Where Does the Sword Art Online Anime End in Light Novel?

Sword Art Online Progressive

Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン), one of the most popular anime among both domestic and international fans, has become a giant franchise recently. Classified into action, adventure, Isekai fantasy and romance, the series is known as the pioneer anime that is set in the 3D virtual worlds inside the game like metaverse.

The hot-wired anime series and movies are adapted from the ongoing light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec since 2009. There are four seasons of the television anime series airing between 2012 and 2020 in addition to a spin-off series Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online in 2018. Plus, the first original anime movie Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale was released in 2017. In 2021, a new film titled as Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night hit the screen, adapted from Reki Kawahara’s another mainstream.

If you have watched all seasons of the Sword Art Online anime series and feel hard to wait until the following season will be made, it’s highly recommended to read the original light novel series. Them, which volume should you re-start reading to enjoy the sequel? Today, I’d like to introduce to where the Sword Art Online anime ends in light novel.

(Photo on top: ©2020 川原 礫/KADOKAWA/SAO-P Project)

How many volumes does Sword Art Online have?

Sword Art Online is mainly divided into two part: Sword Art Online (SAO) and Sword Art Online Progressive (SAOP). There are 26 volumes in Sword Art Online and 8 volumes in Sword Art Online Progressive published so far. The spin-off anime series Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online is based on the same-titled novel written by Keiichi Sigsawa, which is composed of 12 volumes.

Where does the Sword Art Online anime end in light novel?

The fourth and latest season of the Sword Art Online anime series, titled Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld, ended in the volume 18 of the light novel series. If you want to enjoy the following story of the anime series, it’s recommended to read Sword Art Online 19: Moon Cradle. The volume 19 and 20 present the side story of Alicization Arc, the fourth season of the anime series.

Sword Art Online 19 Moon Cradle
△Sword Art Online 19 Moon Cradle△

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Sword Art Online 20 Moon Cradle
△Sword Art Online 20 Moon Cradle△

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The anime series can be divided into four seasons so far like below:

Sword Art Online: From Volume 1 (Aincrad) to 4 (Fairy Dance)

Sword Art Online II: From Volume 5 (Phantom Bullet) to 8 (Early and Late)

Sword Art Online: Alicization (Chapter 1–24): From Volume 9 (Alicization Beginning) to 14 (Alicization Uniting)

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld (25–47): From Volume 15 (Alicization Invading) to 18 (Alicization Lasting)

And, the new fifth part Unital Ring Arc begins from the volume 21 in light novel. Explore the next part of Sword Art Online earlier than its anime adaptation’s release!

Sword Art Online 21 Unital Ring I
△Sword Art Online 21 Unital Ring I△
Sword Art Online 22 Kiss and Fly
△Sword Art Online 22 Kiss and Fly△
Sword Art Online 23 Unital Ring II
△Sword Art Online 23 Unital Ring II△
Sword Art Online 24 Unital Ring III
△Sword Art Online 24 Unital Ring III△

Where does the Sword Art Online Progressive movie end in light novel?

Let’s see the newly-started movie series Sword Art Online Progressive, which is becoming another mainstream of the SAO franchise.

The first part Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night was released in October, 2021. It covers just the one-third of the Sword Art Online Progressive light novel volume 1. And, the next film Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night is also adapted from only a part of the light novel series.

That’s why I recommend you to start from the first volume of the light novel even if you have watched the movies.

Sword Art Online Progressive 1
△Sword Art Online Progressive 1△

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Sword Art Online Progressive is also made into a manga series!

Sword Art Online Progressive Manga 1
△Sword Art Online Progressive Manga 1△

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Where does the Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online anime end in light novel?

The spin-off anime series Gun Gale Online airing in 2018 ended in the end of the volume 3 in light novel.

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online: From Volume 1 (Squad Jam) to 3 (2nd Squad Jam: Finish)

You can enjoy the following story of the Gun Gale Online anime series from Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online IV: 3rd Squad Jam: Betrayers’ Choice: Start (Vol. 4)!

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, Vol. 4
△Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, Vol. 4△

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What about Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale?

The first anime movies Ordinal Scale was released in 2017 as an original anime movie written by Reki Kawahara, which is not adapted from any light novel or manga. So, you can complete Sword Art Online The Movie in itself!


Did you understand the whole series of Sword Art Online and where to start reading for the sequels of the anime series?

If you are interested in more light novel and anime recommendations, check these lists below!

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