The Accel World Interviews Part I - Reki Kawahara

by Jon Hayward,
Hanabee releases Accel World Part 2 on Blu-ray tomorrow (the 4th of June) and to celebrate we have interviews with Reki Kawahara, the original creator and Masakazu Obara, the anime director of Accel World!

These interviews started back in February when Hanabee arranged for Reki Kawahara and Masakazu Obara to be interviewed. In order to collect some of the questions Hanabee decided to ask their fans to submit potential questions and they allowed ANN|AU to add some questions of our own.

Now we have Part I today with the creator of Accel World, Reki Kawahara and we will be following up with Part II on Thursday where Masakazu Obara, the director of Accel World shares his thoughts on the series.

Read on and we hope you enjoy!

Creator - Reki Kawahara

Reki Kawahara finished writing the first volume of Sword Art Online in 2002 to submit to Dengeki Novel Prize in order for the light novel to be printed by ASCII Media Works under their Dengeki Bunko light novel imprint. However Reki did not submit the work to the competition due to exceeding the page limit for the competition and instead opted to publish the work online under the pen name Fumio Kunori. Reki continued to write more novels and short stories to Sword Art Online but in 2008 he decided to enter the Dengeki Novel Prize with a new work, Accel World. After winning the Grand Prize in the competition, Reki was requested to publish Sword Art Online on paper and the first volume was republished in print by ASCII Media Works in April 2009.

Accel World was published with illustrations by HIMA in February 2010. Since then 16 volumes have been published with over 10 million copies in print by 2012 and Yen Press will be releasing the first volume of the English translation in July 2014. The series has since had a manga adaptation, two manga spin-offs, a anime adaptation and two video games.

Interview with Reki Kawahara

Damien: When you were developing the characters and the world of Accel World, what sort of things did you use as inspiration?

Reki Kawahara: I envisioned the world by trying to imagine what futuristic video games would be like, if mobile devices themselves had become as powerful as home consoles.

With technological advancements like incredibly powerful wearable devices, exceptionally fast mobile networking, and flawless VR environments, I wanted Accel World to demonstrate what sort of game combining these types of things could possibly be like.

In regards to developing the characters, the main characters such as Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime more or less appeared right in front of me. Beyond developing the characters there was not much trouble at all.

Richard: What is the main theme of Accel World? Also, how does it differ to Sword Art Online?

Reki Kawahara: The basic theme is simply "Games are fun!". Of course, over the course of the adventures of Haruyuki and his friends, they also land in many pinches, sometimes with much suffering and tears, and this is because they take the game very seriously. In the similar VR themed setting of Sword Art Online, the game is painted as ‘reality’, whereas in Accel World, 'Brain Burst' is simply a game.

Cenkaz: Are there any plans to have any characters from Sword Art Online appear in Accel World?

Reki Kawahara: There are certainly many similarities between the two series, however, there are no plans in having characters from SAO appear in AW (in other words, joining the two series' together). However, I do want to offer more things for readers to enjoy and to fuel their imaginations.

Anonymous: Between Accel Word and Sword Art Online, which one was more enjoyable from a writer's perspective?

Reki Kawahara: Although Accel World was completely new, and Sword Art Online was a rewrite of something published online, they were both equally enjoyable - and painful! - to write in their own ways. However, as someone that likes video games, I have to say I feel closer to Haruyuki over Kirito.

Anonymous: In Accel World, you appeared as Buriki Raita; did you design that character yourself? If you were to make your own avatar, what type and what sort of power do you think it would have?

Reki Kawahara: Buriki Raita was originally an ‘illustration of the author’ on the original book cover that I drew myself. But I never remotely imagined that he would appear in the anime, and that I would even do the voice for him. If I were to become another duel avatar aside from Buriki Raita, since I like bicycles, I would like to become a bicycle riding avatar similar to Ash Roller. That sounds quite weak though doesn't it. (LOL)

Dakota-Shaye: In the past years, I feel that it seems that stories where the heroes go on adventures after being pulled into video games are becoming more popular. As Sword Art Online is a great example of this, do you think this is a type of fantasy that a lot of today's youths are into? Do you think virtual space is better than reality?

Reki Kawahara: I think there have been stories of young heroes being thrown into alternate worlds for a very long time. For example, stories like Michael Ende's "The Neverending Story" or C.S Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia". The concept of alternate worlds may have simply become those of video games, but do you think those fantasy desires of today's story-loving youths would be different than those from before? Perhaps the next generation of young people might not prefer the large-scale MMO style of SAO and might prefer a simpler, social game sort of world.

This may seem like a textbook answer, but I believe that just like the real world, an online virtual world would have just the same amount of good parts, as well as the bad parts. However, in the times when I've accidentally knocked over a cup of coffee, I've deeply wished the real world had a save point from which I could restore.

Anonymous: Based on the worlds that you have brought to life, do you have any plans to create any brand new series?

Reki Kawahara: Since Accel World is not going to be ending any time soon, I haven't given it any thought. That being said, I would like to try and write a story about those players on the edge of the Accelerated World who enjoy playing the game at the own paces.

Luke: What do you think of Director Masakazu Obara's anime adaption of Accel World?

Reki Kawahara: I think it is an absolutely perfect anime adaption, overflowing with beautiful imagery and energy. Since I have many favourite scenes, I still love to periodically re-watch it, and use that energy whilst writing the new stories.

Nick: How did you come up with the idea for Accel World?

Reki Kawahara: Similar to the answer I gave in question 1, the idea was expanded out by imagining what video games of the future would be like. I was wanting to write about "a fighting game where players in the real world meet up in the streets and battle", but I realised that if people were spending many minutes standing still in the streets, they'd easily get hit by cars. So I then added the idea of "thought acceleration".

ANN: Are there any characters or settings in Accel World that you wish you could elaborate more on?

Reki Kawahara: I would like to try and write some more about Crimson Kingbolt and his two female students from Okinawa. In addition, I would also like to focus more closely from some of the members of the Yellow and Purple Legions who we've only barely seen so far. Outside of the game world, I would like to try and depict the effect that the creation of the Neuro Linker technology had on society in greater detail.

ANN: A common focus in both Accel World and SAO is the morality of technology in how it is used. Do you plan to pursue this focus in the future?

Reki Kawahara: I do not think of either series as science fiction, and while I haven't had any plans to focus on the such themes as technology or sociology, they may simply come forth on their own. However, I always want to shed technology moreso in a positive light than in a negative one.

ANN: Finally, please give us a message for all of the fans in Australia and New Zealand.

Reki Kawahara: I am very pleased to hear about the upcoming bundle release of Accel World in Australia and New Zealand. I haven't managed to visit either country yet, but when I get some time, I would love to go on a tour there! As always, thank you very much for your love and support of Accel World and Sword Art Online!

With Thanks To

Tim Oliver - Translator
Without Tim's hard work this interview wouldn't have been translated into English. So if you would like to thank him you can check out his twitter @timoliverau or say hi at a meetup for Perth's Japanese conversation exchange KAIWA.

This was a joint effort and we thank Hanabee for the opportunity to participate. If you would like to check out Hanabee's Blu-ray release of Accel World you can do so here and you can find Hanabee at their facebook page or website.

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