"This game is impossible to clear. It's just a matter of when, where and how you die." Kayaba Akihiko's death game has been up for one month. This incredibly difficult VRMMO has already claimed 2000 victims. It's the day of the 1st floor boss strategy meeting. The solo player Kirito, who's decided to only strengthen himself, meets a rare female player on the current front lines, while heading to the meeting around noon. Fighting alone against the strong monsters, she was like a meteor cutting the night sky.
A compilation of Aria in the Starless Night, where Kirito becomes known as the Black Swordsman, the events concerning the 2nd floor boss clearing, and Rondo of the Transient Blade, the sad tale of a young male blacksmith.
Sword Art Online: Progressive is an alternative version of the main SAO story. It attempts to cover all the events that happened in SAO in the order that it happened from the 1st floor all the way up to when they finally clear the game. Luckily, the book is also written in a way that allows you to jump in at any point.
The story in SAO: Progressive is exactly the same as the original. Kirito is one of 10,000 players trapped in a game called "Sword Art Online" and in order for the players to escape, they must go to the 100th floor and beat
the final boss. What differs from the original is that they cover most of the story events from each floor (currently up to floor 3). They show how Kirito obtains his Anneal Blade and how Kirito learns hand to hand combat skills. Each volume functions as a stand alone story as well. It is possible to start reading from book two and be able to understand most of the situation along with some character relationships.
The artwork in this novel is great. The characters are depicted in a way that makes them appear similar to the anime. The pull page art in each volume are well drawn with details in the background instead of just a character focused piece of art. It helps to bring the environment and atmosphere into focus as well as the character. The covers also show the characters that are going to be the main focus of each volume.
The best thing in Progressive is the character development. The original series was missing a lot of this because it had skipped a lot of events. We get numerous mentions of "noodle incidents" like the time that the Army was nearly wiped out by the 25th floor boss or the fact that Kirito obtained his weapon for the first boss from a quest. The problem is that we never saw this and just have to assume it happened. With Progressive though, we see every major event ever discussed from the moment Kirito entered the game to when he meets Asuna to the moment Asuna begins to fall in love with Kirito. This helps to fill a lot of unknowns about the characters. What harms the series a little is the fact that the point of view jumps between Kirito and Asuna at various points and it is not always consistent.
If you are a fan of SAO, you should definitely give Progressive a try. It greatly expands on the original and each volume showcases some issues with either the Nervgear or the new SAO world. Some of these also foreshadow problems that arise later on in the main SAO series. The problem is that you have to have read the original SAO in order to get these references. The anime largely cut these scenes out or put them out of context and it makes it difficult to understand without having read the book.
If you are a fan of SAO, you should definitely give Progressive a try. If you have not read SAO before, Progressive is also a good place to start and eliminates the problems that arise from events being out of order when you start a story near the climax. On top of that, each volume actually works fairly well as a stand alone story despite being part of a larger series. It is still easy to understand because it follows standard storytelling elements with an exposition and introduction to the current situation.
Mode Note: This review was written for the first volume, Sword Art Online: Hoshinaki Yoru no Aria.
Quite surprising no one has reviewed this novel yet.
It's surprising because the story takes place one month after the SAO incident, tells you about the premature condition of the main characters in SAO.
Well, i have to say the story has a quite surprising turn, Kawahara Reki has a very brave decision to tell us the condition one month after the SAO incident.
The surprising part is, level 1 hasn't been cleared.
Those who have read the main story must receive a quite strong shock in their brain.
The story setting gave a
very special effect for the characters. You will see what makes Asuna become 'Asuna the Flash', Kirito to be 'Kirito the beater', and the some other characters.
Overall as a fans i did quite enjoy this novel, but that's because i have read the first two volume of the main story, and suggest you to read it as well before you read this one if you want to know what makes me write this review.
I was browsing along my local bookstore and was surprised to find this on the shelves. I wasn't expecting a new Sword Art Online book in a few months time and having the number "001" on the side seemed to be going against the numbering of the original novel series. You will be surprised as I was to find out that this is a reboot. Not just any reboot, but a reboot that is going to focus upon the game of "Sword Art Online" from floor one to seventy-five, going at a pace of two floors per novel. This is the novel series that many
fans, haters, and the author have and wanted to read.
Now that the entire game of "Sword Art Online" isn't restricted to a single light novel (not counting the side stories of the second light novel) the story isn't restricted to having time skips or quick pacing throughout the book like its predecessor. This has enabled the story to progress without fear of having limit on the length of the book. This has also provided us with a view of the game as its own world, with bosses, towns, npcs, side-quests, and the subsequent struggles of being on the front lines with a rag tag team of low level adventurers attempting to complete the game. The first book only contains the first and second floors of the game, but just those two floors gives the world so much life that the original novel series pales in comparison. This novel also takes time in explaining the workings of the game systems like, weapon upgrades, skilling, fighting abilities, and the inner workings of different items.
Illustration is done by the same artist (abec) as in the previous "Sword Art Online" novels and I believe he has really outdone himself with the art on this new series. Just the art cover and its colors left me wetting my appetite with each time I looked at the novel cover. You don't know how many times I have stared at this cover art when it was out on a shelf staring straight at me. I personally see it as his best cover art of any of his Sword Art Online illustrations.
While the previous "Sword Art Online" novel had to keep its focus upon the main characters with minimal spotlight on the side characters, I can happily say that this new series greatly fleshes out its side characters as much as the main characters and I am hopeful that this will stay constant throughout the "Progressive" series. This novel brings to light characters and experiences that weren't previously as well known, like: Argo the Rat, the beginning friendships of Agil and Kirito, the budding relationship of Kirito and Asuna, the abuse of scamming, and even the struggle of keeping the horrors of PVP out of this world. This novel allows for this new world to become populated by the characters of not just Asuna and Kirito, but by every side character that you came across in the previous novel series (minus Lisbeth and Silica, but they are waaayyy down the timeline), and the book does become richer because of this fleshing out of old and new side characters.
Though this series will only be released two floors per book, one book per year, it will possibly be a great ride just based upon this first book in the new "Progressive" series. If going through the entire fleshed out game of "Sword Art Online" one floor at a time with Kirito, Asuna, and company sounds like an interesting prospect to you, then I highly recommend this novel series.
Hmmm... Maybe I should hold off this review for 37 years until it finishes.
Note: This review is based off the first novel, "Sword Art Online: Progressive 001", and not any of the novels afterwards. I will probably get those books when they do release, but having a release schedule of 1 book per year is going to be hard to review the series as a whole.
Sword Art Online gets a lot of hate these days. I enjoy the franchise despite its obvious flaws. I don't disagree with people who complain about those flaws, I just personally feel that the good outweighs the bad. That being said, Sword Art Online: Progressive is a different beast altogether. All of the flaws of the original story are tossed out the window in what is essentially a reboot - I think some people view this as a "filling in the blanks" approach to the original series, but there's enough retconning going on that I think you really have to view this is a blank
I feel like we've really had a chance to watch the author grow and learn from his previous mistakes. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Progressive reboot and the Alicization arc hit around the same time, and that they both deftly deal with a lot of the issues people had with the original series. I think it's fair to say that the author has grown and improved as a writer, and the culmination of that evolution is visible in this story.
Story - 10/10:
The primary complaint people have about the SAO anime is that it blows through the Aincrad arc so fast. I know I felt disappointed at how quickly Kirito et al progressed through 75 floors worth of content. Progressive corrects this major failing, and it's a wonderful ride to take.
The level of detail that's paid to establishing the setting and the floor and things like guild dynamics and how NPCs have evolved, etc, etc. is quite impressive. The plot is suitably paced, conflicts are well developed, and character dynamics progress nicely. It's really a thrill to see the minutia of how these people - trapped in a virtual world - live on a day to day basis. It's nice to see the emphasis that's placed on quests and levelling and improving gear - all of the things that people familiar with MMOs are comfortable with.
The story really couldn't be a bigger contrast to the original series in its pacing. In the afterword, the author readily admits the retconning, and that in order for the story to take place he has to throw Kirito and Asuna together much earlier on - SAO is really the story of Kirito and Asuna more than anything else, so he was forced to bring them together much earlier than the original. It works wonderfully.
Art - 8/10:
I guess 'Art' is a criteria mostly for manga. I don't think the odd illustration in a light novel really adds that much to the story, but it is nice to see a picture here or there. The art is well done.
Character - 9/10:
The character development is another big complaint people have about the original series, with Kirito being far too overpowered, and the relationship between he and Asuna coming off feeling a bit rushed. Those worries fade away with Progressive, as the slower pace of the plot allows us to really see how these people are handling being thrust into the death game.
We get to see firsthand how Kirito and Asuna progress, taking opportunities to level, but they never feel too overpowered compared to the others, only ever maintaining a level or two advantage. More importantly, we get a much better feel for their emotional states and their determination as they push through the floor and deal with obstacles. It really feels like decisions and actions have an impact on their characters, and that they progress in meaningful ways, as opposed to the more rushed and/or superficial development of the original series.
The secondary characters also get a lot more fleshing out, naturally. It's interesting to see how people approach the game in different ways, both good and bad. And it feels like the story is inhabited by truly three-dimensional characters. It's also intriguing to see how the NPCs have evolved beyond simple programmed responses to take an active role in the narrative.
Enjoyment - 10/10:
Like I said, I was already a fan of SAO, but objective enough to acknowledge its problems (and they weren't always few). So it's probably no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed reading a reboot of the story that minimizes those problems and really accentuates the good things that already existed, and builds new dimensions into the world. I really can't wait to see where it goes from here, and I'm genuinely concerned that we'll never really see a full story play out (at one book a year, it would take another 50 years or so to see all the floors).
Overall - 10/10:
I'm not a hard grader. I give a lot of 8s and 9s out to things that connect with me. But I try to limit the 10s for shows/books/manga that I feel truly deserve them. As somebody who has read a lot of books in his life, and who writes books on the side, I honestly feel like these stories deserve a 10. They're not perfect, but nothing is perfect. The books are a world of difference from the original Aincrad stories, and it's just unfortunate that this couldn't have been everyone's first encounter with SAO - I think the general public opinion of SAO would be dramatically different if these books had come out first.
I really feel that the author should be applauded for even attempting this, and I'm really impressed at how well he's grown in his story-telling from the early SAO volumes. The writing is really like night and day. It's also worth noting that these books are a bit longer than your average light novel, which is nice.