When Did Sword Art Online Take Place: Unveiling the Timeline of this Popular Anime Series

When Did Sword Art Online Take Place: Unveiling the Timeline of this Popular Anime Series

Since its debut in 2012, Sword Art Online has captured the hearts of anime enthusiasts worldwide. The series, based on the light novel written by Reki Kawahara, follows the adventures of Kirito and his friends as they navigate the virtual world of gaming. One question that often arises among fans is when exactly the story of Sword Art Online takes place. In this article, we will delve into the timeline of this beloved anime series, providing a comprehensive understanding of its chronology.

The Beginning: Sword Art Online Arc

The Sword Art Online series kicks off with the Sword Art Online Arc. Set in the year 2022, the story introduces players to the advanced virtual reality MMORPG called Sword Art Online (SAO). The game throws players into a virtual world where they control their avatars using NerveGear, a device capable of immersing players fully into the game.

In this arc, the main protagonist, Kirito, and thousands of other players find themselves trapped in the virtual realm of Aincrad. As the story progresses, Kirito and other players must complete dangerous missions and conquer countless levels to eventually reach the 100th floor and defeat the game’s final boss, thus enabling all players to be freed from the virtual prison.

Alfheim Online: The Fairy Dance Arc

The next major arc in the Sword Art Online series is the Fairy Dance Arc, which takes place one year after the Sword Art Online incident, in the year 2023. This arc introduces players to a new virtual reality game called Alfheim Online (ALO). Unlike SAO, ALO is a fantasy-themed game where players navigate the virtual world as fairies.

Kirito’s mission in this arc is to save Asuna, a character from the Sword Art Online Arc who was captured by an antagonist named Sugou Nobuyuki. As Kirito dives into ALO to rescue Asuna, he uncovers a dark conspiracy and faces numerous challenges along the way.

Gun Gale Online: The Phantom Bullet Arc

Continuing the timeline, the Phantom Bullet Arc takes place in the year 2025, two years after the events of the Fairy Dance Arc. This arc introduces another virtual reality game called Gun Gale Online (GGO), a futuristic universe focused on gun combat.

Kirito finds himself entangled in a new adventure as he investigates mysterious deaths occurring within the GGO game. Teaming up with a skilled sniper named Sinon, Kirito attempts to uncover the truth behind these murders while navigating the challenges of the virtual battlefield.

Ordinal Scale: The Movie

In 2026, the Sword Art Online series takes a leap from the virtual world of gaming to augmented reality with the release of the movie “Ordinal Scale.” This movie follows the characters as they explore a new AR game called “Ordinal Scale,” blending elements of the virtual and real worlds.

The movie introduces a new threat and challenges Kirito and his friends to uncover the mysteries behind this latest gaming phenomenon.

Alicization: The Underworld Arc

Finally, we come to the Alicization Arc, which spans multiple seasons and takes place in the year 2026. In this arc, Kirito is invited to participate in a cutting-edge project called “Soul Translator” (STL) that aims to create artificial intelligence with human-like consciousness.

Kirito finds himself immersed in a new virtual world known as the Underworld, where he confronts new enemies and faces moral dilemmas. The Alicization Arc delves deep into the exploration of artificial intelligence and the ethical implications of creating sentient beings.

In Conclusion

Sword Art Online takes place in various time periods, starting with the year 2022 in the initial arc and progressing through different years in subsequent arcs. The timeline of the series offers a diverse range of virtual worlds, challenges, and character development while exploring the convergence of virtual reality and human consciousness. As fans continue to follow the adventures of Kirito and his friends, they can immerse themselves in a captivating storyline that spans multiple dimensions and raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of reality.


1. When did Sword Art Online take place?

The events of Sword Art Online take place in the near future, specifically in the year 2022.

2. Which season of the anime series introduced the Sword Art Online timeline?

The Sword Art Online timeline was introduced in the first season of the anime series, which aired in 2012.

3. How long is the duration of the Sword Art Online game within the timeline?

The duration of the Sword Art Online game within the timeline is two years. Players were trapped in the game for that entire period.

4. What event led to the players being trapped within Sword Art Online?

The players were trapped within Sword Art Online due to a major incident caused by the game’s creator, Akihiko Kayaba. He disabled the game’s log-out function and informed the players that the only way to escape was to beat the game.

5. How does Sword Art Online differ from other MMORPGs in terms of immersion?

Sword Art Online introduces a technology called the NerveGear, which fully immerses players into the game by directly stimulating their senses and intercepting their brain signals. This sets it apart from other MMORPGs in terms of immersion.

6. When did the time skip occur in the Sword Art Online timeline?

The time skip in the Sword Art Online timeline occurred after the players successfully cleared the game in 2024. The story then progresses to the aftermath and consequences of their time spent in the virtual world.

7. How many arcs are there in the Sword Art Online timeline?

The Sword Art Online timeline consists of several arcs, each representing a different virtual world or game setting. As of now, there are four main arcs: Aincrad, Fairy Dance, Phantom Bullet, and Alicization.

8. Which arc introduced the concept of Alfeim Online?

The Alfeim Online arc was introduced in the second season of Sword Art Online, known as the Fairy Dance arc. In this arc, the players explore the fairy-themed virtual world of Alfeim Online.

9. What is the significance of the Gun Gale Online arc in the timeline?

The Gun Gale Online arc, also known as the Phantom Bullet arc, introduces a new game world centered around guns and marks the shift towards a focus on the world’s emerging VR technology. It adds a fresh perspective to the Sword Art Online timeline.

10. In which arc does the Sword Art Online timeline expand beyond the virtual world?

The Alicization arc expands the Sword Art Online timeline beyond the virtual world. It delves into a new narrative where the main character, Kirito, becomes involved in experimental full-dive technology that brings the virtual world closer to reality.