Parents' Guide to

Sword Art Online: Progressive - Aria of a Starless Night

By Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Anime spin-off has violence, strong female role models.

Movie NR 2021 97 minutes
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A reimagining of the first two episodes of a beloved anime series, this animated adventure will feel familiar to fans of the original TV show but might take flack for its additions and adjustments. But as a thrilling, visually stunning, and breathlessly exciting anime movie on its own terms, Sword Art Online: Progressive - Aria of a Starless Night is a winner. Cinema's video game spin-offs are notoriously bad, missing the point of what made the game so compelling. Anyone who's played an RPG or action adventure game will instantly understand the visual language of Sword Art Online and its most impressive feat is capturing the feeling of being immersed in a great game.

Here Asuna gets her backstory filled in and a friend, Misumi, is invented for the movie. Their friendship is moving without being overly sentimental. Their time together is warm and realistic, with conversations about anything but crushes on boys -- a typical trap writers fall into when putting teen girls together on-screen. Their character growth feels realistic too, and when Asuna meets up with the series' male main character, Kirito (voiced by Bryce Papenbrook), her previously mysterious demeanor fades as she blossoms. With its soaring music, sizzling visuals, huge stakes, and inspiring lead characters, Sword Art Online: Progressive - Aria of a Starless Night is a recommended anime for series fans and newcomers alike.

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