Sword Art Online Live Action Will Have Asian Lead Actors

In an interview with Collider posted on Tuesday, screenwriter and executive producer – Laeta Kalogridis, said that the right for live action adaptation of Kawahara Reki’s Sword Art Online have been sold to Netflix, and that “Kirito and Asuna will be played by Asian actors.”

Kalogridis’ full comment to Collider, in response to a question about what she would like to see in a live-action English version of Sword Art Online, is as follows:

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.

The live action series was first announced in 2016 by American production company Skydance Television, following a number of manga, anime and game adaptations of the original light novel series. The franchise’s success continued with a well-received film titled Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale, with a third anime season and spinoff anime also to be released in 2018.

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