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review 2015-09-22 20:12
Aincrad (Sword Art Online #1)
Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad - Reki Kawahara

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.


Title: Aincrad

Series: Sword Art Online

Author: Reki Kawahara

Rating: of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: SFF

Pages: 256





The Light Novel that spawned the popular anime. 10,000 people get trapped inside a new virtual reality game by the insane creator of said game.

The players must clear a one hundred level tower to get free.


My Thoughts:

First off, I think SAO in nothing but a ripoff off the vastly superior Hack//Slash. So I'm not exactly unbiased.

Second, even for a Light Novel, this was singularly blase.


I didn't like it but I suspect hardcore fans of the anime would like it.

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review 2015-07-01 22:54
Sword Art Online Progressive 1 - Reki Kawahara

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

I went into this book knowing nothing about the rest of the series. The characters and storylines are set up in a way that no background knowledge is required and this book can be read without having any previous knowledge of SAO.

This was a really cool concept for a series and it was played out in an interesting way. The combination of game setup, upgrading, and boss fights make it feel like playing a game, but still contains enough twists and turn like the scam mystery to make for an interesting book.

At some points the explanations of gaming concepts (upgrades, menu options, health bars, potion effects) is a little dull, but is necessary to some extent for the plot, especially for readers unfamiliar with a lot of MMOs and RPGs.

The main thing that annoyed me was Kirito's creepy descriptions of Asuna in which he just rants about how beautiful she is. We get it, the male fantasy of a hot gamer chick is hard to steer away from, but can we at least try? While Kirito did give Asuna's fighting skills some props too, I feel like he mostly just drooled over her shiny hair. As I said, I don't know anything about the series so I don't know how the characters wind up, but personally Kirito came off as a creep in this aspect.

Besides that, the descriptions were great, with enough detail to describe the fights without boring the reader. Overall I really liked this monster of a book and may check out some of the other adaptations.

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review 2015-06-04 21:00
Help I'm Trapped in an MMORPG!
Log Horizon - Vol.1 (Famitsu Clear Comics) Manga - Enterbrain
Sword Art Online Progressive, Vol. 1 - Reki Kawahara,Kiseki Himura,abec

This seems to be another fad where in a short amount of time a bunch of series appear all involving kids getting stuck in a game world.  


Games in general have long been a common subject of manga for example, Hikaru no Go, a series about a young kid awakening the ghost of a Go board and eventually rising to become a champion Go player, is a classic of the genre. Go ahead and read it, it's old, but a classic!


I watched the first and second anime series of Sword Art Online (which was originally a light novel series) and found it an entertaining, if not extremely original, show.  The characters are all people who bought the newest VR gizmo and entered the MMORPG Sword Art Online, only to find that they couldn't leave.  I enjoyed the interactions between the characters and the tension created between the two groups of newbie players and beta tester players.  


This is my first time trying SAO in graphic novel format, and I gotta say, I was not impressed.  I was looking forward to something that would expand the world of the anime, but as far as I could tell Sword Art Online Progressive Vol. 1 was just a re-hash of the two main characters from the series meeting in slightly (and I mean slightly) different circumstances, then progressing according to the same story line.  And wasting a ton of pages on a bath scene seems a bit much even for a fan service heavy series (which this really shouldn't be).


As a reader I'm used to the books being better than the movies, but sadly, I'd rather re-watch the anime than waste my time on this manga version.


Log Horizon has a very similar concept to SAO, in fact, it also started out as a light novel series.  Like SAO the main characters are people who became trapped in an MMORPG once a new version, the 12th edition, launched.  Unlike SAO where players really had to worry about fighting since if they died in game, their bodies died in the real world too.  In Elder Tales, the game of Log Horizon, players cannot die, if a player is killed in combat, they re-spawn just as they would normally in the game.  There is literally no escape from the game, not even death!  No one knows why they are trapped in the game, or how to find a way out.


On one hand the fact that no one can die really takes away from the conflict and tension of the series.  What's the point in fighting, beating levels or doing much of anything if you have no idea how if 'beating' the game will do anything and no matter what level you are nothing can really kill you.  Since the main characters were already high levels before they became their game avatars it lacks the training and leveling components


On the other hand it gives Log Horizon a desperate feel.  The main character, Shiroe, goes on a quest just for something to do basically.  Players squat around the cities dreaming of home, but with no idea how to log out, they just drift listlessly, hopeless.  PKs (player killers) run rampant, killing for fun, forcing other players to serve them and abusing and torturing anyone who opposes them.


The art is standard, nothing great, but not terrible either.  The story is truthfully a bit dull.  The three heroes travel through a dungeon avoiding creatures and then face the boss.  Shiroe is a defensive magic user, he uses his spells to buff his friends and hinder the foes.  Very useful, but hasn't made for very exciting scenes thus far.


Lastly, Log Horizon, is kind of a ridiculous title.  I'm picturing a river, with logs flowing down it, into the horizon.  I wonder if there is a logging video game I could pick up?  I've always wanted to be a lumber jack.

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text 2014-06-14 21:05
So…Animes? Yes.
Sword Art Online: Aincrad (manga) - Reki Kawahara,Tamako Nakamura
Fate/Zero(1) (角川コミックス・エース) (Japanese Edition) - 真じろう,虚淵玄(ニトロプラス)/TYPE-MOON
Knights of Sidonia, volume 1 - Tsutomu Nihei

So, I've been getting back into watching anime this month and man have I been loving it. Best thing about having Netflix? Anime. Without further ado, I've got three new animes that I'd like to discuss today.


The first is Sword Art Online, which can be found conveniently on Netflix. This is the first new anime that I've gotten into in a long time and it spurred a domino effect of binge watching. Basic premise: video games have become a fully immersive experience with the release of Sword Art Online; however, thousands of players discover that once they've logged on they can't log out and the only way to get back to the real world is the transcend the games 100 levels without dying. Any in game deaths result in the real-world death of the player. Pretty intense. I really enjoyed this anime. Great animation, great premise. Only one season is currently out, but the second season is due to air next month. I would give the first season four and a half out of five stars overall: five out of five stars for the fist half and four out of five for the second. Definitely worth checking out.


After Sword Art Online, I jumped straight into Fate/Zero, also on Netflix. Basic premise: in order to obtain the Wholly Grail, mages resurrect heroes from ancient history to fight on their behalf. Really really good. I'm not going to go into much more detail because it's more fun to go in not knowing much. Five out of five stars. 


And finally, I just started watching Knights of Sidonia. I'm not far enough in to have any solid opinions, but the basic premise involves gigantic space monsters called Gauna who threaten the last of humanity, now residing in a space settlement known as Sidonia. So far, I'd say its about as brutal as Attack on Titan. I'll let you know more once I've finished watching.


Happy watching!

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review 2014-04-04 17:39
Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online: Aincrad (manga) - Reki Kawahara,Tamako Nakamura

I watched the fan-translated anime, then read the fan-translated light novels, then read the fan-translated Manga before finally getting my hands on this. So I knew what to expect going in.

When I first watched Sword Art Online, I thought it was the greatest "VR-MMO" experience a person could want, but after reading it again after some time has passed, along with experiencing other VR-MMO medium ( Log Horizon [ Anime + Light Novel ], Legendary Moonlight Sculptor [ Korean Light Novel ], and Ark [ Another Korean Light Novel ] ) -- I would have to rank Sword Art Online among the bottom of the group. But not at the VERY bottom.



Amazon Summary:

In the year 2022, gamers rejoice as Sword Art Online - a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) like no other - debuts, allowing players to take full advantage of the ultimate in gaming technology: NerveGear, a system that allows users to completely immerse themselves in a wholly realistic gaming experience. But when the game goes live, the elation of the players quickly turns to horror as they discover that, for all its amazing features, SAO is missing one of the most basic functions of any MMORPG - a log-out button. Now trapped in the virtual world of Aincrad, their bodies held captive by NerveGear in the real world, users are issued a chilling ultimatum: conquer all one hundred floors of Aincrad to regain your freedom. But in the warped world of SAO, "Game Over" means certain death - both virtual and real...

The Setting:

As usual, I love all things gaming related. I was completely absorbed in the concept of being "trapped" in an MMO. There are VERY few anime/manga/light novels that cover this premise -- the last one I had read being the .hack series of anime, which had already begun to show their age ( and that was yeaaaars ago ).

It started off on a very good note, hitting a lot of the key components that you would find in realistic modern MMO's, along with the usual crude humor and jokes that come along with it ( "GIRL: Guy In Real Life" ) -- which, hilariously, is exposed when everyone is reverted to their physical forms within the game. Which we get to see "beautiful women" turn into ...well. You get the idea.

Thankfully, both stereotypes ( unattractive men + only men playing women in MMO's ) are dying, and Sword Art Online conveys this by showing a fair number of ALL types of people. That was something I was thankful for.

But that was where everything started to fall apart for me ( on my second read through. On my first I was still in love with SAO ) -- in reality, any kind of "Virtual" environment would probably be a really, really dark place. No repercussions for your actions, "power" ( in the form of levels and magic ), and all that goes with it. But I can overlook that, given the target audience, and trudge on.

Yet we're never really given more to the world of Aincrad ( The MMO world ) -- there's none of the rich lore or interesting things you'd EXPECT to find in an MMO. It's just rehash after rehash. If Sword Art Online were a real MMO, it would've been as generic as you can possibly get. Even the world of .hack was more interesting, despite its age!

Just to stop people here. There is none of this:

Not even close.

The Characters:

Our main character is Kirito. When he is turned back into his physical form, he goes from a lean, muscled guy to a slightly androgynous guy -- but by no means ugly.

As a former closed-beta tester for SAO, he knows the in's and out's of the game like the back of his hand. He uses this knowledge to quickly gain levels and power in the MMO, but doesn't really do much with it.

As a main character, Kirito is a card-board cutout. He doesn't seem to have much in the way of ambition, goals, or trials -- because of his intimate knowledge of SAO, he breezes past almost all obstacles ( to the point that he gets a unique skill that ONLY one person in the game can get -- which he gets very, very, very early ).

It's that unique skill, and how ridiculously OP ( over powered ) he is that I realized -- there wasn't any real DRAMA.

This is what ultimately killed SAO for me. The fact that the main character was just ... Gary Stu. He could do ANYTHING and not even blink about it. It completely broke the story to the degree that I just couldn't even imagine the possibility of him struggling. With anything.

Sure, there's a morality conflict when he groups with another player ( and said player tries to get Kirito killed, but Kirito survives and the player dies to monsters ) -- but there's not much that really...happens, I guess? There's no -struggle- until the VERY end of the second volume ( which this manga covers ), and by then I stopped caring.

The main heroine, Asuna, had a few moments, which ranged from interesting to cliche, but she was more fleshed out than Kirito was -- yet she still lacked the "life" that others seem to be able to put into their manga characters.

I did like the fact that their romance was fairly well done, and a little on the endearing, but it wasn't enough to ultimately pull the rest of the volume up in quality.

The Plot:

The entire goal was to escape the MMO -- in order to escape, players had to clear the 100-floors of the hardest dungeon in the game. This premise starts off engaging, but quickly becomes cast aside in favor of showing Kirito doing other things or romancing with Asuna -- up to the very end.

Ultimately, Sword Art Online just didn't live up to the quality of other anime/manga that I love.

Rating - 2.5 / 5
Recommended : It's okay for a one time read through, but I wouldn't expect it to deliver on the amazing hype ( it's one of the most popular light novels ).

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