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Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria Of A Starless Night - What We Know So Far

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The story of "Sword Art Online" continues as fans ramp up for the release of the massively successful light novel franchise's next project. Beginning in 2009 as a light novel series by Japanese author Rei Kawahara, "Sword Art Online" became popular on a mainstream, international scale with the release of its anime adaptation in 2012. In many ways, both the light novel and anime had a large impact on anime and popularized isekai and stories set within video games (via CBR).

Since then, the franchise has only continued growing, spawning sequels and spin-offs such as "Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online." Most recently, fans are awaiting the release of the franchise's next entry, a film adaptation of "Aria of a Starless Night," the first arc of the "Sword Art Online Progressive" light novels. The film does have a set release date, and the show's creators have revealed details regarding both the characters and the plot. Here is what we know so far about "Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night."

When will SAOP: Aria of a Starless Night release?

In November 2020, the "Sword Art Online" anime's official Japanese Twitter account announced an upcoming release date for "Aria of a Starless Night" (via Anime News Network). The film is scheduled for release on October 30, 2021, almost ten years after the release of the original "Sword Art Online Progressive" novel series. As with all "Sword Art Online" anime, "Aria of a Starless Night" will be animated by A-1 Pictures. Furthermore, the anime's licensors, Aniplex, have released multiple trailers with English subtitles via YouTube.

Unfortunately, this release date only applies in Japan. However, all hope is not lost for fans in North America. The franchise's official English Twitter account announced in July 2021 that updates regarding a U.S. release will come soon. Whether or not this means the movie will receive an English dub is unknown, but it at least ensures the likelihood of a subtitled version of the film releasing in America.

Who will be the characters in SAOP: Aria of a Starless Night?

One unique thing about the "Sword Art Online Progressive" series is that it technically is not a new story. Instead, it is a more detailed look at events fans are already familiar with, starting from the very beginning of "Sword Art Online." As the first arc of this revision, "Aria of a Starless Night" is set to focus on the franchise's main duo, Kirito and Asuna. In Japanese, the two are played by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka and Haruka Tomatsu, respectively (via Myanimelist).

There is one major change to the original "Sword Art Online" story: the addition of a new, purple-garbed character named Mito (via Anime News Network). A female scythe-wielder, Mito is set to be portrayed by actress Inori Minase.

Should there be an English dub of "Aria of a Nightless Sky," fans can expect the same English voice actors to make a return. For Kirito, this would be Bryce Papenbrook, while Asuna is voiced by Cherami Leigh. Unfortunately, since Inori seems to be a wild card, fans will have to wait to find out who might portray her outside of Japan.

What is the story of SAOP: Aria of a Starless Night?

As a revision of the original "Sword Art Online," "Aria of a Starless Night" retells the events of Kirito and Asuna's journeys during the earliest days of being trapped in the "Sword Art Online" VR game. However, this version takes a deeper look at the development of their relationship, as "Aria of a Starless Night" examines why the two both become loners as ways of coping with their new lives in this massive, multiplayer game.

Most, if not all, of the film's story will take place on the first level of Aincrad and will largely follow the same overarching plot of the original anime. However, a new element has been added in the form of Mito. Her addition could be huge, as she is altering the very beginning of Kirito and Asuna's adventures. How her presence disrupts the story fans are already familiar with, however, is unknown. Either way, her placement on much of the movie's promotional material indicates that she will be a major player in the events of "Aria of a Starless Night."