Sword Art Online (Japanese: ソードアート・オンライン, Hepburn: Sōdo Āto Onrain) is a Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec. The series takes place in the near future and focuses on protagonist Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya and Asuna Yuuki as they play through various virtual reality MMORPG worlds. Kawahara originally wrote the series as a web novel on his website from 2002 to 2008. The light novels began publication on ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Bunko imprint from April 10, 2009, with a spin-off series launching in October 2012. The series has spawned eight manga adaptations published by ASCII Media Works and Kadokawa. The novels and four of the manga adaptations have been licensed for release in North America by Yen Press.
An anime television series produced by A-1 Pictures, known simply as Sword Art Online, aired in Japan between July and December 2012, with a television film Sword Art Online: Extra Edition airing on December 31, 2013, and a second season, titled Sword Art Online II, airing between July and December 2014. An animated film titled Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale featuring an original story by Kawahara premiered in Japan and Southeast Asia on February 18, 2017, and was released in the United States on March 9, 2017. A spin-off anime series titled Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online premiered in April 2018, while a third season titled Sword Art Online: Alicization premiered in October 2018. A live-action series will be produced by Netflix. Six video games based on the series have been released for multiple consoles.
Sword Art Online has received widespread commercial success, with the light novels having over 20 million copies sold worldwide. The anime series has received mixed to positive reviews, with praise for its animation, musical score and exploration of the psychological aspects of virtual reality, but criticisms for its pacing and writing.