Netflix Purchases Live-Action Sword Art Online Series, Producer Confirms Asian Lead Actors

Sword Art Online, the live-action adaptation for television that has been in the works for more than a year, has become the latest acquisition by Netflix.

Speaking with Collider in a recent interview, writer and executive producer Laeta Kalogridis confirmed that the upcoming series has been sold to the entertainment-streaming behemoth without mentioning the agreed-upon sum.

When Netflix recently announced an investment of more than $8 billion to procure new and original content for its vault, the company also stated that it would be turning its serious attention to anime for the first time.

The Castlevania series from last year was one such example, with the second season all set to return this summer. There is also the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist adaptation that will premiere on the platform this weekend.

Kalogridis further added that there is no interest to “whitewash” Sword Art Online. The lead characters, Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) and Asuna Yuuki, will be played by Asian actors. This assurance also covers the secondary characters, depending on where they hail from in the source material.

“SAO is an essentially Japanese property, in which Kirito and Asuna, who are the two leads, are Japanese,” Kalogridis explained. “In the television show, Kirito and Asuna will be played by Asian actors. In terms of the secondary characters, 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.”

Sword Art Online features a rich setting inside a virtual reality world that is basically one giant Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) with real people controlling their avatars with their thoughts. The players soon discover that they are all trapped in the game unless they complete all of the levels. The stakes grow higher because anyone who dies in the game, dies in real life as well.

Sword Art Online has received two major anime seasons so far. The live-action adaptation series, helmed by Patrick Massett and John Zinman, is currently without a release date.