As the title may suggest this post is about Sword Art Online and how good a week it has been for UK based fans of the series...like me! If you read my article about my favourite animes you'll know SAO is way up there, and was actually the first one I ever watched. If you're unfamiliar, the story follows Kirito, a young Japanese gamer who enters an online VR MMO on launch day only to find, with 10,000 other players, that he can't log out. Death in the game means real death and the only way to escape is by beating the game. It's Ready Player One meets the Hunger Games and is fantastic. I'd personally be screwed. I think I died at least fifty thousand times playing The Division on Normal difficulty.
As much as I love the series I have only seen the first season as season two is not on Netflix and is hard to get a hold of. I believe it is on Crunchy Roll but not only do I not have an active membership there but it is also only available subtitled in English and not dubbed which I dislike because I'm a very slow reader. This week Netflix have announced several SAO-centric things that have got me super excited with a slight sprinkle of apprehension.
Out of the blue Sword Art Online II released on the platform and even though only the English Sub is available right now they have said that the English Dub will be coming by the end of the month. I can finally catch up on everything I've missed! As well as that they have also just added the SAO feature film Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale. Same story here, only the English Sub is available right now but the English Dub is coming by the 22nd so I'll have lots of VR narrative goodness to consume. I have a soft spot when it comes to VR gaming stories and super enjoy anything in this medium including anime, video games and literature (RPO, Neuromancer and Snow Crash to name just a few).
Netflix are also working on a live action adaptation of the original series. Now this could be met with terrified caution, after all, they didn't do themselves any favours with the poorly received live action adaptation of the anime Death Note. The film received a Metacritic score of only 43% and was quoted as feeling 'rushed and constricted' by Jeannette Catsoulis of the NY Times. It was also denounced for whitewashing, moving the story from Japan to Seattle and changing the main character of Light Yagami to Light Turner. This is not the first anime adaptation to be accused of this with displeasure aimed at Scarlett Johansson's casting in Ghost in the Shell which receiveda Metacritic score of just 52%.
In an interview with Collider, producer Laeta Kalogridis assured fans that the Netflix bound adaptation of Sword Art Onlinewould not be victim of this recurrent pitfall:
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.
So all things considered if you're an SAO fan, you've got a lot to look forward to. I'll see you all in the summer. Are you of fan of Sword Art Online? Who would you like to see play Asuna and Kirito? Comment below or tweet us @ghoulishent.