A rape scene in Sword Art Online: Alicization causes upheaval among sensitive viewers, meanwhile its censorship in the West upsets many others.
Sword Art Online is a multimedia franchise that began as a series of novels by Reki Kawahara about people trapped in a virtual reality game having to win their way back out. It has since spawned manga, video game, and anime adaptations. The latest anime series Sword Art Online: Alicization covers the fourth main arc of the series spanning from the ninth to twentieth volume of the series. It has garnered itself a lot of unwanted attention due to portrayal of rape, and then upset even more people by providing a censored version of said scene to the Western audience.
The events of the scene take place in the Sword Mastery Academy, where two girls visit nobles of higher rank to complain about how they mistreat their protégés. The nobles upset by such accusations abuse the law to have their way with the two girls. A friend of the girls comes in to check on them and is forced to watch under the threat that attempting to stop the nobles will make him an outlaw. Later on, the attempt is thwarted by the friend’s determination and a sudden appearance of the protagonist.
The roughly minute-long scene showcases one of the nobles undressing one of their victims and licking her knee, stomach, and cheek. This scene proved to be too much for some fans, who expressed surprise and disgust in response, with many claiming that rape is needless as a narrative device and oversteps the bounds. Some commenting have also wished harm upon the series’ author, Reki Kawahara.
Perhaps surprisingly, Reki Kawahara himself has tweeted an apology to the seiyuu of the nearly raped characters for them having to voice the scene. It might be important to notice that this is not the first time rape appeared in Sword Art Online. In the second arc of the series Sugou Nobuyuki attempts to rape the protagonist’s bride, and in the third arc the secondary protagonist Sinon finds herself in a similar situation, though perhaps this scene has gone the furthest of them all.
The dismay with the scene had a polarizing effect of disgusting both the lighthearted fans of the show, as well as the more tolerant viewers, when it surfaced that the Western version of the episode was censored. The parts of the scene portraying licking were removed, along with one scene of a girl being struck, and another showcasing a girl’s bra.
A twitter user @MilesExpress999, who works at Crunchyroll, has preemptively informed fans that their service doesn’t alert provided footage and the changes likely stem from the publisher Aniplex, who is owned by Sony.
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