For those wishing to re-experience the start of the iconic Sword Art Online franchise, we’ll be able to dive back into the life-or-death world of Aincard soon with Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night, a brand new feature film that will be coming to cinemas in the UK and Ireland, the distributor Funimation UK announced today.
The film is an adaptation of Sword Art Online -Progressive-, a spin-off light novel series by the franchise’s original author Reki Kawahara. The series is an expanded retelling of the first story arc, covering the progression of each floor in the virtual world of Aincrad, with a greater emphasis on the franchise’s lead heroine, Asuna Yuuki.
Funimation describe the film’s story as follows:
This is a tale of the time before “Lightning Flash” and “The Black Swordsman” were known by those names…
The day that she happened to don the NerveGear, Asuna Yuuki was a third-year middle school student who’d never even touched an online game before.
On November 6, 2022, the world’s first VRMMORPG, Sword Art Online, is officially launched. But the players, still euphoric over having logged in, suddenly find themselves trapped inside the game when the Game Master deprives them of any way to log out.
The Game Master then gives them this warning “This may be a game, but it’s not something you play.” If a player dies in-game, they die in the real world.
Hearing this, all of the players panic, and pandemonium reigns.
One of those players is Asuna, but despite not yet knowing the rules of this world, she sets off to conquer the floating iron castle, Aincrad, whose peak is too high to be seen.
As the days go by in this world where death is never very far away, she has a fateful encounter. And then, a parting…
Though she’s at the mercy of the reality before her eyes, Asuna fights on with all her might, until someone appears before her: the aloof swordsman, Kirito…
Sword Art Online -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night is scheduled to be released in Japan on 30th October 2021, North America and Canada on 3rd December, then Australia and New Zealand on 9th December. A release date for the United Kingdom and Ireland has yet to be announced.
The light novel series was first released in 2012, with eight volumes currently released in Japan since, six of which are available localised into English by Yen Press. The series also received a manga adaptation with art by Kiseki Himura has been published since 2014, and in English by Yen Press since 2015.
This marks the Sword Art Online franchise’s return to Funimation UK, who previously released the very first season while they were still known as Manga Entertainment. Subsequent seasons of the television anime, its spin-off Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, and 2017’s film Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale were released by Anime Limited, who have the fourth season Sword Art Online Alicization: War of Underworld scheduled for home video release in two parts in November and December.