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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 series that is currently running and has 4 seasons (98 episodes). The series first aired on July 7, 2012.

Where do I stream Sword Art Online online? Sword Art Online is available for streaming on Aniplex, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Sword Art Online on demand at Netflix, Hulu, Microsoft Movies & TV, Apple TV online.

Aniplex
4 Seasons, 98 Episodes
July 7, 2012
Anime
7.6/10
Cast: Cherami Leigh, Bryce Papenbrook, Hiroki Yasumoto, Hiroaki Hirata, Koichi Yamadera
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Sword Art Online Full Episode Guide

  • Rinko informs Kazuto that Alice is missing. He's about to rush to the Rath Roppongi branch when the doorbell rings. In a panic, Kazuto throws open the door, only to find a deliveryman there with a huge cardboard box.

  • The Rath Attack Incident, masterminded by the American National Security Agency, is over. Now head of the newly formed Oceanic Resource Exploration & Research Institution, Rinko unveils Alice to the world as an authentic artificial general intelligence.

  • The maximum-acceleration phase has begun. Alice successfully logs out of the Underworld, but Kirito doesn't make it in time. In the real world, Higa and Kikuoka rush to shut down the STL, in order to disable the maximum-acceleration phase, but...

  • Alice and Asuna head to the World's End Altar as Kirito confronts Gabriel. Unless he can defeat Gabriel and return to the real world before the maximum-acceleration phase begins, Kirito will have to spend the next 200 years in the Underworld.

  • Escaping his nightmares, Kirito regains consciousness at last. With the Night-Sky Blade in his right hand and the broken Blue Rose Sword in his left, he faces off against Vassago, armed with the Mate-Chopper, now enormous in size.

  • Sinon manages to severely damage Gabriel, but her strength has been sapped. Leafa collapses after wiping out the American players. And Asuna, her situation now hopeless, gazes at Kirito. But the Black Swordsman continues to wander through his dreams.

  • Asuna and the others succumb to Vassago and the Chinese/Korean players. Discovering the catatonic Kirito, Vassago kicks his wheelchair over. Enraged, Klein lunges at Vassago, only to be pinned down by enemy players. Just then, someone unexpected appears.

  • The traitor inside Rath turns out to be a researcher named Yanai. When Higa attempts to restore Kirito, Yanai tries to thwart the operation by holding him at gunpoint. Meanwhile, in the Underworld, Sinon confronts Gabriel, who has logged back in.

  • Bercouli pursues Vecta, who's abducted Alice. After a long, vicious battle, Bercouli unleashes his secret sword skill, Uragiri, and finally defeats Vecta, despite having sustained severe injuries himself.

  • Sinon has logged in with the super-account of Solus, the Sun Goddess and rescues Asuna and the others at the last minute. Meanwhile, Leafa logs in with the super-account of Terraria, the Earth Goddess, and descends to the Underworld.

  • Due to Gabriel's scheme, U.S. players were given black knight accounts, and are now continuously logging in to the Underworld. They begin mercilessly slaughtering soldiers from both the Human Empire Army and the Dark Territory Army.

  • Asuna has created a bottomless chasm. The dark knights and the pugilists attempt to cross over to the other side, where the Human Empire Army waits. Meanwhile, Critter releases an announcement about a limited-time beta test for a bizarre new VRMMO.

  • Asuna has logged into the Underworld using the superuser account of Stacia, the Goddess of Creation. After she descends, she is reunited with Kirito, thanks to Ronie and Tiese. But soon Alice arrives, leading to a precarious situation!

  • Upon seeing Alice, Gabriel orders his entire army to capture her. The pugilists guild races ahead of the main force. As Alice and Bercouli try to come up with a strategy to counter them, the silent Integrity Knight Sheyta Synthesis Twelve steps forward.

  • The powerful formal art unleashed by the Integrity Knight Alice inflicts severe casualties on the forces of darkness. Alice encounters an enemy survivor and learns that Emperor Vecta's objective is to find the Priestess of Light.

  • Integrity Knight Renly Synthesis Twenty-Seven, in battle for the first time, flees his position, allowing goblins from the forces of darkness to infiltrate to the tent where Kirito is.

  • The Final Load Test has begun, and the Eastern Gate has collapsed. Incited by Gabriel, now Emperor Vecta, the massive army of the Land of Darkness pushes on towards the Human Empire.

  • Shasta, commander of the Dark Territory's dark knights, had intended to use Administrator's death as a chance for peace with the Human Empire. But his plans are thwarted by Emperor Vecta's return to the land of darkness.

  • The mysterious group that attacked the Ocean Turtle turns out to be a secret unit under orders from the U.S. National Security Agency. And its leader, Gabriel, has battled Kirito and Sinon before.

  • A force from the Dark Territory is attacking Rulid Village. Though she'd lost her purpose in battle, in order to fight for her family, and for the people that Kirito and Eugeo tried to protect, Alice takes up the Osmanthus Blade once again!

  • Six months have passed since the fierce battle against Administrator. Alice has brought Kirito to her childhood home, Rulid Village, where they live peacefully. Gazing out at the world that she saved with Kirito, Alice reflects on all that's happened.

  • Asuna and Alice reflect on the series of events that have led to their current predicaments and what they have learned along the way.

  • Carrying the hopes of Cardinal, Eugeo, and Alice in his heart, Kirito stands yet again and visualizes the Black Swordsman, the top player who cleared SAO. For the sake of everyone he's encountered in this world, Kirito, faces off with Administrator.

  • Cardinal appears on the top floor of Central Cathedral for a showdown with her bitter foe of the last two hundred years. She moves to achieve her objective of deleting Administrator, only to see the fallen sword golem rise up again.

  • On the top floor of the Central Cathedral, Kirito, Eugeo, and Alice finally face Administrator. But Chudelkin uses the sacred arts to transform himself into a giant clown and attacks.

  • Standing in Kirito and Alice's way is Eugeo, who's undergone the Synthesis Ritual and become an Integrity Knight. Kirito is rattled, until Alice admonishes him into resolving to fight Eugeo with everything he's got.

  • Kirito and Alice reach the communal bath on the nintieth floor. There, they find the Integrity Knight Commander, Bercouli, who's been turned to stone by Chudelkin. Alice breaks down in tears upon seeing her mentor's tragic plight, but then...

  • Seeing Alice's reaction when he mentioned the name Selka, Kirito decides to tell her the truth about the Integrity Knights. Meanwhile, after being knocked unconscious during his battle with Bercouli, Eugeo awakes on the top floor of the cathedral.

  • To help Alice Synthesis Thirty recall that she was once Alice Zuberg, and to let her know the true reason why she became an Integrity Knight, Kirito starts to tell her about the path he and Eugeo have traveled till now.

  • Eugeo reaches the ninetieth floor of the Central Cathedral, which turns out to be a vast bathing area. The perplexed Eugeo encounters Bercouli Synthesis One soaking in the bath. Meanwhile, Kirito and Alice are still climbing the Central Cathedral wall.

  • When Kirito and Alice both unleash the Perfect Weapon Control art in the Cloudtop Garden, the impact rips a hole into the seemingly impregnable Central Cathedral wall, which sends them both flying outside.

  • Though riddled with wounds, Kirito manages to activate his Perfect Weapon Control art. Continuing on their way to the top floor of the Central Cathedral, Kirito and Eugeo find themselves standing before a strange-looking floating platform.

  • Kirito and Eugeo are on their way up the stairs of the Central Cathedral when they encounter two girls named Linel and Fizel. As they stand, wondering what two children are doing there, they let their guard down and...

  • After being entrusted with the fate of the world by Cardinal, Kirito and Eugeo head to the top floor of the Central Cathedral. They find their confiscated swords, only to be attacked by the bow-wielding Integrity Knight Deusolbert Synthesis Seven.

  • Kirito and Eugeo have been rescued by the young girl, Cardinal, who has secluded herself inside the Central Cathedral's Great Library. Cardinal explains to Kirito how the Axiom Church and the Taboo Index came to be, starting with Administrator's past.

  • Kirito and Eugeo escape from their cell, only to find their way blocked by Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One, under orders from Alice to lie in wait for them. Kirito and Eugeo struggle against him until Eugeo realizes that he's seen Eldrie somewhere before.

  • Kirito and Eugeo are now considered criminals for having violated the Taboo Index and are thrown into the underground prison in the Central Cathedral. Meanwhile, on the Ocean Turtle in the real world, Asuna is watching over Kazuto as he's being treated.

  • Ronie and Tiese are late getting to the dorm. Kirito rushes out in search of them, but no sooner has he gone than Frenica appears. She tells Eugeo about how she's suffered at Humbert's hands, and that Tiese and Ronie went to confront him about it.

  • Now an Elite Disciple along with Kirito, Eugeo struggles with the question of what he should infuse in his sword so he can become stronger. When he's taunted by First-Seat Elite Disciple Raios and Second-Seat Humbert, Eugeo decides to accept Humbert's request for a duel.

  • Kirito finds himself in a duel against the Elite Disciple Volo Levantein, using real swords. As the curious crowd looks on, Kirito is encouraged by Sortiliena, and the duel begins.

  • Two years have gone by since Kirito and Eugeo left Rulid Village. In the capital city, Centoria, both boys have attained their goal of being admitted to the North Centoria Imperial Swordcraft Academy.

  • Asuna infiltrates Rath, the research lab in the Ocean Turtle, where she relentlessly grills Kikuoka about Kazuto's whereabouts. Kikuoka reveals that behind the development of the Soul Translator is a mind-blowing objective of epic scale.

  • In the real world, Kazuto Kirigaya lies unconscious. At Kikuoka's request, Kazuto is moved to a well-equipped hospital, but when Asuna and Suguha try to visit, they're turned away. Suspicious, Asuna and the others split up to find out more about Rath.

  • Kirito and Eugeo realize Selka has taken off to the End Mountains alone, and decide to chase after her. As they enter the cave, they encounter goblins, presumably from the Dark Territory, and must engage in a battle.

  • Kirito makes up his mind to journey to Centoria. Since he'll need Eugeo's help, he also decides to fell the Gigas Cedar. Meanwhile, Alice's little sister, Selka is worried about Eugeo, and opens up to Kirito about her concerns.

  • Kirito wakes up to find himself inside a mysterious world evoking a fantasy game. His memory fuzzy, he tries to log out, but is unable to return to the real world. After wandering aimlessly, he finds himself underneath a colossal tree.

  • Kirito, along with his childhood friend, Eugeo, has been tasked with cutting down a colossal tree called the Gigas Cedar. They're swinging their ax when their friend Alice arrives with lunch. As they eat, the three friends decide to go to a fabled cave.