Based on Reki Kawahara’s light novels which won the Dengeki Novel Grand Prize in 2008, the TV anime series Sword Art Online centers on protagonist Kirito and his adventures in a mysterious next-generation online game called Sword Art Online. The original theatrical movie Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale was a huge box-office success, earning 2.5 billion yen in Japan and 4.3 billion yen worldwide. The highly anticipated third season, Sword Art Online: Alicization Arc, is finally scheduled to air in October this year.
The new season covers Volumes 9 to 18, which was the final arc of the original web novels. It’ll be the lengthiest and most significant masterpiece of the series. It has been announced that Manabu Ono (The Irregular at Magic High School, The Asterisk War) is to direct the series.
We are delighted to deliver an interview with Manabu Ono and Tomohiko Itoh to our readers. Itoh directed the first two seasons of the anime as well as the movie and is passing on the torch to Mr. Ono with the new series.
The details of the anime adaptation of Sword Art Online: Alicization Arc have finally been announced. First, we’d like to ask Mr Itoh how you felt when you heard about the news.
I knew about the Alicization arc because I read all the web novels on the internet before directing the first season. I knew it would be hard work to adapt the arc into anime, but I also hoped that the anime series would be able to include it. The final scene of the movie expresses my hope for someone to assume the Sword Art Online mantle.
Now I understand the hidden meaning of the last scene of Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale. Mr. Ono, could you tell us how you decided to undertake the series’ direction?
When did you hear about the new series?
It was around the time the movie started its preview screenings. Before that, the staff members of Aniplex told me that the Sword Art Online series would continue until the final arc.
What made you decide to sit in the director’s chair?
I knew I would be under a lot of pressure if I took on the work, as it’s a hugely popular anime with two anime seasons and a theatrical movie. However, I think now is the only time to tackle such a large-scale work for me, as I know how hard it is to work on TV anime. I feel that my mental and physical strength are in the best of condition at this moment.
What is your impression of the Alicization arc?
It’s a huge arc with a long story and depictions of war. I thought, ‘Just how can this even be adapted into anime?’ As I was reading the novels, I thought it would take 10 years to make an anime adaptation.
I feel the same way. At first, I also felt it would be unimaginably difficult to adapt such a huge arc. However, several innovations in animation have emerged since the time Mr. Itoh was reading the web novels. I feel that such new techniques could reduce some of the animation difficulties, and help me reach my goal of making an anime adaptation.
I think it’s perfect timing to change the director of the series, as the story introduces new characters and has reached a good cut-off point. [laugh] I’m looking forward to seeing Mr. Ono’s take on the arc’s two new characters, Alice and Eugeo.
Thank you. As Mr. Itoh said, the story changes tone completely as it enters the Alicization arc. That’s one of the reasons I took on the job. Having said that, Shingo Adachi will continue to oversee the character design, therefore the backbone of the series won’t change. I’m going to put everything into depicting this new setting and the characters in my own way.
Mr. Ono, what was your impression on the first two seasons of Sword Art Online?
I watched Episode 1 live as it aired and thought it was perfectly created to attract viewers’ attention. That was due to the charm of Kirito (and later Asuna too), the great action, and the intriguing plot. I also liked how the characters interacted with each other with a certain rawness to their emotions. There are such scenes in the Alicization arc as well, so I’ll try expressing these intense interactions in my own way in the new season.
It’s reassuring to know that Mr. Ono, who has a brilliant track record when it comes to anime, has accepted the director’s role for the new season. I feel relieved that I can now say, ‘The director of the Alicization arc is somebody else’, as people have been constantly telling me what their expectations are for the arc.
I strive to depict the brilliance of Sword Art Online while preserving the flow of the story from the previous TV series and the movie.
Ono, could you tell us what your Sword Art Online will be like?
The beginning of the Alicization arc depicts the friendship between Kirito and Eugeo, so I want to focus on depicting this friendship between the two boys in a moving way. Kirito is 11 years old in this part, so I think the decisive point in this part will be how to depict a young Kirito. I hope I can put viewers on an emotional roller coaster ride of an anime.
Mr. Itoh, do you have any farewell messages to Mr. Ono
The behind-the-scenes stories of Sword Art Online somehow has a lot of casualties and sickness. There was a director who blacked out and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance. [laugh] A character designer broke his bone. Please take care of yourself!
Thank you for your advice. I’ll visit the hospital for a comprehensive medical check-up before it gets serious. [laugh]
Sword Art Online: Alicization Arc directed by Mr. Ono is going to be great. Don’t miss it!
Anime director, storyboard artist. His works including the Saki series (2009-2015), A-Channel (2011), Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere series (2011-2012), The Irregular at Magic High School (2014) and The Asterisk War (2015)
Anime director, storyboard. His works including Occult Academy (2010), Sword Art Online series (2012-2017), Silver Spoon 1 (2013), ERASED (2016).
TV Anime Sword Art Online Alicization
Fall 2018 | Anime Info