‘Sword Art Online’ Season 3: SAO Alicization Release Date Hinted To Be After Alternative Gun Gale Online Anime

Fans have been waiting for 'Sword Art Online: Alicization' for years, but it seems the third season will have to wait on the 'SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online' anime.

'Sword Art Online' Season 3 SAO Alicization Release Date Hinted To Be After Alternative Gun Gale Online Anime
Kuroboshi Kouhaku / 'Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online' Light Novel

Fans have been waiting for 'Sword Art Online: Alicization' for years, but it seems the third season will have to wait on the 'SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online' anime.

The Sword Art Online Season 3 release date is coming up in 2018 as many anime fans hoped, but perhaps not in the expected order. Based on interviews from the recently published Dengeki Bunko Magazine 59, it turns out SAO: Alicization may be taking a back seat to the upcoming anime adaptation of the Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online light novel series.

Back in October, studio A-1 Pictures announced during Dengeki Bunko Fall Festival 2017 that the Sword Art Online: Alicization anime will be joined by a new anime series based on the GGO novels. Fans rejoiced and many assumed the turnaround on the project would be quick since the post-credits ending scene of the movie Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, which came out in Japan in the first half of 2017, ended with a teaser that said, “SAO will return.”

In the January issue, series creator Reki Kawahara was interviewed, but so was Alternative Gun Gale Online (AGGO) writer Keiichi Sigsawa, author of the Kin no Tabi book series (which has also been adapted into the excellent Kino’s Journey anime). A Japanese translator from Twitter named Gsimenas has provided an English teaser of the interview and he claims the SAO: Alicization anime “was apparently still not set in stone during the movie’s production.”

“The after credits scene was just [SAO: Ordinal Scale director Tomohiko] Itou having fun, rather than a confirmation,” Gsimenas tweeted. “Though the movie’s reception gave Alicization the green-light. Hence, the anime production has only just started.”

The interview apparently indirectly broaches the topic of the Sword Art Online Season 3 release date. The translator says the two SAO creators hint that the third season of the main series will be coming out after the AGGO anime.

“Kinda like an appetizer before the main course,” said Gsimenas.

When asked by another Twitter user if Sword Art Online Season 3 will come out in March of 2018, the release date for the game SAO: Fatal Bullet, Gsimenas claimed there was “no chance” of that happening.

“An anime has to be announced a season or two in advance,” Gsimenas claimed. “Best bet is either April or July next year. And even that sounds a bit too optimistic.”

Must anime fans wait until 2019 or 2020? The bad news is that anime projects do in fact take years to develop and the anime industry as a whole is booked up through 2020 based on comments from industry insiders. Although Sword Art Online Season 3 was only recently greenlit for production by A-1 Pictures, the good news is that Kawahara recently tweeted out that both GGO and SAO Season 3 are coming out in 2018.

Mere days later, A-1 Pictures gave everyone a new years gift by announcing that the Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online release date will be in April of 2018.

The timing makes sense since Yen Press announced at Anime NYC 2017 that they have licensed the AGGO novel series to release the English translation. The release date for Volume 1 is June 19, 2018, and Volume 2 is scheduled for July 24, 2018. The first volume of the English GGO manga was also released in November of 2017.

The interview article in Dengeki Bunko Magazine volume 59 also touched on Sigsawa’s love of guns, which are very difficult to own in Japan. In a 2017 interview with Anime News Network, Sigsawa said that he enjoys helping out other authors with his gun knowledge when they come to him asking for “detailed information about guns.”

In this new interview, it was revealed that “Sigsawa originally thought that Kawahara was a gun nut due to his choice of guns” in SAO. In fact, “Sigsawa proposed changing Sinon’s MP7 to a Glock because he thought that the former was so big that it would inconvenience movement.” A fully kitted out MP7 weighs almost five pounds, whereas a loaded Glock is around 30 ounces and less bulky.

The second season of SAO was the first time Sigsawa was officially brought on to an anime project for consulting work due to his gun knowledge. He started off by doing all of the flavor text for the guns used in the TV show. Afterward, he said, “Hey, I want to write more for this world, I really want to get into it.” At that point, Kawahara and the Kadokawa editors gave Sigsawa the opportunity to write the Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online books.

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online
LLENN is the pink powerhouse in the Squad Jam GGO tournament. Pitohui is wearing all black and has the tattoo on her cheek. Miyu is wielding the dual grenade launchers. abec / 'Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online' Anime TV Promo

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online Anime Spoilers

While the main SAO characters Kirito and Asuna are famous, many anime fans probably have not heard about the pink P90-wielding LLENN and her adventures in Gun Gale Online. The spin-off books were written by Sigsawa, and were overseen by series creator Kawahara. The AGGO light novels are already up to Volume 6, which should be more than enough for a two-cour anime season. The exact number of episodes for the GGO anime has yet to be announced.

Similar to how Kirito is named Kirigaya Kazuto in real life, LLENN’s real name is Karen Kohiruimaki, but she goes by her nickname in the Gun Gale Online game world. Karen has typical Japanese features, but her in-game avatar is short and known for wearing cute, girly clothing. Not only are her guns pink, she also dresses entirely in a pink wardrobe that has bunny rabbit ears.

Karen loves gunplay and, as LLENN, she becomes addicted to the thrill of ambushing other GGO players. Some of her competitors become so annoyed that they form hunting parties to track her down. Feeling guilty for her actions, LLENN went back to hunting monsters as a solo gamer.

LLENN eventually starts to form a party after she meets another female gamer named Pitohui. This girl gamer is a gun maniac who loves trying out new guns every time she goes monster hunting. She purposefully wears a tattoo on her face to prevent the guys from asking her out so much. Their friendship is sealed over tea while discussing real guns. LLENN expressed her desire to buy a new live-ammunition gun and that’s when she ends up shopping for her signature P90.

Later on, LLENN hears about a new team tournament in Gun Gale Online called Squad Jam. The two women decide to partner up, but Pitohui shocks her by announcing that LLENN will be the team leader. What’s more, Pitohui’s mysterious friend, M, will be joining their team.

Through the Squad Jam tournament series, Karen begins to meet other gamer girls in real life. An old hometown friend named Shinohara Miyu even temporarily converts her account from ALfheim Online to join the GGO tournament. An avid VR gamer, Miyu is known for wielding two MGL-140 grenade launchers simultaneously.

Teamed up and ready for action, these girls determine to take on the pros and make a name for themselves. But gaining notoriety comes with a price since a mysterious stalker wants one of them dead — both in-game and in real life.

'Sword Art Online' Season 3, 'SAO Alternative: GGO' Anime Confirmed: 'Alicization, Gun Gale Online' Trailer
Kirito and the new ‘SAO’ character Eugeo. abec / 'Sword Art Online: Alicization' Anime TV Promo

Sword Art Online: Alicization Requires Both A Third Season And Sword Art Online Season 4?

For those who have not read the light novels series, Sword Art Online: Alicization remains a mystery except that trailers have revealed that Project Alicization, a company named Rath, and a person named Alice all play a central role. The Project Alicization story arc is the longest in the SAO series, covering volumes nine through 18, so A-1 Pictures would be wise to take it slow and not rush through the available material.

To put things in perspective, the first SAO season covered volumes one through four and one of the side stories of volume eight, while the Gun Gale Online story arc from Sword Art Online Season 2 covered volumes five through seven. The Excalibur story arc is pulled from volume eight and the Mother’s Rosario plot in SAO Season 2 set the stage for the Sword Art Online: Alicization Beginning light novel.

Assuming there are 26 episodes in two cours, Sword Art Online Season 3 will probably cover half of the available books. That means anime fans will need to wait until Sword Art Online Season 4 to see what happens in the ending.

Warning: The following contains major spoilers for the SAO: Alicization anime.

Set shortly after the time frame of SAO: Ordinal Scale, the story of SAO Season 3 starts when real-world Kazuto (Kirito) has taken a summer job testing an experimental FullDive machine called the Soul Translator for a company called Rath. The company built a new virtual world for this purpose and the Soul Translator allows a user’s soul or consciousness, or Fluctlight, to connect directly into Underworld.

The FullDive upgrade introduces Fluctlight Acceleration, which greatly accelerates the user’s perception of time in comparison to the real world. This technology is similar to the Accel World series, which was also written by Kawahara. In practice, this means Kirito perceives years passing in Underworld, although only a relatively short amount of time may have passed in the real world.

While Kirito thought he was simply testing out the Soul Translator, Rath is secretly working with the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) on creating a new type of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The name Project Alicization comes from A.L.I.C.E (Artificial Labile Intelligent Cybernated Existence) and the goal is to create an artificial Fluctlight using the quantum state of the human brain as the starting point. Unfortunately, all attempts at cloning a human soul were futile because the copies destabilized into hysteria once they realized they were not the originals. Thus, Project Alicization’s goal is to copy the soul of a newborn child and then nurture this artificial person inside Underworld at high speed by using Fluctlight Acceleration.

These AI-based humans were raised by Rath employees using the FullDive system, but due to Fluctlight Acceleration, the population of Underworld quickly grew to the point they created a central government structure and their own religion. While most of the Fluctlights were peaceful and compliant, one of Rath’s employees passed on feudal system ideas that led to the erosion of ethics.

Kirito was brought into Underworld because the JSDF could not use the human-derived AI for military purposes. The Fluctlights were simply too peaceful and incapable of breaking moral laws, even when faced with decisions related to their own survival. Rath hoped that a real human’s interaction with Fluctlights would allow them to figure out how to twist the AI population for military purposes. Of course, Kirito was not told of the truth of Project Alicization.

Due to the secret nature of Project Alicization, Kazuto has his memories of the first tests erased, but Kazuto is attacked in the real world and his heart is stopped. Doctors are able to save his life, but he suffers brain damage in the process. In order to repair this damage, the JSDF takes Kazuto to a secret base in the Pacific Ocean called the Ocean Turtle, where Kirito once again wakes up in Underworld after many years have passed in-game. Kirito finds himself stuck in Underworld and he’s missing memories, cannot log out of the game, and cannot call the admins to get him out.

Underworld is set in an era where science is first being discovered and technology is mostly medieval. The two new main characters are named Eugeo and Alice Schuberg. The latter character is a master of the sword, whereas Eugeo is a simple woodcutter whose life is upended by corrupt nobles. Both of their life stories intertwine with Kirito’s adventures in Underworld.

For those wanting more spoilers for Sword Art Online Season 3, previous articles from the Inquisitr have provided a synopsis of what Project Alicization is, how Kirito and Asuna were separated during much of the Underworld story, and what happens to the main characters in the real world at the ending of the SAO: Project Alicization story arc. Needless to say, anime fans should be looking forward to the Sword Art Online Season 3 release date.

[UPDATE January 4, 2018] Added official announcement for GGO anime and Kawahara’s Tweet about SAO Season 3. Updated article to reflect new information.