[Character Book] Vol.1 Kirito

Well, it's been a month since our last release, so I figured we should release something... But we didn't really have anything ready for release, seeing as Yen Press licensed AGGO, we've finished our side story projects, and Mtt's been busy with his finals, so he hasn't finished working his magic with our manga projects. So, I figured I'd do pull out something from the my dusty drawers to do. And so, I finally got around to translating Kawahara's interviews for the SAO character books that were released with the Dengeki Bunko MAGAZINE throughout 2017. The first in the bunch is the Kirito character book. Enjoy!

Thanks to all of those who contributed to the SAO Scans project for helping us get the raws.

Any feedback is appreciated. Especially since I didn't have any editors for this!


Raws: SAO Scans
Translation: Gsimenas


Warning: This interview spoils some stuff from Alicization (volume 18) near the end. Read at your own risk.

Reki Kawahara Interview: About Kirito

The secret story of Kirito's creation!!

——How was the name 『Kirito』 born?

Kawahara: As I said in a tweet about this topic on Twitter the other day, I am not all that good at making names for my characters. The more I define the character's traits, the more the name feels like a fabrication…… that's why I prefer not to overthink their names too much. Even regarding Kirito's name, I believe I just used the name that came up while I was tapping the keyboard when writing the manuscript for 『SAO』.

——So there is no special origin to it, I see.

Kawahara: Well, I decided to got for something that more or less sounded like an MMO game player name, but I didn't have any specific models for that.

——Was the name Kirigaya Kazuto created based on the name Kirito?

Kawahara: That's right. Kirito should have come first, followed by his real name later on. I figured he wouldn't pick an overly elaborate player name.

——But he does seem to have an unusual obsession with 『black』. Is there a reason for his motif colour being『black』?

Kawahara: In 『Ultima Online』, a game I had played before, black clothing was somewhat rare, thus seeing someone entirely dressed in pitch black would elicit a "Wow" reaction from me; that's the basis for it. Also, since he was called a beater since the early days of the game, the fact that he became segregated from the main group also served as a reason for black becoming his image colour.

——Like a dark hero, I see.

Kawahara: Also, as for a reason within 《SAO》 itself, the colour black offers a high Hiding rate. So, solo players such as Kirito preferred blackish colours.

——I see.

Kawahara: That's why other people, such as the Liberation Force and Divine Dragons Alliance members, also refrained from wearing gaudily-coloured equipment; instead, they chose to use something that blended in with their environment as their guild colours. Though, when the 《KoB》 first came out with their white and red guild colours, they must have really struck everyone with awe, given the context. Everyone surely felt their determination to prove that you could engage in battle even if dressed in such conspicuous colours…… But well, since that's how in-universe reasoning goes, if there came, for example, a time when covert action needed to be taken in a snowy mountain, I believe even Kirito would have no choice but to don white equipment (laughs).

——So if we get a floor of snow in 『Progressive』 in the future, dare I presume we'll get to see Kirito resorting to use white equipment?

Kawahara: Well, he would probably have his misgivings about that (laughs).

——It seems quite likely that even Kirito himself has realised, "I really am a black character", wouldn't you think so? Even his casual clothes are black, after all.

Kawahara: True. I believe that specifically because of his experience in 《Aincrad》 did Kirito start wearing black clothing even later on.

——So it became Kirito's soul colour.

Kawahara: Though, in the 《Ordinal Scale》 movie, his clothing was about 40% white. When I saw that, sure, I thought that abec-san must have had a goal in mind with such a design, but I also felt that Kirito had some particular reservations about his outfit as well. A "fixation" on the idea that he would not be playing Ordinal Scale on the same level as a VR game. That he would play as 《The Black Swordsman》 in AR.

——《The Black Swordsman》's playstyle is 《Dual Blades》. How did that idea came about?

Kawahara: While planning the Gleam Eyes battle, I had a thought: "Hmm, what would be a cool hidden skill to reveal during a boss battle?"; at that point, I was looking for something that felt special and considered having him switch his sword to an axe… wait a moment, I said, no, a second sword is what I actually need…… Come to think of it, the idea of 《Dual Blades》 had not even crossed my mind before I got to writing the Gleam Eyes battle. When I first considered, "What hidden skill could he have?", while writing that scene, the concept of Dual Blades must have just come to me as a matter of course. Even the name for the 《Starburst Stream》 skill came to be as a result of me going with the flow; I believe it hadn't crossed my mind at all till that very moment. 'Baa, dakadakadaka', I was in quite the trance while writing that scene.

——Like Kirito's 16-hit attack? (laughs)

Kawahara: Yes (laughs). By the way, Heathcliff's 《Holy Sword》 was born as its antithesis…… a focus on defence, in contrast to the Dual Blades' focus on offence.

——Despite having such a super skill, Kirito was not awfully self-confident; if anything, he was quite bashful. How did this character trait come about?

Kawahara: I had decided to make the protagonist of 『SAO』 a solo player. And, those who play solo in MMOs are mostly either assholes, or asocial people like me, I guess….. though I am rather biased (laughs). So, he ended up as an aloof person who did not like becoming close to other people. Also, in actual online games, it's quite unlikely for someone to be strong while playing solo. After all, you generally have to fight against bosses with a party or raid. When I came to think of the protagonist as having such a certain charm to him which, in that sense, could only be found in fiction, he grew to be a character who was strong when it mattered, despite the lonesomeness and freedom of his status as a solo player.

——The term 『solo player』 is the keyword in the creation of Kirito's character, I see.

Kawahara: Though he did have his reasons for choosing to go solo in the unusual circumstances of the death game. He would have been burdened with the responsibility for the lives of others and, on the other hand, there was also the risk that he could end up dying due to someone else's fault. So, Kirito was somewhat of a realist. He has had certain experiences, such as the one in the "Day of Beginnings" short story that I wrote for volume 8 of the light novels, that prompted such considerations, after all.

The secret to the popularity of Kirito as a character?

——A 『solo player』 and a realist…… Kirito started off with such a characterisation, but what kind of person do you see him as when writing your stories now, Kawahara-san?

Kawahara: I have once said in a different interview, "He is the person that I am least sure of how to write." when answering such a question…… and well, as before, I am still not sure (sweatdrop). For example, when writing the draft for the movie, I for one felt like he would think, "Yahoo, a new game!", and enjoy 《Ordinal Scale》, but Itou (Tomohiko: director of the 『SAO』 anime series) -san then told me, 'Wouldn't Kirito be reluctant to just switch over to an AR game so easily?", and so I thought, 'Oh, you're right'; he has become a somewhat hard-to-manage character, so I cannot really say I have a grasp of Kirito as a character. I always feel that I am not sure what goes on in his head.

——He has some rather outlandish episodes, like when he suddenly cried out 『Yes!』 in 《Progressive》.

Kawahara: At the beginning of 『Progressive』, Kirito was 14 years-old and a #second grader at middle school#(chuuni) but he goes nearly all the way up to 18 years-old in the 『movie』, so we see a rather wide age range of his compared to usual protagonists. He also has acquired a reasonable amount of experience from various places, thus it is difficult to maintain consistency with his personality.

——And he got himself a sweetheart.

Kawahara: Kirito in 《Progressive》 is childish and still has some clownish moments. I guess you could say that he is growing, or rather, maturing. Well, when he becomes a full-fledged adult, I feel like we will get to see him being very chill, a little silly——like Klein (laughs).

——Like Klein…… Sounds like Asuna-san would not like that (laughs).

Kawahara: (laughs). So, I believe the more he puts up such a facade of humour, the more rapidly this trait disappears on the inside. Perhaps that would make him an enigmatic character. Though, don't all people become like that as they get older?

——By the way, speaking of Kirito's traits, allow me to ask the other way around…… what parts of him do you believe have gained the approval of the readers?

Kawahara: While I am grateful that he has gained approval, this is actually another thing that I cannot grasp—— Or rather, actually, I do not feel like I could become friends with Kirito (sweatdrop). Even supposing I were friends with him in an online game, I wouldn't really want to play with him (laughs).

——Wha!? Seeing as he is kind and caring, I don't think that he would be someone you wouldn't have fun playing a game with……

Kawahara: True, but at the same time I feel that 『I would never be able to associate with him on the same level』. While I do think that he would be a great help to me, 『Kirito would not be able to rely on me』. I feel that I would be one-sidedly be getting help both mentally and practically…… Well, I believe that this would be the result of Kirito not opening up to others.

——In the end, the only person he could really trust his back to was Asuna, huh.

Kawahara: For someone who does his literary work and shares his info on the Internet like me, this rings quite a few bells; Kirito fulfils all of his basic human interactions through the Net, thus I believe that in contrast to most people, it reduces the sense of distance between him and other people. Conversely, he does not need to talk about his troubles and does not feel pressured. Put yet another way, he can put up a bravado to look good.

——Despite his cool traits, quite the worrywart, don't you think, Kirito is?

Kawahara: That's right. The novel follows Kirito's perspective, thus everyone can see Kirito's innermost thoughts laid bare. Thus, while he does not share his worries with others, you can tell how much he worries by reading the books. It's not spoken out in dialogue, but in the narration, he frets over things effeminately quite a lot. I wonder if that gap is appreciated.

——Cool but realistic. A trait that separates him from superman? I see. By the way, a little digression from our previous topic but… how do you feel about abec-san's illustrations, as well as Matsuoka Yoshitsugu-san's performance in his role as Kirito for the anime, both of whom, if I may say so, breathe new life into Kirito as a person?

Kawahara: Hmm. In regards to abec-san's illustrations…… while I was doing my own illustrations, Kirito had a bit more of a wild side. But in abec-san's illustrations, his boyishness became the centerpiece and I think that's great.

——Thanks to his gentle style, Kirito's aforementioned effeminacy, or impression of naiveness is really conveyed well.

Kawahara: True. That delicateness, or rather, sensitivity isn't that easy to draw, I believe. Though, in usual battle series, the protagonist's manliness or heroicness tend to be a bit more highlighted.

——And what about Matsuoka-san?

Kawahara: I had the pleasure of taking part in the auditions for the role of Kirito and all the Kiritos were awfully good. But among them, I felt 『sensitivity』 in addition to the coolness in the voice of Matsuoka-san's Kirito. It had that aforementioned inner effeminacy, or rather, the Kirito-ish naivety from abec-san's illustrations. Furthermore, when I heard his performance in the humorous scenes and the climax of the battle part…… also, when I heard his end-of-the-episode full-blown shout at the time of the post-recording of the first episode of the TV anime, I was utterly convinced, 『This is what Kirito has to sound like』. When I write nowadays, I read Kirito's lines in Matsuoka-san's voice in my mind.

——Now then, let's mix things up a bit with the last question…… What would be the one thing you'd say to Kirito right now?

Kawahara: Hmm…… Well, something like 'You should give a clear, conclusive response regarding your female relationships', I guess (laughs).


Kawahara-san's Best of Kirito

——Kawahara-san, please tell us your favourite Kirito scenes.

Kawahara: It's more impactful in episode 1 of the anime than in the novel, but the scene where Kirito runs out first after the conclusion of Kayaba's tutorial and encourages Klein to go with him to the empty farming grounds. I believe that that scene is a good representation of Kirito-ness (laughs).

——"All together!", he didn't say (laughs).

Kawahara: That's right. While he did attempt to at least help out Klein, the moment Klein said he wanted to bring his friends along, Kirito's loner barrier got triggered (laughs), making things awkward. I believe that is also so like Kirito.

Also, in the Silica story, the moment they were assaulted by Rosalia's PK guild. The scene where Kirito stood still to take in all their attacks to make them all comprehend the difference in level between them and their enemy. It was seemed rational, or rather, energy conservation-ish. The inspiration for that scene came from RO (Ragnarok Online) that I was playing at the time; the game had a VIT-type knight with amazing strength. Moreover, they usually had automatic self-healing—— when you attacked them, their HP would just recover. That ability to take in a lot of punishment was very shocking; I felt like writing about that feeling and so I did, thus it left me an impression.

Another one is from the Alicization Arc. For the birthday of Kirito's mentor, Sortiliena-sempai, Kirito grew some flowers to give her, but they were ravaged by some bullies, causing him to 『cry』. That part really stuck in my memory. Even I didn't mean to actually take it that far, it just ended up that way as I wrote the story, making me think, 'Ah, this is going to make this person cry.' That's a scene I liked. While writing Kirito for volume 1, I would not have been able to imagine that.

——By the way, if you had to pick the best shot among abec-san's illustrations?

Kawahara: This could be because it's recent, but it would be the cover of light novel volume 19. The way Kirito grins there looks very mischievous and I like that. I was glad that he got to smile like that again.

——Throughout the Alicization Arc, he always felt to be be somewhat tense, after all.

Kawahara: We finally got to see Kirito in his natural state after so long.

Look forward to Kirito's future exploits!

——Last of all…… Kawahara-san, since you are going to write more about Kirito in the future, do you have any ideas for what you want to write about Kirito?

Kawahara: Regarding the new series of the novel, I believe the importance of the real world part will increase from now on. And, while there have been many girls coming up in the series so far, none of the girls aside from Asuna could fight on the same level as Asuna herself. And that's when Alice, a person brimming with eagerness to fight, came along.

——T-the waifu war is finally breaking out!?

Kawahara: (Laughs). Thus, I would like to write about Kirito's troubles of being dragged into such a battle. What's more, Alice is a robot, after all. How will it turn out in the end—— Also, this isn't limited to Kirito; I would like to write about Robo Alice's hardships as well, thus I would also like to have Kirito help out with Alice's maintenance. A robot body sure sounds like a handful.

——Indeed. Sounds like there would far more things that would need attention than with a human body, such as changing the oil for the actuator.

Kawahara: The people of Underworld regard their bodies differently than people in the real world; they think of them as creations of god and that you can just heal them with Sacred Arts if they get hurt, thus—— I kinda think that she would be surprisingly quick to get used to her robot body…… Anyhow, look forward to all the new interactions in Kirito's circle with the addition of Alice (laughs)!

——Thank you very much!

(On a certain day in January, 2017: in the editorial department)



  1. Thanks for working on this. I always find these behind the scenes kind of looks into creating a character really interesting.

  2. Waaaah! Many girls are coming! Oi! Kirito-Kun! Be careful! Asuna-san is watching you.

  3. Thank you can you translate asuna's too?

    1. I may translate it at some point when I run out of things to do or need a filler release.

  4. "thus I would also like to have Kirito help out with Alice's maintenance"

    nooo.. i hope kirito no need to grope alice's body TToTT

    "look forward to all the new interactions in Kirito's circle with the addition of Alice"

    ahh.. i hope more interaction between kirito and asuna as well :"D (sorry for my hardshipper for them XD)

  5. well Kawahara san did said ALICE is "a robot after all.How will it turn out in the end"- that means ultimately ASUNA will win to KIRITO.