No matter your opinion of Reki Kawahara’s ongoing Sword Art Online light novel series, the announcement last year that A-1 Pictures’ anime adaptation of the series’ Alicization arc would take place over four cours for the entirety of 2019 was an important indicator of the series’ immense popularity. And yet, partway through the series’ broadcast, that lofty 50-ish episode, four cour plan was quietly discontinued and the show was listed as 24 episodes. This caused some fans to worry, as it wasn’t sure whether A-1 Pictures would be completing their adaptation of the arc after all.
But thankfully, it was announced this week that the third cour continuation of the series is indeed in production, only that it will air under the different name of Sword Art Online: Alicization -War of Underworld- this October via a new PV and key visual. Check it out below, courtesy of pkjd818 as the original is region locked to Japan only:
"Sword Art Online: Alicization -War of Underworld-" 3rd-cour anime will begin October 2019 pic.twitter.com/o5EIJB79IU
— moetron | pKjd (@pkjd818) March 30, 2019
This news was not just warmly welcomed by die-hard fans, but also by anyone who has been following the show, as it finished with one hell of a cliffhanger. If A-1 Pictures had finished the adaptation there, I think there might have been civil unrest – it was that bad.
The reason behind the decision to retract from the previously announced four cour plan is unknown, but I’d wager it’s simply to do with production issues. Maintaining consistent production quality is hard enough for two cour or one cour shows, let alone four cour shows. Furthermore, A-1 Pictures have stepped up their animation quality considerably for this adaptation, especially for key fight scenes, so to maintain that level of quality perhaps a reprieve of four months was needed.
As stated, the third cour will be titled War of Underworld, which should give you a good idea of what this third cour will be centered around. It’s unknown, however, whether this third cour will be followed by the fourth cour straight afterwards to complete the adaptation in one fell swoop. It’s probably safe to assume so, as the second cour did follow the first cour and A-1 Pictures have already dedicated themselves to adapting the arc in its entirety, but nothing is confirmed as of yet.
And while I’m glad that the arc will most likely be getting a complete adaptation – a rarity for most series these days, it must be said – it’s sad to think that there’s not much Sword Art Online material left for adaptation in the future. There are currently only three more novels post-Alicization arc, one of which serves as the prologue to a larger arc currently being explored by Kawahara.
Of course, there are more novels from Kino’s Journey author Sigsawa Keiichi’s spinoff series Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online ripe for an anime adaptation, but news on that front has been scarce, to say the least. So who knows – perhaps this is the last we’ll see of Kirito-kun for a couple of years. At least we’ll have that arcade game to keep us company.