Sword Art Online has become one of the biggest examples of an isekai in the world of anime since first hitting the scene, with truly tragic news hitting the series as the voice actor for Yuna, Sayaka Kanda, has passed at the age of 35. Having played Yuna in SAO video games and the film, Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, the anime world has lost a major creative talent who also had a role to play in the medium of video games.
Sayaka was no stranger to the world of acting, with her father featuring in a number of television programs over the years, as Masaki Kanda starred in series including Crossroad, Red Dead Wagon, and Brother to name a few. On top of her role as Yuna in the Sword Art Online film, Kanda also supplied the role of Anna in Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 and the popular video game, Kingdom Hearts 3, along with the role of Kaede in the game Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.
The story of Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, the movie that gave Kanda what was perhaps her biggest role, has the following description:
"In 2022, the world of virtual reality was upended by the arrival of a new invention from a genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba. Called NerveGear, it was the first full-dive system and with it, came endless possibilities to VRMMORPGs.
In 2026, a new machine called the Augma is developed to compete against the NerveGear and its successor, the Amusphere. A next-gen wearable device, the Augma doesn't have a full-dive function like its predecessors. Instead, it uses Augmented Reality (AR) to get players into the game. It is safe, user-friendly and lets users play while they are conscious, making it an instant hit on the market. The most popular game on the system is "Ordinal Scale" (aka: OS), an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma."
Kanda herself was currently taking part in the stage play of My Fair Lady before her passing, making her debut in the entertainment world in 2003 with the movie Dragon Head and previously having released music by debuting as a singer in 2002 before she found the art of voice acting.
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Sayaka Kanda during this difficult time.