“Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night is a compelling start to the adaptation of the Progressive novels.”
Sword Art Online is a big franchise in Japan with a series of light novels, several series, movies, mangas and even video games. So it may be a bit confusing where to start. Though, this new movie Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night may just be the perfect starting point for you! Indeed, this new movie is based on the Progressive light novels. So, it’s like a new beginning. You don’t need knowledge of what happened in the previous series to understand what happens here. And it’s actually a good thing because the Sword Art Online series went way too far, I think it should have ended after season 1 when the main story was concluded. So, is this new movie worth watching?
Sword Art Online has a very interesting premise. SAO is an MMORPG video game that works with a VR technology. This technology transports you into this fantasy world. But the players are stuck in this game until they can finish the 100 levels. If they die in the game, they supposedly die in real life and if someone in the real world tries to remove their VR helmet, they also die. So it’s more than just a game, it’s survival.
With a premise like this, if you tell your story correctly, it can be quite compelling! And that’s exactly what Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night does. The stakes are high with emotion and action.
The first act of the movie introduces Asuna and Misumi and establishes their relationship. It gives a good idea of both characters’ state of mind when they enter the game. Misumi is an experienced gamer while Asuna knows nothing of MMORPG so she has to learn everything. Misumi is a character specifically created for the movie. She adds a lot to Asuna’s character which actually makes me appreciate more now. There is a lot of emotional depth with the Asuna/Misumi relationship.
However, having Kirito taking the center stage with Asuna only halfway the movie might have been a mistake. I would have preferred two main storylines. One with Kirito on his own and the other with Asuna and Misumi with the two storylines merging in the third act. Kirito is my favorite character of Sword Art Online so I didn’t get to see him as much as I would have wanted. Though, I know we will see him a lot more in the sequel Progressive: Scherzo of a Dark Dusk.
Visually, Sword Art Online is beautiful with breathtaking scenery and great character designs. However, I do have a problem with one aspect of the visuals. I had the same problem with the series. It is the objectification of Asuna in some shots that are suggestive. I wouldn’t have been bothered if both male and female characters were treated like this. At least, they get the same treatment. But here, it’s clear those shots were only there to please the male audience and that’s definitely a problem.
Yuki Kajiura created a wonderful score that fits the story. She has poignant tracks for the emotional scenes and more epic tracks for the action scenes.
Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night is a compelling start to the adaptation of the Progressive novels.
Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless was released in cinemas in December 2021.
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