A live-action Sword Art Online is coming to Netflix. Executive producer Laeta Kalogridis says neither she nor Netflix is interested in a whitewashed version.
Besides credits ranging from Avatar to Shutter Island, Kalogridis most recently created Altered Carbon, which she also writes and executive produces. In an interview with Collider, she was asked about what she would like to see in the live-action Sword Art Online adaptation. Kalogridis, who is writing the pilot, replied:
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. Whether or not that was the question underneath your question, it's not a conversation about whitewashing. 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. 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.
The live-action Sword Art Online series hasn't yet been given a premiere date. No idea if this adaptation will be any good, but it sounds like the show is starting off on the right foot.