The Sword Art Online Season 3 release date is already on the minds of many an anime fan now that the Sword Art Online Season 2 finale has been released. While nothing has been announced yet, fans are hoping the Sword Art Online: Underworld story arc will not require two years of waiting.
[Update] The spoilers in this article were purposefully kept to a minimum, but we've created an article explaining what Project Alicization means for SAO Season 3 and a spoilers article about Kirito, Asuna, and what is known so far about the plot. We also published an interview with author Reki Kawahara about his future plans. The release date for the SAO Season 2 English dub has also been officially announced by Aniplex.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, one interesting explanation for the recent U.S. economic downturn claims that anime, cosplay, and the new overabundance of neets in American society is the cause.
American viewers have been consistently searching for when the Sword Art Online Season 2 English dub is coming out from Aniplex. Unfortunately, Aniplex has been silent on the issue, although prior history can be used to predict when it might happen. To put things in perspective, the original Japanese anime for SAO Season 1 came out in July of 2012 and the SAO English dub release date was not until August of 2013, so there's a good chance we may have to wait months to a year for the Sword Art Online Season 2 English dub.
Unfortunately, predictions for the Sword Art Online Season 3 release date are in the same boat. There was a two-year gap between the first and second seasons, so at the earliest we might expect new episodes to be ready by late 2015 or early 2016.
What we can reliably predict for SAO Season 3 is the story line. As of August of 2014, writer Reki Kawahara has released 15 light novels. SAO Season 1 covered volumes one through four and one of the side stories of volume eight, while SAO Season 2 covered volumes five through seven. The Excalibur story arc was also pulled from volume eight. The recently-released story arc in the anime centered on Mother's Rosario comes right before Sword Art Online Alicization, the major plot point of the Sword Art Online Underworld story arc.
How this will be handled may largely be determined by fan feedback from SAO Season 2. Many fans felt the 12-episode long segment covering Phantom Bullet dragged out too slowly. Assuming Sword Art Online Season 3 is 24 episodes long, it's possible they may split up the Alicization story arc into multiple seasons, although a good stopping point is debatable. The good news is the anime may proceed at a faster clip, and critics won't be able to complain about the pacing issues. The bad news is that the next major portion of the story may take even more years to reach a conclusion.
While not giving too much away, Sword Art Online Season 3 has Kirito in a new virtual world called Underworld. The focus is on Project Alicization, a Japanese government project run by a mysterious company called Rath. Much like Sinon was the focus of the Phantom Bullet, the main new character for Underworld is Alice and Eugeo.
Much of the story will discuss full dive technology that Kirito was only beginning to consider as theoretical during SAO Season 2. Unless you feel like doing some reading, the closest anime example for this technology is Accel World, which makes sense because the author officially released a Sword Art Online, Accel World crossover. Many fans believe SAO is essentially a quasi-prequel to Accel World, and Kawahara Reki even admitted in 2013 it's possible the series may merge again.
"At this point, the two shows are separate, as an author I consider those two titles separate. However, there may be some varied similarities and points that connect between the two shows. Now, that's not to say, should some issues be resolved with both storylines, possibly there will be a third series that has ties to both titles, but I can't say for sure at this point."Reki also discussed the Alicization technology in regards to the brain implants used by the characters in Accel World.
"It is true that the technology used in Alicization could be, or is the foundation of the technology being used in Accel World, but at this point, like I said, it might be similar technologies having a similar technological chain, but it hasn't been made clear that it is in fact the same world. The two worlds could just have a similar technological advance. Also, as I noted before, if I were to clearly state the two worlds are the same, the number of things that need to be resolved in order for such a thing to be clearly possible is, the numbers are tens of thousands of times greater than I can even hope to do right now!"The author also believes that not much at all was cut from anime in comparison to the light novels. Considering the continuing popularity of the series, it makes sense that Aniplex would want to drag the story out as long as possible, which could be compared to how a short novel called The Hobbit somehow managed to become three long movies.
How do you think the anime for Sword Art Online Season 3 should be done story-wise?