The anime Sword Art Online, known in the Russian-speaking community as “Sword Masters Online” made a lot of noise during the period of active release of the first screen adaptations of the eponymous early books. For some time, public interest in the series subsided, but with the release of new series and films, it has again become one of the most discussed.
It is not difficult for an experienced anime person who has caught the release of the first season of SAO to figure out the viewing order. However, a newcomer to the story for the first time may get confused by the episodes and movies. Let’s figure out in what order to watch this anime in order to get the most positive viewing experience.
Order of viewing
For the most part, viewing is done in chronological order, but the best order is presented below. You can also read a brief description of each part.
Season 1 (2012)
From the first episodes of SAO has been loved by viewers thanks to the quality and bright images and entertaining plot. At the beginning of the season, the narrative is fast-paced and filled with dramatic events. However, closer to the middle the plot slows down a little, but does not become less interesting. The characters of the main characters are perfectly revealed.
Season 1 Extra (2013)
Extra Edition is a re-release to Season 1 that contains some new episodes. Great for making what you watched stick in your memory and make new sense of it. It’s perfect for those who don’t want to watch the first season in its entirety or want to look at what they watched from a different angle.
Season 2 (2014).
The second season again impressed viewers with the colorfulness and unparalleled quality of the animation. However, many fans note that the plot here is severely delayed. According to viewers, the season could have been significantly shortened without losing meaning. The number of filler episodes is quite high.
SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online (2018)
This part can be considered one of the most exciting on its own merits. Even those viewers who have not watched any of the seasons understand perfectly what it is about and can enjoy watching it to the fullest. The emphasis here is not on romance, but on the most interesting details of the game world.
SAO Movie: Ordinal Scale (2017)
This release seamlessly combines an interesting and suspenseful plot, romantic elements, and well-written characters. The emphasis on Rath’s beginnings is noted here. We get to watch the personal development of each of the characters.
Part 1 of Season 3 (2018).
This is how far truly devoted fans go! Here, the plot is marked by more dynamism. The narrative is full of unexpected twists and turns. The aesthetic, as always, remains at the highest level. The slightest attention to detail applies to both the plot component and the visuals.
Part 2 of Season 3 (2019).
The entire franchise is reimagined here in the spirit of a kind of philosophical thriller. The reflections and soul-searching of the characters are noticeable. However, it is difficult to sympathize fully with the struggle of the heroes with artificial intelligence: too abrupt is the development of the plot.
Part 3 of Season 3 (2020)
The approaching denouement is noted here. Many unflattering scenes are added, with little impact on the course of the plot. Some characters are also brought back, and the need to do so is questionable. However, the sound and visuals are still unquestionable.
SAO Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night (2021)
All of the action is tied up in the first game level. Without passing it, the characters will die in reality. A clear adherence to the technical features of the game is skillfully intertwined with heartfelt and dramatic moments. This movie will be appreciated by the true fans of the franchise.
SAO Progressive: Scherzo of a Dark Dusk (2022)
This is the sequel to the previous year’s film. In it, you can see Asuna’s anxiety for her future intensifying. She once again has to overcome new challenges and obstacles together with Kirito.
“Sword Masters Online” is a great compilation of films and series about a thoughtful franchise. Like other titles, it has a number of flaws and controversies, but SAO is the result of years of work by the writers and cartoonists. This anime deserves the attention of viewers of different ages and will give you a lot of emotions.