This is Kawahara Reki. I have now delivered『Sword Art Online Progressive 1』.
When saying Progressive, it might sound like a video format, but the word actually has the meaning of «proceeding step by step». It is the series about the clearing of the floating castle Aincrad starting from the first floor, the title carries that kind of meaning. Please abbreviate it as SAOP!
Well, next, please allow me to explain why I started writing this series.
This might be a repetition of the afterword in SAO volume 1, originally the story of SAO was written for the Dengeki Novel Grand Prix, so the game is suddenly cleared in the first volume. After that point, although I wrote some short stories about the time before the game is cleared (those are compiled in volume 2 and 8), none of those sub-episode stories touches the game clearing as the main topic.
Actually, I had always been smoldered by a desire to write about how Kirito and his friends travelled through each floor, how they defeated the bosses. However, that couldn’t quite reach the ignition point because there were a few problems if I wrote the clearing from the first floor.
The most obvious one is the treatment of Asuna as the heroine. In the published books Kirito is portrayed as being intimate with Asuna only on the higher floors. In other words, Kirito’s partner being Asuna in the stories of the first and second floor would be a contradiction to the books.
In order to avoid that contradiction, should the heroine in the Progressive arc be a new character instead of Asuna? Or should I admit this contradiction and let Asuna remain on stage? I was troubled by this for a while. ……However, my honest feelings is that I really want the one to stands beside Kirito be Asuna, perhaps many readers also wish the same thing? Finally, that thought turned into the beginning scene with the meeting between Kirito and Asuna.
Of course, I thought about the readers who can’t approve the inconsistencies to the already published books as well. As I also don’t like it, I will put maximum effort into comparing and adjusting the setting of the story from this point onward, so first off, I would be happy if you could watch over the future of this new series.
——Now, it’s the established “I’m sorry” corner, first, let me briefly explain each story.
The first floor’s clearing story,『Aria in the Starless Night』is continuation of the story compiled in volume 8,『First Day』. Kibaou, who later on became the leader of the «Army»; Argo the Rat, the information dealer, who had only appeared as a name up until this point; Agil, before his merchant spirit had awoken; and finally Asuna, who was still a net game newbie at the time, made their appearances one after another, I also felt both nostalgia and freshness by writing the story. Well, Kirito is Kirito from the start though.
In this Progressive arc, the theme could be portrayed in details using SAO’s game system, for『Aria』, its objective focused on «The boss conquest raid». I would like the readers to receive the feeling of atmosphere in the group battle by the party of six x eight parties. For those “I don’t really get it!”, please take a look at the second episode of the anime (Laugh).
For the clearing of the second floor,『Rondo of the Transient Sword』, many of the new characters made their introductions. One of them, Nezha the blacksmith caused me to be fairly perplexed as I decided whether to make him male or female, if he was a girl, it would cause some unnecessary troubles so I followed my intuition and made him a male (Laugh).
System-wise, it is about the «Weapon Strengthening» feature, instead of writing a story about searching for the clue in «The strengthening fraud» mystery, of which I lack the virtue to write…… “I better write about the boss battle in full detail!” in the first half which only had a few battles, it would give a feeling that a wicked boss already appeared while it’s only the second floor. If I was playing a real MMO and such a development happened, I’m certain that my heart would really snap!
Although SAOP volume 1 compiled both stories above, I have also already decided the title of the clearing of the third floor as『Concerto of Black and White』. Its theme, system-wise, is planned to be «The campaign quest».
……Well, I wrote the advance notice, but I think a volume per year for this Progressive arc will probably be my limit…… That is to say, advancing two floors in a year, how many more years will it take to arrive on the 75th floor? ……Please don’t think about something frightening like that! Please support the second volume as well!
The next is, of course, the fact that I’m still continuing the main arc of SAO. The 3rd part of the Alicization arc, which is volume 11, is planned to be published in December. Kirito and Eugeo will be approaching more and more secrets of Underworld……probably, please give your support to this one as well.
And then, due to the continuous publication of SAO, Accel World is on a break this time, I’m sorry! It’s just that, Accel World volume 9 and 10 had a release in succession, so from this point, it just goes back to its previous publication month. I’m not really sure how long I can maintain the bi-monthly pace (or perhaps I should say I’m gradually growing very doubtful about it), ……I’ll do my best to the full extent!
abec-san the illustrator who readily consented even with the hard schedule due to the two volumes being published in succession; Miki-san, the person in charge, who (perhaps) also readily consented even though this volume exceeds five hundred pages; Tsuchiya-san, the assistant in charge, who had a daily stomachache (I guess) due to my late email replies; this time I’m also very much obliged to them! And you, who read this thick book until the very end, I give you a LA bonus as an appreciation!
A certain day in August 2012, Kawahara Reki