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With the release of the upcoming Sword Art Online: Progressive film, Aria of a Starless Night just a month away in Japan, to be released on October 30, fans of Sword Art Online in the Western Hemisphere have wondered when they will get their chance to see this highly anticipated latest edition of the Sword Art Online franchise.
This morning, Aniplex USA revealed on their social media pages that the film will premiere in theaters in the United States and Canada on December 3, 2021, 34 days after the Japanese premiere.
The theatrical screenings of Aria of a Starless Night will include both subbed and dubbed screenings, meaning that a dub for the film is already in production for December. There will also be options for those wishing to view the film in IMAX theaters.
Aniplex USA plans to start accepting ticket pre-orders beginning on November 5.
In comparison, the previous Sword Art Online film, Ordinal Scale, saw its theatrical premiere in the United States subbed on March 9 and dubbed on April 22, 2017, 19 and 68 days respectively after the Japanese premiere on February 18, 2017.
Sword Art Online on Twitter: “#NEWS Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night is coming to theatres and IMAX subbed and dubbed on December 3, 2021!! ⚡⚔️ Tickets go on sale November 5th!For more information: https://t.co/TDlogw5QsH #sao pic.twitter.com/qeYCyWi4XO / Twitter”
NEWS Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night is coming to theatres and IMAX subbed and dubbed on December 3, 2021!! ⚡⚔️ Tickets go on sale November 5th!For more information: https://t.co/TDlogw5QsH #sao pic.twitter.com/qeYCyWi4XO
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 skipped over in the original story. Kawahara published the first volume of Progressive in 2012; around the same time that Sword Art Online’s first season was airing in Japan. This side-story is presently ongoing, with eight books published so far. In the U.S. and Canada, the light novels and manga for Sword Art Online Progressive, as with other installments in the SAO franchise, are translated and distributed by Yen Press.
Aria of a Starless Night will cover the first 121 pages of the first volume, something which was covered in Episode 02 of the first season. The film will expand on those events, including an anime-only storyline featuring a new character named Mito.
Mito will be voiced in Japanese by Inori Minase. She’ll be joined by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kirito and Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna. The English dub cast has yet to be revealed at this time, including whether Bryce Papenbrook and Cherami Leigh will reprise their roles as Kirito and Asuna respectively.
Cherami Leigh on Twitter: “What?!?!?! I cannot be more excited about this! https://t.co/Va2s7jSh58 / Twitter”
What?!?!?! I cannot be more excited about this! https://t.co/Va2s7jSh58
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 have ramifications for Toonami viewers in regards to future seasons of the franchise. Due to budgetary issues alongside other possible airing rights 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. 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?”
Previously, Aniplex did not make television retellings or recaps of their canon films, exemplified when Toonami skipped airing Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale when the show returned for the Project Alicization arc back in 2018. Unfortunately, this move turned out to be pretty consequential for the block’s viewers in the long run. While Ordinal Scale was not in the original light novels, the film is nonetheless canon to the storyline as the author Reki Kawahara has integrated elements and plot lines from that movie into the anime and light novels going forward.
There is a potential glimmer of hope for Toonami viewers (and TV viewers in general for that matter) on that front, thanks to recent developments on another Aniplex franchise Toonami airs. On Saturday, ufotable announced that Demon Slayer’s highly anticipated second season will kick off with the Mugen Train arc retold into a seven-episode television arc, potentially avoiding a similar issue occurring if and when Demon Slayer returns to Toonami. However, whether A-1 Pictures can make a similar arrangement for Progressive is something that is still to be determined.
What are your thoughts on the recent SAO news? Do you plan on viewing “Aria of a Starless Night” in theaters? Let us know by commenting below or directly on our social media.