Shiori IzawaHiroki YasumotoTomokazu SekiSword Art Online
Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night
Also known as: Sword Art Online Progressive Movie: Kuraki Yuuyami no Scherzo
Medium: film
Year: 2022
Director: Ayako Kohno
Writer: Yukito Kizawa
Original creator: Reki Kawahara
Actor: Haruka Tomatsu, Hiroki Yasumoto, Inori Minase, Kaede Hondo, Kouji Seki, Ryota Ohsaka, Shinya Takahashi, Shiori Izawa, Takeo Otsuka, Tomokazu Seki, Yohei Azakami, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Yusuke Kobayashi, Yuuki Tamai, Yuusuke Nagano
Keywords: Sword Art Online, anime, SF, MMORPG
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 101 minutes
Website category: Anime 2022
Review date: 12 December 2023
Sword Art Online Progressive Scherzo of Deep Night
It's the second Progressive movie! Theoretically, it goes between episodes 2 and 3 of the TV series, i.e. straight after the previous film. In practice, though, it's harder to reconcile with the original. You'll probably want to regard the movies and TV series as different continuities, although watching them all in order would still work if you just bear that in mind.
THIS MOVIE: Kirito and Asuna are already partners and almost feel like a married couple.
2012 TV SERIES: Kirito and Asuna treat each other like strangers when they meet again in ep.5. One of Kirito's friends is surprised to learn that they're not enemies. They'll get a lot closer in the future, though.
To tell the truth, I prefer the journey of the TV series version and I think it's a shame that Progressive was in such a hurry to reach a status quo. But hey. Kirito's solo travels might have started getting dull had they gone on forever, while this partnership is what everyone expects from Kirito and Asuna. It's nice. It works as a standalone movie. If you want to interleave these movies and the 2012 TV series episodes, you'll either have to accept that they're different canons or else invent some possible-but-eurgh explanation like mutual amnesia or a peculiar falling-out.
Unlike the first film, though, this is all-new. You haven't seen this material in the TV series, which didn't even show us the 5th floor. The characterisation's again become a bit less one-dimensional, with both Kirito and Asuka capable of being briefly-but-amusingly childish and sulky. Pleasingly, also, this is more of an Asuna film than a Kirito one. I don't hate Kirito, but he's a wish-fulfilment hero who usually knows everything and can do anything. If you want wall-to-wall Kirito, rewatch the TV series. In contrast, this movie's Asuna is getting pretty damn good at what she does, but she's still capable of getting scared and making mistakes.
Mito also returns, which is good. Her regrets and character development put her at the film's heart, making her almost a third protagonist (despite getting far less screen time than Asuna and Kirito).
The character work is good. Someone you might have written off as a dick manages to graduate from that, which was a pleasant surprise. There's dark content with the player-killers. (The TV series was also capable of getting grim, since it's the story of a death game.) But if all you want is cool action and a brown-trousers-time Level Boss... yeah, the film has those too. The mega-golem is impressive, resembling nothing we've seen before in this series while still being nearly plausible as a Floor 5 level boss. (Level bosses in any game should get tougher the further you get. This boss is way scarier than you'd expect this early in the game, but defeating it isn't about brute strength.)
Also, everyone gets to shine in the final battle. It's not just Kirito hogging all the glory.
Again, the film's good stuff. Mind you, I say that as someone who's enjoyed everything I've seen from this franchise, including Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online. (I wouldn't recommend the "girls playing shooting games online" genre in general, though, and other shows of that ilk have bored me.) Anyway, these Progressive movies are both enjoyable for long-term fans and a good jumping-on point for newbies. I'd recommend them.