Sword Art Online is an action/adventure Japanese anime series based off of the light novel series of the same name by Reki Kawahara. The series premiered in Japan on Tokyo MX, and several other channels, on July 7, 2012. The series is produced by Aniplex and Genco and animated by A-1 Pictures. The series was directed by Tomohiko Ito, with music composed by Yuki Kajiura.
In 2012, the series was licensed in North America by Aniplex USA who contracted Bang Zoom! Entertainment to make an English dub. The English dub aired on Adult Swim's Toonami block from July 27, 2013 to February 15, 2014. The series was rated TV-PG-LSV and TV-14-LSV on Adult Swim.
Set initially in the year 2022, a Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online (SAO) has just been released. In the game, players control their avatars just as they would with their real bodies using the Nerve Gear, a VR Helmet that stimulates the user's five senses via their brain. However, on its first day out of the beta testing period, the players soon discover that they cannot log out.
The creator of the game, Akihiko Kayaba, makes an appearance shortly after and issues them an ultimatum: if they die in the game so would their bodies in the real world, and if they wish to be freed from the game, they must reach the 100th floor of the game's world and defeat the final boss. As the players try to face their new deadly predicament, two skilled swordsmen, Kirito and Asuna, are determined to win and be free. The second part of the anime takes place in ALfheim Online (ALO), a spiritual successor to SAO developed by the company who took over the maintenance of SAO during the crisis, where it is discovered that Asuna is being held captive in the new virtual world, still unable to logout and hospitalized in the real world, and follows Kirito fighting alongside new allies in ALO to rescue her.
Upon being sent back to the real world, Kirito learns that Asuna and 300 other SAO players have still not awakened yet. Following a clue about Asuna's whereabouts in another VRMMORPG called Alfheim Online (ALO), Kirito also enters the ALO's mainframe. Helped by his sister Suguha Kirigaya, known as Leafa in the game, he learns that the trapped players in ALO are part of a plan conceived by Nobuyuki Sugō to perform illegal experiments on their minds to put them under his control, including Asuna, whom he intends to marry in the real world in order to take over her family's company. After Kirito foils Nobuyuki's plans, he finally reunites with Asuna back in the real world.
Sword Art Online
The first virtual game world, as well as the setting of the first arc of the story, known as SAO for short. The world takes the form of a giant floating castle called Aincrad, with 100 floors in it. Each floor has a medieval-themed setting and a dungeon with a boss, which has to be defeated before players can advance to the next higher floor. Like most RPGs, it implements a level-based system. However, the game is altered in a manner in which players are unable to log out, and if players die in-game, their real life body dies too.
The setting for the second arc of the story, known as ALO for short. All players in the game have wings and are capable of flight. It is a large world, divided into separate "homelands" for each of its fairy races. In Alfheim's center is a very large tree called the World Tree, and the goal of the game is to reach the top of the tree. It implements a skill-based system with players increasing their stats by developing both their combat and non-combat skills.
Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) — Kazuto, who uses the portmanteau "Kirito" as his character name, is a "solo" player who has been branded a beater (a portmanteau of beta tester and cheater) by the players in Sword Art Online. When it is announced that the players of Sword Art Online can no longer log-out, he is distraught like everyone else, but quickly overcomes the shock. He power levels to improve his odds of survival in the game, and emerges as a frontline clearer of floors known as the Black Swordsman. In SAO, he is the sole possessor of a unique skill, «Dual Blades». During his time in SAO, he falls in love with a female player, Asuna, and even marries her in-game.
After the end of the Sword Art Online incident, 300 people have yet to wake up including Kirito's SAO wife Asuna. He is sent a picture from another VRMMORPG called Alfheim Online in which Asuna could be seen in a cage on the legendary World Tree, which no Alfheim player had ever reached directly, Kirito decides to take a copy of the game and rescue Asuna nonetheless. Shortly after joining Alfheim, he befriends another player called Leafa. Leafa helps Kirito grasp the game and offers to help him reach the world tree. After a long journey and many adventures, Kirito manages to reach the world tree and overcomes its obstacles to reach the top. He rescues Asuna and discovers that his companion Leafa was actually his cousin Suguha. As ALO and SAO share the same game engine among other features, a bug allows Kirito to retain most of the skills and money he obtained in SAO upon playing ALO with the same Nerve Gear, already beginning his journey with an advantage over other players, despite he ends up forced to discard all items as they were not recognized by the system except the one containing Yui, which reformats itself as a navigation pixie.
In the real world, he lives with his mother and younger cousin/sister in a family of three. He was adopted by Minetaka and Midori Kirigaya (Suguha's parents). His mother (who is actually Midori's sister) and father passed away after an accident when he was a year old. He finds out the truth at age ten.
Asuna Yuki — Asuna is a friend of Kirito, and a sub-leader of the Knights of the Blood Oath, a medium-sized guild acknowledged as the strongest guild in Aincrad. Being one of the few girls that play SAO and extremely attractive, she receives many invitations and proposals. Asuna is a strong-willed, accomplished player known in-game as the "Flash" for her extraordinary sword skill. Later, she falls in love with Kirito and they marry in-game.
Despite the completion of SAO, Asuna does not wake up and is instead imprisoned in another VRMMORPG called Alfheim Online. She is forced to play the role of Titania the Queen of Fairies, with Nobuyuki Sugō, the man responsible for imprisoning her, playing as Oberon the Fairy King. This was done so that Nobuyuki Sugō could marry Asuna in the real world, while she was unconscious, and thus take over RCT Progress Inc. She constantly tries to get out of the World Tree where she is imprisoned and escape going so far as to steal a GM card which she throws out of the window when she hears Yui's voice. Upon being freed she created two avatars for Alfleim, Asuna (being the healer of the team) and Erika (a battle type avatar) and went on living with Kirito.
In the real world, Asuna lives a very stressful life, and is constantly pressured to fulfill her parents' high expectations. Prior to the SAO incident, she led her life unquestioningly according to her parents' demands. However, after living in SAO and meeting Kirito, she gains perspective and looks back on her past with disgust. She eventually becomes Kirito's girlfriend, and dreams of marrying him and having a family with him in the real world.
Suguha Kirigaya (Leafa) — Suguha, alias Leafa, is Kirito's younger cousin in the real world. She is a diligent worker and has been practicing Kendo for 8 years. Kirito/Kazuto calls her "Sugu". After Kazuto gets trapped in Sword Art Online, she begins playing Alfheim Online in an attempt to understand him better. She develops feelings for Kazuto after she learns that he is not really her brother, but understands that his feelings for Asuna are too strong. Coincidentally, she meets Kazuto's avatar, Kirito, in Alfheim and aids him in his search for Asuna, unaware of Kirito's true identity. After understanding the depth of Kazuto's love for Asuna, she resolves to give up on him and instead becomes attached to Kirito in ALO, but later is heartbroken when she finds out that Kazuto and Kirito are one and the same. Nevertheless, she pulls herself together and aids Kirito in rescuing Asuna.
Yui — Initially a side story character in SAO, Yui later becomes an accompanying/support character in ALO. At first thought to be a lost child in SAO, she is actually an artificial intelligence program. Her full designation is «Mental Health - Counselling Program», MHCP version 1, codename, «Yui». She was designed to monitor the emotions of players and appear at their sides to hear and help them out. However, since the moment everyone was imprisoned in Sword Art Online, she was forbidden to come in contact with the players and complete her prime directive. Unable to do anything but suffer as she monitored the emotions of the trapped players, she came upon Kirito and Asuna whose emotions stood out as a beacon of joy and peace in a sea of fear and despair. She sought them out, appearing to them as an amnesia child whom they adopted. In the end she was nearly deleted by Cardinal, the management system of SAO. But Kirito saved her by converting and storing her data into his own Nerve Gear. Yui later shows up in ALO as a Private Navigation Pixie and helps Kirito along with Leafa to find Asuna. She refers to Kirito as "Papa" and Asuna as "Mama" and gets very annoyed if any girl other than Leafa or Asuna gets close to Kirito. Kirito uses his skills and resources in the real world to construct a device for Yui to view the real world even while she is in virtual reality and gives her the ability to communicate with them.
Klein — Klein is Kirito's first friend before meeting Asuna. He became Kirito's friend after he asked Kirito to teach him to play SAO. Klein was one of the few people that Kirito considered as a "friend". Klein really cares for his friends and is dedicated to keep them all alive, which Kirito greatly respects. Klein tends to worry about Kirito, since he knows his loner nature.
Agil — Agil is an axe wielding merchant who has a good relationship with Kirito. He is one of the two people who knows the reason why Kirito became a Beater (the other being Asuna). Like Klein and Asuna, he also respects Kirito, and is always offering any help he can when Kirito needs it. Outside of SAO he is married and the owner of the Dicey Cafe where Kirito and his friends often meet up.
Silica — Silica is a player that Kirito met when he was wandering around in the 35th floor. When Silica asked him why is he being kind to her, he gave her a "manga-like" answer that she resembles his "sister". As they journey together, Silica begins to develop feelings for Kirito. After reviving Pina, she realizes that she can't follow Kirito to the Frontlines due to her lower level, although she still is happy to be able to meet him and they keep in touch by adding each other as friends, something Asuna later noted as rare due to Kirito being an antisocial solo player.
Lisbeth — A close friend of Asuna, was approached by Kirito for her blacksmithing skills (a referral from Asuna). Kirito requested a custom sword, and she forced him to accompany her in a quest to find the special ore required for the job. During the quest, due to his actions and his unexpected kindness and virtues, she develops feelings for Kirito. After the quest, she requests to become Kirito's personal blacksmith, hinting a romantic nature (which Kirito immediately realizes). She is devastated when she finds out that Kirito is Asuna's crush and there are mutual feelings between the two. Though her feelings were unrequited, she finds solace when Kirito tells her about the "Black Cats" and admits, for the first time after losing his guild, he had felt alive again when he was partying with her.
|Color||Story Arc||Episodes||Toonami Premiere||Toonami Finale|
|Aincrad Arc||14||July 27, 2013||November 2, 2013|
|Fairy Dance Arc||11||November 9, 2013||February 15, 2014|
The series was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan beginning on October 24, 2012, with each volume containing a bonus Sword Art Offline episode. A special film titled Sword Art Online: Extra Edition was also globally released on December 31, 2013. The English version of the series was released by Aniplex of America in four DVD and Blu-ray sets, with special extras on the BD sets, between August 13, 2013 and November 19, 2013.
Sword Art Online aired in Japan on Tokyo MX, tvk, TVS, TVA, RKB, HBC and MBS between July 7, 2012 and December 22, 2012, and on AT-X, Chiba TV and BS11 at later dates. The series was also streamed on Crunchyroll and Hulu with English subtitles. The English dub of the series aired on Adult Swim's Toonami block from July 27, 2013 to February 15, 2014.
- Japan (Tokyo MX, tsk, TVS, TVA, RKB, HBC, MBS) — July 7, 2012 - December 22, 2012
- United States (Adult Swim) — July 27, 2013 - February 15, 2014
- Australia (ABC3) — June 7, 2014 - 2015
- "Sword Art Online Coming July 27th ". toonami.tumblr.com. June 28, 2013. http://toonami.tumblr.com/post/54151031378/sword-art-online-coming-july-27th-only-toonami. Retrieved on March 31, 2015.
- "ONAIR ". swordart-online.net. https://www.swordart-online.net/onair/index.html. Retrieved on January 24, 2020.
- "Aniplex USA Adds Sword Art Online, Blast of Tempest, Magi Anime ". animenewsnetwork.com. October 12, 2012. https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2012-10-12/aniplex-usa-adds-sword-art-online-blast-of-tempest-magi-anime. Retrieved on January 24, 2020.
- "Tonaight's Line Up ". toonami.tumblr.com. July 27, 2013. http://toonami.tumblr.com/post/56606628052/tonights-line-up. Retrieved on September 28, 2014.
- "More Anime for your TV screen! Sword Art Online coming to ABC3 ". Madman Entertainment. May 29, 2014. http://www.madman.com.au/news/more-anime-for-your-tv-screen-sword-art-online-coming-to-abc3/. Retrieved on April 29, 2016.
|Cartoon Network (1997-2008)|
|Adult Swim (2012-Present)|