- This article is about the manga adaptation of the original Progressive series. You may be looking for the original light novel.
|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
Sword Art Online - Progressive Volume 1 (ソードアート・オンライン プログレッシブ001, Sōdoāto Onrain Puroguresshibu 001?) is the first volume of the Progressive manga adaptation. This volume covers the first half of the Aria of a Starless Night story.
On November 6, 2022, the new generation Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Game, Sword Art Online was finally released and 10,000 copies of the game were sold in the first batch. However, on the first day of its release, the creator of the game, Kayaba Akihiko, announced that the only way to log out of the game was to conquer the one hundred floors of the Floating Castle Aincrad by defeating the Floor Bosses at the top of the Labyrinth of each floor. However, if the players died in-game, the NerveGear used to play the game would fry their brains. The same would be done if someone from outside would attempt to remove the NerveGear by force. To prove how serious the game was, he transformed the avatars of each player to look as their real life bodies.
By the time nearly a month since that faithful day had passed, about two thousand players had already died, while the 1st Floor's Labyrinth had yet to be cleared. On December 2, 2022, a solo player Asuna was ready to meet her demise at the hands of several Ruin Kobold Troopers, when another solo player, Kirito, intervened and saved her.
Like a Shooting Star
On November 19, 2022, Yuuki Asuna, a hardworking high school student with high expectations from her family, had a nightmare about how she failed her high school entrance mock exam due to being stuck in a game, even after saying that games are a waste of one's life. In reality, it had been thirteen days since the launch of the new generation VRMMO game, Sword Art Online, during the official release of which, about 10,000 players were trapped in the game, until they could manage to complete it by defeating the final boss on the 100th Floor of Aincrad.
As Asuna, now awoken from her nightmare, checked the date and noticed that the uniform mock exam was supposed to be held that day. After getting up, Asuna left her inn room and went to the market to buy her daily black bread. While eating, she overheard a rumor about a hidden log-out point within a cave in the West Forest. After finding out where the cave was located, Asuna left the Town of Beginnings to search for the hidden log out point in a hurry to make it to her mock exam on time.
After avoiding the monsters, she finally reached the cave. However, while navigating the cave, she ran into a monster and got hit by hit, with her hit point (HP) bar decreasing immediately to the red zone with barely any HP left. But, just as the creature was about to deal the last blow to her, it was killed by a mysterious swordsman. After the swordsman left, his friend, Argo the Rat, took care of healing the wounded Asuna.
After recovering her lost HP, Asuna asked Argo whether the log out point was just a rumor and Argo confirmed that it indeed does not exist. Asuna then asked Argo to sell her information on how she could become strong. Argo then gave Asuna a first tier reference book for free, as she only charged more experienced players. Asuna immediately started reading the reference book and learnt about the weakest creatures who roam Aincrad, the Frenzy Boars as well as how to activate the beginner Rapier Sword Skill «Linear».
Asuna soon put her new knowledge to the test by using «Linear» at a god-like speed to defeat a Frenzy Boar in one strike, greatly surprising Argo. Changing her mind about giving the reference book to Asuna for free, Argo asked the rapier user for her name. As Asuna was inexperienced with games, she gave Argo her real name, instead of just her username, but Argo then found out that Asuna was using her real name for her username. After practicing her newly learnt Sword Skill, Asuna asked whether she could defeat the monster that almost killed her as well.
A couple of weeks later, on December 2, 2022, Asuna had spent several days within the 1st Floor Labyrinth with barely any rest. Suffering great mental fatigue, she ran into a large group of Ruin Kobold Troopers. Even though she attempted to fight the monsters, she was soon paralyzed, which was the most deadly status to a solo player. As Asuna was prepared to meet her demise, she was again saved by the mysterious swordsman, who claimed that he saved her for her map data. With her last drops of strength, Asuna got up, and the two swordsmen attacked the monsters surrounding them.
Faster Than Anyone
During their battle with the Ruin Kobold Troopers, Kirito was amazed by Asuna's amazing speed and grace, comparing it to a meteor he had seen years ago while playing a game. After an opening was made in the ranks of the kobolds, Kirito told Asuna to run to the safe area, but Asuna continued attacking the kobolds until she passed out from exhaustion.
Some time later, Asuna woke up in the middle of a grass field outside the Labyrinth. As she got up, she noticed Kirito sitting calmly next to a nearby tree. As Asuna asked Kirito why he had saved her, he revealed that it would have been a waste of map data to have let her die, accidentally mentioning that once she passed out, he could do anything he wanted to her body, like manipulating her menu to get her map data; however, Asuna misunderstood Kirito's intentions and was about to strike him with her rapier.
At that moment, Asuna's stomach started growling, making Kirito burst into laughter. While Asuna was pondering why was there a need to eat in-game if it had no effect on their real life bodies, Kirito took out two loaves of black bread and a bottle of cream from his inventory and gave one loaf and some cream to Asuna to pay her back for her map data. Although Asuna doubted Kirito's taste at first due to the bread being the cheapest one from the store, after adding cream to it, she finished off the bread in a sheer second while enjoying its taste. When asked whether she wanted another, Asuna denied by saying that she did not survive this long so that she could eat delicious food, but did so so that she would not have to rot in the Town of Beginnings and could instead fight for her existence and die satisfied, feeling that it was impossible to clear the castle if 2,000 people had died already while the 1st Floor was not yet cleared. At that moment, the bells from the nearby town of Tolbana rang, announcing that it was already 3'o clock. Kirito then told Asuna that they should be going to town for the for the boss strategy meeting.
At Tolbana, Kirito and Asuna split up, agreeing to meet up at the amphitheatre at 4 o'clock. Meanwhile, Asuna was approached by Argo, who offered a discount at purchasing information on Kirito and also mentioned that she might spread a new rumour about a certain red riding hood hunting with the black wolf. Asuna quickly denied such a rumour, saying that she had only just met the guy, so Argo agreed to keep the rumour for herself for now, saying that it might serve her in case she needed to blackmail her. Asuna then asked Argo whether she had information on Kirito's history, leading to Argo to tease Asuna for asking a person's history before anything else. Argo then revealed that as long as Asuna offered a good price, she would not be stingy about giving Asuna the information she desired, but warned her that the act of purchasing information would immediately become new information to sell. Asuna then suddenly changed her mind, saying that she had no interest in that person.
Later, when Asuna arrived at the meeting, she was surprised by the number of people who had gathered, though she remarked that they would probably die. Just then, Kirito, who had just come to the meeting as well, explained that the people who gathered here did not do so in the spirit of self-sacrifice, though mentioning that some people might be like that. He explained that most people in the meeting were there because they had a fear of not falling behind the others and not witnessing the battles themselves. Hearing that, Asuna asked whether it was similar to not wanting falling behind the top 10 in school and the confused Kirito replied that it might be a similar case. As the meeting began with Diavel thanking those for attending, Asuna began wondering about spending one's life chasing after something intangible without a clear goal and, in the end, never having thought about it. Asuna then set a goal for herself: to beat the boss of the 1st Floor and to keep going until the 100th Floor, moving forward faster than anyone else.
The chapter began with Diavel's introduction, which was shown from Asuna's perspective in the previous chapter. After thanking the players for coming to the meeting, he announced that his party had found the 1st Floor's boss room and that the time to open the doors to the 2nd Floor, thus spreading the message that the death game would one day end, had come.
However, Diavel's speech was interrupted by another player, named Kibaou, who ordered the beta testers to reveal themselves, blaming them for hogging all the resources and knowledge for themselves, which led to the death of nearly 2,000 players, and also ordered them to give up their items and money. At that point, another player, named Agil, spoke up and told everyone that everyone must have benefited from the guidebook that was available in the item shops of every city for free, hearing which Kirito remarked that he had to pay 500 Cor for his copy. Agil then said that the information contained in the guide is so advanced in such a short period of time, that the guide must have been written based on the knowledge that the beta testers had. Finally, Agil finished his speech by saying that the guide was the best gift that the beginners could get and that the reason so many people had died was because they treated SAO as just another MMO and thus did not retreat on time, while those who read the guide were still alive. At this point, Diavel put an end to the argument by stating that it was time to look forward and that if the beta players contributed to beating the boss, it was worth having faith in them.
As Diavel was about to get back to the main topic, another player announced that he had found a boss edition version of Argo's guide from a store. After analysing the information contained in the guide, Diavel concluded that the boss was not really dangerous, while Kibaou drew their attention to the note on the back of the guide that revealed that the guide was based on the information on the boss from the beta, while the current version might be different. After Kibaou finished saying that the information might not be reliable due to it coming from the beta players and that Argo should be the one to prove it first, everyone noticed that Argo had already left the meeting. Asuna then stepped up and told everyone that all they could do was to appreciate the information, causing everyone to be surprised that there was a girl in the meeting.
At that point, Diavel exclaimed that Asuna was right and that the beta testers were not their enemy, as their real enemy was the boss of the floor and thus they should appreciate the information they got. Agil then remarked that this information would likely save them the most dangerous task of scouting raids, though he also remarked that the actual boss raid will likely take sacrifices. Diavel denied this by saying that there would be zero deaths, since if the information had flaws, he would wager his knight's honour to protect everyone. With that, Diavel told everyone to party up to form a raid party. While Asuna was dosing off, everyone aside from Kirito had already formed parties, thus Kirito offered Asuna to party with him, as neither of them could join the raid if they did not have a party. With a cold attitude, Asuna told him that he could do what he wanted: if he invited her, she would have to accept the invitation. After Asuna accepted the invitation and Kirito saw her name pop up in his visual interface, Asuna asked him what he had tried to tell her earlier, as she could not hear it clearly over the sound wind, and Kirito replied that he would tell her if both of them lived through the boss battle. After checking up on all the other members of the raid party, Diavel came up to Kirito and Asuna and, noticing that they were a 2-player party, asked them to support the group fighting the kobold minions. After Kirito accepted the task, Diavel remarked that handling the kobolds, as well as guarding the princess was an important role and that he was jealous of him getting the latter task.
With this, the meeting soon came to an end and Diavel announced that the raid would begin two days later, with everyone meeting at the same spot at 8 AM, thus everyone had a day to either rest, practice, or to just get along. Seeing that Asuna was leaving the scene, Kirito asked her if she was not going to participate in the practice and Asuna remarked that she did not think that fighting the minions was an important role and thus believed that she was not considered as part of the fighting force. Kirito tried to explain the situation while using game terms that Asuna had never heard, thus when she showed a dumbfounded expression at his explanation, Kirito offered to take up a quest in the morning for practice, while he would explain the theory that evening. Therefore, Kirito first offered to go to a bar for their conversation, but, as Asuna rejected the idea since she did not want to be seen in public with him. Kirito was then thinking of offering to go to an NPC's house, but remembered that anyone could enter it, thus he then offered to go to an inn room, which could be locked to prevent being heard from outside, but Asuna rejected the idea too. Kirito then started talking about his own accommodation, mentioning a bath among its benefits, which prompted Asuna to rush to him to confirm whether he had said the word "bath".
That night, Kirito brought Asuna to a farmhouse that he was staying in, as Asuna was interested in trying his bath. After Kirito left the bathroom, Asuna undressed and got into the hot water. Enjoying the bath, she thought that no longer had any regrets, even if she disappeared during the upcoming boss battle. Just then, she remembered that she did have one more wish of eating the cream bread again, but then remembered that everything in Aincrad were just electrical signals sent to her brain; in other words, fake. However, she then wondered if she had ever desired something as strongly in the real world as she did in the virtual world, thus she wondered which of them she should call the "real" thing.
Meanwhile, Kirito was using all of his will power to refrain from looking at the bathroom door by attempting to read Argo's new guide, which he was holding upside down due to lack of focus. Suddenly, Argo knocked on his door and said that she had heard that he and Asuna had left the meeting together and wondered whether he brought her to his place. While trying to dismiss Argo's speculation, Kirito accidentally mentioned the bath. Argo then barged into Kirito's room and became interested in it as she believed that information about it would be valuable. Argo then noticed that the room came with a bathroom and was on her way to enter it when Kirito tried to stop her with the excuse that the bathroom was broken. However, Argo tricked Kirito into letting down his guard and opened the room to the bathroom just as Asuna was getting dressed again. As Kirito saw her putting on her underwear, Asuna punched Kirito out.
The next day, after battling with some monsters, Asuna managed to get a «Wind Fleuret» as a monster drop. While Asuna was admiring her new rapier, Argo advised Asuna to enhance her rapier when they return to town, as throughout her rampage in the Labyrinth, she had acquired enough materials to enhance it to +4. In town, after successfully enhancing her rapier to +4 with the help of a skillful blacksmith that Argo knew and finding out that the materials needed for a +5 upgrade could not be found on this floor, Asuna took her leave, saying that she had some other shopping to do and said that she would meet Kirito the next day. After purchasing new shoes, Asuna found an underwear shop. While she was browsing the shop, Argo, who had been following Asuna, showed up and said that she would be putting up the highest price for information about what she was buying. Some time later, Argo approached Kirito and told him that, based on what Asuna was buying, she did not intend to die. Kirito then stated that all he had asked for was what Asuna had been shopping for, but then decided to pay for the information without actually hearing it.
On the day of the boss battle, Kirito and Asuna met up at the Tolbana square. While greeting his partner, Kirito noticed Asuna's new shoes and, thinking that those were what Asuna wanted to buy, commented that they were a nice choice, while Asuna, who thought that Kirito was talking about her new underwear, exclaimed that they were just for the boss battle.
At the door to the 1st Floor's boss room, Diavel inquired whether anyone from the raid party had any questions before the boss battle. Kirito raised his hand to ask only one question: if a situation different from what was written in the guidebook occurred, whether he would give them the order to retreat. After Diavel reassured everyone that he would not let anyone die, Kibaou remarked that as Kirito was too busy flirting to participate in practise, he had no right to question Diavel's leadership. After encouraging everyone, Diavel opened the doors to the boss room and the battle began.
While Diavel was commanding the raid parties, Kirito and Asuna helped Kibaou's party handle the Ruin Kobold Sentinels. During the battle, Kibaou warned Kirito not to get carried away, having heard rumours about a certain beta player who had been hoarding the Last Attacks on bosses. However, Kirito just ignored Kibaou's comments and warned Asuna that the level of the next Sentinel wave would be high.
As the battle progressed, Illfang's HP had finally dropped to the last bar, triggering him to change his weapon and attack patterns. However, what the boss drew was not a talwar as it was in the beta, but a nōdachi. Noticing this, Kirito immediately shouted for everyone to stay back from the boss, making Kibaou think that Kirito was aiming for the Last Attack. Kirito then stated that Illfang's weapon was different from the beta and shouted to Diavel to run. As members of party C were stunned, Diavel defended the player against Illfang's attack, while Kirito asked the tank to defend the stunned players. Although Agil was about to comment about their lightweight armour, Kirito and Asuna charged through the Sentinels and attempted to reach Diavel. However, Diavel continued with his attack on the boss and activated a Sword Skill but was hit and killed by the boss, while Kirito pushed Asuna to the ground to avoid the boss's attack. The two then hear Diavel's last words to finish the battle, as Diavel shattered to polygons.
- Most of the first chapter, until Asuna's meeting with Kirito in the Labyrinth, was not part of the original light novel.
- In the novel, Asuna's first known meeting with Argo was when Asuna was bathing in Kirito's rented house, but in the manga, Asuna met Argo for the first time after Kirito saved Asuna from a monster that she encountered due to following false information.
- In the manga, Sword Art Online sales began on October 31, 2022, while in the novel, Sword Art Online was only available in stores starting with November 5.
- In the original light novel, Asuna was not surrounded by the Kobolds and Kirito did not have to help her fight them. Instead Kirito came across Asuna overkilling a Ruin Kobold Trooper and only came out after the kobold was killed.
- The kobolds in the novel did not paralyze Asuna.
- In the original light novel, Asuna fell unconscious on her way to search for another kobold to fight, while in the manga, she continued fighting the kobolds that surrounded her with Kirito's help.
- In the original light novel, Asuna herself gave Kirito a copy of her map, thus Kirito did not manipulate Asuna's window without permission and only carried her out of the Labyrinth.
- In the original light novel, Asuna was eating bread in Tolbana when she was approached by Kirito, who offered her cream to make the bread taste better.
- In the original light novel, the 1st Floor's boss was discovered on December 3rd, the day after the first meeting at Tolbana, thus the 2nd meeting was held on December 3rd, with Argo's latest guide on the boss being published that day as well the actual strategy meeting for the boss fight, Kirito partying up with Asuna and ending up telling her about his bath. In the manga, there was only 1 meeting, with the events of the 2nd meeting taking place during the 1st. To compensate for this change, December 3rd was dedicated to be a day for rest and practice, whereas in the novel, the raid began the day after the 2nd meeting.
- Asuna did not reveal herself to the other players to put an end to the talks about the validity of Argo's information in the novel. Instead, Diavel told everyone to be thankful for the information, as it allowed them to skip the scouting battles which had the had the possibility of incurring the most deaths.
- There was no mention of a quest that could only be accepted in the morning in the novel.
- Kirito and Asuna's conversation about inns and other accommodations that could be rented was omitted in the manga.
- In the original story, Argo came to Kirito's house because Kibaou had another offer for Kirito's sword, not because she thought that he had brought Asuna to his house.
- The conversation about the free edition of Argo's guide, as well as Kibaou's new offer for Kirito's sword and Kirito finding out about who wanted to buy his sword were omitted in the manga.
- In the novel, Argo was not as interested in the farmhouse that Kirito rented as in the manga.
- In the novel, Argo went to Kirito's bathroom to equip her night equipment while Kirito was thinking about Kibaou. Moreover, he did not even hear that Argo was going to do so until it was to late to stop her. In the manga, Kirito tried to stop Argo from entering the bath.
- Kirito's comment about Asuna's underwear and Asuna going to a shop to purchase new underwear were not part of the original story.
- The trip from Tolbana to the boss room, including Kirito's conversation with Asuna during the trip and several encounters with Kobolds along the way to the boss room were omitted in the manga.
- The conversation at the boss room door was not present in the light novel.
- In the light novel, Kirito responded to Kibaou's claims by asking him where had he heard it from and Kibaou responded by saying that it was Argo, though Kirito dismissed this as a lie. In the manga, Kirito just ignored Kibaou.
- In the novel, Kirito did not ask Asuna about what a talwar looked like.
- The manga does not show Diavel aiming for the Last Attack on Illfang.
- In the novel, Diavel was among those stunned by the boss during its first attack with the nōdachi and the boss then immediately singled out Diavel and killed him. In the manga, Diavel was not stunned, but died while attempting to finish off the boss.
- In the novel, Diavel was thrown out of the front lines after Illfang's powerful attacks and managed to have a word with Kirito in private before he died.
- In the manga, Kirito did not suspect that Diavel was a beta player too.