A live-action adaptation of the popular anime Sword Art Online has been greenlit by Netflix. The pilot was penned by Laeta Kalogridis, who worked as writer/producer for Netflix’s Altered Carbon. Kalogridis will continue her partnership with Netflix, serving as writer and executive producer for the SAO adaptation.
Originally created by Reki Kawahara, the Japanese light novel follows Kirito and Asuna as they find themselves trapped within the virtual reality game, Sword Art Online. As if being trapped weren’t enough, through the use of a new technology called NerveGear, if a player loses their life in the game they die in the real world.
Recognizing the recent issue of whitewashing in anime adaptations, Kalogridis jumped ahead of a Collider interviewers question, acknowledging the importance of Japanese culture in SAO’s story. When asked what Kalogridis would like to see in a live-action Sword Art Online she gave the following response:
Well, let’s get the obvious bit out of the way, right away. SAO is an essentially Japanese property, in which Kirito and Asuna, who are the two leads, are Japanese. In the television show, Kirito and Asuna will be played by Asian actors. Whether or not that was the question underneath your question, it’s not a conversation about whitewashing. When I sold it to Netflix, we were all on the same page. They are not interested in whitewashing it, and I am not interested in whitewashing it. In terms of the secondary characters, because the game is meant to be global, the way it’s presented in the anime and in the light novels, there are secondary characters that clearly are from other parts of the world, like Klein and Agil. To me, it’s very obvious when you watch it that you’re meant to take that this game spans the globe, but Kirito and Asuna are very clearly located as kids from Japan, and Tokyo, if I’m not mistaken. That is what we will be doing because that is the story. 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. That’s the first and biggest thing.
Netflix has been on a roll recently with releasing anime both in their original format, and live-action. What do you think about this path Netflix has been on? Let us know what you think in the comments below!