Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night Review

Sword Art Online's debut nearly ten years ago changed the dynamics of the anime industry as the producers began to focus on producing game-oriented storylines to fulfill public demands. Nowadays, there are countless anime that feature storylines similar to Sword Art Online, but none of them could replace the worth of the original SAO. Although we have got various sequels of Sword Art Online throughout the decade, the original Aincrad storyline was something else. 

Keeping in view the interests of SAO fans, the creators finally decided to release a reboot of the original SAO in the form of a movie, and here we have Sword Art Online Progressive right in front of us. Let’s do a detailed review of SAO Progressive along with other facts. 

Sword Art Online Progressive Plot 

Since SAO Progressive is a reboot of the original storyline, creators find it hard to incorporate any major changes as every change will directly affect the original SAO. To tackle this problem, they decided to make it a non-canon version and adapted the storyline of the SAO Progressive light novel. The major difference between SAO Progressive and Original SAO is that this movie depicts the story from Asuna’s point of view while the original one followed Kirito’s. Although people had doubts about this change as changing point of view might not be a great initiative, surprisingly, it turned out very well as fans got to discover more insights about Asuna’s character and how she ended up in SAO in the first place.

The major portion of SAO Progressive is focused on Asuna. Right off the bat, we get to see Asuna’s mother, who has raised her under strict restrictions causing her to develop an uptight personality. Asuna never got to know the feeling of accomplishment as her mother always degraded her even when she performed well in exams. 

Later, we get introduced to a new character, a girl named Misumi Tozawa, who is a topper in Asuna’s class. Through a series of events, Asuna ends up becoming friends with her. Surprisingly, Misumi, also known as Mito, turned out to be a hardcore gamer who compelled Asuna to join her as well. Asuna ended up using the Nerve Gear of her brother to dive into the virtual world of SAO, only to regret it later as the game’s creator (Akihiko Kayaba) had removed the log-out feature and that the only way out was to clear the game. To make it closer to reality, dying in this game will also result in death in the real world. 


Being a complete noob, Asuna has to depend on Mito to survive, but for how long will Mito protect Asuna? The plot gets more twisted as we go further, but it is indeed worth the time.

Sword Art Online Progressive Review

Overall, SAO Progressive managed to make a huge impact on the audience and gained a whopping score of 8.02 on the My Anime List (MAL) which shows the success of this movie. The idea of introducing an original character like Mito worked like magic as her existence helped Asuna gain character development which would not have been possible without her. The way Asuna goes from a crybaby to a badass player is just amazing, and it also became possible because of Mito. In a way, the movie would have been just perfect even if the creators didn’t introduce Kirito, as the storyline's main focus is Asuna and Mito and their journey through the world of SAO.

As far as opinions and comments of the audience are concerned, the majority of people liked SAO Progressive, but there were some flaws that they couldn’t help but notice, like how Kirito stepped into the storyline out of nowhere, causing the audience to depict his debut as a forced element. Moreover, the movie tends to simply forget Mito, who contributed a lot to Asuna’s characterization after the debut of Kirito. I can feel the trouble of the creators over this fact, as the storyline wouldn’t go as planned without Kirito. To make sure the storyline stays true to the original SAO, the creators made the hard choice of removing Mito from the spotlight and shifting the focus to Asuna and Kirito's relationship. It is disappointing that Mito just vanishes out of the picture, but in the end, it was a sacrifice they had to make earlier or later. I would at least admire how they dragged Mito away from us by featuring that she abandoned Asuna for her own safety.

Upon analyzing SAO Progressive on a deeper level, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that even with the flaws, the movie is a great addition to the SAO Franchise as its good points prevail over everything else. I can’t get over the animation of SAO Progressive, as it is definitely an upgrade of the original SAO. The whole credit of spectacular animation goes to A-1 Pictures; that never lets us down.

Sword Art Online Progressive Part 2 Release Date

Since SAO Progressive received mixed reviews from the audience, many expected the creators to either delay the second part of it or completely drop it. Fortunately, the creators didn’t abandon the series and announced the production of the SAO Progressive Sequel. However, the interesting thing is that it is scheduled to release on 10/Sep/2022, which is pretty good considering there is only a year difference. SAO Progressive sequel is officially named SAO Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night. The name probably indicates the arc this movie will cover, just like the first one is called SAO Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night.

A-1 Pictures recently released a new trailer for Part 2 of SAO Progressive featuring some new characters like Argo, an information broker in Sword Art Online. She will be a major supporting character in SAO Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night. Given all of this, the hype of this movie is certainly legit, as we will be feasting our eyes with more spectacular animation from A-1 Pictures.

Since you might have doubts about whether you should watch SAO Progressive or not, we'll give you a few legitimate reasons that will surely clear all your concerns about SAO Progressive.

Reason to watch Sword Art Online Progressive

SAO Progressive offers several perks ranging from the background story of main characters to improved animation. However, the most compelling thing about SAO Progressive is definitely Asuna and her very story of starting Sword Art Online. In the original anime, the storyline starts with Kirito, and later, he meets Asuna, so how Asuna ended up playing SAO remains a mystery. With SAO Progressive, We get to discover more insights about Asuna and how she coincidently ended up being trapped in SAO. The fact that Asuna wasn’t strong and determined from the beginning adds more reality to the plot, and her gradual growth both mentally and physically is something worth looking forward to.


Like always, LiSA ending theme called “Yuke” in SAO Progressive was way too dope and exciting. This sole ending theme adds value to the overall movie. I can’t stress enough how magnificent the scenes of SAO Progressive as creators literally changed the whole vibe of SAO with just animation. All of these reasons combined compels not only SAO fans but all geeks to watch SAO Progressive.

Sword Art Online Progressive Characters

SAO Progressive's cast of characters wasn’t that diversified, but the characters managed to leave an impression on us. Since it won’t be possible to talk about all characters, let’s just have a quick overview of the main characters.

Asuna Yuuki 


Asuna is a cute obedient girl from a rich family. She tends to suppress her inner feelings and views as her mother is strict with her. Asuna wanted to impress her mother and earn her acknowledgment, but her hard efforts and results couldn’t satisfy her mother, causing Asuna to remain insecure about her future. She had only one friend named Mito, who introduced her to the world of gaming, and not long after, Asuna ended up diving into the virtual world of SAO just to play a bit with her friend. However, things changed drastically when she got struck in the game like millions of other players. Although Asuna regretted her decision, she eventually developed a bold personality and swore to make decisions to avoid regrets.

Misumi Tozawa


Misumi, also known as Mito, is the class fellow of Asuna at Aeterna Girls Academy. On the surface, she seems like a calm and collected girl whom people admire only from a distance, but in reality, she is quite friendly and likes playing games. Her love for games compelled her to try out the first-ever virtual reality game called Sword Art Online. Being a beta tester of SAO, Mito quickly grasped the grim reality of SAO and took swift actions together with Asuna to ensure survival.

Kazuto Kirigaya

Kazuto is a young guy who loves exploring tech and games. Since he belonged to an ordinary family, Kazuto did many part-time jobs to buy expensive gadgets. He is also one of the beta testers of SAO who managed to clear upper floors despite playing Solo, which shows his incredible fighting abilities. After being trapped in SAO, he quickly climbed the ranks and acquired a good lifestyle in the virtual world of SAO. He is the man who saved Asuna and ended up becoming her partner. Together, they formed the ultimate duo in the history of SAO.


In short, SAO Progressive is a worth-watching movie for SAO Fans and people who haven’t explored Sword Art Online yet. In fact, it serves as a great starting point for folks deciding to watch the SAO series.

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