Read or Die


Sword Art Online 24 (light novel): Unital Ring III by Reki Kawahara

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With so many story arcs in play, one’s inevitably bound to suffer. And when Unital Ring quickly followed on the heels of Moon Cradle without a resolution to the latter, I suspected a momentary “blip” on the part of Kawahara-san’s brain. There was so much material left wanting on the table (200 years worth), with no satisfactory explanation for why that gap existed. And unfortunately, the details continue to remain lost.

This volume seemed like a desperate attempt to bridge the two storylines together, but it failed. Instead, it read more like an, “Oops – realized I dropped the ball.” And there was no satisfactory justification as to why Kirito and Asuna’s minds lost 200 years of memory. Everyone behaves as if the erasure of an entire lifetime is acceptable – no suspicion or curiosity. (At least, not until it becomes convenient to question the lack) Kawahara-san would have been better served setting up Moon Cradle as a separate series, much in the way of the Progressive story arc. It would have made more sense and read smoother – at least at this point in time.

And the sudden arrival of Mutasina felt gimmicky. Naturally, a cast of characters needs opposition to move a plot forward. But an antagonist that breaks the reasonable limits imposed by the new game’s parameters? It’s a pattern that’s been done to death at this point in the series. Unital Ring promised something out of the ordinary, but it feels like it’s slipping back into old habits. (Don’t get me started on the arrival of the Reaper) I’m willing to reserve judgment until I see where the latest battle leads, but I wonder if Kawahara-san has finally run out of new ideas.

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