Sword Art Online: Aincrad
by Reki Kawahara
Yen Press, 2014. 378 pgs. Graphic Novel
In the near future virtual reality gaming has progressed to become a fully immersive experience through NerveGear, a system that uses signals in the brain to simulate all five senses. The first MMORPG to take advantage of this unique system is Sword Art Online. On the day of its launch, everything seems to be going well, until players realize they can’t log out. They’re stuck in the game until all 100 levels have been beaten, and death in the game will cause them to die in the real world. With 10,000 people stuck in this virtual reality world, how many will make it out alive?
Sword Art Online started out as a Japanese light novel, and has since become a manga series and anime. I saw the anime before I read the manga so I was familiar with the story already. It's exciting and interesting that really makes you think about the future of virtual reality and where the virtual might become a little too real. That being said, this volume is very specifically the main story arc and doesn’t include any of the side stories, though some are very briefly mentioned, which gives this volume a somewhat incomplete feeling. For fans of either the anime or novel this is an easy recommendation. For everyone else, I think it might be missing a little too much.