Sword Art Online: Progressive – Scherzo of Deep Night is the latest installment of the Sword Art Online franchise and its Progressive spin-off and while the movie is the direct sequel to Aria of a Starless Night, the adaptation skips a few volumes of the light novel. The story picks up with the fifth volume, Argo is already a part of Kirito’s close circle and the fifth floor has just been cleared.
Since Sword Art Online: Progressive is a re-telling of the Aincrad arc with slightly different perspectives and events, Asuna once again got to play a more prominent role. She is involved in many events that she was not a part of in the original SAO and Scherzo of Deep Night gives her more space for character development. Her relationship with Kirito has more time to grow and develop naturally as they get to know each other better.
This is something we saw a hint of in the first movie and it’s a big improvement when compared to the TV anime, where it felt like Asuna was just a way for Kirito to prove how cool he is. Speaking of Kirito, he does get more screen time this time around but he no longer suffers from a bad case of main character syndrome. In the TV anime, he was always a mysterious know-it-all who was able to take down enemies with a single strike. However, now we get to see the human side of him as he shows his true personality to Asuna.
Argo and Mito always play an important part in the second movie of the Progressive series and we get to see some other familiar faces. However, once you put the characters aside and the fairly fun plot you have to ask yourself: what is Progressive really trying to do here? Yes, it is nice to see a more in-depth focus on Aincrad’s arc, which is still one of the best in the series, and it is wonderful to watch Kirito and Asuna fall in love once again. Even with the skipped bits from the light novels, the story still flows nicely and everyone is given enough time without needless two-hour introductions. The animation, in spite of production issues, is the top of the line that A-1 Pictures has to offer (Mito and Asuna’s encounter was definitely one of the highlights). Overall, this movie is very enjoyable and it is a collection of some of the best that SAO has to offer.
However, as someone who has watched everything from the Sword Art Online franchise so far, I do have to wonder about the purpose of these movies. As I said above, Scherzo of Deep Night was enjoyable, but the bottom line is that it does not offer anything new. We can keep watching these for years to come, as seems to be the plan, but something is definitely lost with the movie format. Even the small things that get cut later have to be explained and if you skimp out on the details you are basically telling the viewers to go read the novels. As much as Progressive tries to stand up on its own it still feels like a second thought when compared to the original story, one that is aimed at hardcore SAO fans who will know who to truly appreciate it. This is evident not only in the treatment that the series and characters are getting, but also in the smaller things like fan-service-y scenes.
In the end, even those of us who don’t fall into the hardcore fan category will surely find this movie enjoyable. It is fun and as I said, it has the best (and most popular) bits of SAO while also fixing some of the issues that the main series had. It is just a shame that it feels like filler while we wait for the return of the the Sword Art Online TV anime.
Sword Art Online The Movie – Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night opens in the U.S. theaters on February 3.
©2020 REKI KAWAHARA / KADOKAWA CORPORATION / SAO-P Project
Anime Corner received a screening copy of Sword Art Online: Progressive – Scherzo of Deep Night in exchange for a review.