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Sword Art Online Progressive Anime Starts With a Movie in 2021

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Sword Art Online Progressive

Sword Art Online: Alicization gave viewers a look at the future of the SAO story by sharing the conclusion of its War of Underworld arc, but it’ll circle back to the beginning for its next anime project. A feature length adaptation of the first arc of Sword Art Online: Progressive is on the way. The film, formally titled Sword Art Online: Progressive ~ Aria of a Starless Night ~,  will be animated by A-1 Pictures and is set to debut in 2021. [Thanks, ANN!]

Check out the first teaser for the film in the following tweet:

The teaser shows off scenes from Asuna’s first day playing the VR MMORPG Sword Art Online, as well as displaying glimpses of characters like Kirito, Klein, Agil, and the announcement by game creator Akihiko Kayaba that everyone logged in was trapped inside, and would die for real if they died in-game.

This may be familiar to fans who’ve seen the original Sword Art Online anime series or the source novels, but Sword Art Online: Progressive is a bit of a different beast. First released in 2012 and ongoing, Progressive is a spin-off that functions as a sort of “remastering” of the original “Aincrad Arc” of Sword Art Online. It explores Kirito and Asuna’s early days stuck in the game, and details their budding relationship and journey up the first few floors of Aincrad Tower in more detail. By comparison, the original Sword Art Online novels jumped back and forth in time, those early days and relationships told of via flashback.

The film will be directed by Ayako Kawano, who worked on series like High School Fleet and Black Butler. Composer Yuki Kajiura, who created music for series like Fate/Zero and Xenosaga Episode II, returns to provide the score for the film.

Sword Art Online: Progressive ~Aria of a Starless Night~ is scheduled to open in 2021 in Japan. The source novels and manga are published in English by Yen Press. The latest SAO game, Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris, is immediately available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and is on track to release new DLC content.

Josh Tolentino
Josh Tolentino helped run Japanator as Managing Editor since 2012, before it and Siliconera teamed up. That said, it's been years since he watched enough anime to keep his otaku license valid. Maybe one day he'll see enough of a given season to pretend to know what's hot. Until then, it's Star Trek reruns, gacha games, and bylines at Destructoid and GameCritics.