As a sequel to the 2021 film Sword Art Online the Movie- Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night, Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night continues the Progressive story that fleshes out more of Asuna and Kirito’s efforts to escape from Aincrad. The light novel series by Reki Kawahara and the films give fans of the original Sword Art Online story more time in the world of Aincrad. Directed by Ayako Kōno, Scherzo of Deep Night stars Haruka Tomatsu and Cherami Leigh as Asuna and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka and Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito in the Japanese and English versions, respectively.
Scherzo of Deep Night takes place after Asuna and Kirito have cleared a few of the first floors in Aincrad. There is a mild time skip between Aria of a Starless Night and Scherzo of Deep Night, which can be a bit confusing to newcomers since new characters are treated as having already been introduced. The movie as a whole tends to take a more fan-centric approach, trying to appeal to those who have seen and enjoyed both the first Progressive film as well as the anime. I understand the decision to do this since Sword Art Online does have a fairly large fan base, but the fact that Scherzo of Deep Night is not exactly welcoming to newcomers is a bit of a disappointment.
In terms of the story, Scherzo of Deep Night suffers from my biggest issue with the Progressive series as a whole. Since it takes place between events that have already been shown in the anime, it is essentially just an elongated filler episode. Personal moments between characters, mainly Asuna and Kirito, but also between some side characters, don’t carry much depth. Since the main draw for the Progressive movies is a deeper look at how Asuna and Kirito’s relationship developed, it’s a bit of a bummer that the movie does not go much deeper than the main series already does.
The other big issue is that it tries to feature Asuna as the main character but still falls back on the main tropes that bogged down the main series. Asuna has the ability and the skills to be a complete badass, but instead, is frequently relegated to just being a relationship piece for Kirito. The whole male fantasy “look at how this overpowered guy gets the girl” trope is why many stay away from the series in general, so Scherzo of Deep Night sticking to that script makes it hard to recommend to anyone turned away by that. There is even an entire cliched girl-talk bathing scene, which the entire genre should have left back in 2012.
What Scherzo of Deep Night does excel at, however, is the presentation quality. The animation is top-notch, and A-1 Pictures have delivered another wonderful visual treat. The action scenes are incredibly fast-paced and detailed, and the slower moments are given the love and care they deserve to help try to increase the emotional impact. Composer Yuki Kajiura delivers yet another wonderful score that is an incredible auditory journey. The attention to detail in virtually every moment in Scherzo of Deep Night is excellent, which is part of what makes the mediocre story even more lackluster.
Scherzo of Deep Night is not a bad movie by any means. It probably isn’t a movie for anyone other than Sword Art Online fans. Excellent animation and music are bogged down by predictable and wrought-out story beats, but there is still enough there to have made the hour-and-a-half run time worth watching. The movie sticks to the source material, for better and for worse, but fans won’t regret taking the time to watch it.
Scherzo of Deep Night is available in theaters nationwide on February 3rd.
Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night
- Rating - 6/106/10
Scherzo of Deep Night is not a bad movie by any means but it probably isn’t a movie for anyone other than Sword Art Online fans. Excellent animation and music are bogged down by predictable and wrought-out story beats.