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This past weekend, Aniplex released a third trailer for the upcoming Sword Art Online: Progressive feature film Aria of a Starless Night. The trailer is available to view in both 30 and 15-second formats respectively and each includes English subtitles.
During the virtual Sword Art Online panel at Aniplex Online Fest on July 3rd, Aniplex revealed that Aria of a Starless Night will premiere in Japanese theaters on October 30, 2021. In regards to a release stateside, Aniplex USA stated that “More information regarding the U.S. release will be coming soon!”
Sword Art Online on Twitter: “#NEWS Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night announces a new key visual and release date in Japan at Aniplex Online Fest! ✨More information regarding the U.S. release will be coming soon! Visit the official English website: https://t.co/TDlogwnrkf pic.twitter.com/pjVOt4I7hy / Twitter”
NEWS Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night announces a new key visual and release date in Japan at Aniplex Online Fest! ✨More information regarding the U.S. release will be coming soon! Visit the official English website: https://t.co/TDlogwnrkf pic.twitter.com/pjVOt4I7hy
Sword Art Online: Progressive is a retelling of the Aincrad arc from the ground-up, covering Kirito and Asuna’s original journey up the floating castle the story arc is named after, including events that were primarily skipped over in the original story. Kawahara published the first volume of Progressive in 2012; around the same time, Sword Art Online’s first season was airing in Japan. This side-story is presently ongoing, with eight books published so far.
Aria of a Starless Night will cover the first 121 pages of the first volume, something which was covered in Episode 2 of the first season. The film will expand on those events, including anime-only plotlines featuring a new character in Mito. Mito will be voiced by Inori Minase. She’ll be joined by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kirito and Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna.
On the official Japanese Sword Art Online website, characters visuals of Kirito, Asuna, and Mito were also released, showing the three protagonists in their game world outfits.
At the moment, what Aniplex’s long-term plans are for Progressive is just speculation, whether this could be the first of a series of movies (similar to the Rebuild of Evangelion films) or if this will be a gateway to a new season (similar to Dragon Ball Super).
Depending on what Reki Kawahara, A1 Pictures, and Aniplex’s long-term plans are for the Progressive series, the decision to make Sword Art Online: Progressive begin as a movie could potentially have ramifications for Toonami viewers in regards to future seasons of the franchise. As Aniplex does not make television retellings or recaps of their canon films, combined with budgetary issues preventing Toonami from airing many movies in the modern era, there is concern among some viewers that Aniplex and Toonami will risk disenfranchising viewers by skipping Aria of a Starless Night and potentially other parts of Progressive over for the Toonami audience. This is a similar issue Demon Slayer fans are potentially facing with the Mugen Train film. Such a controversial move would not be without precedent, as when Toonami deferred from airing Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale when the show returned to the block for Project Alicization back in 2018. Although Ordinal Scale was not in the original light novels, fans have noticed that the author has integrated elements and plot lines from that movie into the anime and light novels going forward. If you missed it, I discuss this looming problem in further detail in my editorial: “Is Toonami’s “No Movies” Policy Coming Back to Haunt Its Viewers?”
What are your thoughts on the recent news? Are you looking forward to the SAO film? Let us know by commenting below or directly on our social media.