Sword Art Online

Matt Kamen levels up on the RPG to end all RPGs

Sword Art Online

Kazuto Kirigawa is a reclusive teen, most of his free time invested in video games. As one of the few people selected as a beta tester for Sword Art Online, he’s been anxiously awaiting the final version for a chance to return to his unreal life as ‘Kirito’, his avatar. He’s not alone – advance buzz has been positive, and with the first production run limited to 10,000 units due to the proprietary virtual reality helmet, it’s been an instant sell out. Release day goes smoothly – until players realise it’s impossible to log out.

Suddenly, all 10,000 are teleported to the starting hub. The skies turn red, blood drips from above and a gargantuan hooded figure materialises. Revealing himself as Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of the game, he proceeds to go literally ‘god mode’ on the game. Avatars now reflect users’ physical bodies. The only way to leave is to complete all 100 levels of the game – something the beta testers never managed. The final twist? If health reaches zero in-game, or the helmet is removed in reality, the user dies – for real.

Once the inevitable panic dies down, those trapped have to start adjusting. Experience points, in-game currency, and restoration items all become precious resources, while factions start forming as people make plans to beat the game. However, Kirito’s beta testing experience gives him an edge and skills other players lack. Can he learn to trust other players, such as new gamer Klein or the enchanting Asuna, or is he better off sticking to his solo game? Either way, one wrong move for anyone and it’s game over – permanently.

Sword Art Online undoubtedly owes a debt of inspiration to the sprawling .hack franchise, even covering some of the same story templates, most obviously players trapped in an online game. However, while .hack’s multimedia empire tries to go mythic in its scope – ‘reincarnated’ characters, legendary powers, and epic adventures in a perpetual digital world – Sword Art Online skews smaller. Kirito’s journey is a personal one, focused on his survival and burgeoning relationship with Asuna.

The tighter focus and more developed themes of Sword Art Online stem from its prose origins. Written by Reki Kawahara, the ten book series takes time to explore the affects of player trauma and the emergence of new social structures, as people adapt to the bizarre situation they find themselves in. The first light novel was published through traditional channels in April 2009, though Kawahara had self-published the initial four volumes online from 2002 onwards. When publisher ASCII Media Works released it in print, the series came to mainstream attention. Its success spawned the first manga adaptation 18 months later, also written by Kawahara with art by Tamako Nakamura, soon followed by this animated iteration, directed by Occult Academy’s Tomohiko Ito.

You can dive into Kirito’s world with the first collection of Sword Art Online, available on Blu-ray and DVD from Manga Entertainment.

BUY IT NOW!

Microsoft’s Anime Month Is Here!

Microsoft’s Anime Month Is Here!

Microsoft’s anime month starts today, meaning you can grab the very best anime digitally at the very best price. From Attack on Titan and Goblin Slayer to My Hero Academia and Fruits Basket, there is something for everyone. Grab them and watch them instantly today....

FunimationCon 2020 will be available in the UK!

FunimationCon 2020 will be available in the UK!

FunimationCon 2020 is coming very soon and you won’t want to miss it! This FREE virtual convention, running on Friday July 3rd and Saturday July 4th will have Industry panels, voice actor live-reads, Q&A’s, and more! The best news of all? It’ll be available in the...

Check Out Zavvi’s Movie Mayhem Sale!

Check Out Zavvi’s Movie Mayhem Sale!

Zavvi's Movie Mayhem is here!   Zavvi's Movie Mayhem sale is now on until June 30th! You can grab fan-favourites such as Akira, Redline and Cowboy Bebop The Movie from only £6.99. Take a look at the full list of titles available:Steamboy - Blu-rayTokyo Godfathers...

One Piece Stampede Competition with ABYstyle

One Piece Stampede Competition with ABYstyle

To celebrate the home video release of One Piece Stampede we have teamed up with the lovely folks at ABYstyle! Find out below how you can win a Stampede Steelbook + some amazing merch. You can enter the competition on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, meaning you have...

MVM anime sale 2020

MVM anime sale 2020

The MVM anime sale is now on! You can grab fan-favourite series such as Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Steins;Gate and much, much, more. But hurry, these great deals end on June 29th. Here's the full list of titles you can find in the sale: A Certain...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This