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Sword Art Online: Aincrad by Reki Kawahara
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Sword Art Online: Aincrad

by Reki Kawahara, Reki Kawahara

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(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Sword Art Online: Aincrad - manga (on Librarything, Goodreads)
Original title: ソードアート・オンライン〈1〉アインクラッド
Author: Reki Kawahara
Translator: Stephen Paul
Illustrator: Tamako Nakamura
Language: English, original Japanese
Series: Sword Art Online manga #1
Reviews for other books by this author (up till now):
- Sword Art Online 6: Phantom Bullet (novel)
- Sword Art Online Progressive #1 (manga)
Format of publication: paperback
Number of pages: 380
Publisher: Yen Press, Hachette Book Group
Year published: original Japanese 2012, original English 2014, my edition 2014 (1st edition)
ISBN number: 9780316371230
Topics: virtual game world in which players are trapped
Reason for reading: I like the Sword Art Online series and someone sold this book on a secondhand website.
Recommended: If you want to read the Aincrad story in a different format, yes, but don't expect the same kind of art as in the light novels and anime. As the first introduction to this story, I would recommend the books or the anime (though if you get a hold of this manga first, go read it, as it does contain all the important parts! Just don't mind the drawing style too much).

Short summary:
It's the entire story of the Aincrad arc (first two Sword Art Online novels) in manga format. The back cover text explains the beginning of the story quite well.

Back cover text:
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...

First page:
This...
...might be a game...
...but it's not something you play.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The picture is of Asuna, Kirito and some people of the Knights of the Blood Oath guild fighting a boss.

Review:
Story:
If you've read the novels, there's nothing new here. Some bits from the novels that were left out of the anime can be found in this manga, though.

All the important moments were included. I especially liked Yui's story - the art style made her look very cute and it also explained some more about the game.
Mainly, the story and art focuses on the characters emotions of living in a virtual game world. At first, they have to learn to deal with the concept of a player dying in real life when they die in-game. The story really starts when Kirito and Asuna team up (until then, Kirito has mostly been a solo-player and Asuna a member of one of the largest guilds in Aincrad). Because the interaction between Kirito and Asuna is one of my favourite aspects of the story, I was glad so much attention was paid to their relationship! Even though I've already read/seen this story several times, this manga adaptation was very nice to read.

Writing style:
At the beginning there was more text than average, because some basic information had to be explained. The book has much larger info-dumps, though, so it was nicely summarized in this manga. Overall, there's not too much text.

Art:
Compared to the anime, the light novels and the Progressive manga, the illustration style of this manga does not fit in well! It's a nice drawing style on its own, but compared to abec's drawing style, it is not very pretty (some proportions are off, eyes and heads are generally larger than usual). Though it makes the small child Yui look very cute, I don't think this drawing style really suits the SAO series!
On a similar note, most bad reviews on the Japanese Amazon site for this book gave it very low ratings because of the art. When I first started reading this book, I was a bit surprised by the drawing style, but getting used to it doesn't take long and there are some really nice drawings in the book as well (just not "expected SAO style"... abec set a high standard for the other SAO illustrators!).
The battles did not consist of a lot of pages. They all seemed to end quite quickly and it wasn't always very clear what exactly was happening in those battles.
I do think the illustrator showed the characters' emotions quite well (and she made Kuradeel look quite mad (o.o), which does fit his character!), which is the strong point of Nakamura's drawings.

The book also has some colour images at the beginning. On one of them, Asuna is wearing clothes which she wears in the real world in the anime (pink winter sweater and red skirt)! And in the same scene in the manga, she wears different clothes... I like those clothes, it's just a bit inconsistent.

Conclusion:
The art wasn't as pretty as I had expected (the Progressive manga has better drawings), but it's a nice manga version of the Aincrad story. It focuses more on the characters than on the gameplay itself.

Rereadability:
Yes! But everything SAO is rereadable for me...

On my weblog here, Goodreads review here.
  mene | Feb 22, 2017 |
Usually I try to read the book before the movie. But in this case, I watched the anime first before reading the light novel. Only time will tell if that has affected my feelings for the novel. (Once I get to the novels dealing with the story line that haven't been in the anime yet.) Overall, I enjoyed the anime much more than the light novel. In the anime, it progresses as they clear each floor, even though they don't show each floor's boss battle. In the novel, I felt that they showed very little of this. You go from the beginning to a couple duels and battles and then to the main boss battle, which was supposed to happen at the 100th floor but instead happened at floor 75. Or at least I felt it happened like this. I think the story of SAO is very intriguing. Once I saw the first anime episode, I was hooked. But if I left it to just reading the novel, I wouldn't have progressed beyond the first one. But since I enjoyed the anime so much, I will have to read the novels. ( )
  Robin.D..Green | Sep 28, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Reki Kawaharaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kawahara, Rekimain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316371238, Paperback)


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...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:49 -0400)

SIn the year 2022, gamers rejoice as Sword Art Online-a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) like no other-opens its virtual doors, allowing players to take full advantage of the ultimate in gaming technology: NerveGear, a system that allows users to completely immerse themselves in the game world by manipulating their brain waves to create 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.… (more)

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