Anime Playlist – Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online Progressive - Aria of a Starless Night - Asuna - Movie PosterThis upcoming weekend we get to see Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night…  So I’m inspired to write a new entry in my Anime Playlist series, covering the Sword Art Online franchise.  I own more music from this franchise than any other non-idol series.


I mean, hit the jump and let’s dive right in!

Let’s just organize this more-or-less by the role the music plays… We’ll start with openings.

Crossing Field – LiSA
Sword Art Online OP 1

This OP is also something of a running joke in Jon’s weekly AMQ game…  A player wondered aloud in the chat channel what it sounded like, and it turned out to be the next song played…

And anytime a LiSA song plays, one’s mind immediately leaps to SAO even though she has done other openings.  Unlike, say, fripSide where you pretty much know it’s going to be something in Railgun franchise.

Courage – Haruka Tomatsu
Sword Art Online II OP 2

The opening for the Mother’s Rosario arc…  I’ve always thought it a shame that Rosario comes at the end of the second season, and particularly that it comes after the relatively weak Phantom Bullet arc.  (Let alone Fairy Dance!)  By that point anyone who isn’t a fan has long since dropped by the wayside – and miss the best arc of the series.

And, as I’ve long said, if it were a standalone series…  We’d still be discussing it today.

Sword Art Online - Mother's Rosario - Opening

The OP sequence is also the only one with a clear narrative thread related to the arc’s storyline.  It only becomes more poignant as the arc progresses.  I near to wept once we learned what this cut represents.

Yuki Kajiura

Yeah, I know…  I said this was going to be organized by the role the music plays.  So, technically speaking, this should all be filed under BGM – background music.  But since this is Yuki Kajiura, we could also categorize it as “awesome”.

Pretty much all the music in this section that I have comes from the Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale soundtrack.  Since the OST is available on iTunes, it was a lot less work than going a’ hunting in other places.

Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale

We’d seen Puella Magi Madoka Magica Part III: Rebellion in a tiny arthouse theatre over in Seattle’s University District a few years before…  (The same one we’d eventually watch Liz and the Blue Bird at.)  Ordinal Scale was the first time we saw an anime movie at a full sized “real” movie theater.  (The same theater we’ll be seeing Starless Night at.)  It was one heck of an experience to watch it with a couple hundred other fans.

The Ordinal Scale versions are remixed versions from the SAO and SAO II soundtracks…  And there’s some amazing live performances on YouTube, so I’m going with those.

She Has a Luminous Sword

I love watching this clip.   Yuki and Kalafina simply bring so much power to the song.  This is why I have two versions of this song – the orchestral one from the OST, and the live version.

I often think of this as the “SAO battle theme” because that’s where it’s often used…  Particularly in this memorable scene.

There is, or at least was, a better version – but either it’s been deleted or my search-fu is weak.

And yes, that’s from the dub…  I originally watched SAO in dub, and it’s one of the few I can comfortably watch in either sub or dub.

Let’s Join Swords

Not much to say about this one beyond it being one of SAO‘s signature tunes.


Last but not least, Swordland, parts of this are used throughout the series and Ordinal Scale.  It’s quite possibly *the* signature tune of the entire franchise.

My favorite use of it is during Alicization – when Asuna strides forth to lead an army against the invading human players.  Swordland plays quietly in the background, a callback to Lightning Flash.

Smile for You

Sword Art Online - Yuuna

You gave me words of kindness
You held me when I was lonely

Sad things happened
But together we shared
the joy of early spring


By the nature of it’s plot Ordinal Scale‘s soundtrack is unique in the franchise for having idol tunes.  (A known weakness of mine.)  This one, over the closing scenes, is IMO the best of them.

The video linked above is an AMV telling Yuna/Yuuna’s story…  it’s pretty well done.


I hope you enjoyed this post! Are you looking forward to the movie? I sure am! Drop a comment, and let’s chat.


Be sure and check out the other posts in the Anime Playlist series:

Laid Back Camp (franchise)
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Sword Art Online (franchise) <- Newest Entry
Yuuki Yuuna (franchise)


11 thoughts on “Anime Playlist – Sword Art Online”

  1. I am jealous. I’ve been meaning to rewatch SAO for a while now and never found the time. Maybe, the movie (which will hopefully find it’s way to a streaming service) will prompt me to do so. Love the music too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been a huge fan of the SAO openings, to be honest. But the soundtrack of season 1 was pretty good. Not a surprise, with it being Kajiura. Anecdote:

    I originally didn’t think much of the soundtrack either, but I thought the soundtrack got a lot better in the second half of the series. There’s, for example, the scene where Kirito and Leafa have that mid-air fight; it’s set to a chaotic percussion track that at the emotional peak of the scene morphs into a pretty good piano piece via the very low notes. It’s great. So I mentioned, I think on animesuki forums in a thread about best soundtrack of 2012, that I thought Kajiura might not have had her best year (with her quoting herself in cliché in Fate/Zero), but that the SAO soundtrack eventually got really good. Someone replied to my post, saying that the soundtrack’s always been good, but what improved was the sound direction, so you could hear it better. I didn’t actually go back to check (not caring much about SAO), but that was something I’d never considered up to then, even though it should be obvious: the sound direction can make or break a score. Makes me wonder how many soundtracks I’ve underestimated.

    My favourite Kajiura soundtracks are still Noir and Madoka, both of which predate SAO. She’s done great stuff since, of course, but nothing’s surpassed those for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I originally didn’t think much of the soundtrack either, but I thought the soundtrack got a lot better in the second half of the series.

      Sound direction is certainly a possibility… But I could always hear the BGM. It’s also possible that being two cour the soundtrack had time to grow on you. I know for me that sound direction and the OST both have to make and above average impression for me to remember them.

      A lot of shows seem (to me) to recycle the same set of musical cues from a library.


      1. It’s entirely possible that the soundtrack grew on me. I have little ear for sound direction, though, and if someone else makes that claim, I should at least consider the possibility. The thing is I was pretty familiar with Kajiura in 2012 (from Noir, Madoka, .hack/sign, and Garden of Sinners, definitely, and MaiHime, maybe ), and I was actively listening for the soundtrack because I knew she was in charge when watching SAO. (That might have put me in the wrong mind frame?)

        Also, the sidebar has just given me a piano rendition of some SAO soundtrack performed in Asuna cosplay:


        (If the link doesn’t work: “SWORD ART ONLINE EPIC PIANO MEDLEY – Ru’s Piano)

        Liked by 1 person

          1. The violin playing is great, but I’m not that fond of the backing tracks (the same sort of regularity you hear nearly everywhere these days – midi + soundfonts, quantising + pitch correction, autotune… It’s like music produces think perfection means regularity and accuracy when too much of it eliminates expression). Sorry, same old rant from me. It’s not like every youtube artist can afford an orchestra.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. i have not watched any sao but ive heard some of the music before bc apparently its really popular xD and some of these are def something i wouldn’t mind having on my playlist _


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