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Sword Art Online (series)

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Warning Spoiler Alert: This article/section contains details about future plotlines described in the light novels, not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you want to be spoiled.
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Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン, Sōdo Āto Onrain?) is a Japanese light novel series written by Kawahara Reki and illustrated by abec. The series is published by ASCII Media Works under the Dengeki Bunko label. It has been adapted into two anime series by A-1 Pictures which aired from July to December 2012 and from July to December 2014. The series has also been adapted into multiple manga series, with illustrations by Nakamura Tamako, Minami Juusei, Hazuki Tsubasa, Kiseki Himura and Nekobyō Neko and others. The series has also been adapted into multiple game adaptations.

Plot OverviewsEdit

Aincrad (First Arc, SAO)Edit

Main article: Aincrad Arc

In the year 2022, Kirito (the main protagonist), a solo player who had the luck-of-the-draw to play the beta version, and the many other players of Sword Art Online (SAO) are trapped inside of a game, unable to logout; the only way to live is to win. Death in-game means death in the real world; tampering with or prolonged power outages to the Nerve Gear, the gear that simulates in-game character control by redirecting brain signals, also means death. To win means to defeat the final boss on the top floor; out of the original 10,000 players at the start, two years later, over 6,000 remain with 26 floors left to clear.

Volume 2 also contains four side stories that take place within two years of the SAO incident.

Black Swordsman (Aincrad 35th Floor, February 2024)
Pina, a «Feathery Dragon», dies protecting her tamer Silica, one of the rare Beast Tamers in SAO. In order to revive her, Silica must obtain the «Pneuma Flower» in four days. Will she and Kirito succeed or fail?
Warmth of the Heart (Aincrad 48th Floor, June 2024)
Lisbeth, a Blacksmith, is visited by Kirito and requested to make a high level sword. But to do so they need a special ore. Will the two succeed in this quest or die trying?
Morning Dew Girl (Aincrad 22nd Floor, October 2024)
Kirito and Asuna are now married in SAO and living together. One day they stumble upon a girl named Yui with no memories, who is younger than any player they have seen so far. Who is this girl and what secrets does she hold?
Red-nosed Reindeer (Aincrad 46th Floor, December 19–23, 2023)
Kirito has been leveling up without any regards to his life in preparation for a game event. Just what happened that caused Kirito to go so far?

Fairy Dance (Second Arc, ALO)Edit

Main article: Fairy Dance Arc

"The Hero" Kirito (Kazuto) has completed and exited the game along with the majority of the living players. However, 300 players, including Kazuto's sweetheart Yuuki Asuna, are still trapped by the NerveGear and have failed to awaken. Kazuto finds a picture of what looks like Asuna in one of the other VRMMO games known as ALfheim Online (ALO). And so he must now embark on another quest for the sake of his love, who is held captive in ALfheim Online.

Phantom Bullet (Third Arc, GGO)Edit

Main article: Phantom Bullet Arc

Thanks to the "World Seed", entrusted to Kirito who uploaded it onto the internet, the development of VRMMOs has progressed extensively. However, Gun Gale Online, a VRMMO game that focuses on guns and shooting rather than sword and sorcery, has had some of their players killed by a certain individual while in the game world, but the mystery is that they also died at the same time in the real world. Kirito must once again embark for a new world in search of the man supposedly behind the deaths, "Death Gun". 

Mother's Rosario (Side Story Arc, ALO)Edit

Main article: Mother's Rosario

A new player named Yuuki, who is nicknamed as nicknamed Zekken (Absolute Sword), appears in ALfheim Online and asks Asuna for help. Will Asuna have what it takes? And can she somehow uncover the secrets that Yuuki and her guild, the Sleeping Knights, hold?

Early and Late (Side Story Collection, ALO & SAO)Edit

The volume contains three side stories that take place either in Sword Art Online or ALfhiem Online.

A Murder Case in the Area (Aincrad 57th Floor, April 2024) (SAO Side Story)
A murder takes place within a town's safe «area». Now Kirito and Asuna must unravel the mystery of this supposedly impossible death. Otherwise nowhere in Aincrad will be safe any more.
Calibur (Alfheim, December 2025) (ALO Side Story)
Main article: Calibur
In the Fairy Dance Arc, while traveling to the World Tree, Kirito and Leafa had discovered the location of the Legendary Sword, Excalibur. Now a few weeks after the events of Phantom Bullet, Kirito, Asuna, Leafa, Silica, Lisbeth, Klein and Sinon embark on the quest to claim the strongest weapon in ALO. However things are not as they seem, and the quest for the Legendary Sword turns out to be one that may decide the very future of ALfhiem itself.
First Day (Aincrad 1st Floor, November 2022) (SAO Side Story)
The Logout button is gone and Sword Art Online has become a "Death game". This chapter tells the story of what Kirito did in his first day trapped in Aincrad after leaving Starting City.

Alicization (Fourth Arc, Project Alicization [PA])Edit

Main article: Alicization Arc

Kirito awakens to find himself lost in a new world. With the realistic world and his "lost" memories with this world, he questions his own identity and his existence in the world he used to know and the world he is currently in. He soon finds out that this is a virtual world with the name "Underworld", and pursues to find the truth about this world and the objective of Rath for making this realistic world.


The first part of the arc begins with Kirito, Eugeo and Alice, setting out to explore a cave said to harbour a dragon and ice. After entering the cave the trio leave and pass close to the "Dark Territory", where a terrible mishap occurs, and Alice is taken away from her village by an Integrity Knight to be tried and executed for breaking the Taboo Index, the "absolute law" of the Axiom Church. However, Eugeo believes she is still alive. Six years later, Kirito reappears, and he helps Eugeo in his Sacred Task, by cutting down a demon tree known as the Gigas Cedar, so that they can go find Alice at the top of the Cathedral tower.


After Kazuto was attacked by Johnny Black with a deadly dose of Succinylcholine, which puts him into a coma. After his condition was stabilized, he mysteriously disappeared while being transported to a hospital, and Asuna set out to find him. With the help of Yui and Koujiro Rinko, she found Kazuto in the custody of Kikuoka Seijirou in a secret government base in the Pacific Ocean, where Kazuto was being treated to have his neural network restored with the help of the Soul Translator, the fourth generation FullDive system that Kazuto had been testing. There she learns the truth about Project Alicization and why was the Soul Translator created.

Meanwhile, Kirito and Eugeo journeyed to the south of Rulid, to a large settlement in the norther area of the empire called Zakkaria to participate in the Zakkaria Sword Arts Tournament to continue on their journey to gain access to the Central Cathedral, where Alice was supposed to be held.


Now in the second year of the North Centoria's Imperial Sword Mastery Academy, Kirito and Eugeo were working their way up to the top of the Academy's ranks to be given the right to participate in the Norlangarth North Empire Empire Swordsmanship Tournament and, later, the Four Empires Unity Tournament. However, after a certain incident midterm, they both ended up breaking the Taboo Index and were arrested by an Integrity Knight, who turned out to be Alice, with no memory of her life in Rulid. After escaping the Axiom Church's jail and an encounter with another Integrity Knight, they were saved by the world's Cardinal, which had taken the form of a human avatar and no longer in control of Underworld. From her, Kirito learned the secret of the Axiom Church and its immortal ruler, Quinella.


The story of Cardinal continues from the previous book. Quinella, the ruler of the Axiom Church was a Fluctlight whom became the "Administrator" of Underworld after merging the world's Cardinal System into herself, and obtaining eternal youth. However, after a conflict within herself, and an attempt to rectify errors which this change caused, the being calling herself "Cardinal" was separated from Quinella. After a brutal battle, Cardinal retreated into a Library that had no physical entrance.

After learning the truth behind the Axiom Church's existence, Kirito learned of Rath's plans with the residents of Underworld, and the terrible war that was sure to come. He became intent on stopping it, but must first put an end to Quinella's actions. He and Eugeo are then sent to retrieve their swords, and must then climb the 100 floors of the Central Cathedral, fighting the Integrity Knights within the tower, while simultaneously honing their skills and becoming stronger.


Kirito and Alice were sent flying from the 80th floor after the pair's swords had clashed with great power and created a hole in the side of the tower. The two hung on for dear life and agreed to a truce until they could return into the tower. As they climbed up the side of the tower, they noticed creatures from the Dark Territory, the gargoyles. 

Meanwhile, Eugeo forged onward without his partner. As he went up the floors, he encountered Integrity Knight Bercouli Synthesis One in the bathing area and defeated him by using the Armament Full Control Art of his Blue Rose Sword. As Bercouli fainted, a small clown-like person came out and jumped to Eugeo. Eugeo then blacked out due to the effects of his Blue Rose Sword's freezing and «Life» draining ability.

Outside the Cathedral, Kirito and Alice managed to eat the meat buns Kirito got from Cardinal. While chatting, Kirito mentioned Selka, Alice's sister, and managed to get a reaction. As Alice decided to walk out of her duties as an Integrity Knight, her Seal of the Right Eye activated, the same phenomenon that happened to Eugeo. Alice suffered immense pain in her right eye with the warning sign titled "System Alert" being displayed on it. Kirito then promised her that he would lead her to Selka one day after they defeat the Administrator.






Aria of a Starless Night
Rondo of a Fragile Blade
Concerto of Black and White
Aincrad's 2nd Floor Boss was defeated by the «Clearers». After the victory, swordsmen «Beater» Kirito and his partner, the fencer Asuna, withdraw from the main group and ascend the stairs to the next floor. There, Kirito and Asuna wait in a dense forest that spanned the entire floor, and start their largest campaign quest. In the forest, a «forest elf» knight and a «dark elf» knight do battle. In the beta test, the battle between the two NPCs was supposed to end in a draw, but Kirito and Asuna managed to ensure the survival of the female dark elf «Kizmel». Kirito was confused at the difference from the beta, but after a deep interaction with Kizmel, he confirmed that she was an NPC. Meanwhile, the other players started the «Guild Quest», and Aincrad's first «guilds» were formed. In a while, the 3rd Floor «Strategy Meeting» would be opened. However, in that meeting, Kirito and Asuna are faced with a serious decision with Lind, a scimitar user and the leader of the new «Dragons Knight Brigade».
Barcarolle of Froth
Having said their good-byes to the mysterious elven knight Kizmel, Kirito and Asuna set their sights on the fourth floor of Aincrad. But once they open the door, they find the way forward blocked by a powerfully flowing river - the updated version of the fourth floor had been changed into a water world. When they finally arrive at the floor's town, they're greeted by chalk-white streets and countless gondolas of all sizes. To navigate this place, Kirito and Asuna will need their own gondola--but getting one will involve confronting an eight-meter-tall beast of flame: Magnaterium...

Other Side StoriesEdit

Other Side stories from different Arcs.

The Fourteenth Autumn (Aincrad 35th Floor, 4 October 2024)
Like she had done a few times before, Silica invites Kirito for a meal as a celebration for defeating a floor boss - this time, being Floor 73. This celebration, however, has another reason secret only to her. She is therefore surprised when Kirito seemed to have understood the reason beforehand.
The Day Before (Aincrad 22nd Floor, 24 October 2024)
After proposing to Asuna, Kirito leads her to the house they will be living in, only to find out that it's gone. During the investigation of its disappearance, a short adventure starts that would include the information broker Argo, a long-coated dog, a «Scarecrow», a suit of armor named «Tin», and a «Werelion» without a mane.
16.8.5 (Aincrad 22nd Floor, 2024)
Breaking Damage's Limit (Aincrad, 2024)
Sound of Water, Sound of Hammer (Aincrad 48th Floor August 2024)
Kirito goes to «Lisbeth's Smith Shop» to reinforce his weapons.
Celeste Fairy (Real World, April 2025)
To celebrate Kazuto's one-year-late enrollment to high school, Suguha and their parents decided to buy Kazuto a Bianchi bicycle. However, while cycling 2 days later, Kazuto discovers that the previous owner of the bike had left something valuable stuck inside it...
The Day After (New Aincrad, June 2025)
1 month after the release of New Aincrad, Kirito, Asuna and their friends battle against the Floor Boss of the 8th Floor, while Asuna keeps experiencing a strange «separation» phenomenon...
Calibur SS (Failure Side)
An alternate ending, based on what would have happened if Klein hadn't saved Freyja during the quest for Excalibur.
A Spot of Sunshine in the Winter (New Aincrad 22nd Floor, 31 December 2025)
After an argument with her parents, Silica escapes from the real world, ending up in front of the wooden house near the lake in the 22nd floor of «New Aincrad». Inside, she finds one of the owners of the house and they talk about their memories about «Old Aincrad».
Versus (Accel World crossover)
Roppongi, 2026. Kazuto/Kirito has been called in to test the newly developed «4th-Generation FullDive Experimental Unit». But what he finds in the virtual world is a battle with Silver Crow/Haruyuki Arita of the year 2047.
Cradle of the Moon (Alicization Side Story)
Stories happened in Underworld in web storyline of Underworld during the extreme acceleration phase.
There is but one Ultimate Way
Taking place after the Underworld Arc (after Volume 15). The third year students' summer holidays are about to end. It seems that the girls have something planned for Kirito. Something that involves being Married-in-game, with a twist. Confirmed to be not canon. The story was originally a web release[citation needed], but then later[citation needed] became a part of the Material Edition: Assemblage, though it was never printed independently.

Sword Art Online: Material EditionsEdit

The Material Edition (ME) series is a series of doujinshis created by Kawahara Reki himself using the pen name "Kunori Fumio" (the same pen name he used when he wrote the web novel of SAO).
ME1: The Progressers
Published in COMITIA82. An argument over the method of defeating a floor boss turns into a duel between Kirito and Asuna.
ME2: Early Characters
Published in COMITIA83. Early character designs and descriptions as well as status parameters.
ME3: Ceramic Heart
Published in COMITIA84. The story of Yui learning what love is as well as loss.
ME4: Cold Hands, Warm Heart
Published in COMITIA86. Kirito is afflicted by an unidentified negative status. Unable to handle it he messages Klein for help, but the one who appears to take care of him is...
ME5: Salvia (Real World before the events of Fairy Dance, January 2025)
Published in COMITIA88. Kazuto and Suguha remember a treasured memory from their childhood.
ME6: Algade Showdown (Aincrad 22nd floor, October 2024)
Published in COMITIA90. Is that an NPC or a Player? Asuna and Kirito attempt to find out the identity of a certain cook.
ME7: Continuation: Aria of a Starless Night (December 2022)
Published in COMITIA97. Continuation of Aria in the Starless Night side story immediately after the defeat of the first floor boss.
ME8: Rondo of a Fragile Blade - first chapter
Published in COMITIA98. Sequel to Aria in the Starless Night. The Black Swordsman Kirito is now in hiding because of the choice he made. However, Asuna does not plan on abandoning him. Together, they seek to upgrade their weapons, in anticipation for the battle against the Second Floor Boss.
ME9: Concerto of Black and White - first chapter
Published in COMITIA99, the second floor has been cleared. Kirito and Asuna head towards the third floor. Kirito aims at beginning an NPC Quest he learned about during the Beta Test and Asuna decides to tag along. But will everything work out as it is supposed to?
ME10: 16.6
Published in COMITIA106. A sequel to The Day Before that describes the marriage of Kirito and Asuna and what happened afterwards.
ME11: 16.7
Published in COMITIA107. A sequel to ME10 16.6
ME12: 16.8
Published in COMITIA108. A sequel to ME11 16.7
ME13: 16.9
Published in COMITIA109. A sequel to ME12 16.8 and the 16.8.5 story[1]
ME14: Sugary Days 5
Published in COMITIA110. A sequel to ME13 16.9
ME15: Sugary Days 6
Published in COMITIA112. A sequel to ME14 Sugary Days 5
ME16: Sugary Days 7
Published in COMITIA113. A sequel to ME15 Sugary Days 6.
Published in COMITIA114.
ME18: Sugary Days 8
Published in COMITIA115. A sequel to ME16 Sugary Days 7.
ME19: Sugary Days 9
Published in COMITIA116. A sequel to ME18 Sugary Days 8.

Light NovelsEdit

Main article: Sword Art Online Light Novel Main Page

Progressive seriesEdit

Gun Gale Online seriesEdit

Other publicationsEdit

Material EditionsEdit

Each of the following are sold in COMITIA doujin-selling panel.

The six aforementioned Material Edition were compiled into Sword Art Online: Material Editions Assemblage, which was published on February 13, 2011.

In other seriesEdit

In magazinesEdit

On webpagesEdit

Official DoujinEdit

BD/DVD BonusesEdit


Main article: Sword Art Online Manga Main Page

The Sword Art Online series currently has nine manga adaptations. An Aincrad arc adaptation by Nakamura Tamako, a Fairy Dance arc adaptation by Hazuki Tsubasa, a Phantom Bullet arc adaptation by Yamada Kōtarō, an adaptation of Calibur by Kiya Shii and an adaptation of Mother's Rosario by Hazuki Tsubasa, as well as a Progressive arc adaptation by Kiseki Himura. There is also a 4-koma comedy manga related to some parts of the light novels, as well as a spin-off manga by Nekobyō Neko and an adaptation of the Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online series by Tamori Tadadi. Sword Art Online also has several comic anthologies and 4-koma anthologies.


Main article: Sword Art Online Anime Mainpage

Drama CDEdit

Main article: Accel World + Sword Art Online Drama CD

Video GamesEdit

Main article: Sword Art Online Game Mainpage

A video game adaptation, Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment (ソードアート・オンライン -インフィニティ・モーメント, Sōdo Āto Onrain: Infiniti Mōmento?), was developed by Namco Bandai Games for the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The game follows an alternate story line, in which a glitch causes Kirito and the other players to remain in Sword Art Online despite defeating Heathcliff on 75th Floor, whilst players from other VMMORPGs, such as Leafa and Sinon get sucked into the game. A new character, Strea, was also added to the game. The game was released in both regular and limited edition box sets on March 14, 2013.

Its sequel, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, was released on PlayStation Vita on April 24, 2014. The game incorporates its predecessor, Infinity Moment, while also adding a new Hollow Area to explore, along with a new character, Philia. The game was released via the PlayStation Network in North America on August 19, 2014, and in Europe and Australia on August 20, 2014. A port of this game was released on the PlayStation 4 as Sword Art Online: Re: Hollow Fragment in both Japan and the West in 2015, with its Japanese release being bundled together with the PS4 edition Lost Song.

The third major game in the series, Sword Art Online: Lost Song, was released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 on March 26, 2015, with English and Traditional Chinese releases in Asia to be pulished that same year. Unlike Infinity Moment and Hollow Fragment, Lost Song takes place in ALfheim Online, and features a new "Svartálfaheimr" region to explore. A port of this game will be released on the PlayStation 4 in both Japan and the West later in 2015.

The fourth game in this series, Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, will be released for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 in 2016[2]. Unlike the previous games, Hollow Realization is set in a game-original Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online game, called Sword Art: Origin, which is based on the servers for the original Sword Art Online.

There are also three different SAO-themed mobile social games, namely Sword Art Online: End World, Sword Art Online: Code Register, and Sword Art Online: Progress Link, each of which operates on a different platform, but all of them are restricted to Japanese users.

An Android game, called SAO-LOG OUT-, initially came together with the Drama CD but is now also being sold via Google Play, priced at around 2.77 USD.

Sword Art Online has also cooperated with different crossover titles, card games, and online games to release characters/theme/cards/stages that are related to SAO.


A guidebook called Anime "Sword Art Online" no Subete (アニメ『ソードアート・オンライン』ノ全テ?) was released on June 27, 2014.

External linksEdit



Sword Art Online Publicization Navigation Bar
Aincrad Arc Fairy Dance Arc Extra Edition Phantom Bullet Arc Calibur Mother's Rosario Alicization Arc
Progressive Arc
Light Novel Volume 01 - Volume 02 - Volume 03 - Volume 04 - Volume 05 - Volume 06 - Volume 07 - Volume 08 - Volume 09 - Volume 10 - Volume 11 - Volume 12 - Volume 13 - Volume 14 - Volume 15 - Volume 16 - Volume 17
Progressive Series Progressive 01 - Progressive 02 - Progressive 03 - Progressive 04
Alternative Series Alternative 01 - Alternative 02 - Alternative 03 - Alternative 04
Material Edition Volume 01 - Volume 02 - Volume 03 - Volume 04 - Volume 05 - Volume 06 - Volume 07 - Volume 08 - Volume 09 - Volume 10 - Volume 11 - Volume 12 - Volume 13 - Volume 14 - Volume 15 - Volume 16 - Volume 17 - Volume 18 - Volume 19
Character Edition Lisbeth Edition - Silica Edition - Pina Edition
BD/DVD Specials The Day Before - The Day After - Rainbow Bridge - Sugary Days - Sisters' Prayer
Magazine Publications The Celeste Fairy - Calibur SS - Story Pencil Board - VRMMO Development Tragedy
Crossover Versus - Dream Game -Crossover- - Versus II
Dengeki Fair Breaking Damage's Limit - 16.8.5 - Story&Chara Seal
Other Specials chromatic colors
Web Stories Cradle of the Moon - There is But One Ultimate Way
Manga Aincrad Volume 01 - Volume 02
Fairy Dance Volume 01 - Volume 02 - Volume 03
Phantom Bullet Volume 01 - Volume 02
Mother's Rosario Volume 01 - Volume 02
Calibur Volume 01
Progressive Volume 01 - Volume 02 - Volume 03 - Volume 04
Girls Ops Volume 01 - Volume 02
4koma Manga Volume 01 - Volume 02
Comic Anthology Volume 01 - Volume 02
4koma Anthology Volume 01 - Volume 02 - Volume 03
Anime Season I - Aincrad Arc Episode 01 - Episode 02 - Episode 03 - Episode 04 - Episode 05 - Episode 06 - Episode 07 - Episode 08 - Episode 09 - Episode 10 - Episode 11 - Episode 12 - Episode 13 - Episode 14
Season I - Fairy Dance Arc Episode 15 - Episode 16 - Episode 17 - Episode 18 - Episode 19 - Episode 20 - Episode 21 - Episode 22 - Episode 23 - Episode 24 - Episode 25
Season I - Special Episodes Sword Art Online Extra Edition
Season II - Phantom Bullet Arc Episode 01 - Episode 02 - Episode 03 - Episode 04 - Episode 05 - Episode 06 - Episode 07 - Episode 08 - Episode 09 - Episode 10 - Episode 11 - Episode 12 - Episode 13 - Episode 14 - Episode 14.5
Season II - Calibur Arc Episode 15 - Episode 16 - Episode 17
Season II - Mother's Rosario Arc Episode 18 - Episode 19 - Episode 20 - Episode 21 - Episode 22 - Episode 23 - Episode 24
Sword Art Offline Episode 01 - Episode 02 - Episode 03 - Episode 04 - Episode 05 - Episode 06 - Episode 07 - Episode 08 - Episode 09 - Extra Edition
Sword Art Offline Two Two Episode 01 - Two Episode 02 - Two Episode 03 - Two Episode 04 - Two Episode 05 - Two Episode 06 - Two Episode 07 - Two Episode 08 - Two Episode 09
Drama CD Accel World + Sword Art Online Drama CD Ordeals of Kirito

Start a Discussion Discussions about Sword Art Online (series)

  • Sao side stories

    3 messages
    • The Progressive series has been licensed, so the fan translations have been halted and you're going to need to buy the official translations...
    • thanks a lot Gsimeans 
  • Official Translations to Come!?

    51 messages
    • ShinTokyo in Adelaide already have prices etc. for Volume 3 and 4 aha, shall be fun xD
    • I recently went on holiday to a place with the  kinokuniya store and bought the 3 sao progressive volumes currently available... too bad i d...

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