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Sword Art Online tells the story of the world's first Virtual reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Player Game and how the first players become trapped within the virtual world. While billed as a sci-fi series, Sword Art Online transcends the single genre and explores multiple stories as the players attempt to cope with their new lives. The series delves deeply into the psychological ramifications of becoming trapped within a virtual world and dives into the psyche of the players. Beyond the psychological trauma the players suffer, the series also wonders what an economic system might look like as well as how a social hierarchy might be established.

At the open of the series we follow a quiet, mysterious young man known only as Kirito as he attends the opening ceremony for Sword Art Online. All the players are tapped into the virtual world utilizing a head piece known as Nerve Gear that ties all five senses into the virtual world and allowing one to experience the world first hand. At the opening ceremony the creator of the game appears and informs all players that they are now trapped and their only choice to exit is to win the game by battling to the one-hundredth floor of the game's tower. To make matters even worse the players are also informed that if they die in the game, they die in the real world as well. Our focal character, Kirito, soon find company in the brash, bossy, and boorish Asuna as a companion and fellow trapped gamer. Through the series these two function as the main characters through which we see the slice of life aspect of the series.

Originally produced as a Japanese light novel series by Reki Kawahara, the anime adaptation for Sword Art Online was announced at Dengeki Bunko Autumn Festival 2011; to be published by Aniplex, produced by A-1 Pictures, and directed by Tomohiko Ito. It began airing in July, 2012 with a simulcast stream on Crunchyroll.

Sword Art Online is a Anime series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (49 episodes). The series first aired on July 7, 2012. It has mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.9.

Sword Art Online is available for streaming on the Aniplex website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Sword Art Online on demand at Netflix, Hulu, Microsoft Movies & TV, iTunes online.

2 Seasons, 49 Episodes
July 7, 2012
Cast: Cherami Leigh, Bryce Papenbrook, Hiroki Yasumoto, Hiroaki Hirata, Koichi Yamadera
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Sword Art Online Full Episode Guide

  • Months later, Asuna receives an urgent message from Kurahashi that Yuuki's condition had deteriorated. Asuna rushes to the hospital and requests Kurahashi to hook Yuuki up to the Medicuboid one last time. Asuna meets Yuuki at the island, where Yuuki creates a scroll containing her original sword skill and gives it to Asuna. All of Yuuki and Asuna's friends and allies arrive to see Yuuki in her final moments, of which Yuuki is fulfilled that all of her loved ones came to see her before she dies. After Yuuki's memorial service, Asuna meets Si-eun An, real-life persona of Siune, who has been discharged from the hospital after her successful treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Asuna and Si-eun learn from Kazuto and Kurahashi about the idea of applying the audiovisual bidirectional communication probe for medical technology purposes, thanks to Yuuki's contributions. Asuna is surprised that the Medicuboid designs came from a benefactor, Rinko Koujiro, the doctor who monitored Akihiko Kayaba during the SAO incident, thus Akihiko was the inventor of the Medicuboid. Kazuto and Asuna join their friends for a picnic photo after discussing how the virtual world has benefited them in the real world.

  • While Kirito takes on the raid party reinforcements by himself, Asuna slashes through and defeats the raid party blocking the boss room. Inside the boss room, Asuna and the Sleeping Knights battle the Four-Armed Giant again, in which Asuna figures out that the jewel on the Four-Armed Giant's chest is its weakness. Yuuki uses Tecchi's back as a stepping stone to jump and uses her sword skill to destroy the jewel, thereby destroying the Four-Armed Giant. With the mission concluded, the Sleeping Knights agree to have a celebration at Asuna's log house. During the celebration, Asuna asks Yuuki if she could join the Sleeping Knights, but Yuuki declines since the group will be disbanded in the spring. They go to the Monument of Swordsmen on the 1st Floor to take a picture with their names carved on the large stone tablet behind them. After accidentally addressing Asuna as her older sister, Yuuki unexpectedly starts crying and abruptly logs out.

  • Asuna logs out of ALO and has dinner with her mother Kyouko Yuuki, who shows high concern for Asuna's education, wanting her to go to college to have a successful career and future husband. Asuna storms out when Kyouko states that Kazuto is an unsuitable husband. In her room, Asuna laments that despite being powerful in the virtual world, she feels powerless in the real world. The next day, Asuna goes to the 24th Floor to meet with Kirito, who shares his first impressions of Zekken. At the island, Asuna discovers that Zekken is actually a girl named Yuuki Konno. During the duel, both Asuna and Yuuki are able to block attacks and land some hits on each other using their original sword skills, but Yuuki stops her assault before having the opportunity to defeat Asuna. Satisfied with the duel, Yuuki then asks Asuna to help her with something.

  • The group engages in battle against Thrym, overwhelming him with their attacks, but he soon retaliates. Among the pile of gold, Kirito find a golden hammer and tosses it to Freyja, who suddenly transforms into Thor, the Norse god of thunder. With the group's help, Thor defeats Thrym once and for all, rewarding Klein with the golden hammer Mjölnir. A staircase opens up and leads to the last floor, where Kirito pulls the sword out of the ice with much effort, causing the floor to break off and drop down a chasm. As Tonky arrives to save them, Kirito is forced to throw Excaliber into the chasm due to its heavy item weight, but Sinon uses her bow and arrow to retrieve it. As a result, Jötunheimr is rejuvenated and filled with fresh water and greenery. Urðr and her sisters Verðandi and Skuld appear and thank them for saving Jötunheimr, in which Urðr rewards Kirito with Excaliber. In the real world, Kazuto, Suguha and Shino test out an audiovisual bidirectional communication probe for a mechatronics project to allow Yui to interact with the real world. The group later has lunch to celebrate the conclusion of the quest.

  • Suguha "Leafa" Kirigaya shows her brother Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya a news article about a legendary item, the Holy Sword Excaliber, which has been discovered in a floating dungeon located in Jötunheimr in ALO. The two rally Asuna Yuuki, Shino "Sinon" Asada, Ryōtarō "Klein" Tsuboi, Keiko "Silica" Ayano and Rika "Lisbeth" Shinozaki together to prepare for the mission to retrieve Excaliber. They enter Jötunheimr through a secret passageway and use Tonky, a friendly beast evil god monster resembling a flying jellyfish-elephant, to fly towards the dungeon. They witness players assisting a humanoid evil god monster to massacre a beast evil god monster. Suddenly, Urðr, the Queen of the Lake, appears behind them and explains that the massacre was ordered by Thrym, the King of the Frost Giants, who threw Excaliber into Urðr's Spring and caused the formerly green world of Jötunheimr to turn into an icy wasteland. She requests them to retrieve Excaliber from the bottom of the dungeon, the inverted ice pyramid Thrymheim, before all of the beast evil god monsters are slaughtered.

  • Kyōji manages to inject Kazuto in the chest with the syringe, but Shino bashes Kyōji unconscious with a stereo record player, before finding out that Kazuto had a hospital electrode still stuck on his chest which protected him from the syringe. Shino is later ridiculed again by Endou, who points a replica air gun at Shino but fails to fire a bullet. Shino takes the gun from Endou, disables the safety and shoots an empty soda can, before returning the gun back to Endou, proving that she overcame her fear. Kazuto picks Shino up and takes her to see Kikuoka to report on the Death Gun incident, in which Kyōji and his brother Shōichi Shinkawa worked together to kill players in both the real and virtual worlds. Kirito and Shino later meet with Asuna and Rika Shinozaki at the café owned by Andrew Gill "Agil" Mills. After Kirito reveals that he told Asuna and Rika about her past, Shino is introduced to Sachie Oosawa, a former employee at the post office during the robbery, who was pregnant at the time with her now four-year-old daughter Mizue. Shino finally finds closure in the lives she saved, shedding tears of happiness.

  • Sinon attempts to shoot Death Gun, but he dodges the bullet and kills Pale Rider with his pistol. Asuna, Leafa, Klein, Silica, Lisbeth and Yui also realize that Death Gun is a part of Laughing Coffin. Sinon deduces that Death Gun traveled underwater in the river, while Kirito says that Death Gun headed north. Asuna logs out of ALO to find Kikuoka for answers. Kirito and Sinon reach the end of the river and try to find the two other first-time tournament players, Musketeer X and Sterben. They locate Musketeer X at a stadium and decide to split up, but before Sinon takes her position, she is suddenly shot with a stun bullet. Death Gun, revealed to be Sterben, appears and proclaims that he is going to kill her. She is shocked when Death Gun pulls out his Type 54 pistol, coincidentally the same type of gun that she used to kill the robber at the post office when she was eleven years old.

  • Death Gun is out to get Kirito. Kirito is struggling with his hand in the death of 3 of the Laughing Coffin members. Eventually Shinon and Kirito face each other in a semifinal round.

  • Kirito and Sinon have been placed in the same block of the preliminary rounds. Sinon has still thought that Kirito was a woman. An embarrassing mishap in the changing room clears up the misunderstanding. Kirito goes to battle and stuns the other players with his moves with his photon sword.

  • Shino and Kyōji, a school friend, hang out at a restaurant after, Shino returns to her house, where she tries to hold a gun replica, triggering a terrible memory. This memory of shooting an attacker brings on a panic attack.

  • Sinon a GGO player, snipes a boss and acquires an upgraded FR F2 sniper rifle as a reward. She later ends up assisting a squadron leader in an ambush against a rival squadron. When Sinon and Behemoth are the only ones remaining in the battle, Sinon shoots down Behemoth earning her victory in the gunfight.

  • There a new virtual reality game called Gun Gale Online and it's broadcasted via streaming. A cloaked viewer in a bar, shoots a bullet at the video screen and it causes the star, XeXeeD to start convulsing. Kazuto discovers that there is strange connection occurring between the virtual world and the real world, as he finds out that the real life star has died from a heart attack.

  • Kirigaya Kazuto has beaten death twice but there is one more thing he must do.

  • Kirito, Asuna, and Yui are finally together again, but the locks placed on Asuna are unbreakable. Before they have a chance to come up with a plan, the fairy king makes his grand entrance.

  • Even though a wall has been built between Kirito and Sugu, he must save Asuna. The next time he challenges the final dungeon he won't be alone.

  • Kirito's determination to save Asuna borders on the insane. His reckless is stopped when Leafa suddenly logs out.

  • Kirito and Leafa have made it to the meeting and Kirito's bluff as an ambassador has been called out. If he can survive in a fight against the Salamanders General Eugene, his plan to prevent a war might work.

  • Something isn't right; Recon has sent Leafa a message I was right. Be careful. S." What does he mean and will Leafa and Kirito have the time to figure it out?

  • Leafa is making enemies leaving her area and group to team up with Kirito. On their way to neutral Territory, they speak more of the rules and areas of the ALO.

  • As Kirito learns about the game from Leafa and the hatred between the races, Asuna learns the truth of her role from the Fairy King.

  • A new MMO allows users to fly and encourages player killing. Kirito has joined this new game in search of Asuna and is pleasantly surprised with what he finds.

  • Kirigaya is adjusting to his life outside of the game, but he hasn't forgotten about Asuna. A recent visit to her in the hospital, he meets Sugou Nobuyuki.

  • Game over.

  • While enjoying a fishing tournment Kirito receieves an urgent e-mail from the leader of the guild requesting their return.

  • Yulier, second in command, of the Liberation Army has approached Kirito and Asuna for help saving her friend and her guild.

  • The newly married couple is enjoying their time away from the front lines. But a new guest will take them all the way back to the beginning.

  • Kirito has agreed to a duel with the head of the Blood Alliance Knights. If Kirito wins, Asuna is free to leave the Knights and if he loses?

  • To save a group of players and Asuna from a Boss character, Kirito is forced to play his trump card.

  • After 2 years, people have got used to living in SAO, with a dwindling front line it might just be up to Kirito and Asuna to continue the charge.

  • A trip to get a new sword leaves Kirito battling a dragon and his fears.

  • Kirito has figured out the how and now he has to figure out the why.

  • Silca is known as Dragon Tamer Silca, but after leaving her group she is caught and her pet, Pina paid the ultimate price. Before she is killed, Kirito saves her and offers her a choice.

  • Kirito has finally joined a guild made up of close friends in reality. Everything is going well until a tragic accident changes Kirito completely.

  • It's been one month since the players have been locked in the game. 2000 people have died; the first floor hasn't been cleared yet.

  • It's launch day for one of the most highly-anticipated video games of all time. Join the character "Kirito" as he begins his journey in the virtual world of Sword Art Online.