Asuna Yuuki was content to be a dedicated, top-scoring student, but after becoming trapped in the virtual reality MMORPG Sword Art Online she found herself in a fight for her life with stakes higher than she could ever imagine. Sword Art Online Progressive Vol 2. continues the story of Asuna and her companion Kirito as they attempt to clear the first floor of Aincrad.
The story continues immediately after the end of the first volume as Asuna and Kirito battle alongside the raiding party against the boss of Aincrad’s first floor. With their leader dead and the boss raiding party seemingly shattered, Asuna and Kirito must salvage the situation if the players have any hope of escaping the game of death.
Established Sword Art Online fans will love this release, as well as anyone with interest in MMOs or shonen adventure series.
Asuna continues to be an enjoyable protagonist and this volume showcased a good deal of character development on her part. It was great to see her beginning to progress into a leader among the front-line players during the continuation of first floor boss battle and this really helped to strengthen her character. In addition, her interactions with Kirito were much improved from the first volume because of a general softening of her character. This felt much more natural to how her character had been portrayed and less an unnecessary inclusion of the “tsundere” trope . I found her much easier to relate because of this and this led to some genuinely funny moments between the two of them that played off of their newly found comfort level.
This volume is well-paced, providing a good mix of action interspersed with slower scenes to further the story and develop the main characters. In addition, characters such as Argo the Rat and Diavel are helpfully expanded upon in a short vignette which provides a lot more context to their actions and enriches the main plotline.
Himura did a great job incorporating subtle moments of humour to provide relief from the otherwise serious proceedings. Moments such as a debate between Kirito and Asuna over who would get the larger portion of the cake they were sharing were told wordlessly and this was a much more subtle approach that I found both funnier and less distracting to the reader. This was much improved from the first volume which relied largely on playing off of Asuna’s harsh personality for laughs.
Himura’s character designs continue to impress in this volume and are a pleasure to look at. In particular, stationary scenes such as a brief moment between Asuna and Kirito at the entrance to the second floor really stood out as well drawn, perfecting conveying their facial expression in a way that made the scene more effective.
While Himura’s art was fantastic during stationary scenes, it was more of a mixed bag during action scenes. Several key action panels were very cluttered or drawn with too close a view, making it difficult to follow character movement. This was not a crippling issue by any means but it was disappointing to see a few of the action scenes lose some of their impact as a result. In addition, the binding of the book was quite tight especially at the front of the book, making it difficult to fully see some panels that were close to the inner seam. This was only an issue at the very front of the book but made it more difficult to get a full view of the action during the opening battle scene.
Sword Art Online Progressive Vol. 2 is another enjoyable volume in the Progressive series, continuing Asuna’s battle to survive being trapped in Sword Art Online. This well-paced volume continues the story effectively, showcasing a good degree of character development mixed in with some fun character interaction between Kirito and Asuna as they grow closer. Already a refreshing take on the core Sword Art Online story, Sword Art Online Progressive Vol. 2 continues to provide a strong yet fun narrative that will be sure to interest readers looking for a slick action-adventure series.
Sword Art Online Progressive (Manga) Vol 2. was published by Yen Press on April 21st, 2015. Authored by Kiseki Himura and based on the original story created by Reki Kawahara, the series is currently ongoing in Kadokawa’s Dengeki G’s Magazine.
You can find our review of Vol. 1 of the series here, and Vol. 3 is scheduled to be released on September 22, 2015.
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