Sakura-Con Interviews - Toshihiro Kawamoto, Reki Kawahara, Eir Aoi, Luna Haruna

A quartet of anime industry titans speak!

Sakura-Con Interviews - Toshihiro Kawamoto, Reki Kawahara, Eir Aoi, Luna Haruna

By lugiamania


Hey everyone,


We had the chance to interview some extremely talented and special guests from Japan at Sakura-Con 2013! Check out our transcripts with the Co-Founder of famed animation studio BONES, Toshihiro Kawamoto, and the creator and author of the hit light-novel turned anime series, Sword Art OnlineReki Kawahara! We've also got an exclusive video interview with anime otaku and singers for Fate/Zero and Sword Art OnlineEir Aoi and Luna Haruna!



*Note* Kawahara-san and Kawamoto-san's interviews were a round table interview that was transcribed, and Eir Aoi and Luna Haruna were able to provide us with a one-on-one interview slot. No photos were allowed at Kawahara-san's interview. Bolded text refers to the interviewer/translator, and unbolded text is the guest's answer.

Toshihiro Kawamoto Interview


 

Reki Kawahara Interview

 

Hello everyone, I'm Toshihiro Kawamoto, and this is actually my second Sakura-Con, so I'm really looking forward to having a good time and relaxing.

I'll do a brief self-introduction and profile; I work for BONES, which is a creation company. As an animator, I was involved with the creation of Cowboy Bebop and Wolf's Rain as a character animator. I was also in charge of the creation of Space Battleship Yamato 2199 last year, and the latter half of last year, I worked on Eureka Seven A/O. I can't announce the titles right now, but there are two things that we are working on right now that are unannounced, being created by BONES, but unfortunately, I can't announce the titles. 

I really wanted to announce these two, but unfortunately we need to put off the announcement a little bit more, so I won't be able to answer any questions about those, I'm really sorry. But if you'd like to ask me anything about my experience as an animator or about BONES, I'd be more than happy to talk about that.

Thank you very much.

With your contribution to the Gundam universe and seeing the transition of character designs, for example Mobile Suit Gundam, the original, to Mobile Fighter G Gundam, what are your thoughts about the transition of character design? Is there anything you want back or want to improve on?

Personally I've worked on many of those Gundam titles, and I think that each one, the character design kind of meets the needs of that particular era. So I don't have any particular regrets or anything that I think could have been done better for any particular work, if that's what you're asking. Each one was sort of suited best for that time period.

So for example, Gundam Stardust Memory 0083, which was created in the year 1990, was created in the style of the original series, and it was very well-received. But six years later in 1996 with Mobile Suit Gundam the 8th MS Team, I participated via audition, but we took a more casual style that was easier for the animators to draw in terms of lines. So we have no particular rules in terms of character designs. We try to match the needs of that era and what our fans want to see. 

Is there any particular Gundam series [that you enjoyed]?

Mobile Fighter G Gundam: The East is Burning Red.

I joined as the animator for the opening and also for the very last episode. I did also participate in the audition for the character design but that ended up being someone named Osaka Hiroshi that did the character design. 

What were some of the factors that led you to create studio BONES?

I worked on Cowboy Bebop in 1998, and after that, the producer at Sunrise, Masahito Minami, wanted to go independent, so he invited me along and that was the trigger for the creation of BONES. I think that Minami-san wanted to work more on creating something new rather than previously existing works. So that's why he left Sunrise and wanted to go independent. 

When it comes to character design, in your opinion, what are some of the most important factors in creating a successful character?

It's difficult to give advice on that point. It would be nice if people are designing the characters and they are thinking about the fans in mind that this is going to be a really popular character. But sometimes it's not really possible to have that in mind when you're creating a character. My advice would be to sort of raise your antennae and be open to information in the world, be open to new experiences. Point your antennae in different directions and take in things from the world around you. Process those and put it into your own style. 

I'm always trying to be open to new information in terms of the genre, particularly with regards to the future, as technology and other things evolve. So I kind of go a mile wide and an inch deep trying to get a lot of new information about how things are changing. 

When you established BONES twelve years ago, were you confident it would go successfully or not?

I joined BONES with my friend Minami-san because I had the same thoughts as Minami-san as far as wanting to create and becoming an independent animator. I wasn't really thinking about whether it would be successful or not, I was just thinking about what I wanted to create, the things I wanted to make. I was very happy that many of the people that worked on Cowboy Bebop that were freelance animators were able to come over and join BONES as well, I was really happy about that. 

At BONES we were able to create RahXephon, and so the actual feeling of where we were working didn't really change from when we were working on Cowboy Bebop, because we had a lot of the same people working on that. 

By many western Anime fans, Cowboy Bebop is one of the most well-regarded anime. I just wanted to know if [you] were surprised at how the western reception to Cowboy Bebop was?

Yes, I was surprised. When we made Cowboy Bebop, number one, it was hard just to even get broadcast slots, so we didn't even really know if it was going to become a hit or not. Faced with all these difficulties, we shortened what was originally planned for a 26-episode series to a 13-episode series. But now, even 10 years later, it's still so popular, even outside of Japan. It's really a strange, almost surreal feeling. With regards to a sequel, you saw the last scene? There are no plans at this time. I'm not actually part of the staff, but I've heard that there may still be a possibility of a live-action version, so we may see a Hollywood version of Cowboy Bebop sometime in the future. 

Can you elaborate on the broadcast slot? Why there were difficulties with that?

When they were trying to find broadcast slots in Japan, we were faced with challenges because the violence, for example. The bloody eye, which had a lot of drug references in it, as well as the violence made it hard to find placement. 

And also at the same time, there was a real-life incident, known as the "Pokemon Shock" in which a youth was wielding a knife and so we had to digitally remove a knife from a particular scene because of the social impact at that time. The bloody eye episode was actually episode number one, so we had to start the broadcast with episode two, these kinds of issues. But the episodes number one and number five were released in their original format, so I was glad I was able to take care of that. 

Who were some of your inspirations when you were a child, that made you want to be an artist?

There are many; it's not so much people as much as their creations, like the anime I was watching when I was in high school. That inspired me. So for example, the Gundam designs from Yasuhiko Yoshikazu and from Tomino Yoshiyuki, as well as Hayao Miyazaki's films. And Shouji Kaomori, of Macross fame, Mamoru Oshii's Urusei Yatsura. It was through their work and watching their creations that I decided to join this industry. 

Speaking of Gundam, Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory, it features many different characters from different ethnicities. How important is that for you, in terms of being a director? In terms of character development?

I think that's just natural; there are also times where we need to create characters that will appeal to a Japanese audience when we're creating something in Japan. Stardust Memory has sort of a Hollywood movie feel to it, and there was a request from the developer to include many different people of different races. Does that answer your question?

It's interesting that it was a request, I thought it was a directive decision to include different ethnicities.

I think we became more aware of that over time. 0083 was kind of made in the style of the original Gundam, so I think we became aware of it. I'm sorry I'm not too familiar with the most recent Gundams so I'm not sure what direction they're taking. But my memory of Gundam 0083 was that we thought about the kinds of actors that the characters were representing, so we based the character designs on that. And Cowboy Bebop was kind of like that as well; we kind of thought about the character first. 

Studio BONES has done a lot of really wonderful animations, and there's been some that were original creations from BONES, and there's also been a lot, like Fullmetal Alchemist, that were based off of preexisting works. How do [you] approach these types of projects differently? With working off of preexisting works as opposed to something that they created themselves?

For projects like Fullmetal Alchemist, we get a request from the client, who was Aniplex, and then our ideas kind of gradually coalesce around what the client wants and our ideas gradually reach what we want to create. 

Oh, sorry, I misspoke actually. In the example of Fullmetal Alchemist, it was actually a creator at BONES named Yoshiyuki Ito, who thought it would be great to make an anime out of Fullmetal Alchemist. So he talked to the producer at BONES, and then we talked to Square Enix, who owned the IP, and then that's how we created the anime for Fullmetal Alchemist. And that's how we decided that Yoshiyuki Ito would be the character designer and main animator for Fullmetal Alchemist. 

Of course, there are times when the sponsors or the original creator of the work will sponsor the creation of an anime. A recent work that I worked on, Towa no Quon, was also based on an original work by someone that had created that one. 

How do [you] choose whether or not the next project is a preexisting work, or something that you create yourselves?

It's all up to the president. Whatever he says. However, that said, we do all have input into the direction that the company is going. And we do have the feeling that we want to create our own work, so that's also a possibility, although it can be difficult to do that sometimes. But I think there still is the possibility of original work from BONES. 

Given that you've worked with some prolific series like Gundam, City Hunter, and then Venus Wars was your project. Were there any fears or worries you had about working with established series?

No particular concerns; but there is a strong way of thought in the industry in terms of a business standpoint. It's easier to be successful with known properties, so there is sort of a tendency to prefer sequels over original works, if they're already known.

Given that, are there any series you haven't worked with yet that you want to?

Sequels, hmm, that's a really difficult question. I think from a sales or a business success standpoint, it would really make sense to do a sequel to Cowboy Bebop. But that would violate the director's policy to create that, so that's a bit difficult. Instead of existing works, creating some kind of new or original work that had some sort of long-term popularity and long-term series, of course that would be great for our company to have some kind of new, original popularity with long-term popularity. 

There was a tendency in the past to create a series in episodes of 26 episodes, they would call "two-packs". The tendency now is more towards 3-episodes, or "one-pack" series. So there's kind of a difficult situation continuing in which we will create 13 episodes of a series and then make the decision of whether to create an additional 13 episodes. So it's getting a bit more difficult.

You've been part of a growing industry of constantly changing styles, as each new generation of anime emerges. What do you think of the character designs and animation of today, compared to those from your beginnings? Particularly against popular series such as Madoka MagicaSword Art Online, and Guilty Crown?

The series that you mentioned reflect currently popular face styles and character designs. So I think that this balance reflects the current state of the industry. There will be a tendency where there will be a hit of particular series that has a particular art style, and so when that's popular, a lot of other similar series will be influenced by that art style and that style will be used and will spread. 

But even within those trends there is an increasing number of original creations and and new direction. So I think that its really up to our choice to choose the designs that we like and up to the fans as well to choose the designs that they like. Our job is to create designs that are requested of us by the directors and the producers. 

How does all that change from older series such as Cowboy Bebop and the original Gundam?

If you look at them side by side, you can tell, but it's really hard to put it into words. 

What about the production process?

The biggest would be the change from creating individual cells to the digital creation process. One of the effects of digitization is that, previously, when people were doing hand-drawn animation in cells, the width of the lines could vary. But with digital all the lines have to be the same width. There's been a trend towards that, so i think that's one of the things that's had an effect. So while the screen is clearer and you can get a very clear image, you lose a little bit in terms of the creator's hand drawing with the new digital process, so the appeal of that hand-drawn aspect has been lost, to some extent. 

Do you prefer the appeal of the old style as opposed to the appeal of the new mainstream style?

Of course, I'm from the cel-era, so I think it's something we need to challenge to see how we can take that same feeling that we created from from cels and convey it to fans with the digital process. Other companies as well are working on this issue and I think there are various technologies and things that they are experimenting with in order to reproduce this feeling of the original cels. But it takes extra effort to bring back what was originally there, naturally. 

I think another big change is that now it's possible to for individual animators to perform their own animation check digitally. So that just a single animator can put something together and check how it flows very easily. 

How much difference form your other works was it when you were working on Golden Boy? Golden Boy is a very silly series and such, compared to some of the other series you've done.

Of course it differs depending on the director. The director has a lot of influence. But I think in terms of expression, it's probably more difficult to do a comedy series than to do a more serious series from an expressive standpoint. Tsuya Egao was the original creator of the manga, and Hiroyuki Kitakubo was the director. So meeting their vision was really something I really strived and worked hard on with Golden Boy. 

Do [you] have your own favorite series that [you've] worked on?

Yeah, I get that question a lot, and it's really hard to choose what's number one.

Or just a couple that were particularly memorable?

Of course, Cowboy Bebop. I think "The Cockpit", which was an original video animation that I did with director Hiroyuki Kitakubo, was an important one too, because that lead to Ghost in the Shell and then Cowboy Bebop, so I think that one had a big impact as well.

Ed from Cowboy Bebop is one of the most interesting characters from that anime era, and that you based her design on Yoko Kanno as your inspiration, and I was wondering, why her? What sort of challenges did you face in matching her to the character's personality?

So I'll talk about how the character Ed was created. So the original plan was in addition to the characters Spike, Jet, and Faye, there would be a boy who was a hacker, and there would also be a girl that's always laying around sleeping, so it was going to be five characters. As planning progressed, it was decided to combine the hacker boy character with the girl who was always sleeping around on the sofa into a single character, and that became Ed. The idea was that the character would kind of be like a cat who was just lounging around all the time. Then the director said, "You know, kind of like Yoko Kanno." I hadn't met her at the time so I just had to imagine in my mind, but I was told that this was the kind of person that would actually just fall asleep in a meeting, and was just a very honest and natural person.

Although I hadn't met her, I was able to imagine her character. I remember the amazing work that she had done in Escaflowne and Macross Plus, and it was really hard for me to fill in that gap between those amazing works and this character that I was being described. So why did that become Ed? it's very interesting. And then after the design was done, I actually met Yoko Kanno. Visually, she's just a regular, cute girl. But when I saw her actually fall asleep on the sofa I thought, "Oh yeah, that's her." I was surprised. 

(Translator) How about some final words?

Do you like wine?

I can't drink, actually, but there are many people in my staff that do.

I won't offer him a bottle then.

Oh, our president would be so happy.

Ok, I'll give it to you then.

Thank you all for coming today, I really appreciate it. Thank you for your support and interest in the anime industry, and I look forward to your continuing interest in our future works. Thank you very much.


-----


Reki Kawahara Interview


 

If SAO was to be turned into a real MMO, would [you] play it?

As long as it's not permadeath or anything, I might.

This is your first convention in the States. Is there any kind of food or anything you want to try while you're in Seattle?

I had, for the first time in my life, real oatmeal this morning, and it was very delicious.

Translator: Is there anything you want to try while you're still in America?

T-bone steak; a real, American-sized T-bone steak.

In a recent interview, you mentioned that coming up with the simple idea of players trapped in an MMO RPG was the easy part, but that finding the mechanism was the difficult part, and you admitted that the Nerve Gear did have its faults, thus creating plot holes. If you had more time, and could go back and add to the story, fix the little things that faults, what would you do, if anything? Or would you create an additional version that had additional sections?

One of the things that I heard about, was "wouldn't it be possible to somehow instantly destroy the Nerve Gear that the players are using, to make it inactive in time before it would kill the player?" So that's one of the things that was brought up to me. So in order to combat such measures, one of the ideas was to have Kayaba announce that should anybody attempt this, or even succeed, another player randomly, will pay for that action. 

Asuna is a bit of a tricky character; she starts off an incredibly strong fighter, important to the political system in SAO, but in the ALfheim arc, she is caged, sexually assaulted, and virtually replaced with women half her ability and depth. What would you say to the critics who find her world problematic, especially given the often misogynistic climate of anime and gaming?

So, as i said previously, the character of Asuna, I might have created a little too perfectly for Sword Art Online. And when teamed up with Kirito, there was hardly any problem that the two, as a pair, could not overcome. So, in order to increase the sense of urgency during the Fairy Dance story arc, I needed to put her unable to help Kirito, and in caging her, I do have some regrets about putting her in the situation in order to build up the sense of danger for Kirito's adventure in the second story arc. 

And, as recompense, internally, I made a story, as a follow-up, called "Mother's Rosario", where Asuna was the main character, and should there be more animation, I would really like to see that story depicted.

How much of Kirito's personality and character is based off your own personality and character, or characters that you've played in other MMOs?

I don't tend to put myself into my characters. But, if I had to say there was a point of similarity between Kirito and myself, it would be the fact that both of us are not very good at forming parties. We tend to play solo in these games a lot. 

There is legitimate speculation and credible evidence that shows there's some kind of connection between the Accel World light novel, and Sword Art Online. For example, in the 9th volume of the SAO light novel, Kirito talks about going to American to study and research a new type of Dive technology, which is brain-implanted chips. Additionally, in episode 22 of the SAO anime, the end card shows Kirito holding a sword which very closely resemble's Silver Crow's armor, while Suguha is holding Black Lotus' sword. Whether or not there is an actual connection between SAO and Accel World is still unproven, but were these similarities intentional? Or did you implement them to create a sense of the same theme in both of these shows?

First I'll start with explaining the picture in episode 22. The picture in the end of episode 22 came from the fact that it was done by the mechanical designer of Accel World, Yosuke Kawashima. He, in his connection to the other show, kinda was being playful and did that illustration. 

So at this point, the two shows are separate. As an author, I consider those two titles separate. But there might be some similarities and points that connect between the two shows. Now, that's not to say, should some issues be resolved with both storylines, possibly, there will be a third series that has ties to both titles. But I can't say for sure at this point.

Between 2002, when you first submitted your submission for Dengenki Game Shousetsu Contest, and the actual publication in 2008, and before that, what did you do?

During that period, I was serializing SAO on my homepage. And, eventually, that was picked up for publication, reworked, edited, and released in 2008. I have to say, I haven't done the entirety of what I wrote on those pages, in the novel series.

Explain to me the process of how your work got turned into a multi-platform media? Like a trans-media property? Be it the series manga, how did he intend for it to start, all of that kind of stuff.

Well, first of all, if I had thought it was going to be a multimedia phenomenon, I might have made the main character in Accel World, Haruyuki, a little bit more cooler. In the beginning, I was more worried if I was going to succeed as a writer, let alone even thinking ahead to an animated version of my novels. So when my editor came to me and said, "Hey, they want to animate this," I was shocked, for one. But, very very pleased to hear that someone wanted to see it animated.

The Sword Art Online novels aren't really readily available in English, so there's a group of fan translators that have taken it upon themselves to translate the light novels form Japanese to English and publish them on the website. I'm just curious as to what your thoughts on that are?

First of all, I have to say, I'm so happy to hear that there are fans overseas that want to read the novels to the point of having the translations made. So, I brought this up to my editors, and said, "Why isn't there?" and he said, "Well, soon as a publisher in the United States makes us an offer, I'm definitely willing to consider it." 

Yesterday [during the panel] you touched upon the fact that there really wasn't much cut out from the anime compared to the light novels. But there were a few things, like the Underworld Arc in ALO, and also during Murder Case, the epilogue was heavily truncated. A lot of it was foreshadowing for later events in the anime. Do you feel if anything was missed because of the opportunity to not include those? And if, for instance, once Progressive is completed, would you want to include those scenes if you had the opportunity to do so?

Translator: You're talking about when they explore the Underworld, with Leafa and Kirito?

Yea, they left in a joke afterwards, where Suguha slips snow down the back of Kirito's shirt, which was payback for unknowingly, that he did it to her there, and also foreshadowing during Murder Case, where Kirito storms in with his horse, which leads to an appearance during the GGO arc where that gets brought up again.


The root behind that one was, when I was originally serializing on my home page, that scene didn't exist. But when it was novelized, we didn't have enough pages… so I kinda tacked that on.

So when it was going to be animated, I was like, "Well, this scene just feels added on, so I think it should be taken out of the animation," and that was the choice I made.

Obviously Sword Art Online delves really heavily into MMOs, what's [your] own experience with MMOs and do [you] have any favorites, or just games in general?

The one I play most is World of Warcraft. But, more recently, I'm quite enjoying Diablo 3. I'm a really big fan of Blizzard's games. But, I'm kind of sad that Japanese versions of these Blizzard games don't exist.

We've heard that you feel very fortunate meeting with your editor, Miki Kazuma-san. Is there anything where you guys couldn't agree at certain times? Or any suggestions or comments you have?

Mr. Miki is a fantastic editor. He would never raise his voice or get angry about any sort of disagreements. But, he's also a kind of person that won't back down from an idea, so when we don't see eye-to-eye, it becomes a very long conversation. 

As Kayaba is key to the main story for SAO, ALO, Alicization, and Mother's Roasrio, by leaving him out of the Gun Gale Online arc, would you have preferred for him to have a part in it? In ALO, he had a hand in Kirito's success in saving Asuna. But in GGO, we don't have any information on Kayaba. It's almost as if he's lost his importance. Would you have given him more importance, if you were to redo Gun Gale Online Arc?

If Kayaba is involved as the ringleader for every story arc, it might sort of start falling into a set pattern. So I intentionally left Kayaba out of the Gun Gale Online story arc so that it didn't fall into routines. 

How were you able to craft such a believable virtual game within your stories? In many other shows, such efforts are more unrealistic and corny.

I was able to make the virtual world of Sword Art Online studying various American sci-fi novelists, movies in the United States that featured virtual reality, and learning from those things. I was able to incorporate a lot of what I learned and experienced into my world. 

Any particular work?

So the founding roots came from James P. Hogan's novel about a character being trapped in a virtual reality world, whose Japanese title is "Virtual World Plan," which is the literal translation. I don't know what the English title of this book is... I'm sure you guys will all look it up.

In Accel World, Black Lotus' name is never actually revealed. Do you want to go into why it was never revealed? Or if you would, in the future, like to to expand on a story to reveal that?

To frankly answer your question, when I wrote the first volume of Accel World, there was no plans to write a volume 2. So volume 1 ended with her about to reveal her name, and didn't. And eventually, when volume 2 came around, I felt like I like I sort of lost a moment to reveal her name, so it's sort of in the limbo state that it is in right now. If I ever get to the last volume, I'll reveal it then. 

Right now, you're very busy with all your success and everything. What do you like to do when you're not busy and actually have some time off? Do you have any hobbies?

Translator: I think you get one guess on that one.


In my answer, if I take online games out of that equation, I really like riding bicycles. I even recently bought a trek bicycle, and when I heard about what happened to Lance Armstrong, I felt very very saddened.

In a recent interview, you stated that you tend to use strategy guides for RPGs. If you were to create one for Sword Art Online, what would you include? What sort of advice would you give, other than "Don't die?"

If I can't put in "don't die," or other than don't die, it would be don't leave the town. 

In Accel World, Haru's an underwhelming kid and turns out to be extraordinary, while SAO's Kirito is handsome, smart, and skilled, and turns out to be even more so in the game. What influenced the big difference between those two characters and did your age at the time of writing make a difference?

Honestly speaking, the character of Kirito existed first. But because that character was so perfect, or seemingly very perfect, but Kirito has his weaknesses inside. Whereas Haru has his weaknesses on the external side, but has extreme strength on the inside. So both of them have their strengths and weaknesses, and I've never really considered either one of them to be inferior or superior to the other.

When was it that you decided to be become a novelist, and decided that this was the career you wanted to follow? Did it start in childhood days, was it the love of writing or reading stories that lead you to your debut?

I've always liked creating stories since I was little, and the initial profession that I wanted to strive to become was a game story writer. But that dream never came to be, so at some point, I had become a writer. 

Translator: At which point did you switch from wanting to become a game writer and become a writer?

When I was a student in school, I definitely still wanted to be a game writer. But there was a big hurdle that in order to become a game writer, you had to work for a gaming company. And getting hired at a gaming company was an extremely high wall that I was unable to climb over, so I found myself becoming a writer, after being a student. So in my twenties.

What was the most challenging story arc you had to write for when writing Accel World and Sword Art Online?

One of the difficulties I had was the fact that in Accel World, when you go into a virtual world, you're moving at 1000 times normal speed. So I had a hard time calculating, "Okay, so if it's this many hours in the virtual world, how long has it been in the real world?" And vice versa. I really lamented the fact, "Why does 1 minute have to 60 seconds instead of 100 seconds?" Which would have made the calculations much more simple.

Looking at sales figures for Accel World and Sword At Online the anime, and by any indication, Accel World sold about 10,000 DVD/Blu Ray combined sales per volume of the novel. In comparison to Sword Art Online selling about 35,000 per novel, and is still going. According to the numbers, Sword Art Online is a lot more popular than Accel World. What do you think about the discrepancy? One explanation I heard is that Sword Art Online is more "girl friendly"; a lot of girls like Kirito, so they go and buy the DVDs, buy the games. What do you think of that?

It is true that the fan base is for SAO in the various age groups is very high, including female fans. But for me, I wrote Accel World directed toward a younger audience, so seeing the discrepancy in the numbers, personally, I'm a little disappointed that there aren't better figures for Accel World. But for me, worrying about numbers is the worry of our publishing company, and the animation company, Aniplex. So, I myself try not to think about sales figures. 

What did you expect coming into Sakura-Con? What do you think of it? What are some good, bad, weird experiences you've had?

I have to say, at Sakura-Con, I was very happy to see so many Kiritos here. Seeing the panel room filled with so many fans, and so many fans reacting so positively, and so openly, in such a forum, was a big surprise, and a very happy experience for me. I can't imagine such an event even happening in Japan, in the middle of a large city, in such a large venue, and the fans having the type of reactions that they expressed here, in Japan.

When you were creating the Alicization arc, setting up the foundation where time is 1000N willpower is the key to everything, was that foundation also carried over, I know you said there's no direct connection between Accel World and SAO, but was that foundation also used as the foundation for what happens in Accel World?

It is true that the technology used in Alicization could be or is the foundation of the technology being used in Accel World. But at this point, like I said, it might be similar technologies having a technological chain, but it hasn't been made clear that it is in fact the same world. The two worlds could just have a similar technological advance. As I noted before, if I were to clearly state that the two worlds are the same, then the number of things that need to be resolved in order for such a thing to be clearly possible, would be many tens of times greater than I could ever hope to do right now.

So seeing a movie like the Avengers, where it took a bunch of properties into one cohesive title, I have to say the creative staff on that movie is quite amazing. 

The changes made in the Alicization arc where the it focuses on willpower rather than skill, was that something that was meant to bring Kirito down to a more manageable level compared to his more overpowered god-like form in the earlier arc?

It's true that decision might have been to make Kirito less, as you put it, "god like." But by the end of the Alicization story arc, all that work would have been for naught considering what happens to him.

In Alicization Turning, Cardinal has been personified as an NPC, or AI. From an all-powerful program to a program that's unable to do its original function, what was your intention of doing this?

In Sword Art Online, in the original story arc, was the battle of Kirito versus Kayaba. But at the same time, it was a battle against the system itself. So, in order for Kirito to combat the system, it became necessary in the Alicization story arc, when he was actually going up against the system, having it all powerful without a personality, I started having some difficulties. So in order to create the story of the battle of going against the system, it became necessary for me to give it a personality, and to make it something that Kirito could face.


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Eir Aoi and Luna Haruna Interview

 




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