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Review of Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night Review

While the title for Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night is a complicated mouthful, the film adaptation is an easy watch that is plenty of fun regardless of your knowledge of the series.

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As the name alludes to, Aria of a Starless Night is an adaptation of the Sword Art Online: Progressive light novel series. This differs from the original source material as it tells the story through the lens of the female lead, Asuna, rather than Kirito. Not only does this allow for her personality to truly shine, but it also gives a fun spin on the trapped-in-a-MMO story as she’s not a prototypical gamer and isn’t sure how many features work.

The most significant difference from Kirito’s story is that Asuna originally teams with a real-life friend of hers named Mito, who Inori Minase wonderfully voices. This leads to an intriguing mentor dynamic as Mito guides Asuna through the early stages and winds up saving her life several times. Since it was a new character that didn’t really gel with the rest of the SAO story, I kept expecting Mito to meet a tragic fate and be written out of the arc. However, that doesn’t happen, and Progressive winds up being much more interesting due to it as it explores the friendship and qualities of both Mito and Asuna.

One of the biggest strengths of Aria of a Starless Night is that it gives time to its moments and allows characters to breathe. Despite running 97 minutes, the film only takes players up to the first two episodes of the anime. While this might seem like a slow pace and dragging things out, it works to its advantage as Asuna’s journey is fleshed out, and we get to see glimpses of her home life before she started playing SAO. Anyone that has become a fan of Asuna over the years will definitely want to check this out as the character fits the protagonist role wonderfully and carries the film.

While new elements are introduced, this first arc is still quite faithful to the original Sword Art Online story. It ends with the first-floor boss fight against Illfang that has become an iconic part of the series, and the battle feels even more epic in movie form. While the end results are never really in doubt due to its retelling nature, the action is just as gripping and remains an entertaining and rewarding watch.

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A second Progressive film has already been announced, which moves the story forward a bit rather than being a direct continuation, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out, but this retelling of Sword Art Online already has a winning formula. With a fresh perspective that sees Asuna in the forefront, an interesting character addition, and new looks at memorable story beats, Aria of a Starless Night is a success at retelling the series’ beginning in a way that is approachable while still being rewarding for longtime fans.

SCORE: 8/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

Disclosure: Critic received a screening link for our Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night review.

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