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Reki Kawahara Apologizes to Voice Actors for Latest Sword Art Online Episode

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Author also offered an explanation for why the series uses sexual assault as a plot device.

Sword Art Online author Reki Kawahara took to Twitter to apologize to the anime's voice actors after the latest episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization aired on Saturday night. The episode is widely considered the most graphic and violent of the series to date. The episode streamed on Crunchyroll opens with a content warning for "violence and sexual assault."

Kawahara said: "Ms. Ishihara, who plays Tiese, and Ms. Kondo, who plays Ronye, both performed a painful scene with aplomb. Thank you so much! And I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

Reina Kondo responded to Kawahara's tweet, saying, "Thank you! I think that everyone became stronger because of the experience! I will continue to work hard alongside Ronye. I'm looking forward to what happens next."

In a later tweet, Kawahara expressed further ambivalence about the episode's content and offered an explanation for why the series contains multiple instances of sexual assault. "This may be a bit late, but if you're wondering why SAO has so many of those scenes, a considerable number of light novels (although they weren't called light novels back then), epic sagas, and adventure stories I read back in middle school contained those plot elements. I would cite Ōgun Hakusha (Gold Spur) as a representative title. My writing was bound to that as if it were under a spell.

"These days, the spell has finally worn off. Nowadays I would prefer to express catharsis through other means. If it was an absolutely necessary scene for the story, I would write it, but I would prefer to do that in a book that isn't a light novel."

Kawahara also indicated his surprise at the anime adaptation, which he believes made the content in his novels even more extreme. "I believe that the level of grittiness in SAO is extremely average for light novels. The directing, animation, and voice acting in the anime are too powerful, which has absolutely boosted the impact [of the scenes]. Who would have thought Raios would make such an exaggerated jump...!"

Kawahara first began writing Sword Art Online as a web novel in 2001. The novels were later edited and published as light novels by Dengeki Bunko from 2009 onward. In multiple interviews, Kawahara has expressed regret about aspects of the story that he wrote as a less experienced writer. The Sword Art Online novels entered a new "Unital Ring" arc in 2017. This marks the first brand new Sword Art Online novel arc written after Kawahara's debut as a professional author.

The Sword Art Online light novel series has inspired three television anime, an anime special, and an anime-original film Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale. It has also inspired multiple console and mobile games and spinoff novel series. Keiichi Sigsawa's Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online novel spinoff was adapted into a television anime in 2018. The currently airing Sword Art Online: Alicization TV anime will cover the entirety of the 10-volume long arc. American independent production company Skydance Television plans to make a global live-action television series that will stream on Netflix and have Asian lead actors.

Source: @Kunori (Reki Kawahara)

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