Title: Sword Art Online: Project Alicization Vol. 3
Author: Reki Kawahara
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Publisher: Yen Press
The adventure of Kirito and Eugeo continues in the manga adaptation of Sword Art Online Project Alicization Vol. 3. A lot happens in this volume in terms of understanding just what is going on with Kirito and his hazy memories, but we also get a better understand of the world. More importantly, the volume has tackled its pacing issues by understanding when and where to insert exposition. In case you missed it, check out our reviews for Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.
Sword Art Online Project Alicization Vol. 3 begins back at that damn Gigas Cedar as Kirito and Eugeo both work overtime to take it down. After the run-in with the goblins, their levels have increased, and things have become a little easier for them. However, it isn’t until Kirito and Eugeo begin to practice with the Rose Sword until the plot starts moving. This opening establishes the adventure to come and reminds us that these two have a lot of obstacles that are standing in their way.
From here, we get an insight into the reason this virtual world even exists. These moments were significant not to overdo it for the reader and make it easy to understand what’s going on. This is all delivered masterfully, and I never felt like the characters were talking in code, or the writing was overdoing the jargon just to sound intelligent. Returning to the virtual world with a new understanding of it sets the foundation for the rules and how Kirito takes advantage of them.
This is a highly emotional volume that really tries to sell the hierarchy of this world. Given that Kirito and Eugeo aren’t of noble status, they are looked down upon. While there are a set of bullies used to accentuate this, I believe that the anecdote delivered by Tiese really sells this world’s issues. Of course, we know these people can’t break the rules, but I find it clever how everyone seems to bend them somehow. Still, I wish Kirito and his tutor got to spend a little more time together in this volume, at least a scene of her offering him some genuine advice of her character.
The illustrations from Koutarou Yamada are by far some of the best in manga today. I feel like he knows it, too, because there are just full-page panels that depict some stunning scenes. Character emotions are shown to perfection and almost anime-level qualities of setting design. I just loved the attention to architecture that provides a real sense of where we are in the world. This is also shown in the reality segments that only prove how versatile Yamada-san’s works are.
Sword Art Online Project Alicization Vol. 3 is a much better-paced volume as it delivers some of the most exposition that we’ve seen in the series so far. Many questions are answered, but how Kirito finds his way is entirely up in the air. Wondering if there’s still hope for him in the real world is also up to speculation, which leaves the following volumes to deliver the results of this significant volume.
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