Funimation and Aniplex of America announced that it will release the Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night anime movie in North America on December 3. Australia and New Zealand theatrical release were also announced for December 9. The United Kingdom, Ireland, and Latin America releases will be announced later. The film will be available in both English sub and dub.
The Progressive series expands on the “Aincrad Arc” of the original and still ongoing Sword Art Online series. The first volume was published in 2012, while the eighth and latest volume was published in June 2021. Both the main and Progressive series are written by Reki Kawahara with illustrations by abec.
The movie’s staff includes Ayako Kōnō (86 EIGHTY-SIX storyboarder) as director, Kento Toya (Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld co-character designer and co-chief animation director) as character designer and chief animation director, and Yasuyuki Kai (My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission key animator, Haikyu! The Movie: Battle of Concepts co-action animation director) as action director.
Aniplex of America describes the series as:
This is a tale of the time before “Lightning Flash” and “The Black Swordsman” were known by those names…
The day that she happened to don the NerveGear, Asuna Yuuki was a third-year middle school student who’d never even touched an online game before. On November 6, 2022, the world’s first VRMMORPG, Sword Art Online, is officially launched. But the players, still euphoric over having logged in, suddenly find themselves trapped inside the game when the Game Master deprives them of any way to log out.
The Game Master then gives them this warning “This may be a game, but it’s not something you play.” If a player dies in-game, they die in the real world.
Hearing this, all of the players panic, and pandemonium reigns. One of those players is Asuna, but despite not yet knowing the rules of this world, she sets off to conquer the floating iron castle, Aincrad, whose peak is too high to be seen. As the days go by in this world where death is never very far away, she has a fateful encounter. And then, a parting…
Though she’s at the mercy of the reality before her eyes, Asuna fights on with all her might until someone appears before her: the aloof swordsman, Kirito…
Source: press release