Sword Art Online: Progressive Movie - Hoshi Naki Yoru no Aria Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive - Aria of a Starless Night 劇場版 ソードアート・オンライン プログレッシブ 星なき夜のアリア Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive - Aria of a Starless Night
The Sword Art Online: Progressive Movie begin with Asuna Yuuki who excelling socially and academically, is on track to ace her high school entrance exams. Her friend and classmate, Misumi “Mito” Tozawa, advises her to take a short break from studying and join her on the launch day of Sword Art Online (SAO)—the highly anticipated online virtual reality multiplayer game. Asuna accepts her offer and soon meets her in the game.
In a cruel twist of fate, Asuna, Mito, and every other player logged into SAO find themselves trapped in the game permanently. The only way out is to clear all one hundred floors of the game, and to make matters worse, dying inside the game will kill the player in real life. With SAO now turned into a nightmare death trap, Asuna and other gamers—such as the lone swordsman Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya—must adapt and survive, all whilst attempting to beat the unforgiving competition to the top.
Actually great. Given how Asuna’s character and the entire franchise was practically butchered in Alicization, I pretty much dreaded the idea of a Progressive Movie with Asuna as MC and a bunch of anime original content. I had serious doubts about this movie and high expectations and I have to say, A1 did a pretty good job.
Out of all SAO anime media, I think Aria the Starless Night may have the best story. Unlike the TV anime or Ordinal Scale, the cast of this movie boils down to 3 people, 2 for the most part. Rather than a large messy, basically God+Harem cast, the characters in this movie are Asuna, Mito, and Kirito. For once, SAO is able to properly flesh out genuine and relatable characters. The world building is done right, and the scenes do a great job adding real weight to the conflict and plot.
This was probably where most of my doubts were coming in. Ali’s sakuga was beyond awful for most of its runtime and Shingo Adachi, animation director for SAO 1-Ordinal Scale, was nowhere to be found in this movie. Which was a disaster for Alicization, however, the scenes were consistent and the Sakura was definitely beyond what anything A1 could have done with a TV anime. While there were some noticeably dopey looking faces here and there, the action was solid, and the visuals were cinema worthy.
Sound effects don’t break the immersion anymore. Whatever janky surreal attempts at SFX they tried in Ali is no longer there. The themes aren’t dialed to quadruple bass remix nightcore edition and Yuki Kajiura made some great tracks?/remixes of Swordland, Luminous Sword, etc, the OG themes. While I personally can’t recall any new special theme for this movie except the ED from LiSA, the music and sounds were pleasant, not distracting, and greatly added to the movie.
Asuna is the main character of this movie, if you haven’t heard yet, and Mito, a new anime original char, plays a supporting role in the story. Contrary to expectations, Mito’s portrayal felt so natural, I would even say that Asuna never would have worked as the MC of this movie without her. Kirito, despite having most of the LN development cut, has his character fleshed out subtly. The chemistry between the characters feel significantly more natural to the audience and the comedy was finally able to work thanks to this. Overall, Kirito, Asuna, and Mito were all relatable and realistic characters to them, despite how SAO has portrayed them before.
A very interesting adaptation. A1 did a great job balancing the source material, anime original content, and linking it to the 2012 TV anime. Obviously, there aren’t any mind-blowing developments in this movie given when it takes place chronologically, but the world building and character development that was sorely missed in the original TV anime are on point for once. The animation and music are definitely a cut above Alicization and the TV anime and Aria of a Starless Night did not disappoint.
Despite having poor seating and the lights being left on for half the movie, I ended up enjoying this movie quite a bit, and I’ll probably watch it one more time before it’s out of theaters.