On June 15, 2022, it was announced that from July 2 to July 25 the Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo will host “The Art of Sword Art Online” exhibit celebrating SAO’s unique anime art style inspired by illustrator abec and character designer Kento Toya (Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld, The Seven Deadly sins: Revival of The Commandments).
The exhibit will feature a number of creative materials that trace the story of Kirito and his friends, including the first public SAO artwork. There will be life-size artwork that will allow the museum-goers to have a unique experience by immersing themselves in the powerful battle scenes, as well as memorable scenes from the anime and films.
There will also be visuals drawn by the illustrators, character designers, and creators that participated in the production of the anime series and films. A lot of the artwork that will be featured is art that shaped the world, characters, and stories of SAO. Some of the artwork may hint at future projects in the SAO franchise.
When a game becomes a matter of life and death
The story begins when Kirito gets trapped inside of a Virtual MMORPG called Sword Art Online. The only way to escape is to “clear” the game by climbing all 100 floors that exist in the floating castle of Aincrad. The stakes are high since death in the game means death in reality. Kirito plays as a solo player in the beginning, but eventually teams up with another skilled female gamer named Asuna. As the series progresses their friendship deepens into something more.
The Ueno Royal Museum website has given us a sneak peek at what the exhibit will actually look like:
The museum will be divided into special sections:
00/Link Start – an entrance area where you can “log in” to the world of SAO’s art. A special movie for the exhibition will be playing in this area.
01/World – an area where artboards and UI designs that make up the world of virtual reality and games are exhibited.
02/Life – an area where storyboards and original drawings depicting the initial drafts of character design and many famous scenes are exhibited. Experience how Kirito and Asuna were drawn originally and how their story came to life.
03/Action – an area where the original drawings of powerful battle scenes are exhibited. Experience the moving action with the original paintings on the wall and the large continuous panel.
04/Continue – an area that exhibits special newly drawn illustrations for this exhibition and hints at SAO’s journey into the future. Speaking of SAO’s future projects, the 2nd Sword Art Online Progressive anime film’s new key visual has announced that the movie will premiere on September 10, 2022. You can read more about the upcoming film here: Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of the Dark Dusk release date by new SAO movie key visual
23 kinds of limited goods and SAO inspired merchandise will be available for sale at the exhibition at the special shop in the venue, such as: wide tapestries that feature the characters of Sword Art Online, and Sword Art Online: Alicization, t-shirts, mugs, totes, notebooks, and more.
The museum will sell audio guides that will enhance the experience of museum-goers, which will feature three successive animation producers: Jun Kato (Sword Art Online, Sword Art Online II, Theatrical Version Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale), Atsushi Kaneko (Sword Art Online the movie Ordinal Scale, Sword Art Online Alicization, Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld), Akinao Shibuya (Theatrical Version Sword Art Online Progressive Starless Night Aria, Theatrical Version Sword Art Online Progressive Scherzo of the Dark Dusk). Plenty of “secret stories” that can only be heard through the audio guides will be experienced.
SAO staff recently announced a TV special that will run on July 1 at 24:00 (effectively July 2 at midnight) titled TV Anime Sword Art Online 10th Anniversary Countdown on Tokyo MX! The special will feature news about Scherzo of the Dark Dusk, the SAO 10th Anniversary Project, and announce details about the SAO Selection rerun, which starts on July 9, 2022. On November 6, 2022, in Tokyo, the franchise will host a 10th Anniversary event.