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Sword Art Online: Girls’ Ops Vol. #01 Manga Review

3 min read

Sword Art Online Girls Ops Volume 1 CoverLet’s hear it for the girls!

Creative Staff
Original Story: Reki Kawahara
Art: Neko Nekobyou
Character Design: abec
Translation: Stephen Paul

What They Say
The ladies of Sword Art Online – Liz, Silica, and Leafa – go on their own grand adventure in a VRMMO without Kirito! Follow these plucky women as they live the springtime of youth to the fullest, meeting new people and taking center stage!

The cover here is a nice one of the three main girls with Kuro in the background, over a plain white transitioning into a blue sky. The back cover has a rather cute chibi style image alongside the usual synopsis. A color page at the start and some short bonus comics/images are included as extras. Honorifics are used, sound effects are left in their original format and translated, text reads smoothly, and paper feels solid.

The art style here has a nice, clean look to it. Characters are all distinctive and expressions come across well. Backgrounds appear frequently and look nice, and action comes across well. It doesn’t really stand out in any particular area, but it’s a book with solid art that certainly does its job.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
After the events of Fairy Dance, Lisbeth and Silica are good friends in real life. One day, they end up discussing the new Aincrad quest for Angel’s Whisper Rings, a semi-romantic item that lets you send voice messages to someone when you’ve traded rings. Along with Leafa, they soon find themselves logging into Alfheim Online and undertaking the quest, which involves the requests of a rather tsundere angel NPC. Though this was originally a quest in SAO, it seems to have undergone some upgrades since that time, which gives our heroines quite a shock. They’re more shocked, though, when someone who appears to be Kirito takes down one of the quest bosses before their very eyes. However, it turns out that this is actually a female player named Kuro who had been a part of SAO, and just happened to end up with an appearance like Kirito’s, who she then modeled herself after.

When the group returns to finish the quest with the angel, it turns out that she’s been kidnapped, extending the quest further. They prepare to go together, but Kuro insists that she has to complete the quest alone. Though they comply at first, they decide to follow, realizing that Kuro is hurting because she lost someone in the cruel world of SAO. This ends up putting Kuro in a rather unstable mental position, but with the right push she finally manages to overcome, and becomes a true friend to the girls in the process.

Finally, how will the girls react to the surprise of meeting Kuro in the real world? And what adventures await them as they continue to journey together?

In Summary
With this introductory volume, we’re treated to a rather interesting tale focused around a single game quest and the new character of Kuro. Fortunately, Kuro manages to be a rather intriguing character that’s quite likable and has a bit of depth. The quest itself is also surprisingly quirky and charming, and makes for a nice bit of theming for the story. Perhaps most of all, though, it’s nice to see these characters finally removed from being so very focused on Kirito. He certainly still comes up, but unlike in the novels, their fixation on him isn’t the sole core of their characters, and they’re allowed to actually grow and become their own people. All in all this is a surprisingly charming little book, and one that fans of the main series should be sure to give a look, as it definitely has potential and works quite well as a spinoff.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B+
Package Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2015
MSRP: $12.99