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Aniplex Event: The Past and Future of Sword Art Online

In the recently held Aniplex Online Fest 2021, the last anime on its lineup was the series ‘Sword Art Online’. The title of the anime’s stage is “Sword Art Online -Progressive- <Past and Future>. This program shows us an interview of some people who know the series very well.

Since the next project for the popular anime is the movie ‘Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night” which shows the early days of Kirito and Asuna in Aincrad, the theme of the interview has something to do about it. There are two themes, the first one is ‘Asuna‘ and the other one is ‘Going Back to Our Roots‘. If you are wondering why those two are the topics, it is because Asuna is the main character in the upcoming film. Not only that, but the setting of the story is also in Aincrad, and that’s the place where it all began.

Sword Art Online: Progressive latest key visual

The film will premiere on October 30, 2021. In case you missed some details about it, you can read them on our website.

What is the ‘Past and Future’ of SAO according to the people behind it?

Before the interview started, Haruka Tomatsu (Asuna) revealed that Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito) can’t really talk to everyone when the series is only starting. With that said, we may be able to see here how far he has changed since then. Now, I will tackle the people in the interview who talked about the past and future of the ‘Sword Art Online’ series.

Masami Niwa

The first person to interview was Masami Niwa. He is the producer of the SAO series at Aniplex. According to him, their main issue in the past was the moment when they are choosing who will be the voice of Kirito. He said that Tomohiko Itō (Hello World), the director of anime’s first season, really pushed that Kirito’s voice actor must be Yoshitsugu Matsuoka.

Of course, since the next project of the anime is the ‘Sword Art Online: Progressive’ movie, Mr. Niwa also talked about it. He mentioned that the upcoming film is a great opportunity to get more people into the world of SAO. Mr. Niwa also added that in the movie, we can see some of the scenes from the first season in their new form of animation.

A glimpse of Kirito in the latest form of animation

Most importantly, Mr. Niwa proudly said that ‘Sword Art Online’ was actually the first title he ever worked on. The anime taught him that all people that are involved in a certain project must give their all to make it successful. After this, Mr. Matsuoka mentioned that SAO is Mr. Niwa’s coming-of-age story.

Yosuke Futami

The second person they interviewed was Yosuke Futami, who is working for Bandai Namco Entertainment. He is the producer of some of the SAO games. According to him, there were no character designs in the past since the anime is only starting. Hence, they made their original design.

Then, after some years, some of the designs that they made were used in the movie ‘Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale’. If you watched the movie, there is a scene there where the “Chaos Drake” appeared. Mr. Futami said that the design of that monster was actually one of the original designs they made.

The Chaos Drake

In the last part of the interview, Mr. Niwa mentioned that the SAO series really changed his life as a game producer. He said that being part of the series is a valuable experience for him. According to him, it is because of SAO that he learned what it means to put everything you have into your creation.

Hisanori Yoshida

The third person to interview was announcer Hisanori Yoshida, who works on Nippon Broadcasting. In the past, he also served as one of the staff in some SAO events. Because of some overseas events of the series, he also realized that the SAO series is very popular worldwide.

In the interview, Mr. Yoshida revealed that there is a scene in the anime where Kirito’s mouth was moving but there’s no sound. He learned that the only people who know what Kirito is saying at that scene were only Mr. Matsuoka and Director Itō. Mr. Yoshida said that Mr. Matsuoka won’t be able to continue playing the role of Kirito if he doesn’t know what is Kirito saying at that time.

A glimpse of Kirito moving his mouth

For Mr. Yoshida, the show is a great anime. According to him, SAO always surprises him in many ways. It is the anime that he can recommend to anyone.

Rina Hidaka

The fourth person they interviewed was voice actress Rina Hidaka. She is the one playing the role of Silica on the SAO series. Ms. Hidaka is also known for voicing Ophelia (Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song) and Filo (The Rising of the Shield Hero).

Ms. Hidaka unveiled that she got the offer for voicing Yui first in the series. However, when she read the novel, she thought that she would like to play the role of Silica. Moreover, since she is part of the cast since the anime’s first season, Ms. Hidaka could tell that Mr. Matsuoka is really different today than when SAO is only starting.

Ms. Hidaka said that Mr. Matsuoka is really nervous when they were only starting in the first episode, but since he is their leader, he really took charge starting with episode 1. Then, as time went on, Mr. Matsuoka started to act like a true leader. Ms. Hidaka thinks that he is really a dependable man.

Silica Smiling

Of course, before the interview ends, Ms. Hidaka said that the SAO series is the one she can call home. She feels that she is always welcome to the SAO family. Because of that, she can take on any SAO-related work with peace of mind.

Ayahi Takagaki

The fifth person we have here is voice actress Ayahi Takagaki. In the series, she is the one voicing Lisbeth. Her other notable roles are Itori (Tokyo Ghoul) and Mikako Satsukitane (Heaven’s Lost Property).

According to her, when the show is only starting, she often felt that she is one with Lisbeth. However, when Ms. Takagaki got older, she realized that she thinks of Lizbeth as her younger sister or her own daughter. Ms. Takagaki is feeling like that because Lisbeth doesn’t age at all that much.


Ms. Takagaki added that she is really glad to be part of the SAO project. For her, the title of the anime gave meaning to the life of “Ayahi Takagaki.” She found salvation in Lisbeth, who is now precious to her because it’s the role that defines her as a voice actress.

Reki Kawahara

The last person they interviewed was Reki Kawahara (Accel World). He is the author of the original Sword Art Online series. Among all of the people in this interview, he is the most knowledgeable when it comes to the SAO series.

According to Mr. Kawahara, the series is already 20 years old. He also revealed that its first episode gave him goosebumps, especially when he heard the background music “Swordland” which is now the theme song of the series. When it started playing at the end, and he saw Kirito slashed a monster and let out a “roar” with that background music, Mr. Kawahara thinks that it was just too perfect.

Kirito letting out a roar

Mr. Kawahara also added that ‘Sword Art Online’ is the title that changed his life. Since there are people who are promoting and rooting for SAO, he cannot let them down. To him, it is something that is always in his mind.

Reki Kawahara on teasing the future development of the series.

Reki Kawahara has a follow-up video after his interview. There, he unveiled that the series will be continuing for a little longer. Thus, Mr. Kawahara hopes that Mr. Matsuoka and Ms. Tomatsu will continue to play the role of Kirito and Asuna.

After saying that, he also added that there’s something that he wants to discuss with the two of them. Then, Mr. Kawahara asked them that how old is Asuna and Kirito when they get to be married in the future. Not only that, but he also asked the two of them what kind of family would Asuna and Kirito end up having.

Reki Kawahara

After hearing that, Ms. Tomatsu realized that they can’t joke their answers on that question since it might be for future reference. Well, according to Mr. Matsuoka, Kirito is probably 26 years old when that is going to happen. However, for Ms. Tomatsu, she thinks that even though they don’t get married, they will be together always.

After all, Asuna and Kirito spent 200 years inside the Underworld without breaking up with each other. Though, they are certain that Kirito and Asuna had fights while inside it.

Personally speaking, it looks like the ‘Sword Art Online’ series will continue longer than we expected and there’s a chance that we might be able to see Kirito and Asuna getting married. Well as of now, every possibility is but a faint flicker, wavering beyond a fluctuating light (as shown in the final episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization: War of Underworld).

Source and screenshots via Aniplex Online Fest 2021
©2020 川原 礫/KADOKAWA/SAO-P Project
© Aniplex of America Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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