After a long sleep mode since the live-action Sword Art Online series got announced in 2016, there’s been rumblings in the database now the show has been bought by Netflix.
In an interview with Collider, screenwriter and producer Laeta Kalodigris said this would not erase its Japanese origins, and that “Kirito and Asuna will be played by Asian actors”.
In this, we have Kalodogris’ word as an executive producer for the series inspired by Reki Kawahara’s original light novels. She will also be writing the script, coming from a background of working on Shutter Island, Avatar and Terminator: Genisys. More recently still, she penned a script for James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s recently delayed tag-team effort, Alita: Battle Angel.
In the rest of the interview, Kalodigris expresses that whitewashing was “the first and biggest thing” on her mind in shaping the series. Even though the game of SAO is global, comprising players of many nationalities, it was key to herself and Netflix to note that:
“Kirito and Asuna are very clearly located as kids from Japan, and Tokyo, if I’m not mistaken. They are, in my mind anyway, much like Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, defined in part by being seminal characters in an Asian piece of art.”
This certainly sets our minds at ease somewhat for the Skydance production, and Kawahara even gave the series its blessing when it was green-lit.
“I am excited and moved that Sword Art Online will be adapted into a live-action series by the highly respected Skydance Media,” he said.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to everyone involved in this project, and to the fans all over the world who have so generously and enthusiastically supported SAO.”