Skydance Television has now acquired the rights to adapting Reki kawahara’s bestselling light novels, Sword Art Online, into a live-action show. And now, they’ve revealed that Netflix will be the ones to show it. Its executive producers will include Laeta Kalogridis, who recently worked on the Netflix original, Altered Carbon. The producer recently spoke to Collider about SAO, and also talked about avoiding the issue of “Whitewashing”.
It seems that Kalogridis understands that anime fans and the public in general are very vocal when it comes to certain issues regarding Sword Art Online. In that Collider interview, she said:
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.
Kalogridis wrote the pilot episode for the show, and compared writing the series to working on Altered Carbon:
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.
It seems that unlike most producers and writers from Hollywood, Kalogridis understands what she’s working on. Let’s just hope she stays true to the source material as well.
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