Anime franchises can be difficult to keep up with. Long running properties like Dragon Ball and Gundam have timelines and stories that create a high barrier of entry for new fans. Streaming options have made things somewhat easier, but years of characters and lore can be daunting. This does not prevent these popular series from releasing new material. Not only that, in many cases, they are highly successful.
Sword Art Online debuted on television in 2012. (The light novel series it was adapted from can be traced back to ten years before that.) SAO went on to become a popular – and often polarizing – series. It has spawned worldwide popularity that has led to video games, theatrical films, and a possible live-action series. Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night is a spin-off of the original series.
So, can a newbie enjoy the film?
Right off the bat, it takes place after the events of the previous film, Aria of a Starless Night. SAO Progressive itself fills in some time gaps from the original show. Longtime fans of the series will definitely get the most out of Scherzo of Deep Night. Even lapsed fans who have not stuck around over the years will probably feel a sense of nostalgia.
The same can be said for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however. Fans who have been with the MCU from the very beginning will get the most out of each successive installment. But just because someone has not seen the first Iron Man does not mean they cannot enjoy the next Ant-Man movie. Newer fans will just not get every callback and may have more questions.
Of course, this means Scherzo of Deep Night must succeed on its own to bring in a new audience. The production value is great and the animation looks fantastic. This can be seen most in some of the major boss fights. There are heavy stakes in these battles, but there is also the sense of fun that is very important for an anime. These scenes look consistently great.
The relationship between Asuna and Kirito is the central focus. There is a growing friendship here and it appears there is a potential for romance. There is not much to the plot (players are in a large virtual reality massive mulitplayer online role playing game where death in it leads to death in real life) and there is a sense that many important questions are resolved in other parts of the anime. This includes the larger conflict Scherzo of Deep Night seems to be setting up for.
Can someone who has never watched Sword Art Online enjoy Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night? On the most visceral level, someone going in blind can get a lot out of the film. It has great action scenes and some decent characters. But overall, it just fills like a small part of a much bigger story that only a fan can truly appreciate.
Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night released in theaters February 3
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