A New Sword Art Online Journey Begins at Anime Expo 2016 .

Anime Expo was held this year in Los Angeles, U.S. from July 1–4. Over 300,000 fans descended on the Los Angeles Convention Center for the four-day event that’s the biggest anime event in the U.S., and at the event big news was announced.
Aniplex is a company that has released countless hit anime to the world. Their booth design this year was entirely devoted to drawing attention to the upcoming movie to be released in spring 2017, Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale, and they even had events lined up as well.

The side of the booth was extensively decorated with key visuals throughout the series’ history starting from the very first story arc in Aincrad, which attracted fans like moths to a flame.

There was also a simple event space set up underneath the key visuals where the English cast gathered for a signing event. Cries of joy were heard all over as fans dressed up like Kirito and Asuna got their SAO products signed.

An “SAO Selection” campaign was also carried out at the booth. Fans were able to vote on their favorite character and then pick up an exclusive tin badge of the character they voted for. Out of the 11 characters in the poll, it was the courageous and cool heroine of the Phantom Bullet arc, Sinon, that shined as the most popular character. With the final outcome between Kirito and Asuna, this result gives a look at just how hugely popular Sinon is among U.S. fans.

Exclusive products based on the upcoming Sword Art Online movie were also available at the booth, many of which sold out by the final day.

An area was also set up at the back of the booth showcasing key artwork from the anime. Many pieces of production art of popular fighting scenes were on display, giving fans the fun chance to see some of the valuable materials that went into creating the anime.

Even with all of this, though, the main highlight of the booth was the “Sword Art Online Festival @Anime Expo 2016” held on the second day. The venue was packed to the brim with 3,000 SAO fans and everyone was abuzz about who the previously announced secret special guests would be. When the event started, the crowd was surprised to see four secret guests appear on stage: Haruka Tomatsu (the voice of Asuna), Ayahi Takagaki (Lisbeth), Eir Aoi (singer of the opening themes to the Fairy Dance and Phantom Bullet arcs), and Luna Haruna (singer of the ending theme). Thunderous applause and cheers erupted from the crowd when they took the stage. After each gave a short introduction the exciting announcement began.

It was announced, to the excitement of fans, that Yuki Kajiura, the music composer onSAO since the first anime, will be holding a concert called “Yuki Kajiura Live ~Featuring Sword Art Online~” at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Jan. 14, 2017! And to top it off a teaser trailer for the movie was shown and a new key visual was unveiled created by character designer Shingo Adachi. After this, the English cast joined the stage for a live reading and an exclusive present event was held before the curtain closed on this crowded and exciting event.
Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale is a completely new story written by the original author Reki Kawahara. Unlike the VR concept used in the series to date, the movie will focus on a next gen AR system called Augma and the world of the RPG gameOrdinal Scale. The movie will first have a roadshow release in Japan in spring 2017 before being released internationally. Since Anime Expo was the venue chosen to unveil the newest information on the movie, it’s safe to say we can look forward to developments on a global scale.

Though it’s been over a year and a half since the conclusion of Sword Art Online II in late 2014, a new whirlwind is picking up for the series in response to the upcoming movie. Fans won’t want to take their eyes off what’s to come!
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