Anime based on games have always been the eye-catchy genre. Season after season, fans look forward to the renewals, reboots, and returns. However, it is a rarity that these seasons return soon enough. Sword Art Online Season 4 has been on the list for the longest time now. The previous season was last seen in September 2020. Since then, it has been out of the news. So, did some controversy happen over it? What is the case with renewal? Here is all you need to know about the return of the fourth installment.
Sword Art Online was originally launched as a science fiction novel series by Reki Kawahara. Even he was not sure that his creation would dominate the RPG isekai world in the coming years. When the anime came out in 2012, it became one of the best serving game anime series of that year. Since then, three seasons, three light novels, and multiple video games have come out. But a fourth season is still hanging. Is it because of the source material? Let’s find out.
Sword Art Online Season 4: Renewed Or Not?
As mentioned above, October 2020 was the last time that fans heard about the probable airing of Sword Art Online. At the time of writing, there has not been any confirmation on the renewal of Sword Art Online Season 4. Currently, animation company A-1 Pictures is working on the SAO Progressive movie series. This is the official adaptation of the second light novel of the franchise. So far, only one movie, named Aria on a Starless Night, has been released, which was a huge success in 2021.
Is It Coming Back?
For now, no such update has been in public suggesting that the fourth season would return. But SAO is undeniably one of the biggest isekai banners in existence today. The last outing, Aria on a Starless Night, has grossed a sweeping margin of $13.68 million in Japan alone. Also, the recurrence of the banner in the news sections is proof enough, and fans want it back. More than forty-two thousand fans agreed on a 7.5-star rating for the show on IMDb. Further, a million MAL users ranked show on fifth position of the ranking.
The platform shows a 7.20-star rating for the series. So to say, SAO is a huge name. From animation to adaptation to the story, everything has been widely praised. Thus, the return is confirmed, and only the timeline needs confirmation.
Is There Enough Source Material?
The reason why the timeline mentioned above is crucial is that it plays an important role in the adaptation. In an interview during the release of Alicization, the panel from A-1 Pictures confirmed that they had plans to adapt the entire SAO story. However, the third season ended up using most of the existing source material. So, the LN currently has twenty-six volumes in total. The third season ended with the 18th volume covering the Alicization arc.
Author Rika then confirmed that Unital Ring was going to be the final arc in the story. But this will be a long and tedious arc. As of 2022, five parts (volumes) have been published so far. And the series is nowhere near the conclusion. This leaves A-1 Pictures in a stranded position. While a total of forty-four chapters would be enough for a single-cour season, it still does not serve as the conclusion. Thus, in simple words, the renewal of Sword Art Online Season 4 relies on the completion of the source material.
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What Will Happen Next?
The next season of Sword Art Online will cover the Unital Ring Arc of the story. While this one starts from the 22nd volume of the LN, there are still four volumes left between Season 3 and Unital Ring. So, this arc starts three months after the Ocean Turtle raid. Kirito starts a seemingly normal day. But September 27, 2026, is the day when SAO turned into a death game. Announcements and warning signs inform that some technical error in The Seen Nexus has caused the default setting to turn into a Survival Massively Multiplayer Online game.
This death mission is called the Unital Ring. In the initial stages, Alice, Kirito, and Asuna managed to save everyone from the disintegration of the log house. But the survival is becoming increasingly difficult as time ticks on the dashboard. Now, all the players have to rush to the territory marked by aurora in order to receive special survival grants. But what is the missing catch? This the Unital Ring some kind of trap? The light novel is yet to conclude, thus, nothing can be said as of yet. We can only wait until that time.
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Will The Movies Conclude The Series?
Since the announcement of the Sword Art Online Progressive movie series, fans are fearing that A-1 Pictures has taken the easy way out of the franchise. But this is not the case. The movie series is a spin-off project that only adds to the series. So far, the makers have no plans of ending the series with a movie. In fact, the sheer length and story of Unital Ring are so long that a movie would never do justice to it.
Thus, fans can be assured that Sword Art Online Season 4 can conclude the storyline. Even a movie series would not make it to the floors in any case. However, the possibility of more movie franchises still has an open door. That case depends on the success of the SAO Progressive series.
Sword Art Online Season 4: Release Date
The business of anime is tricky and crucial to the source material. SAO has been serving fans with a sincere adaption for almost a decade now. And the makers have no plan on ditching its loyal base of fans. Thus, Sword Art Online Season 4 is surely coming back. However, there is no saying when the Unital Ring arc of the LN will be completed. From the story perspective, we are halfway there. But there is a long way to go. 2022 and 2023 might go by in concluding the series. This leaves a short time of one year for animation.
Thus, Sword Art Online Season 4 may not return before late 2024. Until that time, the studio will continue to timely release films and movies to keep us engaged. We will be sure to update this section with all the relevant information. Thus, stay tuned with this space.