Sword Art Online Alicization: The best SAO ever? Or simply Recency Bias?

How long does your memory last when it comes to anime? Every season there are new anime series to watch and to enjoy. And if anything there is more accessibility and more content to watch. This is great thing and it should be celebrated as more writers, artists, voice actors and all others in support of the industry get to bring their ideas to the table and lend some studios to go with risks when they decide to go with full animation. But as the industry evolves how long do we end up remembering anime. If the medium is marketed for children, teens and young adults primarily then how long should and does the average anime viewer watch before ending that phase? Answers will vary for each individual, my answer is that as long as there continues to be excellent exploration of the human condition and universal truth then it may be for a very long time.

That is the same reason why I love Shakespeare, which initially I didn’t trust me, and many other talented writers throughout the ages. Any writer can be your guide in your journey and exploration of what it means to be alive. The main point here is that how long is the average anime viewers memory of the anime medium itself?

To highlight this point recently Funimation declared Demon Slayer the anime of the Decade as voted by the fans. I can certainly say that I did love and enjoy Demon Slayer. Would I have given it my vote for anime of the decade? Certainly not. Tastes vary and I can think of others I would have put ahead of it, even if I can only choose from Funimation titles. This continues on to illustrate the point that recency bias can and does exist in anime, but this exists in sports and other industries as well. In basketball you can fairly ask: Is Michael Jordan really the greatest basketball player of all time, or has Lebron James surpassed him? I draw the comparison to say that anime taste definitely is effected by when you first started it. Did those who voted Demon Slayer as best anime of the decade really watch everything the decade had to offer? This is not meant to knock those who did vote for it, and those who truly believed it was the best anime of the decade.

As a fun fact I had a conversation with a friend regarding anime who has been watching since before the 2000’s. He has been a lifelong watcher as opposed to myself who only recently got into anime 6 years ago. As a point of contention, and perhaps even recency bias on my own part, we had discussed Evangelion. Evangelion has been acclaimed to be the greatest anime of all time. I of course disagreed with that premise. My friend asserted that Evangelion was in fact the greatest anime of all time. My friend also stated that there seemed to be a divide between the newer anime viewers, who like myself are reluctant to watch older anime, and himself who has been watching his entire life. The two of us have different taste in anime despite being close in age and upbringing.

Now to bring us back to the title and the premise for my thoughts, the new SAO Alicization. Having a dinner conversation with friends and peers in regards to the new SAO Alicization, some quoted that it was the best that SAO had to offer so far. I disagreed and still do. I find that the very first season of SAO was my favorite SAO. That of course is just my own opinion and taste. This isn’t to knock on those who thing Alicization is the best SAO ever. I can in fact even see the reasons why others would believe that to be the case.

The main point that I am getting at is that depending on your start point in anime, you can have very different thoughts about what makes an anime great or the best ever. Even if you are comparing an anime to itself there will be differing opinion on the best part or what struck home with you. We all have differing paths and roads that got us to this point, and no matter how you may feel regarding a certain series its OK if others disagree. Differing opinions makes it worth talking about to begin with.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Sword Art Online Alicization: The best SAO ever? Or simply Recency Bias?

  1. Recency bias is definitely a psychological thing that can happen to anyone regarding anything. But I don’t think people who are praising SAO Alicization as better than the first season were people that actually even liked the first season. The ones who say Alicization is better are probably among those that didn’t like the first season, and thus saw it fit to compare this and the old one. I personally absolutely loved the first season, for the same reasons as Karandi and more, and while Alicization is great, it doesn’t win over Season 1.

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    1. I absolutely loved the first season. While I do enjoy Alicization because of the amount of content produced and the high production quality, the first season had a special magic to it that made me care about it more than Alicization.

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  2. I probably have nostalgia bias. I liked the first cour of SAO but nothing since has managed to capture the same sense of excitement or adventure in that franchise. Likewise with anime, new shows are always trying to edge into my favourites but the favourites have a long history of being liked and also rose tinted glasses when I look back at them where as new anime have to really work to stop me being nit-picky. I do know that when I run best of the year polls on my blog, shows from the second half of the year always do better than the first half of the year regardless of quality. Largely because that is what is fresh in people’s minds.

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    1. Yea I probably enjoy the first cour of SAO more than I actually should. Its interesting how it can work both ways. I wish I knew more about psychology to better understand tbe effects of either a recency bias or nostalgia bias in our thought processes.

      Perhaps throwing in the Star Wars powder keg, you can see how different viewers and generations react to Star Wars. I have definately pretended like the newer movies don’t exist, while others love the new stuff. But why do we like the things we like? And how do we get attached? I would love to know.

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      1. I’m with you in pretending the newer movies don’t exist. The original trilogy is my Star Wars. But again, that’s nostalgia bias because honestly the new movies are no worse than the original when you really look at the characters and stories.

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    2. “I liked the first cour of SAO but nothing since has managed to capture the same sense of excitement or adventure in that franchise.”

      I agree with this so so much.

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