This is basically the main reason I have a problem with Sword Art Online: It’s a power-tripping fantasy that betray the reality of a form of escapism: the MMORPG. When you escape the escape it isn’t just meta, it’s just sad. For reference, this season’s Log Horizon plays the game by the rules. That is proper escapism where the Accountant can play her real-life class in this fantasy environment to her advantage, or the Post-doc raid leader can do it like the best of them (disclosure: My long-time WoW raid leader was also a Phd student that turned into a post-doc and then got a real job so he can’t play much anymore). Log Horizon deals with the human elements in a MMORPG; Sword Art Online deals with the human elements in a loser and it works well because he is in a MMORPG. Well, I guess that can be pretty appealing too.
Speaking of which, Outbreak Company is along the lines of Yet Another Light Novel about the really hardcore otaku mindset. Instead being stuck in a MMORPG he is stuck in an actual fantasy world of sword, magic, half-elves and moe dwarf children. OBC’s form of escapism is a little more honest in that he simply wants to live his otaku world in this new world, and the magic of fiction gives him the ability to do so in the form of an excellent Soft Power dig. So instead of fighting monsters or whatever they do in SAO, the protagonists in OBC instead educate children on anime, manga, and video games, usually in the form of either playing/reading/watching them, or talking about these things. This is right up my tiny crack of an alley, but its general appeal has more to do with the way it addresses the physical and emotional needs of the otaku by the way of traditional interpersonal characterization, accessible humor, and, well, cute girls. In other words, put yourself in his shoes, I’m sure you can do a better job; it invites you to do as much.
So to me, both stories derive a lot of entertainment value as self-inserts, although they may not be pure Mary Sue archetypes. Let’s do this Baka-Raptor style.
Just to be fair, this contest is just based on the first 9 episodes of both series.
Round 1: Who is more badass?
Kirito > Shinichi always.
Round 2: Who is clear-headed and acts less like an emotard?
Shinichi easily. At gunpoint, would you rather play a MMORPG or run a culture export company in a hostile environment? I think most people would prefer the former, Shin’s got a harder life.
Round 3: Who has better taste in men/women/things?
Myucel ~= Asuna
Petralka’s ZR ~= most things in SAO
The tie breaker goes against the fact that More Deban is still a problem unsolved, because Lisbeth and Silica are great.
Round 4: meta factor
SAO is an anime about people stuck in a game.
OBC is an anime about an allegory of expanding otaku culture beyond Japan
SAO has fantasy magic and swordplay.
OBC has a lizardman blowing on a NES cartridge.
Round 5: Meme factor
Two years, folks, two years.
Round 6: Gender Equality
Do I even need to go to this? I mean OBC is by no means a progressive feminist take on things, but really?
As a note, a girl in OBC actually said “would you stop talking to my breasts?”
Round 7: Race Equality
Do fairies count? OTOH, racism is an actual issue in OBC. Granted it’s kind of a comedy copout between elves and dwarves. SAO stays clear of it (other than… beaters?) while OBC somewhat bungles it.
Round 8: Who would you rather be?
Honestly? I would rather be neither of them, because in some capacity I am both already–I play MMORPGs and I write about anime/manga/etc in a meta way, for public consumption. Maybe I would rather be Myucel, and learn Japanese or something. Being a socially-shamed, racially-oppressed, half-slave girl is kind of not a desirable thing however.
I guess this means someone should license OBC hard and fast.