Looks like LitRPG-type movies and TV shows are becoming a huge thing. They’ve existed in novels for some time, with Sword Art Online probably being one of the earliest examples, and Ready Player One being another big high profile one. The former has received more than one anime adaptation, and the latter is getting a big budget film from Steven Spielberg.
However, if you’re like me, you likely thought that first Sword Art Online anime adaptation (I never got around to the light novel) could have used a little more story and a little less…home life. While the ideas behind it were cool, it quickly devolved into relationship wish-fulfillment, which isn’t what I signed on for.
Luckily, it sounds like SAO will be getting a second chance with a Netflix adaptation from Laeta Kalogridis, writer/producer of Altered Carbon. When discussing the project with Collider, she was quick to get one thing out of the way:
“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.”
So what about the show itself? What does she see as the best way to adapt the actual source material for western audiences?
“The second thing, in terms of what I would like to see for SAO, is that I feel it’s a much more aspirational story about hope and much less about darkness than Altered Carbon is. Asuna is sort of the savior of the world, in my mind and in the mind of the showrunners, [Patrick] Massett and [John] Zinman, who are doing the show. There’s a real ability to explore a fantasy-based The Lord of the Rings / Game of Thrones kind of world through the lens of these people who are trapped in it and don’t necessarily want to be there, but who have to learn how to survive in it. What I’m most interested in is all of the human stories, when everything else falls away and it’s life or death, in a place where you were never expecting to be trapped. That’s what I loved about the original anime and that’s what I love about the live-action adaptation, as we are currently envisioning it.”
So will this ultimately be a series that focuses as much on the wish-fulfillment aspect of the original? It certainly sounds like it. But hopefully my disdain for that first series lied more in the execution than the overall feel. We’ll have to wait and see.
What do you think of this? Are you interested in seeing a Sword Art Online live-action series from Netflix? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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