Read or Die

Review of Reki Kawahara’s SAO 22: Kiss and Fly

Sword Art Online 22 (light novel): Kiss and Fly by Reki Kawahara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Getting thrown out of the current story arc never sits well. You’ve invested in the plot, and you already switched your brain to the new problems the characters are encountering. That said, Kawahara-san never fails to deliver on solid storytelling, exploring details and elements of the various worlds you committed to over the past 21+ volumes. (Well, 21+ depending on whether you picked up the Progressive and GGO arcs – not that GGO makes an appearance here; merely a demonstration of the breadth of possibility).

Some of the tales work better than others, as you might expect from a short story collection. While amusing, “The Day Before” felt awkward given the number of revisits to that particular section of Kirito and Asuna’s tale. I love any reference of Argo, but it felt like a throw-away. Meanwhile, “Rainbow Bridge” went nowhere. Is Kawahara-san laying the groundwork for a future story arc? It’s the only explanation I could see.

On the other hand, “Sisters’ Prayer” meets every expectation one could have. It also provokes thought, considering some of the developments going on with tech these days. The raw emotion comes through as beautifully as any lover of “Mother’s Rosary” could want. So everything falls into a rough balance – once you get past the annoyance of jolting out of the current story arc, anyway.

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