Here it is! The volume that started it all, the volume that broke the internet for a couple of months and started a new genre in anime, Video game fantasy! Lets jump right in…
I first started reading this series about a year or so ago. Now that I have a blog, I’m revisiting the earlier volumes and reviewing them before I continue with the story. Sword art online was written by Reki Kawahara with illustrations by abec. There are 6 volumes translated into English with the 7th coming out April 19th. There are 15 out in japan currently.
I’m sure everyone has at least heard of this series. The anime got a lot of mixed reactions, mostly on the negative side. For me, I found the anime to be alright, there were sequences that should have been different or flat out just taken out (that goes for the light novel too). Like any light novel, it goes more into detail about the story than its anime adaptation. This is understandable as there are parts of this story that would be rather difficult to transfer over into an anime. I think this is why the anime has so much hate attached to it.
The story starts out with Kirito (Male MC) already in game, Sword Art Online. He had the opportunity to be one of the select few beta testers for the game. You learn early on that he is a predominately solo player. In an MMORPG? Really? For anyone who plays MMORPG’s knows how difficult if not impossible it is to be a solo player in them.
The story starts with Kirito slaying boars with Klein, a party member. Since Kirito was a beta tester and this guy is a total noob, Kirito decides to teach him a little on how to play the game and some quick tips. After this Klein realizes he ordered a pizza in real life and goes to log out. This is when they discover that there is no log out button in the heads up menu. Not long after they discover this, they are teleported to the main square of the level they are on, along with the rest of the 10,000 players playing the game.
This is when the creator of the game Akihiko Kayaba tells all the players the severity of the game. There is no log out button, therefore no one can log out of the game until the 100 floors of Aincrad, the world of Sword Art Online, is conquered. Kayaba also goes and reverts everyone’s game characters to mirror their real life image. This causes some female characters to revert to male characters, which is to be expected.
Once Kayaba is finished talking, panic breaks out in the main square. Kirito uses this as an opportunity to head to a knew town that has monsters to slay and earn exp and other goods. He offers Klein to come with. Klein politely refuses because his IRL friends are still in the square waiting for him. This affects Kirito to the point that he essentially shuts himself away from any other character for quite some time. A month passes and two thousand people are already dead. Another month passes by and none of the players are any closer to beating the level one boss. The players decide to hold a meeting for players to attend. At this meeting, the players come up with a strategy to defeat this level boss.
This is where our female MC is first introduced. Asuna, not for very long and without any notable dialogue. She is just chillin shyly at the back of the meeting with a hoodie on a little ways away from Kirito. During the meeting, new players are irate at the beta testers for not helping the other players as much as the newer players think they should have, causing death to the newer players. This is where the term “beater” comes in, a mash of the words beta and tester combined to create beater. This is considered an insult, that beaters are the scum who only look out for themselves and don’t care if the less experienced players die or not.
Once the meeting is over, a plan and strategy is made to defeat the boss of level one. Swiftly they all move out to accomplish their goal of beating this god forsaken terror of a game. This is where the first battle begins! Kirito decides to help out and listen to what he is told to do. But things go sour, the boss of level one is different, he has different moves and movement patterns than when in the beta. Throwing off the initial plan. Once this happens things are thrown into complete chaos. This is where the faithful hero steps in and guides the way to victory, but not without some casualties. Upon winning the boss battle, those who remained that weren’t beta testers once again began complaining about beaters and that the beaters let those men die. This pushes Kirito to the edge and delivers a very harsh speech about the situation. Upon giving this speech, everyone turned their attention to hating Kirito and not the beta testers. Kirito thus marches his way to the second level of Aincrad.
Volume 1 follows the main adventure to reach the top of Aincrad. As you progress through the novel, you learn a little about Kirito’s personality and why he isolates himself from others. This provides a little more information about Kirito, making him a little more enjoyable to read about. This volume is very fast paced. Where Volume 2 covers all the side plots like Sacchi and the rest of the harem cast. This volume is basically the hunt to beat Aincrad and reach level 100 and the romantic plot between Kirito and Asuna. There are a lot of time skips along with things that are inferred but can be missed sometimes.
I know there is a lot of hate for this story and the anime but I really don’t think it is that bad of a story. The writing is solid, the illustrations are awesome, even with the time skips you still can understand the story. This novel is a real page turner. I loved it and I will continue to support this story. What I like about this story is that a lot of people would love this like Kirito does. Maybe not the whole you die in game you die in real life part but the whole being trapped in a video game. People can have depressing lives, much like Kirito. When you feel isolated from society and the world as a whole, regardless of whether or not you put yourself there, you want to escape from this world into a new one. For many in this story, it was a release from not having to endure the pain that was reality and real life.
Why else would people start giving up on beating the higher levels. People become accustomed to their environment and don’t want to leave. Although Kirito and Asuna felt this way, Kiritos’s passion to beat the game far outweighed the desire to stay in the game. With all that I give volume one of Sword Art Online a 8 out of 10. It was very enjoyable but as a novel goes, it felt incomplete in certain areas.
I hope you enjoyed! Have a wonderful day!