Sword Art Online (Japanese: ソードアート・オンライン Hepburn: Sōdo Āto Onrain?) (also known as SAO) is a 2009 Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec. The series takes place in the near-future and focuses on various virtual reality MMORPG worlds. 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 aired in Japan between July and December 2012, with an Extra Edition episode aired on December 31, 2013, and a second season, titled Sword Art Online II, aired between July and December 2014. Three video games based on the series have been released on the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4. An animated film titled Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale featuring an original story by Kawahara has been announced and will premiere in Japanese theaters in 2017.
Sword Art Online has received widespread commercial success, with the light novels having over 16 million copies printed in several countries including Japan, the United States, Taiwan, China, South Korea, Thailand, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The anime series has received mixed to positive reviews, praised for its animation, musical score and exploration of the psychological aspects of virtual reality, but criticized for its pacing and writing..