Yuki Kajiura

Sword Art Online: Musical Transformation in Season 3

by on Aug.18, 2023, under SAO, Yuki Kajiura

Sword Art Online, an anime series celebrated for its engaging narrative and immersive worlds, has been equally praised for its musical landscapes. Starting in Season 3, a remarkable shift in musical direction occurred, reflecting the transformation of the storyline and character development in the Alicization arc. This essay will explore the shift in musical style, considering the underlying reasons and the impact on the series as a whole.

The Initial Musical Landscape

In Seasons 1 and 2 of SAO, the music was a blend of orchestral, electronic, and pop elements, composed by the talented Yuki Kajiura. The score was designed to create an auditory environment that mirrored the visual worlds of SAO, ALO, and GGO. It was dynamic, energetic, and emotionally charged, capturing the youthful and adventurous spirit of the characters.

Transition to Season 3

With the onset of Season 3, the tone of the series shifted to a more complex and mature storyline. The Alicization arc delved into intricate themes of artificial intelligence, ethics, and personal identity. The music needed to adapt to this transformation.

The Musical Shift

In Season 3, the music transitioned to a more traditional and nuanced orchestral style. The electronic elements were dialed down, and the compositions became more subtle, reflecting the profound and philosophical aspects of the Alicization storyline.

This shift allowed for deeper emotional resonance, supporting the exploration of more complex themes and character growth. The music began to play a more intrinsic role in storytelling, rather than merely enhancing the action-packed scenes.

Collaborations with artists such as LiSA and ASCA brought a fresh perspective to the opening and ending themes, aligning them with the new narrative direction.

Reasons for the Shift

The change in musical style was not arbitrary; it was a well-calculated move by the creators to align the music with the narrative progression. This alignment demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of how music can enhance storytelling.

Moreover, the shift helped to maintain audience engagement, offering a fresh auditory experience that resonated with the changing visual and narrative landscape.


The shift in music style in Sword Art Online’s Season 3 was a thoughtful and impactful decision, reflecting a maturing series with more complex themes and character arcs. By moving towards a more classical, orchestral approach, the music resonated with the deeper, more philosophical aspects of the story.

This transformation in music enriched the audience’s connection to the series, providing a more nuanced and emotionally engaging experience. It is a testimony to the potential of music to adapt, evolve, and play a vital role in the storytelling process, revealing the intricate relationship between visual narratives and their sonic counterparts.

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