It’s been two months since the death game of Sword Art Online ended. Kirigaya Kazuto aka Kirito has escaped the game and is now living normally in the real world. But not with his companion, Asuna, being still under control from the NerveGear. Agil suddenly invites Kirito to his bar for a small meeting…and to show him an rather interesting picture. It seems that a certain person was identified in a virtual reality game named ALfheim Online. And at the highest tower of the game of a familiar figure…Asuna.
This is the first volume in which the series of Sword Art Online takes place in the real world and in another VMMORPG. We are introduced to a new game called ALfheim Online and its new world mechanics and elements. But with Kirito’s entrance into the new game, the series loses its appeal from the first two volumes back in Sword Art Online.
The story starts in the real world with Kirito covering his daily life now out of Sword Art Online. He claims the death game hasn’t ended yet, all because of his beloved is still under captive from the NerveGear. And so Kirito begins a new journey to find and rescue his beloved. This volume revolves around the theme of escapism, with Kirito trying to save Asuna from a birdcage and Leafa’s desire to fly with no limits. While it looks to be a smooth bridge of themes between the volumes, the first volume of Fairy Dances doesn’t capitalize the themes as strongly as it could have done, leaving behind some important appealing factors from the first volume needed to tie the two arcs together.
For example, now that fear of death is gone, it is a lot harder to create a compelling situation where there is a sense of danger. As a result, the light novels tries to create some sort of problem is by forcing the idea of sexual assault on our main female character. It’s an unnecessary element and it causes disinterest when reading the volume.
A large chunk of the events in this volume are spent creating the world of ALfheim Online. However, it sacrifices the progress of the plot as a result. Half of the events in the first part of Fairy Dance means nothing to the journey to save Asuna. While Kirito and Leafa go on a journey to save Asuna, they end up stopping halfway to deal with some political issues between the races in ALfheim Online- something not particularly interesting in terms of the Sword Art Online series.
For the amount of characters introduced in this new world of Sword Art Online, most of them don’t serve any real purpose. The various races are used as more details to build the world of ALfheim Online and the individuals in those particular races are figureheads serving as background characters. Even Asuna falls into a much worse state, going from a main character to just a conceptual objective; to put it another way, a useless lover to Kirito to a princess in a cage.
Suguha replaces Asuna as the main character as she serves as the guide for Kirito and the readers as she tells us about the various mechanics of ALfheim Online through the perspective of Leafa. She’s in quite a tough spot simply because of her relation to Kirito. With the story trying to bring together a romantic implication between the siblings and Suguha’s desire to soar through the sky, it combines to create a rather odd and nonsensical combination of motivations and actions. Add that with the knowledge that the Fairy Dance arc is made of two volumes, and we are left hanging with no conclusion to her character.
I’ll give abec credit for the outfit design for the characters in this particular volume. The armors and clothing in ALfheim Online look nicely detailed to show off that fantasy aspect of the world. While the characters placed in the real world appears to fit the age of the character, the facial features and structure could use some work.
The first volume of the Sword Art Online: Fairy Dance is a shadow of its former self. It loses the various elements that made Sword Art Online as interesting as it could possibly be. With characters and events that had almost no real purpose to the advancement of Kirito’s goal, most of this volume’s content is unnecessary and could be shortened into one volume.
Rating: Not Recommended
Author: Reki Kawahara
English Publisher: Yen Press