Where to Start Sword Art Online Manga after Anime?

Updated October 7, 2022 by Ernie

Sword Art Online has stood the test of time as an iconic anime series. It garnered both fame and infamy as some people were quite confused with its genre—or maybe people just hated whatever was popular at the time. I, for one, took my sweet time before I decided to watch SAO. I was convinced that I was going to hate it but nah, it was pretty good. I was pretty much excited that it kept pumping out season after season.

I had a blast watching it when I was younger, it introduced me to a new genre that mixed fantasy and teenage dilemma. Some would consider it the very first anime that got them hooked in terms of popularity, it definitely got more stable through the years. I mean, look at its fame now. Though it may not be everyone’s number one anime, it could still be a strong contender for it

 A number of seasons have been produced along with spinoffs, side stories, movies, and games—if you’re getting lost from all of its releases, we got a read-and-watch order for you. From the humble beginnings of it being a light novel to one of the biggest anime adaptations awaited. No one can deny its success. So, naturally, you’d want more of it since the latest season ended.




Manga Cancelled

Look, I’m going to give it to ya straight. If you’ve only recently finished the latest season of Sword Art Online, then you might want to lie down before I break the news to you. So, you finished watching all four seasons of SAO on Netflix or on some other platform… and you thought “Gee! I’m still not over the ending—what happens next?” Well, the illustrator of the manga adaptation, Yamada Kotaro, left a sad message on the last page of the manga.  The reason for the sudden cancellation was basically the magazine that the manga was published on made a decision to shut down its services. Though the manga was later transferred to an online platform, it eventually got canceled, as well. If you want to read the full message, then you’re welcome to check out the manga.

Sadly, the manga adaptation that follows the main story ended with its 30th chapter, though it’s sad that we no longer get to follow the main story there, it kind of made sense that they would want to discontinue the manga.

Both the anime and manga are based on the light novels by Reki Kahawara, so by understanding that both mediums come from the same source, one of them probably had to go. It also makes sense since both the anime and manga are telling the same story, so you wouldn’t have to read the manga.

Now, the current manga that is still ongoing is the reboot version of the manga Sword Art Online Aincrad, Sword Art Online Re: Aincrad with the next chapter that will be released on the 26th of August.

So, I may not have an answer to your question on where to start with the manga adaptation but, giving the light novels a shot might be better—unless you’re willing to wait for the anime to continue. After Alicization: War of Underworld, you can start reading at volume 19 as the next arc would be up.


Story So Far

Sword Art Online

But before you start reading the light novel, let’s try to summarize the entire story so far:  in the first arc, we start with the sudden entrapment of 10,000 players in the game where they cannot log out, and to die in-game would result in dying irl. We follow Kirito and Asuna as they find a way to win the game in order for them to escape. Sadly, two years pass, and only 6,000 players remain.

Following the next arc, we see Kirito exit the game with the rest of the players but soon find out that 300 players, including Asuna, are still stuck. He jumps right back with the NerveGear and enters a game called ALfheim Online to rescue Asuna.

For the third arc, we understand how the ‘World Seed’ progressed into creating other VRMMOs, but Gun Gale Online suddenly had a murderer who is killing players irl while they’re still online, it’s messed up, I know. Anyway, our MC dives right in to solve this mystery.

The fourth arc brings us to a new world where Kirito seems to be having an identity crisis going on, he soon discovers that he’s in another virtual world and seeks to find the truth about it. Long story short, we all know what happened. We don’t need a repeat of it now. The pain is still fresh… but yes, Kirito goes on a crazy adventure that essentially leaves us traumatized right after. I’ll surely miss it.



I know it’s difficult to part with a favorite series, but like everything else, it has to end at some point. But if you think about it, the manga being canceled doesn’t really affect SAO at all, we still get to see the anime adaptation since the light novels are still ongoing. The only problem left is battling the spoilers that are going to come around if we don’t start reading the novels.

Plus, there are other manga adaptations of SAO that are still up and maybe you haven’t read them yet. So, go ahead and explore the horizon before the next season drops! Maybe you might want some recommendations on anime series that could be similar to Sword Art Online? There are hundreds now since SAO paved the way for the genre to thrive. My personal favorite is Log Horizon with its similar vibes but will also show you how distinct the anime is. If you’ve got a recommendation of your own that is also similar to SAO, why not leave a comment down below?


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