Sword Art Online was undoubtedly one of the most popular anime of 2012. Based upon a series of light novels by Reki Kawahara, SAO’s near-future characters, gorgeous fantasy setting, and life-or-death stakes drew an enthusiastic fan following. Yen Press has recently released Volume 2 of the Sword Art Online: Fairy Dance manga adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of other Sword Art Online manga, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
Kirito jumps into a new VRMMORPG called ALfheim Online (ALO) in search of Asuna, who still hasn’t regained consciousness. On his quest to find the World Tree and reach Asuna, he meets a sylph girl named Leafa. A veteran player experienced with the sword, Leafa recognizes that Kirito is motivated by serious circumstances and decides to help him. But…Leafa’s identity in the real world is Suguha Kirigaya–Kirito’s sister. And it’s the glimmer of her beloved brother she sees in Kirito that prompts her to lend him a hand. Now, despite the conflicting interests guiding them on, the pair set off on a journey to the World Tree!
Kirito starts off the journey to ALfheim to rescue Asuna, but along the way, he ends up being hero to Leafa and two entire Elven races. There’s plenty of action to be had with the conclusion of Volume 001′s bridge battle and a skyhigh duel with ALfheim’s strongest player. However, some movements are difficult to follow, and Haduki-sensei occasionally shows two simultaneous angles in the same panel, which can be confusing.
While ALfheim is not Aincrad, echoes of that other world show up in Kirito’s illusion magic monster and his dual-sword skill. Aincrad’s imprint on Kirito also shows up in other ways. During a real-world scene that wasn’t included in the anime, Kirito reflects on how his actual self seems more like a persona while Kirito the swordsman feels like his true self. Also, his real-life priority is finding and freeing Asuna from the grip of her nefarious fiancé, but the Salamander crisis causes him to detour from that goal as if actual lives were at stake.
Meanwhile, Fairy Dance’s harem quality continues full-steam. As the manga progresses, Leafa seems less one of the “Great Five Sylphs” and more a starstruck Kirito fangirl. At the conclusion of the Kirito/Eugene duel, the heads of the Sylphs and Cait Siths (both female) start pressing their bodies against Kirito, and Leafa barges in to break it up. Fortunately, the female cast regains some dignity when Asuna takes the initiative to escape her cage. She may be the damsel in distress, but at least she’s showing the spunk that made her the vice commander of her guild in SAO.
Extras include the title page printed in color, background guide blurbs, a short afterword manga, and closing remarks from the creators.
Kirito shows off the skills that made him Aincrad’s strongest player and quickly establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with in ALO. The manga’s fanservice tone also continues with every female character falling for Kirito. There are some somber moments of reflection and Asuna’s coma to provide character angst, but the ease with which Kirito maneuvers through ALfheim definitely makes Fairy Dance less intense than Aincrad.
First published at the Fandom Post.