The 18th volume of Reki Kawahawa’s Sword Art Online Alicization Lasting light novel revealed that a new story arc will begin in 2017. The 18th volume concludes the Alicization arc and the new story arc’s announcement came with the tagline “Kirito will return.” The Alicization Arc began in the ninth volume of the light novel series and began publication in 2012. Yen Press is currently publishing the light novels, as well as the manga, here in North America.
Yen Press describes the story of Sword Art Online as follows:
In the year 2022, gamers rejoice as Sword Art Online – a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) like no other – opens its virtual doors. Now players can take full advantage of the ultimate in gaming technology: NerveGear, a system that allows users to completely immerse themselves in the game world by manipulating their brain waves to create a wholly realistic gaming experience.
When the game goes live, the elation of the players quickly turns to horror as they discover that, for all its amazing features, SAO is missing one of the most basic functions of any MMORPG: a log-out button. Now trapped in the virtual world of Aincrad, their bodies held captive by NerveGear in the real world, users are issued a chilling ultimatum: conquer all one-hundred floors of Aincrad to regain their freedom. In the warped world of SAO, “game over” means death – both virtual and real…
The series has two television anime adaptations named Sword Art Online and Sword Art Online II which cover the Sword Art Online, ALfheim Online, Gun Gale Online, Excalibur and Mother’s Rosary arcs. An anime movie is also forthcoming along with a North American exclusive live-action television series. Aniplex of America holds the license for anime distribution in North America.