Hey guys Meowth900 here. Oh dear I’m reviewing a sword art online thing. However I’m reviewing the books and not the anime adaptation. I also won’t be saying some of the faults in a really biased sounding way. This thing Sword Art Online Progressive is a reboot of the first arc in season 1. Also known as Aincrad. Kirito’s big adventure in the Aincrad dungeons floor by floor. This novel was really huge. It was nearly 400 pages in length. This is a lot of material guys. I’m not going to really break it down cause I’d be here all day. The basics are the book goes through Kirito’s adventures in the first 2 floors. He also has some friends along the way including Agil. I forget if they were mentioned in the anime but if they were please tell me in the comments.
Now I’m going to get the bad stuff out of the way. First, Asuna shows up in the first floor and Kirito’s saves her like he usually does. But it’s really different from the way they met in the anime or regular light novels. However it is nice that the creator had Asuna in this over some other girl that we’ll most likely never see otherwise unless it gets animated. Second, theres a weird bit of fan service in the book. Asuna’s bathing and there’s an illustration of her in the tub. Around in-between pages 60-70. So if you’re in that area make sure nobody else is around and can see it. I mean fan service is okay but sometimes can be not safe for work.
Part 1: Aria Of A Starless Night
Ok so to start off this story is about a year after the whole thing with Kayaba saying “If you die in the game you die for real” and Kirito leaves his buddy Klein. So now he’s in the Aincrad dungeon. At this point floor 1 begins with Kirito running into Asuna, and she kills a monster using her Linear attack. Or overkills a monster if you want to be specific. The monster is a Level 6 Ruin Kobold Trooper, a man beast looking monster. Kirito asks Asuna why she used that battle style because it was really risky. Asuna says it’s her first time playing an MMO game. Kirito then has a need to protect her cause y’know love at first sight and then he teaches her the important parts of SAO. Asuna’s really tired from the battle and she faints. Kirito then teleports her out of the dungeon and waits for her to wake up. Eventually Asuna wakes up and sees Kirito. They converse and Asuna tells Kirito that he made an “Unnecessary Effort” when saving her. The story keeps going from the first person perspective of Kirito and Asuna, so it got a little confusing for me at first, but I got use to it eventually. (This story is only for people thirteen and up so it’s not as bad as my college textbooks)
Asuna starts remembering how she got inside the SAO game. She snuck into her brother’s (Kouichiro Yuuki) room and “borrowed” his Nervegear. She went into the game and has been stuck ever since. Asuna starts feeling like she wants to die. She snaps out of the reminiscing because Kirito is telling her about the upcoming raid. (A raid is MMO slang for going into a dungeon, killing the boss, and collecting the treasure) The meeting takes place in a town named Tolbana. They part ways and Kirito heads out for Tolbana.
Kirito runs into a girl with whiskers painted on her face. Her name is Argo the Rat.
Argo the rat is the local SAO information broker. She was a Beta Tester like Kirito but offers info she learned from the Beta Test for a price. The price is she gets a piece of info from you that she can sell to other players. I think she has a crush on Kirito later on in the story but I’m not sure.
Argo informs Kirito that someone wants to buy his weapon (named the Anneal Blade) for 29,800 currency. Kirito refuses and I’m starting to wonder who is willing to sell almost 30 thousand for that weapon. Kirito wonders why this person is persistent too. It really looks cool though.
After Argo leaves Kirito goes back to the town to chill out. Asuna’s eating some bread that’s burnt because she doesn’t really care what she eats. Kirito shows up and puts some delicious cream on the bread. Asuna eats it and really likes the taste. I’m thinking it’s the cream that goes inside Oreo cookies. (The cream is not what you think I swear.)
The two of them go to the raid meeting and a blue haired knight class boy named Diavel announces where the boss’s dungeon is located (Boss means really big tough enemy monster by the way) and right after the big reveal a small little boy named Kibaou interrupts the cheering. He demands an apology from the beta testers. A tall man named Agil calms Kibaou down telling him that the Beta Testers shouldn’t be blamed for this. After this Diavel continues his speech about working together in the dungeon.
After clearing out the dungeon the big boss of the dungeon is called “Illfang The Kobold Lord” and he has respawning minions called “Ruin Kobold Sentinels”. After the raid group receives more information from “Argo’s Strategy Guide First Floor Edition” the raiding parties were made.
2 Heavy Armor Tank Parties
3 High-movement Attacker Parties
2 Long Weaponed Support Parties
Rear Guard Group E aka Kirito and Asuna
When the meeting disbands Kirito rents out a room in the first floor rest area so Asuna can use the bathing area.
While Asuna is bathing Argo visits Kirito. Kirito asks Argo who the person is. The person wanting his weapon that is. Kirito paid the fee and got the answer. It was Kibaou. Kibaou raised his asking price to 39,800 currency. After the request Argo went to go use the bathroom and ran into a naked Asuna. Kirito then got beat up.
December 4th the day of the boss raid everyone is ready to go fight. There’s a huge battle and Diavel dies which is unfortunate. I didn’t really get much of an attachment to him so I didn’t feel anything. Sword Art Online does that to me many many times. Kirito learns that Diavel was also a Beta Tester like he was. Kirito also learned that Diavel was actually the one that wanted to buy his Anneal Blade weapon just so Kirito wouldn’t be able to perform the Last Attack move on Illfang. Diavel wanted to do this so that way he could do the Last Attack and get all the bonuses and experience points, he was thinking Kirito also wanted those bonuses because he did the Last Attack in the beta test version of SAO. After Diavel explodes into blue fragments Kirito organizes a Last Attack on Illfang. With Asuna’s help he won and received the reward.
Everyone was happy and celebrating but someone had to be a party pooper. Diavel’s party member named Lind announced that Diavel died in battle. Everyone grew angry at Beta Testers. To counter this incoming anger Kirito announcs that he’s part of a group called “Beaters” a new term used in SAO meaning “A player who uses future knowledge in the SAO game from the beta version to complete dungeons”. Obviously Beaters combines the term Beta Tester and Cheater.
After showing off the reward item (named Coat of Midnight) to everyone else Kirito left them all behind to wallow in their misery. Only Asuna and Agil know of what really happened. Kirito leaves the first floor as the first “beater” in SAO history. Asuna follows Kirito and forwards him two messages. One from Agil and the other from Kibaou. After Asuna leaves Kirito receives another worded message from Argo. Argo heard the infamous speech and decides to compensate him by giving an offer of one time no-fee information. Kirito asks Argo about her whiskers and then gets to the second floor of Aincrad
Part 1 Thoughts: I liked how this part combined some humor from MMO gaming, and Asuna being a badass swordswoman. I remember some of these events from the anime but it felt really rushed out. The book really slowed them down and it helps. I give it 4 Anneal Blades out of 5
Intermission: The Reason For The Whiskers
Kirito gets to the second floor and sees Argo being chased by some creepy bad guys. Kirito follows them and discovers that these guys were ninjas that were part of a guild that was also a part of the Beta Test.
Kirito cornered them in an area outside the “Anti-Criminal Effect Coding Area” (aka a place where murder can be done and they won’t get in trouble) and these ninjas were forcing some important information out of Argo. Kirito stepped in and tried to convince them to stop with a nice conversation. One of the ninjas thought Kirito was another ninja. A monster attacked the ninjas and they ran off. These Ninja classes have high speed but they don’t have much power or defense so they can’t risk battling. Kirito asks Argo about the whiskers and Argo decides to instead let Kirito in on the hidden extra skill available on floor 2.
Argo leads Kirito to a hut far off into the mountains where an NPC lived. (NPC means Non Playable Character) and that NPC was looking for someone to do a quest. Kirito accepts the quest and is lead outside by the NPC. The NPC says he must break an indestructable rock with just his hands. The NPC paints whiskers on Kirito’s face and tells him that he cannot remove the whiskers until he breaks the rock. Kirito then realizes this is how Argo got her whiskers. Argo did this quest during the Beta Test Period and she has kept them ever since.
Kirito asks Argo if the whiskers makes him look cool. (To be honest Kirito look at Naruto. He doesn’t look cool at all) and then Argo just calls Kirito “Kiriemon” and laughs her ass off. Kiriemon is a combination of Kirito and Doraemon by the way. Kirito gets annoyed and goes back to the hut. Kirito secludes himself in the mountains for 3 days and eventually breaks the rock. Kirito obtained the second floor hidden extra skill known as Martial Arts.
Intermission Thoughts: It was fine. I wish we could have saw some more character interaction between Kirito and Argo but I guess most of it is going to be between Kirito and Asuna. I give it 2 indestructible rocks out of 5
Part 2: Rondo Of A Fragile Blade
Kirito is on the run from other players in SAO because he is now known as a Beater. Meanwhile Asuna is thinking about upgrading her rapier. Kirito gets to a town and hears a player complaining about his upgrade failing. Kirito runs into Asuna who tells him that she would like to upgrade her rapier. She said she needed some materials from 100 killed wasp monsters and Kirito decided to help her out.
They go to the meadows to find some wasp monsters. Asuna challenged Kirito to see who could kill 50 wasp monsters the fastest. Loser has to pay for dinner. Kirito accepts and they get to killing. (Oh grinding for weapon materials how I don’t miss you.) Asuna is getting a lot of critical hits. Kirito decides to use his martial arts skill to get some terrain back. In the end Kirito loses by one wasp monster. They go get dinner and Asuna orders a real expensive strawberry cake. Cause that’s some important info right there from Argo the rat. The cake tastes really good and Kirito is annoyed because he has to pay for it.
After dessert they left and Asuna realized she has an increased luck stat percentage. The buff (MMO term for brief increase in a certain stat) only goes for a few minutes. Kirito and Asuna think of how they could use it and Kirito suggests upgrading Asuna’s sword. SAO has an interesting way of upgrading weapons. There’s certain percentages that can allow the upgrade to either succeed and make the item stronger, or fail and the weapon breaks into tiny pieces. Asuna’s weapon is a sword named Wind Fleuret.
Asuna brings her weapon to a blacksmith named Nezha. Nezha’s a soft spoken guy with droopy eye
They both cross their fingers hoping Asuna’s weapon gets upgraded but it should work because it’s got a 97% possibility of working. Unfortunately the Wind Fleuret breaks into a bunch of tiny pieces. Asuna’s depressed. Kirito asks Nezha why the hell it happened and Nezha said that it’s because SAO introduced a new penalty when the game launched. “Weapon Disappearance” Asuna and Kirito left and they were sitting on a bench in the town. Kirito offered to get Asuna a new rapier and she declined the offer. The reason for this is that Asuna use to think the weapon was just data. But after events in act 1 with Kirito and Agil and other members of the boss raid she grew an attachment towards her sword. She doesn’t want to replace it. Kirito connects it to his childhood with his old bicycle and now understands where Asuna is coming from. Eventually Asuna decides to give in and decides to get a new sword tomorrow. Kirito agrees and they stay at the Inn in town. Kirito goes to find a different Inn because he feels like he failed Asuna and doesn’t want to stay in the same place as her. As he leaves he sees Nezha going somewhere and decides to follow him
Nezha ends up going to a bar and his friends celebrate. Kirito almost gets caught but he hides and begins thinking about why the Wind Fleuret disappeared earlier that day. He overhears Nezha’s friends talking about making profits, and raking it in. Kirito keeps thinking until he realizes just what happened. He checked the time and raced back to Asuna’s room as fast as he possibly could.
Kirito bursts in and Asuna screams cause she’s sleeping in a t-shirt and underwear. Kirito explains the situation and tells her to open her menu and select specific menu options. Select Materialize All Items. Asuna’s wondering what it all means even though the name speaks for itself. All the items in Asuna’s inventory materialized out of thin air. From armor to bras and underwear everything belonging to Asuna is on the floor. Kirito sorts through everything trying to find the Wind Fleuret, ignoring a pissed off Asuna behind him.
Kirito also asks himself “Why does she have so many underwear? Aincrad avatars don’t have bodily waste functions.” and personally I don’t know why she has a lot of underwear. If girls could still get periods in the SAO world I would totes get why she has so many underwear. Anyways Kirito pulls out the Winf Fleuret and hands it to Asuna. Asuna goes from angry to surprised.
After they calmed down Kirito explains more SAO mechanics which are interesting, but eventually he gets to why Nezha made her weapon disappear. Owner equipment rights in SAO let the weapon not be deleted and instead go into storage for 3,600 seconds before it gets permanently deleted. So that’s why Kirito burst into Asuna’s room and told her to go through all those menus. Asuna asks why that materialize all items command was buried in the menus and why all her undies materialized. And the answer is because the developers thought the game would be too hard if they just let players accept the loss and move on with their lives. But it’s only in case of emergency so players can’t use it as a crutch. (Much like the Toonami marathon stream.) Asuna doesn’t beat the snot out of Kirito because she got her weapon back.
The next day Kirito and Asuna go into the fields to practice their fighting skills and see other players doing the same thing. Then they overhear the players talking about doing a raid and they decide to tag along. Fun dungeon adventures happen! At least until they get cornered in the boss fight. But a player named Orlando saves the day.
After they get back to the village from the raid they see Nezha doing more of his weapon upgrading business. Kirito remembers he’s meeting with Argo in an hour to get more information.
Argo teases Kirito and Asuna as a greeting and they try to get some information. Argo says her feelings for Kirito overlap her business model. I’m still confused as to whether its a crush or not. Asuna tells Argo that she wants to find out if destruction is a possible penalty for an unsuccessful attempt at upgrading a weapon.
After the deal was made Kirito and Asuna spy on Nezha’s business to see if any other players have had the same results that Asuna did. One of the players from Lind’s guild named Shivata goes over there and asks Nezha to upgrade his sword named Stout Brand. They see the sword shatter into tiny pieces and realize this has happened to everyone who went here.
They discuss many reasons as to why Nezha is doing this and Kirito figures out the reason. They decide to disguise Kirito as a knight in armor and upgrade his Anneal Blade +6. The plan works and Kirito’s weapon “disappears” but after that Kirito uses his one handed swordsman ability Quick Change to get it back. Nezha was using Quick Change when upgrading weapons and that’s what was making them disappear. If a person confronted him about it he would use Quick Change again to get the weapon back.
Nezha tries to flee but Asuna blocks his path. Nezha says he’ll die for atonement. They talk him out of it. They also call him by his real name Nataku. He originally joined SAO to be a fighter class but he didn’t have enough skill so he was forced to be a blacksmith. However his weapon skills were very good. Nataku explains that his team “The Legend Braves” were a thing long before SAO was made. He kept changing his name online and eventually stuck with Nezha. Somewhere in SAO a person told him about a good way to get money as a blacksmith. Nezha was tought how it worked. He tried it out and told the Legend Braves and they really liked the idea. They liked the idea a lot and they stuck to it ever since. Kirito asks what other skills Nataku has since he has 3 skill slots
One Handed Weapon Crafting
Kirito asks if Nataku would be willing to give up on crafting if he had a weapon Nataku could use.
Flashforward to the big boss fight of the second floor dungeon. Asterios the Taurus King is really kicking everybody’s butt. Even Kirito’s in trouble. Nataku and Argo show up in the heat of time and help out the raid team in fighting. Argo took a series of quests in the forest beforehand and got info on the boss. In SAO messages can’t get to players inside dungeons so she had to go in and help fight. Argo heals Kirito and Asuna’s paralysis and they get back to fighting too. After some planning Kirito and Asuna take down Asterios and clear the Aincrad second floor dungeon.
Everyone celebrates their victory.
Kirito asks what Nataku is going to do now that the second floor is cleared. Nataku says he knows what he’s going to do.
Nataku announces to everyone what he was doing as a merchant. He apologizes for deceiving many people. Shivata asks if he could get his money back and Nataku says no he already spent all of it. Natakus trying to take responsibility for all the crimes the Legend Braves made him do and make everyone’s anger be towards him. He was covering his friend’s asses. Nataku says he has nothing left to regret. Lind tells Nezha that if he can’t repay his debts there will be a different punishment for him.
Another player squawks out that Nataku stole a weapon from a player. the player bought a store’s weapon and tried to use it and got killed by a mob of monsters.
Now everybody’s accusing him of PK-ing. (Player Killing)
Other players start chanting for Nataku to get killed. A group finally moved into action. The Legend Braves lead by Orlando are going to give the punishment. They stand by Nataku and it looked like they were going to kill him. The room grew silent, until Orlando finally said “I’m so sorry Nezuo”
Kirito and Asuna were climbing the stairs to the third floor reflecting on the events that happened after Orlando’s apology.
The Legend Braves confessed that they were guilty of putting Nataku through all that. Orlando explained everything to everybody. They announced they were going to sell their weapons to get the cash back. Now everyone could be paid back for their lost weapons.
Asuna and Kirito snuck out the door after waving goodbye to Agil.
As the two of them went upstairs Kirito thought to himself “Nataku you were the real MVP” and that is a true translation. That is legit what is in this book. Page 354. Kirito really said that. I wish this was in the anime.
Part 2 Thoughts: This part had a lot of interesting things that happen outside the usual raiding of MMO games. I really liked seeing the deception that can come from guilds being explored in this part of the story, as well as the information about Sword Art Online’s game mechanics and menus. The comedy was also pretty great with pissed off Asuna. I give it 4 Wind Fleurets out of 5.
So Sword Art Online Progressive volume 1 was a good read. I really recommend it if you liked the Aincrad arc of the anime. This book is almost 400 pages of story with Kirito and Asuna. If you don’t like the anime at least check this out if you’re big into videogames and want more dorky videogame information. Also Kirito’s also a more enjoyable protagonist than he is in the anime.
You can purchase volume 1 of Sword Art Online Progressive on Amazon and Rightstuff. Volume 2 is also available, and Volume 3 will be out October 27th.