Netflix’s ‘Sword Art Online’ Producer Says It Won't Be Whitewashed

When it comes to live-action anime in Hollywood, one word should pop into your mind, and that is whitewashing. Projects like Ghost in the Shell got knocked for questionable casting, and Death Note continued the trend last year. Now, Netflix hopes to redeem itself with Sword Art Online, and the company seems to have learned its lesson.

After all, the executive producer of Sword Art Online just told Collider she isn’t about to let the adaptation get whitewashed.

Recently, Laeta Kalogridis sat down for an interview to talk about her work with Altered Carbon. It was there the writer and producer was asked about Sword Art Online. Kalogridis affirmed Netflix had brought the series from Skydance, and she said its best adaptation would be one that avoided whitewashing.

“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,” she said.

“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," Kalogridis continued.

"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.”

For now, fans will have to wait and see just how Netflix and Skydance fill out the cast for Sword Art Online. There is no word on when the adaptation will head into pre-production, but fans will keep an eye out for the impending series as it get underway.

Who do you want to see lead Sword Art Online? Hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to let me know and talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime!