Kawahara-san, it seems that you have participated in the draft phase for the new 『Accel World』 and 『Sword Art Online』 anime works. What will the story be this time?
Kawahara: For 『Accel World』, it is planned to be a story that takes place after the latest novel. Since I was asked to create an original plot for the new animated work, even I did not want to do a story that goes back to the past. And, I wanted to make a story packed with the essence of 『Accel World』. So, when I considered what 『Accel World』 is, I was troubled whether to put emphasis on a battle between humans, in other words Burst Linkers, or put emphasis on a battle between giant monsters called Enemies and players. I hope that you will await a follow-up report about with the details about the chosen scenario. However, I can say that I want to make highlight scenes for as many characters as possible, and depict fighting scenes for them, thus I intend to pack such scenes into the story.
It has also been said that a new character will be making an appearance.
Kawahara: The new character will bring impetus to the story, rather than get the role of a protagonist. He was made as an average player, differently from Burst Linkers like Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime who have a special position. The design of the character’s avatar is very lovely!
Will battles be a main part of the story?
Kawahara: Director Obara received a very enthusiastically written storyboard, and, based on the sceenplay, the ratio of action scenes has sufficiently…… no, considerably increased. There were so many of them that the concern “Are we actually going to do all of them?” came up. Actions scenes should greatly increase the workload compared to other scenes, but the staff are still going to try it. The staff’s enthusiasm in drawing was amazing; isn’t this why visuals by studios like Sunrise 8 Studio are so enjoyable?
It seems that you have also participated in the post-recording. How was it?
Kawahara: It was nostalgic. 3 years have passed since the end of the TV series, yet Kaji (Yūki)-san was the same as back then. As for the changes…… it would probably be Misawa (Sachika)-san’s role as Kuroyukihime (laughs). At that time, Misawa had just made her debut, and I believe that the role of Kuroyukihime with her long and difficult lines was problematic. It’s amazing that this time, despite the long time since performing the role, she had a sense of stability. So many other actors performed that it felt like it would become an 『Accel World』 All-Stars! film.
How did you come to making a 『Sword Art Online』 movie?
Kawahara: The plans for it were made at about the time just before the TV series’ second season was finished. The producer team showed eagerness, and we finally came to announcing it. Of course, the staff that took part in the work on the TV series are also planned to continue participating.
What kind of story have you planned?
Kawahara: We have decided to endeavour an original plot for this one as well, thankfully. As for the content, the pivotal aspect of 『Sword Art Online』- that this is a story with Kirito and Asuna at its centre - will be the same as always. Of course, highlights for the other characters will be prepared as well, thus I believe that the fans of the respective characters will have something to look forward to. This story is going to take place before the latest novel in chronological order. Because even I am not sure what the situation of the series’s world will be after the ≪Alicization≫ arc…… (laughs). There was also an idea to once again reboot the Aincrad arc from the first floor, but we were concerned whether that was what the audience wanted to see. As a result, it was decided to continue the story after the ≪Mother's Rosario≫ arc.
What VRMMO will be the stage for the movie?
Kawahara: I cannot go into details about that yet, I’m sorry. However, I do believe that no matter what game will become the stage, the director and the other staff, who have depicted ≪SAO≫, ≪ALO≫ and ≪GGO≫ - three games with different traits - thus far will provide impressive visuals this time as well.
Finally, a message to the fans please.
Kawahara: The fans did not really expect both a new 『Accel World』 anime and a 『Sword Art Online』 movie, so they were probably surprised. I would be glad if the fans would continue to hold onto this surprise and look forward to the release of both works.
(A certain day in September 2015 at an editorial department)