Sword Art Online

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Name: Sword Art Online ソードアート・オンライン (Sōdo Āto Onrain)
Abbreviation(s): SAO
Creator: Reki Kawahara
Date(s): 2002-2008 (web novel series), 2009-present (light novel series), 2012-present (anime), 2012-2019 (manga)
Medium: novel, anime, video game, manga
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links:
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Sword Art Online is a franchise that takes place in the near future and in various virtual reality MMORPG worlds. The franchise includes the original novel by Reki Kawahara, a light novel series, an anime which is on its third season, and an anime film. It is part of the Isekai genre.

The protagonist is Kazuto Kirigaya, also known as Kirito.


The story revolves around the premise of 10,000 players becoming trapped in a Virtual Reality MMORPG game called Sword Art Online where if they die in the game, they die in real life. Later arcs follow the main characters as they are placed in different virtual worlds.

Aincrad Arc

The creator of the world's first VRMMORPG, Akihiko Kayaba, has trapped 10,000 players in Sword Art Online, where if you die in the game, you die in real life. The only way to exit the game is to clear all 100 floors of the floating castle Aincrad.

Fairy Dance Arc

The 6,147 remaining players of Sword Art Online left the game's server, but 300 of them did not wake up. One of these players was Asuna Yuuki. When Kirito is presented with an image of Asuna dressed as a fairy in a bird cage, he dives into ALfheim Online to investigate and search for her.

Phantom Bullet Arc

A series of deaths occurred while players were logged into the game Gun Gale Online that correlate with a player known as Death Gun shooting them at the same time of death inside the game. Seijirou Kikuoka, a member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Telecommunications Bureau (Advanced Network Dvisions, Second Office "Virtual Division"), approaches Kirito to offer him a job investigating whether or not these are murders.

Mother's Rosario Arc

Shifting the focus to Asuna as a protagonist instead of Kirito, this follows the story of Asuna as she meets the ALfheim Online guild the Sleeping Knights and helps them to achieve their dream of conquering a floor boss in Aincrad for the first time as just their guild alone.

Early & Late

Volume 8 of the lignt novel series comprises of three stories, two taking place in the Aincrad arc and one taking place in ALfheim Online some time after the Phantom Bullet arc.

Alicization Arc

Kirito takes a job from Kikuoka to test the Soul Translator. As he's walking Asuna home one day, the escaped Death Gun killer attacks him, leaving him in a comatose state. Kirito is placed inside of the Soul Translator to fix his brain damage and wakes up inside of the virtual world still aware of himself. He meets a boy named Eugeo and teams up with him to find a way to contact Kikuoka on the outside.

Meanwhile, Asuna searches for Kirito and learns about Project Alicization, the virtual world Kirito is diving in, and gets caught up in a real-world conflict surrounding the project.

Unital Ring Arc

One day while Kirito, Asuna, and Alice are diving into ALfheim Online, their levels are dropped down to 1 and they're pulled into the Survival VRMMO "Unital Ring."

Sword Art Online: Progressive

A re-telling of the Aincrad arc, following floor-by-floor details of clearing Sword Art Online.

Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online

Following protagonist Karen Kohiruimaki, who is a girl extremely self-conscious about her height. She attempts to dive into various virtual worlds before rolling the short, cute avatar LLEN in Gun Gale Online, where she meets a player called Pitohui.

Sword Art Online: Alternative Clover's Regret

Taking place in the VRMMORPG Asuka Empire, it follows the story of Battle Miko Nayuta, her friend the ninja Koyomi, and a so-called "shady-detective" as they help an elderly priest player play through a level his late grandson created in an event, in an effort to be closer to him.



The franchise includes multiple video games with new characters and non-canon timelines.



The anime Sword Art Online in massively controversial and popular in the animanga fandom, considered by some to be a good anime, while reviled by others for its bad writing, lack of character development, and failure to deliver on its interesting premise.

It became a widely popular and successful anime despite its criticism.


Example Fanworks





Archives & Fannish Links