Despite his death in the real world Sword Art Onlines main antagonist Kayaba Akihiko remained relevant throughout the series. Despite the little screen time Kayaba Akihiko had in the anime he remained a crucial focal point in the series. After all he was SAOs creator and the main developer behind NerveGear.Kayaba is one of the shows background characters responsible for setting the story in motion. However unlike the usual villain with a power hungry appetite or a nasty goal who gets busted by the storys hero Kayaba appears to be more complex.
What Was Kayabas Reason for Creating SAO?
A bugging question that resurfaces throughout the series is What was Kayabas reason for creating SAO? Surprisingly Kayaba explained to Kirito that he doesnt remember his reason for creating the VR world. However after Kirito clears the game he vaguely recalls a dream about an animated castle in a series and his desire to re create it. He achieves this goal by creating the SAO world.
He creates SAO a deathtrap that imprisons thousands of players that could only escape by clearing the game. Despite the number of in game deaths Kayaba showed no remorse. He was even amused at this fact because it made the game more realistic. Even though Kirito grieved at this revelation they both shared a similarity the love for computers. Despite Kayabas shortcomings Kirito respected him since he was more honorable and fairer compared to any villain he had encountered.Throughout the series Kayabas role changes depending on his preferences. Generally he rarely intervenes in any situation involving the characters in the series. However occasionally he plays a key and unusual role for specific reasons. For instance in Sword Art Onlines latest season he inhabits an AIs consciousness to rescue his former lover. This proved that Kirito wasnt a one minded villain and had his good sides.
Is Kayaba Really a Bad Person?
Despite the in game killings Akihiko never hindered any players progress. He even assisted them on their missions using the alibi Heathcliff. Kayabas aid to SAO players proved that he wanted to help them beat the game. The only reason behind his invincibility which is quite understandable was that he needed to survive till the players reached the 95th floor. Kayaba also stated that he planned on revealing his true identity on the 95th floor and moving on to become the 100th floors final boss where he would test successful players without using any of his admin privileges.Later on in the series he was also revealed to have certain standards. For instance he disallowed kids from using NerveGear revealing his unwillingness to harm children. Also he despised anything related to sexual harassment. This was seen when he gave any sexual harassment victim the choice of transporting the assaulter to the Blackgate Prison. He also prevents Sugou from assaulting Asuna later on in the series.
After Kirito clears SAO Kayaba transfers his consciousness to the game damaging his brain and resulting in the death of his real body. Despite the low chances of the transfer succeeding it works out since he reappears in Alfheim Online another VR game. Kayaba confesses that he awakened due to hearing Kiritos voice when he met Oberon. Again Sword Art Online reveals Kayaba acting out of goodwill. He encourages Kirito not to succumb to the systems battle reminding him of the pending duel he had with Kirito. In the process he acknowledges human will as being superior to that of machines. Kirito wins the battle against Oberon with the help of Kayaba saving Asuna in the process.
In the light novels Kayaba shows up again at the end of Alicization Arc where he puts his life on the life by transferring his consciousness into a robot to save the people on Ocean Turtle when it starts malfunctioning. Luckily he succeeded and Kirito believed he was dead. However he manages to extract his consciousness from the robot before it explodes. To some characters in Sword Art Online Kayaba will always be a villain but to the characters who really understand his intentions he is something more. However his good actions can barely atone for the lives that were lost in the death game so Akihiko remains the anti hero of the series.