The highly anticipated anime adaptation of Reki Kawahara's popular Sword Art Online: Progressive light novels will begin as a movie. A rewritten and more detailed version of the famed Aincrad arc from the main series, the film's full title is Sword Art Online THE MOVIE: Aria of a Starless Night. Many excited fans have asked questions about the plot and what type of adaptation Progressive would receive, and some of those have been answered thanks to a new trailer. Here's everything we know so far about the upcoming release.
Sword Art Online: Progressive is a journey back in time to the day Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya and Asuna Yuuki enter the brand new virtual reality RPG Sword Art Online. The problem: there's no way to log out. The game's creator Akihiko Kayaba speaks to all 10,000 players to reveal they are trapped inside this world, and the only way to escape back to the real world is by clearing all 100 floors of the game. If they die in the game, they also die in real life. Every single day becomes a struggle to survive and grow stronger.
The Progressive light novels, however, differ greatly from the original series. This retelling is a floor-by-floor account of Asuna and Kirito's adventures. Each floor is a whole new world of its own with many colorful new characters who have never previously appeared in the anime. Rather than going straight from one major event to the next, Progressive takes its time building up the story with much more time given to character development and major events like boss raids, while Asuna's bond with Kirito grows more slowly and naturally.
The trailer is mostly narrated by Asuna, showing her point of view as someone who knew very little about Sword Art Online or VR games in general before being trapped inside Aincrad. Suddenly, she and the people around her are struggling to come to terms with the fact that their only chance of escape is to clear 100 incredibly difficult and dangerous floors. It's a fitting teaser for the film that stays true to its source material, where the book's chapters alternate between Asuna and Kirito as narrators.
The title Aria of a Starless Night derives from Volume 1, Chapter 1 of the Progressive light novel series and covers events on Aincrad's first floor, in particular Asuna's initial struggle to cope with the realities of her new world.
Cast and Crew
The film is being animated at A-1 Pictures and directed by Ayako Kawano (Your Lie In April, Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic). Character designs are being done by Kento Toya (Sword Art Online, The Irregular at Magic High School). Yuji Kajiura, the longtime composer of Sword Art Online music, returns to work on the Progressive film as well. Voice actor Yoshitsugu Masuoka returns as Kirito and Haruka Tomatsu returns as Asuna.
Sword Art Online Progressive THE MOVIE: Aria of a Starless Night is set to release to theaters in Japan in 2021. No American release date has been announced as yet.