As Netflix’s onslaught of original programming continues, one of the next targets in its sights is the popular VR-themed anime Sword Art Online. Altered Carbon creator Laeta Kalogridis has confirmed her involvement as executive producer on the project.

Speaking recently with Collider, Laeta Kalogridis, the creator behind Altered Carbon’s own novel-to-Netflix treatment, confirmed that a live action adaptation of the Sword Art Online anime is coming to Netflix. While Kalogridis wrote the pilot and will serve as the executive producer, the series’ chief creative role will be shared by veteran TV creators John Zinman and Patrick Massett.

Image courtesy Aniplex

Sword Art Online depicts a future where readily available ‘Nervegear’ VR headsets, which communicate directly with a users brain, transport players into a life-like MMORPG. Like many classic VR anime, players ultimately become trapped in the virtual world, with the threat of death in the game having the same consequence in real life. Based on the 2009 Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara, the anime first aired in 2012 and achieved popular acclaim among fans of the genre. The Sword Art Online anime is presently available on Netflix (see regional availability).

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And while you may be worried that it’ll go the route of the poorly received Death Note (2017) live action adaptation, which transplanted the premise in its entirety from Tokyo to Seattle, simultaneously whitewashing characters and cultural substance, Sword Art Online seems off to a better start. In her interview with Collider, Kalogridis said that Netflix was in agreement about casting the main characters, Kirito and Asuna, as Asian actors.

When I sold [the show] 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.

From the inteview, Kalogridis seems in touch with the show’s source material, and hopefully that will extend to showrunners Zinman & Massett as well. Up in the air beyond that is their ability to portray the complex world of Sword Art Online, which spans the settings of near-future Japan and the virtual game world which is soaked in elements of sword and sorcery.

Details on when the show will hit Netflix are unannounced, but, given Netflix’ penchant for releasing entire seasons at once, any earlier than 2019 seems unlikely. Along with the Ready Player One movie due out in March, VR is increasingly growing within the zeitgeist.

Sorry, Internet. The 'Sword Art Online' VR MMO Isn't Real
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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • nasprin

    Hopefully they are actually making an adaptation of the Abridged Series from Something Witty Entertainment and not the original.

    • Firestorm185

      true that. xD

  • Al

    .”Sword Art Online, which spans the settings of near-future Japan and the virtual game world which is soaked in elements of sword and sorcery.”

    SAO, the novel, and the anime (first season) did not have sorcery in the Aincrad arc – e.g the setting of the live action. Magic and sorcery came about on the second arc, after they escaped from the death game.

    • benz145

      In that paragraph I was referring to the anime (I haven’t read the novel). IIRC in the first season there’s mythical beasts, teleporting crystals, magic-assisted attacks, etc. Not as heavy on the sorcery as later when they play ALfheim Online, but there’s some there.

    • Michael

      And even then, they hardly had magic for a decent bit. These people know nothing of SAO and with the way Hollywood has been going, I know they’re going to westernize this. They won’t ‘whitewash’ the MC’s, but they will censor everything and bring any fun down.

      • Mr. New Vegas

        Blame the liberals/SJWs/modern “feminists”: they hate fun, complain nonstop and whine.
        All of the censorship in latest games and movies came from their kind.

        • Ty

          Not sure if that’s relavent.

          • Mr. New Vegas

            Of course it is

    • David Herrington

      And this is why SAO games and Live Action will never make it. Because there are so many hardcore fans out there that will break down every-single-flaw until SAO goes into obscurity. I’m not saying that you aren’t wrong, but if you nit-pick every detail then no one will ever make SAO because of the fan backlash.

      How long did it take Star Wars to make episode 1? How long did it take until episode 7? Good luck waiting 20+ years for someone to make an amazing SAO game or live action movie. In 20+ years only a scant few will even remember SAO (despite it being amazing) because fans will have destroyed any chance at investors looking to make something out of it.

      Ever heard of Ghost in a Shell? Tell me how you liked that movie.

      • Mr. New Vegas

        SW Episode 7 its one of the worst.

        • ju

          i come from the future….the 8 is worst

  • Papias

    I liked that the original SAO was somewhat family friendly. I hope that the Netflix version will be also. But I am guessing that that is not likely.

    • Sanday

      No you don’t want watered down anime for western viewers.

    • Mr. New Vegas

      No, but there is Disney for people like you.

    • hybrid 01

      SAO was never family friendly when the hell did that get into your head ?

  • Mr. New Vegas

    I hope it looks and has all the features of Altered Carbon.
    Dichen Lachman should play Asuna.

    • hybrid 01

      did you not notice asuna is a japanese name like why cant you let japanese play the role as intended for once

      • Mr. New Vegas

        Making movies is NOT CHARITY, its not about allowing people opportunities, its about MAKING MONEY for the INVESTORS.

        So they hire known actors that people LOVE, you do understand that lots of people watch movies just because of some actors? They love him and watch all his movies.

        P.S. Also you should of googled her, this woman played Japanese in Altered Carbon.

        • hybrid 01

          That’s all you care about MONEY cause duck japs am I rights. Also the woman you mentioned is half German /Tibetan so no . Just Please let Japanese take the role ok

          • Mr. New Vegas

            How old are you 10? Its real life not a kindergarten.

            Making movies is a business not a charity this women passes as Japanese it should be enough for everyone to be happy.

            Anyway its not for us to decide, im ok with any hot actress that doesn’t have crooked Japanese teeth, thick thighs and its not a midget.

          • hybrid 01

            There some or many hot japanese actresses you know why not them . Who knows there could be a hot japanese girl suited for asuna’s role

            I don’t wanna play the racist card . But calling many of them crooked teeth or thick thighs when you don’t even know that there some beautiful japanese women in japan

          • hybrid 01

            There some or many hot japanese actresses you know why not them . Who knows there could be a hot japanese girl suited for asuna’s role

            I don’t wanna play the racist card . But calling many of them crooked teeth or thick thighs when you don’t even know that there some beautiful japanese women in japan