The epitome of isekai and one of the most popular anime of the past decade, Sword Art Online has cemented itself as a constant force at the box office, forums, and charts. However, Aniplex and its subsidiary production studio, A-1 Pictures, haven’t released a new season of the mainline series in nearly two years. While there’s still a lot going on in Sword Art Online, here’s what we know about a fifth season.
Manga, anime, and film
The anime adaptation of Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online light novels first premiered in 2012, depicting the series’ Aincrad arc to LiSA’s iconic opening theme “Crossing Field.” The story continued in a sequel 24-episode season, Sword Art Online II, in 2014. The next major mainline entry to the anime would come in film, however, with 2017’s Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale. Ordinal scale was a first for A-1 Picture’s adaptation in that it featured an original story about an augmented-reality RPG with fights taking place atop the real world.
SAO seasons 3 and 4
The next major arc to tackle was the Alicization arc, which would make up the third and fourth season of the anime. Sword Art Online Alicization introduced fans to the virtual “Underworld,” where Kirito teams up with NPCs and AIs to escape. The arc concluded two years later in the sequel season Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld.
While Sword Art Online is still going strong as one of the most popular anime series in the world, the isekai hasn’t seen a new TV series since War of Underworld wrapped up in 2020. Along with the numerous light novel, manga, anime, and video game spin-offs—most notably Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, the series’ latest mainline entry was the 2021 film Sword Art Online: Progressive Aria of a Starless Night.
So, while there is no season five on the horizon, A-1 Pictures is still working on the main series. Aniplex announced in winter 2022 that a sequel Progressive film was in development and would premiere in Japan in fall 2022. While there is no official English title, the film’s Japanese title is Sword Art Online: Progressive Movie-Kuraki Yuuyami no Scherzo. The film will continue adapting the Progressive spin-off series, which retells the series’ first arc, the Aincrad arc, with a renewed focus on deuteragonist Asuna.
Sword Art Online: Progressive is published in English by Yen Press. You can stream Sword Art Online on Crunchyroll.