Sword Art Online: Progressive, Vol. 7

By Reki Kawahara and abec. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Stephen Paul.

As I was reading this volume of Progressive, I wondered why I was having so much trouble remembering what had happened in the previous book, then it hit me that it’s been two and a half years since the previous book. That said, it did not take long to get back into the swing of things, because as much as I sometimes can’t remember which ones are the two main rival guilds or which player killer we saw last time, as long as I remember Kirito, Asuna, Argo and Kizmel I’m good. This book deals with the seventh floor, a summer weather floor that also boasts a beach, some lovely restaurants, and a casino where you can win big… or lose your shirt. Asuna is not all that happy about having to get involved with the casino’s machinations, but when it turns out that this will also involve the dark elves, she and Kirito are quick to help. Unfortunately, after the events of the last book, they may not get a warm welcome from the elves.

The author mentions in the afterword that the main series has Kirito and Asuna separated in the current arc (Unital Ring), so he’s very happy to have them spend the entire book together like this. Indeed, it’s the bread and butter of the series, whose fans are reading it mostly to see the two be cute and romantic. We definitely get some of that here, as despite the death game aspects of the plot the start of the book could easily be a date by the seaside. We also see that when Asuna has trouble sleeping she goes to Kirito, and being next to him knocks her right out. She may not be verbally admitting anything, but her actions speak pretty loud. As for Kirito, he reminds us again and again that he’s 14, and it feels like it. For the most part he’s still thinking that Asuna needs a larger stage to shine on (i.e. one away from him), but he also feels the need to keep her at his side. It’s cute. Argo agrees with me.

As for the non-shippers plotline, we get more of the other purpose of this series, which is the idea that this is a real world that people have lived in for centuries, rather than a game populated by NPCs. This is not to say that the NPCs can’t be cliches also, as we meet the casino’s manager (a cool collected 12-year-old girl) and her battle maid. As for Kizmel, yeah, things not going so well. Not only is there a prison br3eak sequence, but they’ve got to find a way to get the keys back while at the same time dealing with the quests they have at the casino. There’s so much going on that it’s a surprise it gets fit into one book… OK, no, it doesn’t. There’s a cliffhanger, and we’ll have to wait for Book 8 to resolve it.

Fortunately, Book 8 is on sale this spring, so we will not be waiting another two and a half years. Till then, there’s lots to read about here, but mostly what we want is the cute not-yet romance. There’s plenty of that here.

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