Sword Art Online Watch Guide: From Aincrad to Alicization Story Arcs – OTAQUEST (2022)

Sword Art Online is part of a small genre of virtual reality-based anime series. In many such series, VR acts essentially the same as an isekai. The main characters are transported to another world, and they have RPG-style adventures.

However, Sword Art Online belongs to an even smaller subgenre: Characters are trapped in the virtual world. The world itself, or its creator, is an antagonist. It’s an idea that anime creators have been playing with since at least .hack//SIGN in 2002.

Before you leap into the world of Sword Art Online, here’s a primer to help guide you:


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Sword Art Online started with a series of light novels by Reki Kawahara. The novels were self-published from 2002 to 2008. In 2009, Dengeki Bunko (a brand for ASCII Media Works) started publishing the series. The 25th novel in the main series was released in December 2020.

Sequel, and spin-off light novels include Sword Art Online Progressive; Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online; Sword Art Online Alternative: Clover’s Regret; and Sword Art Online Material Edition.

The first SAO anime series began in 2012 and ran for 25 episodes. It was followed by the Sword Art Online: Extra Edition TV film in 2013. A second season, titled Sword Art Online II, ran for 24 episodes in 2014.

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In 2018, the spin-off series Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online added 12 episodes to the SAO franchise.

The latest anime series was Sword Art Online: Alicization (2018-2019), which was followed by Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld (2019-2020). The two combined added 47 episodes to the total.

There have also been two movies. SAO The Movie: Ordinal Scale came out in 2017; and Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night will come out in 2021.

Incidentally, reality is slowly catching up to the fictional SAO game’s official startup date of 6 November 2022.

Anime Story Arc Summary

SAO (first season)

  • Aincrad Arc (1-14)
  • Fairy Dance Arc (15-25)

SAO: Extra Edition

SAO II (second season)

  • Phantom Bullet (1-14.5)
  • Side Story: Calibur (15-17)
  • Side Story: Mother’s Rosario (18-24)

SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online

SAO: Alicization

  • Alicization
  • * Alicization Beginning (1-13)
  • * Alicization Rising (14-20)
  • * Alicization Uniting (21-24)
  • War of Underworld
  • * Alicization Invading (24.5-29)
  • * Alicization Exploding (30-34)
  • * Alicization Awakening (35-41)
  • * Alicization Lasting (42-47)

Story Arcs (SAO and SAO II)

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Aincrad Arc: The series begins with 10,000 Sword Art Online players trapped by the megalomaniacal creator of the game, Kayaba Akihiko. Kayaba says that all 100 floors of Aincrad must be cleared in order to escape.

Our protagonist, Kazuto ‘Kirito’ Kirigaya, was a beta tester, so he understands the game. He initially decides to go it alone. However, he soon partners with a girl named Asuna. Over the course of the arc, these two will team up, become friends, and eventually enter a relationship that will lead to an online marriage.

Kirito joins the Knights of the Blood Oath, led by Heathcliff. Kirito figures out that Heathcliff is Kayaba, the 100th level boss. Kirito defeats Heathcliff/ Kayaba in a duel, which clears the game.

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Fairy Dance Arc: Although Kirito/ Kazuto was released from the game, Asuna is still trapped online, along with others. Asuna ended up in ALfheim Online, a fairy-themed game copied from SAO.

Kazuto enters ALO as Spriggan. He joins Leafa (his adoptive sister Suguha). Asuna is held captive by Oberon the Fairy King. Leafa/ Suguha falls in love with Kirito/ Kazuto. Kirito confronts Oberon at the top of the World Tree. Kirito fights Oberon. After Oberon is defeated, Asuna is finally able to log out.

Extra Edition: Recaps the first season. Seijiro Kikuoka, a government official (maybe) with an interest in SAO and ALO, is introduced.

Phantom Bullet: The newest VR game is Gun Gale Online (GGO). The mysterious Death Gun shoots top player XeXeeD, who dies of ‘heart failure.’ Kazuto meets with Kikuoka, who wants him to look into GGO.

Kirito enters the game, and signs up for a tournament. The sniper Sinon (Shino Asada) is introduced. Kirito meets Death Gun and recognizes him from SAO.

Death Gun is revealed to be two murderers: one in the game, and one in real life. Shino and Kirito stop the killers.

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Calibur: Leafa learns about the Holy Sword Excalibur in ALO. A group of players, including Kirito, Leafa, Asuna and Sinon, go on a quest to find Excalibur, and prevent Ragnarok.

Mother’s Rosario: Floors 21 through 30 have been unlocked on New Aincrad. Asuna’s mother disapproves of Kazuto.

Asuna fights Zekken (Yuuki Konno). Yuuki wants Asuna’s help in defeating the 27th floor boss. In real life, Yuuki has AIDS. Everyone on her team is in terminal care.

SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online: The spin-off follows university student Karen Kohirumaki in Gun Gale Online.

Alicization Story Arcs

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Alicization Beginning: Kirito, Eugeo, and Alice get lost as children. The Integrity Knights sentence Alice to be executed.

Kirito returns to the real world, where he is testing the Soul Translator for Rath. The device can teleport people into the Underworld. After Kirito and Asuna are attacked, Kirito finds himself back in the Underworld with Eugeo.

In the real world, Kirito is unconscious. Kikuoka takes Kirito to the Ocean Turtle, Rath’s offshore research facility. The Underworld is part of an artificial intelligence experiment, called ‘Project Alicization.’

Kirito and Eugeo become Elite Swordsmen. Alice is synthesized into an Integrity Knight, but she doesn’t recognize Kirito or Eugeo.

The Cardinal of the Great Library helps Kirito and Eugeo. She got her power from the Administrator, Quinella, and now needs to defeat her.

Alicization Rising: Kirito and Eugeo are confronted by the vice-commander of the Integrity Knights, Fanatio.

Kirito defeats Fanatio, and the two heroes head to the 80th floor. They confront Alice, who agrees to go with them to the 95th floor. Kirito tries to explain everything to her. Quinella manipulates Eugeo into becoming an Integrity Knight.

Alice and Kirito chase after Prime Senator Chudelkin.

Alicization Uniting: Kirito and Eugeo fight. Eugeo breaks free of his manipulation. The prime senator summons the Genie, a fire elemental. Kirito defeats Chudelkin. The Administrator plans to attack the Dark Territory with sword golems made from humans.

The Cardinal proposes to trade Kirito, Alice, and Eugeo for her own life. Eugeo takes the form of a sword, and attacks Administrator Quinella.

Eugeo dies. Kirito fights Quinella. The Administrator plans to leave the Underworld. But Chudelkin and Quinella are killed by fire elementals.

Kirito is able to communicate with the outside world. The research facility is under attack.

War of Underworld Arcs

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Alicization Invading: Kirito is catatonic. Alice cares for him. The Integrity Knights train for an invasion from the Dark Territory. Goblins and orcs attack. In the real world, Gabriel Miller leads a Glowgen Defense Systems attack on the Ocean Turtle. Gabriel logs onto the Underworld as Dark Emperor Vector; along with his lieutenant Vassago. Asuna also logs on to escort Alice out. The barrier between the Dark Territory and the Human Empire will soon fall.

Alicization Exploding: The Dark Territory attacks the Human Empire. Asuna visits Kirito in his tent.

Alicization Awakening: American gamers are tricked into slaughtering people in the Underworld. Japanese players fight back. Sinon logs on as Solus the Sun Goddess, while Leafa shows up as Terraria the Earth Goddess. Vector/ Miller is defeated, but returns with a new character.

In the real world, Yanai is revealed as a traitor who wants Kirito to die. Soul Translator inventor Higa wants to use Asuna, Sinon, and Leafa’s ‘Fluctlights’ (i.e. souls) to bring back Kirito.

Alicization Lasting: Asuna fights Vassago. Asuna, Sinon, and Leafa are not enough to bring back Kirito, but a fragment of Eugeo is the final piece. Kirito fights Vassago, and traps him inside the Underworld. Asuna and Kirito have to get to the World’s End Altar to escape. Kirito defeats Miller.

All of the players can log out, except for Kirito. Asuna stays behind. They spend 200 virtual, speeded-up years together in the Underworld.

Alice is introduced as an autonomous AI in an android body. Kazuto wakes up. There’s an epilogue featuring Kirito, Asuna, and Alice.

SAO Filler?

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Sources say that there is no filler in Sword Art Online. Every episode is based upon the light novels.

However, there are recap episodes, labelled ‘.5.’ For example, 14.5 of SAO II; and 18.5, 24.5, and 36.5 of SAO: Alicization are recap episodes. Extra Edition is probably the only filler. It contains content not in the novels, and recap stuff.


Why did Kirito spend 200 years in the underworld? ›

Towards the later part of Sword Art Online: War of Underworld, a situation arises, forcing Asuna and Kirito to stay in the Underworld to aid Alice's escape from the VR world to the real world. As a result of their choices, they spent 200 years in Underworld, a situation caused by VR's reboot.

Is SAO extra edition canon? ›

The answer is yes. All three movies, along with the upcoming sequel, were written by the original writer of the Sword Art Online Series, Reki Kawahara. That means it fulfilled the most important and obvious condition for a story to be a canon. The first movie, Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, was a compilation movie.

What was Kirito's level at the end of SAO? ›

In the article for Kirito it states his level at the end of SAO is 96.

How old is Kirito at the end of Aincrad? ›

The game is clreared on 7th of November 2024, so Kirito is 16 years old at the end of Aincrad arc.

Who created Rath? ›

RATH is an Austrian company with a long tradition. Founded by August Rath, Junior, in 1891, this family business has developed into an international company renowned for refractory technology and heat-resistant materials for more than 125 years.

Who is Star King Kirito? ›

It's the final form of Kirito and the STRONGEST... Its name "star king" starts from Kirito absorbs all of the stars in the sky to his body and with human empire's people help. He beats vector and become the strongest person in UW.

Why is it called Alicization? ›

The name 'Alicization' is formed from the acronym A. L. I. C. E. (Artificial Labile Intelligent Cybernated Existence or simply a highly adaptive artificial intelligence), in reference to the project's goal of turning artificial human Fluctlights into «Alice».

What is Kirito's sword called in Sword Art Online? ›

The Elucidator is Kirito's Primary Sword throughout the game. He was awarded the sword as a boss-drop, after he defeated one of the bosses in the game.

What is SAO s1 called? ›

Season 1: Sword Art Online (Aincrad/Fairy Dance)

"Aincrad" introduces protagonist Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya, who in November 2022 is trapped, along with 10,000 other players, within the VR world of Sword Art Online.

What is Kirito's armor called? ›

The Blackwyrm Coat (ブラックウィルム・コート, Burakku Uirumu Kōto?) is a player-made black leather coat, tailored from black dragon leather, a high grade raw material, by Aincrad's best player seamstress, Ashley, that Kirito wore in the final months of Sword Art Online.

How old is Kirito 2026? ›

10/10 Kazuto Kirigaya / Kirito (14 - 17)

Kazuto is 14 at the start of the Aincrad Arc, 16 towards its end, and 17 throughout the Phantom Bullet Arc and Alicization Arc.

How old is Kirito's sister? ›

BirthdateApril 19, 2009
Age15 (Fairy Dance Arc); 16 (Phantom Bullet Arc); 17 (Alicization Arc, Unital Ring Arc)
System Name, NicknameLeafa (リーファ rīfa)
EpithetSpeedaholic (スピードホリック supīdohorikku)
11 more rows

What alien is Rath? ›

Rath is a humanoid tiger alien. He is orange and white with black stripes. He has two black wrist claws and each hand.

How strong is Rath? ›

Enhanced Strength- Rath is strong enough to lift large earth formations. Sharp Claws- Rath's hands each have one large claw that can extend. Combat Techniques- Rath is quite skilled in combat. Rath has a few names for his fighting moves, such as “Ophiuchus Face” and “Sirius Butt-Kicking”.

Is Kirito male or female? ›

Not only that, Kirito even earned some fans among other players who like his cute looks despite knowing that he is actually a guy. Considering that Kirito will no longer use a similar avatar for any VRMMO games that he plays in the future, his feminine M9000 avatar will forever remain one of Kirito's most iconic looks.

Is Kirito a sister? ›

Suguha Kirigaya, also known as Sugu, is Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya's "sister" in the real world; she is in actuality his cousin, as her mother had been raising her sister's child from a young age, though neither Suguha nor Kirito knew about this until later.

Is Kirito a kid in Alicization? ›

Also Kirito did not start as a baby, but did start as a child. He also didn't lose "all" his memories, just most of the ones related to his personal history outside the virtual world.

Who trained Kirito in Alicization? ›

After spending two years in the Underworld, Kirito succeeds in entering the Swordcraft Academy in the central city, Cenotria. He becomes a page to Sortiliena Serlut, an elite disciple at the Swordcraft Academy, and trains under her.

How heavy is Kirito's sword? ›

The Elucidator is Kirito's primary sword, and a perfect gift for any SAO fan. This sword comes weighing a total of 5lbs and is all steel.

Is SAO s1 good? ›

Complete with cliched characters and a bland male main character, Sword Art Online loses a lot of the charm that made it so absorbing during its opening episodes. The visuals are outstanding though and coupled with an epic soundtrack and a decent first half, Sword Art Online does have some redeeming features.

Who is Kiritos love interest in SAO? ›

Asuna Yuuki

Asuna is Kirito's partner and love interest. They first met after being trapped in SAO for a month and formed a party to defeat the 1st Floor Boss.

What is SAO s4 called? ›

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld (2019 - 2020)

Is Kirito's sword a divine weapon? ›

The «Night Sky Sword» (夜空の剣, Yozora no Ken?), often called "The Black One", is a Priority 46 Divine Object-class long sword that is Kirito's personal one-handed sword in Underworld.

Who is Kirito's half brother? ›

Vassago Casals | Sword Art Online Wiki | Fandom.

Was Kirito's Fluctlight copied? ›

Higa deleted the real Kirito's memories of the past 200 years spent in the underworld and at the same time copied his fluctlight so although the real Kirito has had the past 200 years wiped from his memory, a copy of those memories still exist as a fluctlight which will be at some point injected into the Underworld so ...

Who is the god in SAO? ›

The Darkness God Vecta (闇神ベクタ, Yami Shin Bekuta?) - the ruler of the Dark Territory and the only god worshiped there. Vecta is said to love pulling pranks on humans, in the form of diseases[citation needed] or kidnapping people and stealing their memory. Vecta was also the originator of the Dark Arts.

Is SAO a 12 year old? ›

Its a great show I recommend it for ages 11+.

Does Kirito live 200 years? ›

This Kirito sounds drastically different than the one from before, with the weight of two lifetimes aging his tone and manner of speech. From this alone, it's clear that living through 200 years significantly drained them psychologically and emotionally.

How old is Asuna now? ›

At the very being of SAO Asuna was 15. After that two years go by in Aincrad and she's 17. She turned 18 sometime in the Phantom Bullet Arc. Finally we have the current arc, Unital Ring where she is 19.

What is Kirito's daughter called? ›

Sword Art Online: How Kirito & Asuna Had Became Parents to Daughter Yui.

Is Asuna older than Kirito? ›

Asuna is one year older than Kirito. Asuna's main weapon is a rapier. Asuna is one of the few rare people in the series to use her real name for her avatar.

Why does Kirito wear black? ›

While trying to discover more about this universe and finding a way back to the real world, Kirito will gently help Eugeo to become a swordsman and find his friend Alice... Kirito has been used to wear black clothes since the first rare item he obtained from a boss drop.

Is Kirito and Asuna married IRL? ›

Lastly, it is as Gsimenas said, we already know what is going to happen in the next arc, and no, there is nothing about them being engaged/married etc. To sum up, as of current situation (in both anime and light novel), Kirito and Asuna are not either officialy engaged nor marred IRL.

How long was Kirito in a wheelchair? ›

After a year and a half (real-time!), the black swordsman finally got up from his wheelchair and moved – and the internet rejoiced! Even characters from other franchises couldn't help but show their support for Kirito's return. 第18話の放送をご覧いただいた皆様ありがとうございました! "OUR HERO'S COME BACK!"

How many days was Kirito in Underworld? ›

He's in Underworld for about a day in total in the real world. The first 2.5 years he spends there are 21 hours in real time, the last 200 only take place over 20 minutes in reality.

Why was Kirito sent to the underworld? ›

After the poison attack left Kirito's neural network damaged, Raft had begun his treatment by blocking his memories and sending him into the Underworld.

How long was Kirito in Alicization? ›

Kirito was in the AI world for 11 years.

When did Kirito and Asuna get married? ›

The 23rd of October marks the anniversary of the day Kirito proposed to Asuna in Sword Art Online. Please note that the actual marriage took place on the 24th of October 17:19 JST (08:19 UTC).

Is Kirito a copy? ›

Higa stated to the Kirito copy that it was a copy. Kirito's copy never "thought" he was a copy, he KNEW he was a copy especially after saying "I knew something like this would happen." in response to Higa.

What is Kirito's nickname? ›

Why is Kirito a vegetable? ›

But, at some point of the story, an accident happens in the military base where the Soul Translator is held and Kirito kind of becomes a veggie in the virtual world as well. At least for awhile. In this state, he can barely even chew, let alone remember much of anything.

Did Kirito live 200 years? ›

This Kirito sounds drastically different than the one from before, with the weight of two lifetimes aging his tone and manner of speech. From this alone, it's clear that living through 200 years significantly drained them psychologically and emotionally.

How old is Asuna in Alicization? ›

The main heroine of Sword Art Online and main protagonist of the seventh volume and the Progressive series (which tells the entire Aincrad Arc through her perspective), Asuna – who is 17 – is a friend and later to be girlfriend and the in-game wife of Kirito in Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online.

Does Asuna leave Kirito? ›

No, they never did break up in SAO, sorry. They are together forever!

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