Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

Earlier this month, two new Sword Art Online anime were announced to be in production. As someone who has read the novels both series will be based on, allow me to give you a bit of a deeper look at what to expect.

[This article contains spoilers for the first book of Sword Art Online: Alicization and first few sections of Sword Art Online Alternative “Gun Gale Online”]

Image Source: アニメ ソードアート・オンライン 公式 on Twitter

Sword Art Online: Alicization

The third series of the main storyline, Alicization, starts on June 29, 2026—around two months after the end of Ordinal Scale. Walking home with Asuna in the real world, Kirito is ambushed by the still-at-large half of the “Death Gun” serial killer pair and is injected with drugs that cause his heart to stop.

Kirito awakens in a fantasy-based virtual world so real he can’t tell it’s virtual. The detail is far beyond what you would expect from an AmuSphere and, if it weren’t for the ability to bring up an interface window, he’d swear everything he is seeing—and feeling—is real. Moreover, the people, as clearly NPCs seem far more alive than any AI he has encountered in his past adventures. But what’s weirdest about them is that they seem to follow all rules without question—even the ones that seem to make no sense.

After befriending Eugeo, a young woodcutter, the two decide to head toward the citadel at the center of this magical land—Kirito to find an admin, and Eugeo to find his childhood friend, Alice, who was taken away by the dragon-riding “Synthesis Knights” years before. Unfortunately, the only way into the citadel is to become a Synthesis Knight yourself—a feat that will take years to complete.

Alicization is undoubtedly the climax of all of Sword Art Online; It all leads to this. While past arcs took up a maximum of two books a piece, Alicization is 10 books long. Over it’s run, nearly every single ongoing plot threat is tied off in a story that is not only full of sword fighting adventure but also delves into the future of technology, our relationship with AI, and the nature of the human soul.

Image Source: アニメ ソードアート・オンライン 公式 on Twitter

Sword Art Online Alternative “Gun Gale Online”

Alternative is based on a series of side novels to the main series. Instead of being written by Sword Art Online author Reki Kawahara, this series is penned by Phantom Bullet Arc “Gun Consultant” and well known gun freak, Keiichi Sigsawa—who you may know better as the original author of Kino’s Journey and Allison & Lillia.

The First Episode of Kino’s Journey Shows How Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Like the Phantom Bullet Arc in Sword Art Online II, the story takes place in VRMMO First Person Shooter Gun Gale Online. It begins on January 18, 2026—one month after Phantom Bullet and during Mother’s Rossario—and follows college student Karen.

From a rather affluent family, the big problem that has followed Karen throughout her life is her height: she is currently an even 6 feet tall. This all but makes her a giant in Japan and far from the short and petite ideal for Japanese women.

Over the years, her height complex have caused her to withdraw from social relationships outside her few longtime friends and family. Yet, being diligent, hard working, and recognizing that she has a problem, she decided to try and solve it by making friends virtually in an MMO VR game where her real world appearance wouldn’t be an issue.

Of course, the last thing she wanted was a tall lanky body like her real world one, thus she hopped from game to game with her avatar, “Llenn,” being re-randomized in appearance with each jump. Finally, she got an avatar that was her exact opposite: a 4’ 9” petite avatar.

In this, the world of Gun Gale Online, Karen could become Llenn and be able to be the cute girly girl she always wanted to be—even if the closest she could get to a pink lolita dress was pink body armor and a matching gun. Through study and hard work, she became competent at the game and eventually made a friend, Pitohui.

The series follows “Llenn” as she is convinced by Pitohui to join the upcoming team battle royal, “Squad Jam.” However, instead of Pitohui, Llenn is forced to partner with M, a mid-range sniper with the avatar of a giant man. The with little-to-no experience with the opposite sex and little in the way of social skills, Llenn must work to overcome her own issues as she and M battle against 22 other teams of two-to-six people.

All in all, despite being spawned from the mind of a different author, Alternative‘s still the story of a young person working to overcome their own mental hangups through a virtual video game adventure—just like the arcs of the main series. If you liked the strategy and gunplay of the Phantom Bullet Arc, this fun little story won’t leave you disappointed.

Sword Art Online: Alicization and Sword Art Online Alternative “Gun Gale Online” are both in production but no premiere date has yet been announced.

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