First of all, You should probably watch the anime or read the light novels before reading these. This touches on most of the plot points, but it skips many of the more serious situations where it is difficult to put in a joke (much of this manga is basically a way for Reki Kawahara to play around with and make fun of his own story and characters). So, I will restate this. DO NOT READ THIS BEFORE WATCHING THE ANIME OR READING ANOTHER FORM OF SAO. also know that there was at least one part that I would not have understood if I hadn't read
the light novels (the novels are not that different from the anime, but the anime does leave a couple things out).
Now that I have gotten that over with, let me get to the actual review. I'd say this was a pretty cute version of the SAO story, and it included some new ideas and characters that I hadn't seen before. Like I said before, though, This was basically playing around with the old story, so you won't see any of the serious parts, unless it is made into a joke. For that reason, I prefer the original story over this, but this is still worth a read.
The art was simpler than that of the anime (I have yet to read any other SAO manga, so I can't compare it to that), but it was drawn in a cute way. Many of the jokes were funny, but some of them were just stupid funny, if you know what I mean: face-palming, and eye-rolling type jokes, especially earlier on.
The one thing, though, that I was really angry about in the beginning was the portrayal of Asuna. One of my favorite things about Asuna in the anime was that she was such a strong character. She had her cute moments (thinking about Kirito), and times she was scared (afraid of ghosts), but you also knew that she was someone who would stand her ground, face enemies head on, and protect her friends (especially Kirito) no matter the cost (and also someone who can be quite scary at times, especially when she wants something or is angry at someone). This is an image we got from her from early on in the anime. It was not until later that we got to see the cute sides of her, and the Asuna who was willing to let Kirito step in on her behalf (though she still kept that strength). Take that strength away from her, and you just have another typical anime girl who has talks big and yet has no strength; who is always relying on a big strong man to get her out of trouble. UNFORTUNATELY, in this manga, especially earlier on, in the first few chapters, all we see of Asuna IS that weak-willed girl who needs help from others, and who is a scaredy-cat. Luckily, we do get to see that stronger, scarier version of Asuna later on, a few times, though still not as often as would have liked. If this hadn't changed, I would likely have given this manga an even lower score. As it is, I still gave it a pretty average score.