Sword Art Online (Japanese: ソードアート・オンライン Hepburn: Sōdo Āto Onrain) is a Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec. The series takes place in the near future and focuses on protagonist Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya and Asuna Yuuki as they play through various virtual reality MMORPG worlds. Kawahara originally wrote the series as a web novel on his website from 2002 to 2008. The light novels began publication on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeki Bunko imprint from April 10, 2009, with a spin-off series launching in October 2012. The series has spawned eight manga adaptations published by ASCII Media Works and Kadokawa. The novels and four of the manga adaptations have been licensed for release in North America by Yen Press.
The story begins in 2022 when a new virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) called “Sword Art Online” gets released. The game requires players to use a special helmet called NerveGear, which stimulates the user’s five senses via their brain. This function allows players to control their in-game characters with their minds. Ten thousand players log into “Sword Art Online” for the first time on November 6th and quickly find out that the game lacks a log-out feature. They get told by Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of “Sword Art Online” and NerveGear, that to leave the action game, they must reach the 100th floor of the game’s castle, Aincard, and defeat the final boss. If the NerveGear gets removed forcibly, it sends out a powerful microwave that kills the user. If the player dies in-game, the same thing occurs.
This feature suddenly makes “Sword Art Online” a death match, and as a story can adequately analyze the effects our virtual personas have on our actual personality as well as explain whether or not the friendships and relationships we cultivate in a game are real.