Harry Potter and the Methods Of Rationality can perhaps be considered the first piece of Rational fan-fiction to gain mass popularity. Rational fiction is a variant of the traditional mary sue type fan-fic where instead of the setting moulding itself to fit the character and ensure his/her success, the character gains increased intelligence and scientific knowledge allowing them to predict and even counteract the course of the plot. HPMOR as its traditionally shortens is both incredibly popular and divisive with critics pointing to its bloat, ridiculous time-frame and alien behaviour as flaws while proponents arguing for its world building and expression

Sword Art Online Abridged or SAO:A as its commonly shortened is as you would expect a parody of the original Sword Art Online, An anime that can be accurately summed up as “Good Premise, Horrible Execution”. The premise is that a diabolical game developed has trapped 10,000 people inside a VR Demo(He claims to have forgotten his reason for doing so in the ending). SAO:A is attempts to salvage this premise using a mixture of explaining WTF is going on, editing out the filler and giving its main character real personality albeit one of “of the most unbearable assshole I have ever met” in the words of the first character interacting with him.

Outside of existing in the general sphere of “Nerd”(A category I would argue has long outlived its usefulness as should be discarded but that’s an argument for another time)Media, they might seem to have nothing do with each other but look deeper we can find some interesting parallels. A common thread found in criticism of HUMOR is that the Main character Harry(His Last name has been lengthened in the fanfic to the point that I’m just going to refer to him on a first name basis) is an egotistical narcissistic douche who uses his limited scientific knowledge to fuel an unjustified superiority complex and is never called out on his bullshit. SAO:A on the other hand explicitly gives its main characters the listed qualities and has its central arc be about the root causes of such an attitude and his corresponding shift away from them.

The trajectory of both this character over are eerily similar and parallels can be drawn, both are nerdy teenage social outcasts that posses extreme talent which they use to fuel a superiority complex. They both possess a misanthropic attitude towards others showing great resentment towards those that they perceive to be less intelligent than them him and they seek out friendships with other character possessing similar superiority complexes no matter their morality with one of Kirito few initial friends being Tiffany a scammer who exploits the nativity of new players to scam them of their money while Harry’s first wizarding ally is an aristocratic pre-teen who makes rape threats against those who defame him.

Anime is an inherently explorative medium meaning that it forces us to see a character through the lenses of somebody else while Literature is a descriptive medium forcing us to view a situation through somebody’s eyes. HPMOR is shown through the eyes of Harry and being a philosophical thesis mixed into a novel has its character behave in nonsensical ways to push the author’s pet ideology(Nothing wrong with adding philosophy to media, hell most classical literature is classical because of that fact but it does get in the way of sensible story telling). “Machiavellian Schemers” like Dumbledore and Voldemort under a paper-thin disguise entangle “him in their web of lies”, SAO:A, however, has to give us the reason behind our character becoming involved in the events that unfold often mocking the stranger aspects of the original as shown by the original quote. We see Kirito being clearly manipulated by others rather than having to infer it from isolated events hidden among a dozen chapters of bloat. The shift in this perspective is key reason that SAO:A can be viewed as a deconstruction of the rational genre as it shows us just how the character archetypes would fare outside their purpose built worlds.

Secondary characters are also parallel and deconstructed, Asuna who shift into the main character towards the end of SAO:A is a more functional sociopath who hides her inner personality with an outwardly friendly charm. She is initially presented like Hermione Granger in HPMOR as a genius who lacks knowledge of how things really work, Hermione lacks knowledge of the real world as is overly book smart while Asuna poses natural instinct for the game. Their arcs progress in a similar pattern as both characters are infuriated with the main character who comes to realize their brilliance and worthiness. Harry comes to see Hermione as representative of hope and optimism given her uncompromising stand as he is manipulated by Voldemort with a wig. Asuna takes a similar place in Kiriots life through manipulation deconstructing the idea of an intelligent female love interest for our protagonist to charm using his intellect

Aincrad and Hogwarts are urban fantasy settings ie setting with fantastical elements located in a world very similar to our own. Hogwarts in HPMOR is a secret society HQ masquerading as a school filled with cunning intrigue between Dumbledore and Voldemort wearing a nanometer-thin disguise and primary conflicts arise from there game of cat and mouse as they attempt to convert students to their own cause. Aincrad is a buggy game world created by a sleep-deprived maniac who think the government is run by “Flubar, King of the Mole People” who traps 10,000 people in the game to avoid getting bad reviews due to his game being a bug-ridden mess. The idea that conflict springs out of pure stupidity and hubris of a singular individual is quite antithetical to the central theme of HPMOR which is that “Great People” must move society forwards by whatever means possible so that they may bring upon  techno-rapture to end all suffering

In summary, Sword Art Online Abridged may have set out to parody and fix Sword art online but in the processes most likely without even intending it, Something Witty Entertainment has managed to create the perfect deconstruction of so-called Rational Fiction by exposing how the characters act outside the confines of a world tailored towards their every quirk. This essay might seem like the fever dream of somebody who is sick and tired of writing essays about “A Doll’s House” and overanalyzing every single plot element but I hope you at least see the outline of my argument here.

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