Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is celebrating its recent release with many collaboration events throughout Japan! I am getting so excited with all these SAO collaborations! There are so many places I want to check out!
I’m Sayo, the SAO-addicted writer of MANGA.TOKYO! I went to SAO’s premiere screening event, the event which all fans had been waiting for, which was held on 18 February. I got the chance to see the stage greetings by the cast members!
Today, I would like to report on this special event in detail for all the SAO fans around the world!
The Day of the Stage Greeting has Finally Come!
I am a huge SAO fan, and I so was anxious for the release day. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so excited!
Finally, the day had arrived.
I couldn’t wait to hear what director Itoh and the cast members had to say on the stage. I headed for Shinjuku Wald 9, the theater where the special event would be held.
On 18 February, the first screening of Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale was closed with a warm and energetic round of applause from the fans here at Shinjuku Wald 9. I went to the event as a member of the press, but I was also one of the fans who was clapping louder than anyone.
The MC of the stage greetings was Hisanori Yoshida, an announcer from Nippon Broadcasting System. Yoshida called the following guests on the stage: Takeshi Kaga, Sayaka Kanda, and Yoshio Inoue. Each of them yelled out their character lines, and the fans who had just seen the movie roared with excitement.
Kaga and Inoue, who are both popular stage actors, were not used to anime-related events, so they were at first surprised by the enthusiastic SAO fans’ energy which filled up the theater. Kanda, on the other hand, has always been saying in public that she herself is an otaku who loves anime! With a great smile, she mentioned how happy she was to be able to join a stage greeting for an anime movie.
There isn’t a proper SAO event without Kirito and Asuna: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka and Haruka Tomatsu, who both play the movie’s main characters, joined the rest on the stage! The fans once again cheered and gave a big round of applause. Matsuoka was wearing a black outfit, which resembled the clothes Kirito was wearing in the movie, and Tomatsu was in a cute red dress with a braided half-up hairstyle, just like Asuna.
From the moment he went up on stage, Matsuoka did not take his eyes off Yoshida, and it was obvious to everyone that he was very nervous. The audience reassured him with a warm laughter (It is well-known among the fans that Matsuoka always gets nervous in front of people.)
Tomatsu revealed that during the conversation she had with Matsuoka backstage, he mentioned how he had never been this nervous at a stage greeting before. This made the fans laugh even more.
Yoshida requested the two to say a line from the movie together, so the line they chose was ‘Ordinal Scale, Start Up!’
The fans roared in joy, and I was so excited that I got goosebumps.
Finally, the director of the SAO TV anime series and movie adaptation, Tomohiko Itoh, came up on the stage, and thus began the stage greeting.
The Reason for Casting Stage Actors for the Movie
When it comes to movies, the guest voice actors tend to be professional voice actors, but Itoh feels that there are cases in which this decision doesn’t work out well.
Itoh loves to watch musical plays in his spare time, and when deciding the cast members for the SAO film, he believed that the voices of stage actors might be a perfect match for anime. He first cast Kanda for the singing part, and after hearing her recording, he made the firm decision that he wanted stage actors to appear in the movie. He then offered a role to Kaga and Inoue, who are both superb musical stage actors.
Kanda was asked about how she felt when she first received the offer, ‘When my manager first started saying, “You’ve got an offer for a movie, it’s called Sword Art O…”, I immediately answered “I’ll do it!” without hearing about my role. I was really looking forward to seeing the SAO movie, and I felt so happy about becoming a part of the SAO world as a character. I got the opportunity to sing a lot in the movie, and I even got the chance to collaborate with Yuki Kajiura (one of the music producers for the movie). There are so many treasured memories during this movie making.’
When my manager first started saying, “You’ve got an offer for a movie, it’s called Sword Art O…”, I immediately answered “I’ll do it!”
As a huge SAO lover, Kanda seemed to be enjoying the premiere screening event not just as a guest speaker, but also as a fan.
Next, Inoue was asked the same question of what his first feelings were upon receiving the offer, ‘I was very suprised.’ He didn’t know why he was chosen as a cast member, and he even thought that it might be some sort of a prank.
However, after listening to the director’s feelings and the reasons of being chosen, he understood, ‘Oh, musical plays! That’s why!’ However, he made a joke saying, ‘For those of you who know me from musicals, I only get to hum in this movie’ and made the fans laugh.
For those of you who know me from musicals, I only get to hum in this movie…
Inoue didn’t know about SAO until he got the offer, so at first he did not understand what AR or VR were, and felt that the movie might be a complicated story. However, as he learned more about the storyline and the world of SAO, he found out the importance of the theme ‘human relationship’ in the story, and he understood why SAO was such a popular anime. Inoue has always felt that he only wanted to act as the ‘good guy’ in a play, but after voicing Eiji, the mysterious swordsman, he felt that being the ‘bad guy’ was fun, too. He mentioned how he was fascinated by Eiji’s character..
Inoue also mentioned quite a few times about how he first felt puzzled by the offer, wondering ‘Why me?’ However, when he first got up on the stage and said the line, ‘Hmpf, foolishness. The strongest swordsman of the VR world is reduced to this in AR?’, I got goosebumps! It was one of my favorite lines from the movie, so I hope you enjoy it at the theaters, too!
The next speaker was Kaga. He had such a definite aura that made it unbelievable that the event was for an anime movie. He mentioned that it was probably his second time to voice a character in an anime film.
He said that at first he had a hard time understanding the world of SAO, especially the concept of the human nature in the story and the technical terms, so it was difficult for him to prepare for the role. He talked about how he felt relieved at the movie’s completion, and also how he felt very honored to take part in such a wonderful work with a splendid and creative setting. As an SAO fan, I was overjoyed to hear his words and felt that SAO is a wonderful anime which can fascinate viewers of any generation.
Matsuoka and Tomatsu’s Opinion on the Superb Talent of the Stage Actors
Matsuoka has worked with Kanda in a different anime in the past, and he mentioned how he had always felt that Kanda is very good at voice acting.
He also mentioned about Inoue that, although it was his first time voicing in an anime film, he got better and better at every recording session, and Matsuoka was surprised at how quickly he improved.
Regarding Kaga, Matsuoka mentioned how he was perfect from the beginning. During the dubbing, Kaga had the powerful aura which made both Matsuoka and Kirito feel that, ‘He is undefeatable.’ Director Itoh also revealed that he felt the same way, and thought in his head during the recording, ‘Matsuoka, you’re losing!’
When you see the movie, pay special attention to the scene where Kirito and Professor Shigemura (voice by Kaga) are speaking to each other!
Tomatsu explained how excited she felt when she found out who the three guests would be, and how she could not wait for the day of the recording. She didn’t expect to work with such stellar stage actors in an anime movie, and she mentioned how happy she was to have this opportunity.
Tomatsu explained, ‘Kaga, Kanda, and Inoue all have such beautiful voices. After hearing their characters speak in the completed movie, I once again was fascinated and felt, “What fabulous voices they have!”’ She also mentioned how the three guests, who have played many roles in musical plays, have the talent to express feelings in so many ways, which is very difficult for voice actors to do. She had learned many things from the three guests.
After the Premiere Screening Event
Matsuoka said that this new movie of SAO ‘is a story that looks at many different points of view and therefore many different stories. I want you to see it many times and look at it from many different points of view.’ He mentioned the phrase, ‘the masterpiece of SAO’ quite a few times during not only this premiere screening, but also at many of the movie’s commemoration events.
As a fan of SAO, I completely agree with him, and feel that this movie truly is masterpiece of every aspect of SAO.
As Itoh mentioned, the movie has so many cuts, and each scene is so important that there is not even enough time to blink, in fear you may lose something.
All the cast members kept on saying that they hope the viewers would watch the movie over and over again. The movie includes many important aspects. Therefore, by watching the movie several times, the viewer would not only be able to interpret each aspect, but also be able to make new discoveries from different perspectives.
Itoh closed the event saying, ‘We filled the movie with scenes you need to see on the big screen, such as the action scenes and Yuna’s singing. So, if you are just waiting for the DVD release, I would love for you to make your way to the theater and experience it as we intended it to be. ‘
He also added, ‘In the last battle scene, there are hidden characters from the TV series at the edge of the screen, so please try to find them!’ This is a mission that all SAO fans must complete, isn’t it?
I am planning on watching this movie over and over again until the end of its screening, and try interepreting it from many different points of view.
I truly hope that not only SAO fans, but also those who saw SAO for the first time and those who did not know about SAO until this moment will watch this movie many times!
On MANGA.TOKYO, we have already released the video of this premiere screening event with English subtitles. Please share it with your friends who are SAO fans!
Anime Movie ‘Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale’
The TV anime series of SAO took place in the world of VR (Virtual Reality), but in this new movie, the setting has moved to AR (Augmented Reality), a world that might truly be realized in the near future.
Screening in Japan from 18 February 2017 // Screening in the US from 9 March 2017
(C)2016 川原 礫/KADOKAWA アスキー・メディアワークス刊/SAO MOVIE Project