The release date for Sword Art Online: Alicization ~War of Underworld~ Part 2 has finally been confirmed. The final part of Sword Art Online Season 2 will be released on July 11, 2020, the summer 2020 anime season.
The third season was divided into four cours that adapt the entire Alicization arc. Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (voice actor for Kirito) mentioned early on that Alicization’s four cours will be “split into 2 x 2-cour parts.”
A cour is a three-month unit of broadcasting time based on the physical seasons, so four cours means the four quarters of a full year. But the third season was a split-cour anime, which means all four cours of Sword Art Online Season 3 were not aired consecutively.
The third season went on hiatus starting in April 2019 and then resumed with Part 2 in October 2019. The release date for the final cour was initially scheduled for the spring of 2020.
However, the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus pandemic caused the Sword Art Online: Alicization ~War of Underworld~ Part 2 release date to be delayed until later in summer 2020.
Anime studio A-1 Pictures has already confirmed the number of episodes for the Sword Art Online: Alicization anime adaptation.
The first half was 24 episodes, while the second half, Sword Art Online: Alicization ~War of Underworld~, had 23 episodes, which means the entire adaptation will be 47 episodes in total.
The finale for SAO Season 3 will be streaming on Hulu, Funimation, Crunchyroll, and HIDIVE.
Sword Art Online Season 4 could adapt the Moon Cradle story arc or wait for Unital Ring
SAO Season 3 is based on the Sword Art Online: Alicization arc, which is the longest story arc written by Japanese author Reki Kawahara.
The SAO creator wrote the entire Alicization story as a web novel from 2005 through 2008, and then the whole story was adapted into a light novel format.
Years later, Kawahara wrote a web novel called Cradle Of The Moon, which is an Underworld side story that takes place shortly before the ending of Alicization.
Initially, the story was designed to be standalone, but it was eventually added as an official book in the SAO series.
“[Moon Cradle was] structured to be readable as an independent fantasy story with some character names in common (with the original works),” Kawahara explained.
Warning: The following paragraph contains minor spoilers about the ending of Sword Art Online: Alicization ~War of Underworld~ Part 2.
Without spoiling the ending of Alicization too much, near the end of the anime, the Fluctlight Acceleration will be cranked up way, way past the safety limits.
Moon Cradle is a story about a lifetime of memories spent in Underworld that the characters no longer remember once they’re in the real world.
The Alicization story was adapted into light novel volumes 9 through 18, while Volumes 19 and 20 were called Moon Cradle Part 1 and 2.
The Sword Art Online: Moon Cradle story is relatively short so that it could be adapted into a single-cour Sword Art Online Season 4, but it could also be adapted as a movie (or two).
In all likelihood, the Sword Art Online Season 4 anime will probably adapt the Sword Art Online: Unital Ring story arc that started with Volume 21 in 2018. Sword Art Online Volume 24: Unital Ring 3 was released on May 9, 2020.
Kawahara is intending on creating a long story arc to end the entire SAO light novel series. Assuming that Unital Ring will be close to 10 volumes like Alicization, Kawahara could finish the final story arc within several years.
Therefore, anime fans could have quite the wait before the SAO Season 4 release date comes around.
2020 anime schedules suffer from coronavirus
In April 2020, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a national state of emergency, which was initially supposed to end on May 6, 2020. But Japan’s state of emergency was expanded.
Throughout May, the Japanese Prime Minister slowly began lifting the state of emergency in many prefectures around Japan, and by May 26, the state of emergency was over.
Sword Art Online: Alicization ~War of Underworld~ Part 2 is one of several major anime that suffered delays. Many studios’ schedules suffered from cascading effects due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide mitigation efforts.
That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime Season 2, Slime Diaries Season 1, The Seven Deadly Sins Season 4, Haikyuu!! Season 4, Black Clover, Pokemon Journeys: The Series, The Promised Neverland Season 2, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Season 3, The Quintessential Quintuplets Season 2, Re: ZERO Season 2, Sword Art Online: Alicization Final Season and No Guns Life Part 2 have all been pushed back to later dates.
The few anime that are not being delayed had production schedules in which the episodes were completed before the pandemic swept the world.
The Tower Of God anime, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2, and Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 2/Part 2 are among the anime productions that was able to complete episodes before the pandemic delayed the work.