters from LN's pretty much singlehandedly. Before the spring season I used to think that LN's were all about supplying the masses with hawt "waifu" material that all came with pre-defined personality traits that they never really broke out of or grew from in a multi-faceted way. Her design kind of made it easy too to suspect that, "oh well here's this girl with improbably perfect proportions and this revealing butterfly themed outfit and all the promo art for her is ultra-sexualized, if this isn't the second coming of Inori Yuzuriha I don't know what is", and then too my complete surprise we get this independent and fairly complex personality that feels like as much of a driving force for the novel as the protagonist and who's popularity both in and outside the anime has as much to do with what she does as how she looks.

So while I had obviously known that there's plenty of examples of strong well developed female characters with goals of their own in anime throughout the years I've rarely seen it done well with a character that is also obviously designed with sex appeal in mind up until very recently where there's quite a few examples and now honestly I'm kind of intrigued to see where we go from here. It's actually a major reason I made this topic cause I wanted to see what other peoples thoughts were on the matter. I'm glad it's proven to be a pretty popular one at that with lots of great ideas and opinions being presented.
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Old 2012-10-24, 16:57   Link #111
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Originally Posted by Guernsey View Post
That is exactly what most people are saying in the TVTropes forums. Make the female characters as actual people and not just a bunch of stereotypes or tropes. It is somewhat difficult but still Whedon and Cameron did it, why can't other writers?
Sadly theres' a ready answer for anime: anime, and anime-related media are overly insular to the point where things like playing up the "Perfect Waifu" syndrome are rewarded. Also, feminism never really made it to Japan.

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That sounds simple, but I think I'd go back to what I said earlier about this requiring the author to really think through the characters in multiple dimensions, and to re-imagine the plot presentation to converge multiple separate timelines into one narrative. Basically, I think it's trickier to do. The fact that the author did manage to do this more convincingly in his subsequent work probably shows increasing maturity and the benefit of experience.
It's not that tricky if the original goal was to empower characters. But if the original intention wasn't to do so, then it can be difficult to shoe-horn in.

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In truth, I think the show has actually done this to a fair degree (she got a number of rather detailed explanations of how actions affected her personally, and her actions certainly propelled the plot). But the counter-argument being offered is that it doesn't count because it was presented in the context of her relationship with the protagonist, and because the protagonist's own actions overshadowed hers (because again of the protagonist-centric nature of the story). (She is in fact stronger than most of the men in the game... just not the protagonist.)
I personally don't find actions empowering. I find decisions to be empowering. Has Asuna ever made a meaningful decision (one fully cognizant of the consequences of all her choices) to propel the story? I'm not even sure if Kirito has at this point. I don't think that it's necessary for all characters to be empowered, but the ability to affect events though decisions is the only way to do so.

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And incidentally, I would also point out again that I don't think the real issue here in this specific case actually has much to do with gender. I don't think any of the other characters in the story, gender-notwithstanding, are treated any differently. You could probably argue that it's a story with only one character, and a whole lot of supporting characters. And that's why I have a bit of a problem construing it as a truly sexist portrayal.
It would be sexism if the female character in question is treated like a trophy or a prize. Or if she was present to make the male character look good. The male version of this is the male "best friend" whose purpose is to be incompetent so that the main character looks better in comparison. The latter seems less harmful if only because nobody really wants anyone to behave like this in real life.

I don't really care whether Sword Art Online should be considered sexist, but it does skirt pretty close. And so do a great many of the shows of its nature.

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Edit: Now that I think about this a bit more, I think part of the problem is also the age of the characters portrayed. If we were talking about adult characters in their 20s/30s/40s, then it's a lot easier to portray them as full of independent, ambitious, and distinct: they can have jobs, they can have past relationships, they can have a whole mess of scars from the past, and so on. There are all sorts of natural circumstances emphasizing their independence that are easy to portray without much explanation. But here we're talking about teenagers, and more specifically in this case we're talking about a teenage girl's first love. Do we expect more maturity, independence and ambition than we should expect from characters their age?
Age has little to do with empowerment. Children don't make the same kinds of decisions adults do, but they can make important ones nonetheless. This is one of the most salient stories in children's fiction. Its really just a question of what the writer is trying to do with his characters.
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Old 2012-10-24, 17:27   Link #112
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Originally Posted by Key Board View Post
Why not make it a talking sword, or an android, or a sentient space ship?
Good solution, I'd say..
I am not sure if your examples are intentional or not, but there have been cute sentient space ships (Ezekiel from Osadai) and androids (da capo 1 and 2) in some stories like animes or VN's.
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Old 2012-10-24, 18:14   Link #113
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I personally don't find actions empowering. I find decisions to be empowering. Has Asuna ever made a meaningful decision (one fully cognizant of the consequences of all her choices) to propel the story? I'm not even sure if Kirito has at this point. I don't think that it's necessary for all characters to be empowered, but the ability to affect events though decisions is the only way to do so.
Well, actually, I'd say yes -- but I'm sure some would claim they are disqualified due to technicalities. In truth, the story could not have progressed as shown without the decisions she made on her own, at least being as aware as can be reasonably expected of the consequences. But, by the same token, as you say, they have spent the whole story largely forced by their circumstances, so indeed neither of them have had much room to make broad decisions. (Even the current actions don't really count as "decisions"; they're just consequences and they essentially have no choice.) This is what I mean by everyone being constrained by the story. If the story opens up, I think all the characters will have more room for growth.

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Age has little to do with empowerment. Children don't make the same kinds of decisions adults do, but they can make important ones nonetheless. This is one of the most salient stories in children's fiction. Its really just a question of what the writer is trying to do with his characters.
This is a good point. I suppose the key, as you alluded to, is that the plot is fundamentally driven by the decisions the characters make, and not just the way the story propels them. I think it's easier for an author to create a story based on an idea of where they want the plot to go, and then have all the characters act as necessary to reach that goal. It's more difficult to imagine fully-developed characters and place them in a situation and have them each act accordingly (while still driving strongly towards a certain moral or message). But still, I guess I tend to be more forgiving of the former than some are, assuming I understand the main message.
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Old 2012-10-24, 18:29   Link #114
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Take look on this, which one you rather choose?

A. 16-years old girl who wields katana or guns and ready to kick some ass in order to save her loved ones(not necessarily love interests).

B. 16-years old girl who cry and hate themselves just because they can't do anything to her loved ones(usually loved interests).

While A is less realistic and rare outside action shows made for men but I prefer A over B even though B-type girl are more likely to exists in our world than A.

Yes it's true girl A only exists to fulfill male fantasies but at least she can stand own her own, which is a good thing. The girl B in other hand while less exploitive but I think it degrades the image of women more than A.
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Old 2012-10-24, 18:46   Link #115
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There's nothing wrong with falling in love, or being loyal.. or being dedicated to a man they love.

The problem is if that is all they are..

I'm going to rephrase what I said earlier.

Asuna being a component to Kirito is not the problem.
Asuna MERELY being a component to Kirito and nothing else is the problem.

Hence, why I brought up the Bechdel test. The point is to show that girls have more on their minds than just men.

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I am not sure if your examples are intentional or not, but there have been cute sentient space ships (Ezekiel from Osadai) and androids (da capo 1 and 2) in some stories like animes or VN's.
That's exactly my point.

It's acceptable for an android to not have any aspirations and lives of their own, because well.. they are androids.
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Old 2012-10-24, 18:57   Link #116
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That's exactly my point.

It's acceptable for an android to not have any aspirations and lives of their own, because well.. they are androids.
Androids are most likely used in romance stories for their complete obliviousness of how normal people react in daily situations though. Not that they are considered as "objects" in such stories.
I don't think Asuna can be labelled as an "object", just because she does not have that much character in your opinion.
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Old 2012-10-24, 19:39   Link #117
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Take look on this, which one you rather choose?
I think you present a false dichotomy. How about:

C) 16-year-old girl who uses her smarts to figure out how to save her loved ones and her leadership skills to mobilize the people and resources she needs to do so.

The female protagonist of Summer Wars comes close to this, though she does have to rely on the boy's hacking skills, too. Kou Shurrei in Saiunkoku Monogatari is an even better example since she mobilizes everyone herself rather than relying on an heroic romantic interest.

Meganekko characters, while usually not the leads, often play "smart girl" roles in action stories, like Murakami Ginko does in Kurenai. There is no reason why they cannot be category (C) leads instead. Look at Rin in Mnemosyne and Yomiko Readman in Read or Die for examples.

One of my favorite "action girl" characters is Nina Fortner of Monster. She is remarkably brave throughout the story and continues to press forward despite the horrible things her investigations uncover. She's smart and beautiful yet only appears as a sexual object in the "Be My Baby" episode when she explicitly chooses to exploit her sexuality to further her ends.



While that is a lovely dress, I'm not sure anything can top Julia's gown in Blood+:
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I smile every time I look at David's face in this scene. Julia tries so hard, too.
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Old 2012-10-24, 20:07   Link #118
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And if they want to be a wife/mother. They can adopt a child with their female love interest nowadays. In fact the action girl industry is thinking of as many ideas to minimalize male presence.
You are talking about Nanoha and Fate. Haha!! It IS otaku pandering no matter how you slice it. Tsuzuki is still writing the franchise with those otakus breathing over his neck. He, and the franchise, ARE weighted down by the inability to move past NanoFate. Vivio is thrown in to keep them "pure", their portrayal as a family with two mommies feels dishonest and striking me as no more than pandering. Sarah Connor's portrayal in the series Sarah Connor's Chronicles felt more "real", she acknowledge her failings, her doubts, she knows her son is going through his own adolescence crisis. But in the end, she focuses on her own agenda, live long enough to see her son ready,and make sure he acquires the skills and character needed to be the humanity's savior.

Portrayals of women like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley are progressist, Nano and Fate are not.


Edit: ask yourself that question: how many fans are going to stay fans if any of the two girls are paired with a man, and why ships with Chrono and Yuuno are sunk and why the both boys fades in the background. Yuuno DOESN'T even appear in the lastest spinoff for heck's sake. So answer honestly. Why?

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Old 2012-10-24, 21:40   Link #119
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The same reason Arf is no longer an active character?
If you don't know what to do with a character, you either kill them off, have them retire, or let them fade into obscurity.

I get the feeling the author just wants Nanoha to freaking retire and open a cakeshop somewhere in Midchilda.

But he's afraid to do that.
It's as you said, they seem to have trouble moving past Nanoha, and by extension, the old cast. (Why do we even need Hayate?)

It's like Dragon's ball Goku and Gohan again. Goku will never be replaced.

So then, why should Nanoha retire?

Well, it's not just because she has passed the typical age of a magical girl. Xd

In regards to this thread, I think Nanoha's problem is the opposite of what I said earlier.
She's the opposite of not having her own life.
She has friends. She has a career. She has students who have become adult professionals themselves.
And now she's a mother. She has a goddamn fulfilling life.
She's a complete product, and thus she has very little room left for growth.

..
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Old 2012-10-24, 23:58   Link #120
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Well, actually, I'd say yes -- but I'm sure some would claim they are disqualified due to technicalities. In truth, the story could not have progressed as shown without the decisions she made on her own, at least being as aware as can be reasonably expected of the consequences. But, by the same token, as you say, they have spent the whole story largely forced by their circumstances, so indeed neither of them have had much room to make broad decisions. (Even the current actions don't really count as "decisions"; they're just consequences and they essentially have no choice.) This is what I mean by everyone being constrained by the story. If the story opens up, I think all the characters will have more room for growth.
A decision that doesn't have serious consequences doesn't carry any narrative weight, and so in turn, aren't particularly meaningful. They tend to be foregone conclusion where the purpose is just to move a character from Point A to Point B. This is how Sword Art Online feels - all the action is just meant to move from one setpiece to another one, with very little input from the characters.

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This is a good point. I suppose the key, as you alluded to, is that the plot is fundamentally driven by the decisions the characters make, and not just the way the story propels them.
More that the plot can be driven by the characters - really this is the fundamental difference between a character-driven story and a plot-driven story. Either method is fine as a storytelling tool, but the former is a lot more empowering by its very nature.

In the case of Sword Art Online, it's not too difficult to see places where that character-driven storytelling could have been inserted. The consequence would have been a lot less "heroic main character saves the day" as a result, but it would have made for better characterization.

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You are talking about Nanoha and Fate. Haha!! It IS otaku pandering no matter how you slice it. Tsuzuki is still writing the franchise with those otakus breathing over his neck. He, and the franchise, ARE weighted down by the inability to move past NanoFate.
Do the creators of Nanoha have the guts to show them kissing yet? Or is the franchise still one of the best examples of yuri-solely-for-the-purpose-of-innuendo?

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Edit: ask yourself that question: how many fans are going to stay fans if any of the two girls are paired with a man, and why ships with Chrono and Yuuno are sunk and why the both boys fades in the background. Yuuno DOESN'T even appear in the lastest spinoff for heck's sake. So answer honestly. Why?
To be fair, Chrono and Yuuno are boring characters, so the less seen of them the better.
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