Sword Art Online, Vol. 09: Alicization Beginning by Reki Kawahara

Sword Art Online, Vol. 09: Alicization Beginning

Author: Reki Kawahara

Published on: 13 December 2016

Genre: Light Novel, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Sequential Art

Pages: 264

Format: Paperback

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Kirito awakens in a vast, fantastical forest filled with towering trees. In his search for clues to the truth of his surroundings, he encounters a young boy who seems to know him. He ought to be a simple NPC, but the depth of his emotions seem no different than a human. As they search for the boy’s parents, Kirito finds a peculiar memory returning to him. A memory from his own childhood, of this boy and a girl, too, with golden hair, and a name he should have never forgotten–Alice.

I’ve wanted to read this light novel before the Alicization Arc begins in the Sword Art Online anime. But, I’ve never managed to find sufficient time to really sit down and read this light novel in one sitting. Thus, I decided to put it off until the winter break. For those who have been chasing after the Sword Art Online series, you will know that the anime has already aired and is probably covering volume 11 of the light novel now. So, yes, I’m pretty behind with respect to the light novel.

Nonetheless, the light novel still blew my mind away though I already know what was going to occur, since I’ve already watched the anime. The anime did miss a few details here and there but the plot is still pretty much the same. The world building, plot, and characters are well crafted and vivid. I would love to live in the ‘underworld’ but I would also hate the taboo index immensely.

From what I know from the first volume in this arc, the taboo index is supposed to be set in place to regulate order and prevent crimes. This reminds me of the law enforcement we have in our society. However, just like every system out there, there will bound to be loopholes present which certain individuals captialize on to exploit the system for their own wants and greed. We will be able to see that in the later volumes and it is the exploitation which makes me hate the taboo index to the core. I’m sure readers out there who are well caught up with the anime or light novel will know what I’m referring to.

*Side note: Even though the taboo index is similar to the law enforcement in our society, there is a major difference between them which make the taboo index in a way that is not ethical*

With that said, there isn’t much character development in this volume since it is still the start to the arc. I would expect more prominent character growth in the future volumes. My favourite character is going to be Eugeo. *I’m sorry Kirito, for jumping out of your ship to Eugeo’s.* I just can’t help myself! Eugeo might be too soft and timid for his own good but he is still a work in progress. Besides, he holds on to his dreams and values, and nothing seems to be able to falter him. Those trait which he posses is truly admirable.

The world building is extraordinary. A lifelike VRMMORPG which taps on a person’s soul is simply out of the world. I hope this technology becomes available in the future as I would definitely be one of the first to buy it and try it out. As opposed to Aincrad or GGO, the Underworld is more mundane than I expected. But, I’m glad that the author decided to unfold the story in such a setting as my first impression, before I started reading the light novel or watch the anime, was that the Underworld is another game realm like GGO. However, the Underworld is proven to be more lifelike and real than I originally expected it to be.

I’m definitely looking forward to Eugeo and Kirito’s journey in finding Alice, their advanture, challenges and most importantly, their character growth in the subsequent volumes.

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