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Laeta Kalogridis, writer and producer for Skydance Television’s Sword Art Online live-action series, said in an interview with Collider on Tuesday that the series has been sold to Netflix. Additionally, “Kirito and Asuna will still be played by Asian actors.”
Kalogridis had also said this in January to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “I recently sold [Sword Art Online] to Netflix, and part of the agreement was that Kitty Cat Asuna would remain Asian.”
The full comment, which was in response to a question about what she would like to see in a live-action English adaptation of Sword Art Online, was 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.
Skydance Television originally announced the American TV adaptation back in August 2016. They are also planning a Sword Art Online virtual reality experience after the television series. CEO David Ellison had said at the time that “a full-scale and wide-ranging set of live action franchise extensions across our business verticals,” is something that the company is planning.