I Finished Watching Sword Art Online, Now What to Read?

I love Sword Art Online, I really do. Even the second arc. Granted, not as much at the first arc, but I still really liked it. I watched the whole series the week before C2E2, and subsequently bought a fair bit of SAO merchandise whilst there. Being a comic fanatic as well as an anime one, I wanted to read the manga. But subsequent Amazon browsing left me a bit confused, which is why I’m writing to you today, dear reader: to clarify what to buy, when to buy it and where to read it.

Novel, Volume 1

Essentially, SAO was a series of prose novels first, which was turned into an animated series, which was turned into a manga. The novel series, by Reki Kawahara, follow main characters Kirito and Asune through being stuck in the online game, Sword Art Online and beyond. The fourteenth novel came out in Japan last month, while the first volume came out in the US just the other week. This first volume covers the first half of the Aincrad arc. The second half of the arc will be out in August. The first volume is really well written and told from Kirito’s first person point of view. It’s a bit slower and Kirito, being the beater that he is, goes into explanation of game mechanics more than what is discussed in the anime.

If you want to simply read the novels, here is a link to where you can download a fan translated version of all 14 novels. Thanks to /r/swordartonline for the link.

Manga, Volume 1
Manga, Volume 1

The first manga covers the entire Aincard arc. Initially broken up into two volumes in Japan, the translated edition has the whole story in one rather large volume. It’s not a 1:1 representation of the anime, which I prefer. If it was identical, I’d just watch the anime. Some things are skipped, but you do get to read Kirito’s internal narrative which strengths the character. It’s fun, the art it good, and it hits on the the important events. The next volume, due out in June covers the Fairy Dance arc.

Where to buy? Really, your local manga store should have it. But if you’re like me and don’t have a LMS, Amazon has both, but they appear to be on backorder. But there are some sellers that should have them. Here’s the link for the novel and the manga. I tried buying both through InStockTrades.com, but the novel was backordered by a few weeks. They do have the manga for cheaper than Amazon, though. The appear to be rather hot items (no really?) which is why you may have a little difficulty if you don’t want to wait.

Asuna Sketch

So there you go. If you’re looking to get more of an SAO fix, here’s where to start. And don’t forget that the next season of the anime starts this summer! But you already knew that.

See you in Aincrad.

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