- Mangaka : Reki Kawahara (Story) and Shiomi Miyoshi (Art)
- Publisher : YenPress
- Genre : Action, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
- Published : November 2020 - Ongoing
Sword Art Online: Progressive – Houei no Barcarolle (Sword Art Online: Progressive – Barcarolle of Froth) Introduction
With the knowledge and experience from the beta test, Kirito knows what to expect in the official launch of a VR game called Sword Art Online. With Asuna as his partner, the pair hope to experience the official contents together, especially the ones that were not part of the beta test. What kind of adventure awaits for Kirito and Asuna in the game of death?
We are now back in the world of Aincrad. Yes, the main series is up to Unital Ring Arc, but let’s take a moment to look into Progressive. A series that took place in Aincrad, stories that were left untold in the main series. This manga puts us in Kirito and Asuna’s perspective to the Sword Art Online. The art style of the manga is beautiful and drawn in a way to respect the original artist of the character design abec, and the environment is superb that makes feel as if we are experiencing lore and culture of their respective worlds. On top of these, the romantic feelings between Kirito and Asuna as they explore the floors.
Compare to the main series, this manga emphasis more on world-building and shows how Kirito and Asuna solve the mysteries and puzzles of each floor and quests. The main reason why Kirito prioritizes quests that were not part of the beta test is that they may be the key to help players proceed to the next floor safely. That is where Argo comes in to sell information to Kirito while buying information in return based on their endeavor.
The world may be based on fantasy, but there is a modern element added into the mix to remind players of reality. So it gives the players a sense of traveling to another country within the game itself. When we said another country, the 4th floor’s design is based on Venice! Shiomi and Reki did an excellent job to implement the designs of buildings and infrastructures that align with the original culture.
2. Critical Thinking
No matter where we go. There always be problems and puzzles that require solutions. It is adorable to see how Kirito and Asuna work together to discover the secrets of the issues like a strange tree with fruits that turned out to be inner tubes, searching the room for clues that can be used to activate a quest from an NPC, and finding ways to a rare monster. It is all about gathering information that can lead us to a solution.
3. Did They Harbor Such Feelings?
We are surprised by the development of the first few chapters of this story. We understand why Asuna decides to team up with Kirito to overcome the floors and activate the teleportation portal for other players after their experience in the 1st-floor boss fight. After all, Kirito is one of the few players whom Asuna can trust, and as they progress further in the game, they begin to notice each other’s flaws and strengths. That in itself creates unique feelings for these love birds, but not at the point where they are sure of it.
We thought this manga's approach is more of a serious side due to the game's nature, but wow. Asuna became the model of fanservice galore while Kirito somehow has the lucky pervert power. Let’s face it. Most readers love fanservice, and at least Shiomi added fanservice in a decent amount that wouldn’t interrupt the main focus of the story.
5. Art Style
The character designs are drawn to respect the original character designs abec, which is understandable, but can we point out how ridiculously realistic the bears, workshop, and the environment. It may not be on par with the light novels’ arts, but those details are not something we should miss.
Sword Art Online: Progressive – Houei no Barcarolle (Sword Art Online: Progressive - Barcarolle of Froth) shows Kirito and Asuna’s experience in the 3rd and 4th floor of Aincrad, filled with exploration and solving mysteries and battles. The character development between the main characters gave us an idea of where did their feelings manifests with being partners in this game as a medium. The world and characters and the worlds are beautifully drawn in the way they respect abec and the culture of Venice. As a bonus to the manga, fanservice of Yuuki Asuna. If you want to read a Sword Art Online manga that focuses on exploration and world-building, you might want to give this a try. What are your thoughts of this manga? Leave them down in the comments below.