Funimation and Aniplex of America will be releasing Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night, a new theatrical feature film in theatres, and on IMAX on December 3rd in the United States. The movie is part of the official canon of the long-running Sword Art Online series.
From an original story from original series author Reki Kawahara (whose light novels were published by Dengeki Bunko), Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night travels back to the beginning of the saga where players find themselves trapped inside the world's first VRMMORPG, Sword Art Online, with no way out. The story centers on Sword Art Online's female lead Asuna Yuuki and her early days trapped in the virtual fantasy world of Aincrad before she met series hero Kirito. It's a kind of prequel and "gaiden" or side-story. The movie also introduces a new mysterious character, Mito, but not much is known about her. Asuna is considered by many fans as a more interesting character than Kirito anyway, so this spinoff movie might be a kind of corrective as well as yet another way to keep the series going.
"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 6thth, 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 the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night will be released in theaters and on IMAX screens on December 3rdrd, 2021, in the United States and Canada (with tickets on sale November 5thth); December 9thth, 2021, in Australia and New Zealand (with tickets on sale November 9thth); and coming soon to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Latin America. The film will be released both in Japanese with English subtitles as well as dubbed in English. It has a running time of 1 hour and 37 minutes and is directed by Ayako Kono with animation production from A-1 Pictures.