Spoiler-Free Review: Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of the Starless Night

story synopsis:

Asuna Yuuki was a girl in the ninth grade who’d never had anything to do with online games when she accidentally put on the NerveGear that fateful day.

The game master speaks.
This may be a game, but it’s not something you play.
“Game Over” means you die in the real world.

Hearing this, the players are sent into a state of confusion, and pandemonium reigns in the game. One of these players is Asuna. Despite not even knowing the rules of this new world, she sets out on her journey to the floating steel castle of Aincrad, its apex not yet visible.

As she continues to live on in this world where death is always a step away, Asuna has a fateful encounter followed by a parting…

Despite being at the mercy of this strange reality, she fights on valiantly until someone appears before her: the solitary swordsman, Kirito…

*Spoiler-Free review!

Alicization is over, back to basics

With Sword Art Online Alicization over, you think the people behind this sci-fi fantasy anime would immediately get started on the next series from the novel. However, it an interesting twist, it was announced a while back that a Sword Art Online film is in the works. The previous Sword Art Online movie we had was in 2017 and it was Sword Art Online the Movie Ordinal Scale. Aniplex announced that they wanted to do a film adaptation of the novel series Sword Art Online Progressive. According to the Wiki, Sword Art Online Progressive is a light novel series created by the same creator, Reki Kawahara, illustrated by the same artist, abec. Launched in 2012, Kawahara wanted to retell the story of the events of Sword Art Online where gamers like Kirito and Asuna was trapped for two years. Since the main series covers partial of the events of Aincrad and the series has evolved to other games, Kawahara wanted to go back and emphasize the events and expand on the character development for Kirito and Asuna. For now, since we’re not getting a new Sword Art Online series, it’s time to go back and see the Sword Art Online Progressive series in animated format.

I saw this movie on Saturday, the day after it was released. I took my girlfriend to see this movie. I haven’t read the novels and I am still reading the manga series. I am just going to cover what I thought about the movie.

Story: This is a story of a straight A student

The movie begins with a young girl named Asuna Yuuki who lives in a simple life with a rich family and excelling her classes at school. Asuna most of her time studying hard and trying to have a successful life. In her free time, she plays a quick game with her classmate Misumi Tozawa. Misumi tells Asuna about the upcoming video game Sword Art Online and tries to convince her to join the game. Hesitant at first, Asuna decides to take the offer and borrows her older brother’s NerveGear headset. Asuna jumps into a new and unfamiliar world of gaming and finds herself in a place that is not about the grades and it’s about VR online gaming. She finds Misumi who goes by the username “Mito” and they have fun together online. However, just like the main story, the story takes a turn for the worst when the log out button is missing and the creator of Sword Art Online Akihiko Kayaba announced that everyone that is logged in who is trapped and forced to beat the game if they want to escape. With no experience in video games, Asuna becomes in a virtual reality nightmare with slim chance of survival. It’s up to Asuna to find her ground and get strong in order to survive.

Review: Back to basics but with Asuna as the lead

After seeing this movie, does the movie outperform the movie Ordinal Scale? Did it offer more on Aincrad compared to the TV anime? Aria of the Starless Night is a refreshing a take on the Aincrad arc with a new focus on characters. In the TV anime, we had mostly Kirito and his adventure and if we count any secondary characters, Asuna also played a big role for Kirito. In this movie, it was interesting to see Asuna to take the spotlight. We know where she came from and what kind of lifestyle she had in her family, but in this movie, we got a glimpse of more on her family and their perspective on Asuna. Besides going back and seeing the struggles of Aincrad, I felt like this movie was an origin story for Asuna. She went from the straight A student to becoming one of the strongest gamers. The newest character in the movie, Mito, also had a hand in the story. Her character helped Asuna go through the challenges of being in a unfamiliar world. However, I feel like Mito reminded me of Kirito but as a girl when it comes to gaming. Speaking of Kirito, his role in the story doesn’t come to light until the middle and climax of the movie. His role has been reduced until the climax where he gets involved with Asuna. Not just him, but other characters like Klein and Agil are a bare minimum in the spotlight. The animation of the movie is pretty good and it’s amazing how far we went from the beginning of Sword Art Online. In pacing wise in story, this feels like what they the first two episodes of Sword Art Online into a movie. While that it’s not really bad idea, but the story takes it slow while we see Asuna build herself up while being with either Mito and Kirito.

Verdict 

Was this a good movie? As a Sword Art Online fan, yes it was. It was a good movie and it was nice to seeing the events of Aincrad in a new perspective. I thought it was nice to see Asuna take the role of the protagonist. While her character is still developing, we got to see some major breakthroughs for her. Mito being Asuna’s friend helped her learn in the ways of gaming and helped her guide her in VR. It can’t be Sword Art Online without Kirito being in the picture. While he does play a role in the movie, it’s not shrunken to the point where he’s nonexistent. We still got to see some Kirito and Asuna interaction. Don’t expect this movie to cover the majority of the events of Aincrad as it just focuses on the beginning of the game’s eventful moment. This movie is not that spectacular than Ordinal Scale, but it does serve its purpose on bringing light to Asuna’s characters and see Aincrad in a bigger picture. Don’t expect a lot if you’re interested in the other characters like Kirito. Overall, this more like an Asuna film. I feel like this movie serves the foundation for the main characters as we enter the next phase of the Progressive story, we might get adventures for Kirito, Asuna and Mito. With the established characters like Asuna and Mito, we could hope that the next film will allow us to see more of Aincrad.

Did you see this movie? What did you think of it?

3 thoughts on “Spoiler-Free Review: Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of the Starless Night

  1. Pingback: 5 Favorite Anime Blog Posts from 2022 Week 02 - Crow's World of Anime

  2. I haven’t seen this movie yet but I’m really looking forward to it! Sadly it didn’t end up playing in theaters over here due to Covid so I just had to wait a bit longer. Glad to hear it was good

    • That stinks. With Covid in the horizon, I fear that movie theaters are going to be strict when launching movies. If you enjoyed SOA, you’ll probably like this movie. I know I did.

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