Back in October, following a over 3 year hiatus from television following the events of season 2 (Ordinal Scale aside), presumably to allow Reki Kawahara to finish writing the Project Alicization story arc among other things, Aniplex has announced production on the third season of the SAO franchise in Project Alicization as well as a side-story in Alternative Gun Gale Online. More recently, Aniplex has released further information for the new seasons including several release dates.

Alternative GGO will be first up to bat, as the Keiichi Sigsawa written side-story will premiere in Japan beginning April 7th. The sidestory will be animated by Studio 3Hz, whom previously worked on Dimension W which aired on Toonami in 2016, as well as the likes of Flip Flappers and Princess Principal. Masayuki Sakoi will serve as the series director.

Alternative Gun Gale Online will feature a new cast, whose Japanese voice actors are:

  • Tomori Kusunoki as Llenn/Karen Kohiruimaki
  • Yoko Hikasa as Pitohui
  • Kazuyuki Okitsu as M/Goushi Asougi
  • Chinatsu Akasaki as Fukaziroh/Miyu Shinohara

A new trailer can be seen below.

In addition, Aniplex has just released a key visual for the next addition to the main SAO storyline, Project Alicization, along with the announcement that season 3 will be set to premiere sometime in October 2018.

Aniplex also released a preview trailer for Project Alicization, which you can see below. (Edit 3/24 @ 10:27 pm PDT: Original video replaced with English Subtitled version)

As with previous additions of the franchise, Project Alicization will be animated by A1 Pictures. However, Manabu Ono will replace Tomohiko Itō as the series director for the new season. Ono previously worked on other A1 Pictures productions such as The Irregular at Magic High School and The Asterisk War. It is presently unknown what the episode count for either of these new series will be.

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka and Haruka Tomatsu will be reprising their roles as Kirito and Asuna, to be joined by two new characters this season, Eugeo and Alice, who will be voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki and Ai Kayano respectively.

No word yet on what Aniplex’s plans will be regarding distribution, streaming simulcasts, or an eventual dub of either new series as of this writing. Crunchyroll, who had previously simulcasted the two previous seasons, has not released any word on whether they will do the same for season 3 and Alternative GGO as well. It is also presently unknown whether Toonami has plans to bring back SAO to air the dub of these new additions at this time, but we’ll keep you posted on the developments ahead.

As with all potential Toonami shows, if you do wish to see Sword Art Online return to the block for Project Alicization, Alternative GGO, and perhaps even Ordinal Scale as well, we do recommend that you continue giving your support to the show and Toonami overall, and to send your show recommendations to their Facebook and Tumblr message boxes as well as letting Aniplex know in their respective social media outlets.

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