Sometimes there is a lingering feeling within each of us. A slight uneasiness, a spark of inspiration. You may call it a dream or a meaning. Maybe use it to justify your existence. Then again it could be a longing for an emotion. Distant and mysterious we can only walk towards it step by step.
All his life Akihiko Kayaba had this one feeling that made him create Aincrad, the floating castle. For some it might look like a large pile of iron. For others it is an entire world encapsulated beyond human understanding.
Hundred layers that are piled up on each other. Hundred worlds where each is large enough to be a place for living. Forests that prosper with diversity. Mountains higher than your sight can reach. Fascination and danger. Was it his intention or did he just long for it?
When I began developing the Full-Dive Environment System – No, long before that, I lived longing for nothing but to create that castle – a world that surpasses the laws and boundaries of reality.Akihiko Kayaba
Kayaba’s image is quite plain and not very original. He wears a standard lab coat. On top a necktie, gray pants. The hair short and a metallic gaze. The generic depiction of a scientist. Still there is another side to him that made him create what he desired.
Aincrad should have been a world that is placed above reality. An alternative reality. Maybe a better one in his opinion? Or just another reality that is as fascinating as the real one.
It can be assumed that curiosity played a large role. The creation of an entire reality that is living on its own. Something that is partly made by him and still has its own consciousness. Is this what it is like to be a god?
Maybe Akihiko Kayaba wanted to feel like this at some point. But it surely would have been boring to him. With the castle there also was a story that he wore within himself.
The aspiration of young people that want to reach the top of the castle. The desire to escape reality and explore an entirely new world.
Although it might seem like an evil plot at first, Akihiko Kayaba’s intention was not to trap the players in order to create a death game. Did he fear that others would stop to like his world and leave it forever? Maybe he wanted to force them to let go of reality and enjoy this new one to the fullest.
From the beginning he was on the side of the player. Although his identity was hidden, Kayaba supported as Heathcliff, the strongest player known at this point. He also founded one of the most powerful guilds in the game. Still he tried to stay out of general affairs and let the actual players advance by themselves.
Originally Kayaba had planned to reveal his true identity at the 95th floor of Aincrad. Only to become the final boss at the last floor. It is unclear why he planned it like this. Maybe because he wished to become a part of the game’s end. Being able to let the players move on without having any regrets.
It is certain that Aincrad and the game meant everything to him. And within that it also provided some kind of freedom to him. Freedom he never knew before.
Becoming the development director of a game like Sword Art Online around his twenties, Kayaba was definitely a prodigy on his field. Unlike others he already learned much more complex things in his youth. Being special he silently might have yearned for what others experienced around him. It is also possible that he tried to fill loneliness or missing admiration by emerging himself into a new world.
In the end what let him move on let him become numb. Losing himself, his identity was finally revealed by Kirito. But it also must have helped him in a way.
On a closer look it seems that his motives stemmed from something hidden. Negative emotions or a past experience that shaped what seemed to be a dream to him. He must have been fully aware because he planned his own end from the start. To disintegrate together with the game.
His story can be described as a classical melancholy. Although he was a genius, Kayaba gave in to the sadness he wore within himself. There was certainly a point in his life when the creation of the game brought him much happiness. But as time was passing the drive of his own self-destruction continued to grow.
He did not reflect on the actual consequences, knowing that his actions were wrong. Planning his own end, he must have wanted to liberate the world of his unbearable actions and to free himself.
It is likely that he felt the weight of the world pushing him down, since he does not seem like a typical psychopath. It is unclear if Kirito and Asuna gave him a new hope. To look at the world from a different point of view. Still it was already to late to help him. The only thing he could do in the end was to pass on the “World Seed”. So that others could be inspired by the dream he never was able to fulfill.
[Image Copyright: A-1 Pictures, US Licensee: Aniplex of America]
Also take a look at my comment on Rie and Taeko from Muhyo & Roji.