Story/Art: Reki Kawahara/Kiseki Himura
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul
What They Say
While Nezha attempts to atone for his misdeeds, the battle against Sword Art Online’s second-floor boss begins! Kirito’s uneasy alliance with the other front-runners seems to be holding, but what will happen when the floor boss corners them? Can Nezha rise to the occasion and seize a hero’s prize?
Asuna has been the star of Progressive, but in Volume 004, she leaves the stage for nearly two chapters as the story shifts to the fighters on the front line. While Kirito plays a big part in this section, it’s as much about Agil, Lind, and Kibaou as it is about our black swordsman.This is still early in SAO so the players are still figuring one another out, and it’s amusing to watch egos clash as they collaborate toward the common goal of defeating the Second Floor Boss.
Fortunately, lessons were learned in the previous boss fight, and it’s a very interesting moment when Kibaou, of all people, suggests to the entire raid party that they hear what Kirito has to say about the beta test version. Kirito does have the ”beater” stigma hovering over him, but he’s not the ostracized lone-wolf he was in the anime. Instead, most players realize what he has to offer and would rather have those skills working alongside them. As such, Kirito’s pretty much part of the team as the raid party opens the Boss’ door.
Unlike the first boss fight, this is new material, and the battle completely sucked me in. I don’t often categorize battles as “epic,” but I wouldn’t hesitate to call this one as such. It’s got several unexpected twists along the way, including Asuna’s grand return to the front line. The panels sometimes get a bit squished because so much is happening, but the illustrations do an excellent job of conveying action and emotion. And although heroics and desperation dominate in heat of battle, the creators manage to fit in appropriately funny bits and a romantic moment as well. While I could personally do without the gratuitous Asuna panty shots, this boss fight and its aftermath made me want to stand up and cheer.
Extras include the title page and table of contents in color and bonus illustration.
I am truly impressed with how the creators wrap up the Level 2 arc in this volume. Great action, solid plot, excellent character development, and several surprises to keep things exciting. If the rest of the floors in SAO: Progressive are like this, then I’m in for the whole journey.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 22nd, 2016