[Character Book] Vol.3 Leafa

Well, summer had ended (even though I only had one month of actual summer holidays instead of the usual two months because I spent one month volunteering at a hospital X.X) and a new academic year has started for me as of today, so I won't be able to release as many translations as I did during the summer. As such, I figured it would be nice to release one more translation before I actually have to start studying. Thus, I present you with a translation of the interview in the third character book, dedicated to Leafa/Suguha for all you imouto and/or kendo lovers. This one seems to be a whole page longer than the previous two interviews... my luck is grand as always, apparently...

Thanks to all of those who contributed to the SAO Scans project for helping us get the raws. I've been told that they've been running low on funds to buy new raws lately, so if you enjoy these translations and are feeling generous, I'm sure they would appreciate any support they can get.

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

P.S. RIP Recon.



Raws: SAO Scans
Translation: Gsimenas

Warning: This interview spoils some stuff from Alicization (volume 16-17) near the end. Read at your own risk.

Reki Kawahara Interview: About Leafa

The origin of Leafa/Suguha's name

——The everyone's favourite Leafa edition! First of all, I believe we should start with the origin of her name. In a previous interview, I heard that 『The avatar name Leafa is derived from the English word leaf (葉 in Japanese)』, so that means——

Kawahara: Indeed, I first thought of her real name. I usually give my characters only slightly modified "character-ish" names, but I had no hesitations with this one——there's a term called 直刃 (suguha)(1) in katana blade terminology, which serves as the origin of the name. After first being struck with the idea for the name 'Suguha', I figured, 'In that case, let's use some wordplay on the ##(leaf) kanji and make the avatar name Leafa.'

——A "blade" motif…… which means that the idea for having her be a kendo girl was in your mind from the beginning?

Kawahara: Yes. Since the first thing I decided to write was the volume 3 scene where she was doing kendo with Kirito. The first reference to Suguha was the conversation between Kirito and Silica in volume 2 of the light novel; since the time I was writing that scene, I had thought up that Kirito had quit kendo, yet Suguha continued it.

——So, the structure of Kirito's family was developed to some extent before Silica's story…… is that what you mean?

Kawahara: Yes. While it wasn't referenced in the 《Aincrad》 arc, I had a vague image on some of his background details, such as his family's composition and his real life friends. I had already envisioned that he had a younger sister and that while he treats her as a sister, they're actually cousins. This may end up as a Kirito talk (sweatdrop), but as a matter of fact, I had planned to make the reason why Kirito was so strong in games more clear in the earliest of my early ideas for the story…… I had considered making the plot surrounding the death of his parents be:『His parents were researching some kind of new technology that did something to the brain to make people adept at FullDive, and some evil corporation orchestrated an accident in an attempt to steal the technology. Meanwhile, Kirito was a child on whom the enhancement surgery had been performed』——but despite being in my amateur phase back then, even I figured that this would be too much, so I scrapped that idea (laughs).

——Oooh……! If that were how the plot turned out, we would have had an entirely different 『SAO』, huh (laughs).

Kawahara: (Laughs). Nevertheless, even now I'd like to follow up on the details of how his parents passed away. Thus, I'd like to do a story on Kirito's real parents in the final arc—— well anyways, that's how it is, so the fact that Kirito had a younger sister named Suguha and that she was actually his cousin were details that I had decided on in the early days of the story's writing.

——I see. In that case, then how did she end up doing a sport like 『kendo』? Since Kirito's an outdoor type, you added a sports girl for distinction……?

Kawahara: While that is one of the factors, a more important one is the fact that the plot would have her become alienated from Kirito. Seeing as the two became estranged, I thought that at the very least she wouldn't be a gamer that had the same hobby as him, so she naturally ended up continuing kendo, an activity that Kirito had once been doing but eventually quit. That was also one of the things that I had decided on from the very start without too much hesitation.

——Though, as I mentioned myself before, Suguha doesn't really feel like a so-called 『sports girl』. She kinda feels more like the humanities type……

Kawahara: This is just my arbitrary impression, but I believe that kendo clubs are unique among other sports clubs, and they are subtly different even from Judo clubs and so forth—— for example, the world's most prominent kendo tournament is the Gyokuryuuki(2) for high schoolers and the All-Japan Championship for adults, as it is not part of the Olympic Games. While kyūdō is in a similar position, I believe kendo is a sport with a unique worldview even among other sports clubs. It's nerdy…… while that statement is a bit misleading, kendo clubs regards spirituality very highly and they have a strong connection to the bushido of ancient times; that's the kind of image they give off, don't they?

——Now that you mention it, kendo requires some sort of admiration or faith in the 『sword』 …… or you can't really take off in the sport.

Kawahara: I, too, had done kendo during my high school physical education; our teacher had a dojo nearby—— he was the kind of man to bring a genuine Japanese sword - albeit with a dull blade, of course - and demonstrate its use in front of everyone in the class before the lesson each day. So, I feel that that's just one more thing that separates a kendo teacher from a regular sports club one—— Although he was quite elderly, you could perhaps say he felt like a kenjutsu nerd, or, how should I put it, he had an obsession with the 『sword』 and 『techniques』 used with it; that's the kind of impression I got from him and this impression remained vivid in my memory all this time, I believe.

——Though that teach might have been an extreme example (sweatdrop).

Kawahara: But I feel there are plenty of light novel readers with their own personal opinions on kendo. There are plenty of quips about the kendo scene with Kirito and Suguha, even if I was the one to write 『SAO』.

——I see, such an 『obsession』 is probably a very familiar to those who enjoy entertainment content, so to speak. This is clear with Suguha, a enjoys playing VRMMO games while also being a sports girl.

Most important point: About boobs

——We have covered the details of how Suguha became a kendo character. Now then…… (Gulp) Speaking of Suguha, this is one question that must be asked. Without beating about the bush…… boobs!

Kawahara: Boobs, you say (laughs).

——Please tell us the reason why Suguha developed such an unbelievably large bust for a 3rd year in middle school ~ 1st year in high school!

Kawahara: Oh, that was just Miki-san (the editor supervising Kawahara Reki) doing as he pleased (laughs). Before I knew it, he had said "Make the boobs bigger" to abec-san when placing the order. The first character designs already had them huge, after all. Uwah, so huge, I thought (laughs).

——Before you knew it!?

Kawahara: Originally, they were supposed to be sized like Silica's; since Silica's were small, I also thought of Suguha's as such. But…… Miki-san didn't think so! I have been working with Miki-san for a long time now, but my most memorable Miki-san's words as an editor are, "Personally, I'm truly glad I made Suguha have huge breasts.", which were said during a drinking party in a serious tone. That line comes to mind when speaking about Miki-san (laughs). Though, he was right, seeing as this allowed the character to stand on her own feet or, how should I put this, made her feel more complete, so I believe this was a good change.

——For the record, in one of abec-san's concept art for the anime, we saw Suguha at around the time she entered middle school; this version of her looked more slender and had small boobs, and had a comment, "I'm sure she'll grow up quick in 2 years", next to the illustration (laughs). As such, it maintains the story's consistency as to why Suguha seemed similar to Silica in Kirito's memories…… or at least it should have!

^The aforementioned rough design of Suguha as a 1st year in middle school, along with a comment. abec-san…… so typical of you!
abec's comment: Her breasts aren't big yet.
I'm sure she'll grow up quick in 2 years (important).

Kawahara: (Laughs). ……As a matter of fact, I'm basically not that good at depicting the distinctive features of a female character's chest. Right now, while Kuroyukihime from 『AW』 is established as a character with tiny boobs—— ah, in this case, this wasn't the handiwork of Miki-san, and HIMA-san has said that he's had no such intention either. One way or another, she just kinda spontaneously became a tiny boob character (sweatdrop)—— anyway, I practically never wrote about her chest size in the book's text. Even in regards to Asuna, the main heroine of 『SAO』, I do not recall any instance of writing about her breasts in particular……

——Indeed, even in the scene where Kirito groped them, the only thing written about them was their sensation (laughs).

Kawahara: Thus, in regards to a character's chest size, their depiction is not influenced by any sort of goal from my end. I hope that you'll see Suguha, or Chiyuri and Raker from 『AW』, ending up as boob characters as, basically, the work of Miki-san (laughs).


——The next day, I reached out to the editor Miki-shi for a comment.

Miki: Suguha is a younger sister character, plus a sports girl and, at the time of her first appearance, a middle schooler, so one would usually imagine her to be a short and slender girl. However, as Dengeki Bunko uses illustrations, having a visually "impressive weapon" makes a character look better…… thus, in order to close the gap between that image I mentioned earlier, abec-san proposed the element of "huge breasts". And the result…… "Isn't it great, guys"!

——This concludes Miki-shi's comment.


The image of Suguha/Leafa?

——Now then, that'll be enough about her outward appearance, such as boobs (sweatdrop). Let's now talk about her inner side. How would you express Suguha's personality in one sentence?

Kawahara: She lives up to her name(3) by being very direct, or perhaps I should say that she doesn't have a hidden side; I believe she acts as her heart dictates, she's a hard worker, and she has a straightforward personality that can only be rivaled by Lisbeth among the 『SAO』 characters. While Asuna and Sinon have some differences between their outer and inner sides, and Silica has quite a bit of a schemer side to her, Leafa, on the other hand, is genuinely straightforward.

——This might be a bit of a rude thing to say, but in the 《Fairy Dance》 arc, she gave off a pragmatic impression, or something like, to me, but what would you say about that? While she was able to be quite frank with Sakuya in their conversations, she only had Recon registered as a friend……

Kawahara: More like, she's the kind of person that doesn't quite fit the usual value system of MMO gamers, I believe; for example, in her very first scene in 《ALO》 when she was being chased by Salamanders. While normal gamers would give up when swarmed by a large numbers of opponents, believing that they would be killed anyway, Suguha, on the other hand, thought instinctively as she declared that she would take at least one other guy with her. Also, I believe that she practically never roleplays, and she probably lacks the gamer-like logic to emphasise efficiency; instead, she goes into the game with her RL personality and manner of thinking, in stark contrast to Sigurd, whose goal was to raise his standing as a gamer. I believe this trait of hers sets her apart from other gamers.

——I see, that's why she only has Recon, an acquaintance from real life, registered as a friend. She's a practical example of what happens when a diligent girl gets into a VR game, huh.

Kawahara: With strength like hers, I believe she could get into a high-ranking position in the Lord's administration if she were to have such a desire, but she doesn't really have that much interest in such a thing. Basically, flying is the only thing on her mind, after all.

——I see. You just brought up the topic of 『flying』. What kind of mentality drove her desire for flight and speed to such an extent that she was even dubbed the 《Speedaholic》?

Kawahara: Suguha feels some pressure in the real world—— while she does like kendo, she continued it all this time because her grandpa was her teacher, and when you become strong, you start feeling expectations and pressure from those around you, thus she doesn't do kendo solely because she likes it. In addition to that, she wanted to get along well with her big bro, yet Kirito himself had been quite cold to her. Hence, when the girl under pressure from her various real life issues in the real world got a taste of the freedom that flying in the virtual world could grant her, isn't it only natural that she became fascinated by that pleasant feeling?

——Now that I hear this again, I believe we got a bit more specific on what kind of girl Suguha is. Her overly diligent personality results in her taking up everything.

Kawahara: I think she also had a tendency to take things upon herself. This trait of hers makes her similar to Asuna.

——I see, I see. And she's a love rival to Asuna-san…… what do you think about that part of her as a heroine?

Kawahara: Well, she does have the advantage of living together with him…… but she's also the character most neglected by Kirito in the story (sweatdrop). Due to various events, Taketatsu-san (Taketatsu Ayana, voice of Leafa) once got angry, "Kirito-kun has told Leafa-chan to wait a bit more, but that's where it ended!" (laughs).

——Right (sweatdrop). For all that talk about waiting, he sure has been rapidly growing friendly with Asuna after she returned to the real world……! And yet Suguha is the only character besides Asuna who confessed to Kirito so straightforwardly (sweatdrop). What's going to happen with her feelings in the future!?

Kawahara: If I do a new, or final arc, I probably should write about that, but…… hmm…… I really don't want to write about it (laughs). I'd like to keep it in suspension for eternity.

——H-how awful……!

Kawahara: As such, I'd like to first answer question that was meant to be asked a bit later; if I, as the author, were to say anything to her, it would probably be, "I ask you to wait a bit more!" (laughs). For example, I don't want to write something like how Leafa's going out with Recon just because Kirito's going out with Asuna. That's how it would turn out orthodoxically, but I would like to find a better answer than that.

——Indeed, while I do feel sorry for Recon, he's a bit……

Kawahara: Yeah. I would like to resolve it with an unexpected story development (laughs). I would like to bring some kind of conclusion in the new 『SAO』 series.

——We will await with anticipation! Now then, let's go to the next question…… I'd like to talk about abec-san's designs of Suguha & Leafa!

Kawahara: I really like Suguha's character design; while abec-san himself frequently says, "Ach, I did it again", I love abec-san's "characters with straight fringes". And even among such characters, I believe Suguha's fringes look awfully good!

——I know! From my position as an editor, I can say that people tend to look like minor characters when you give them such a hairstyle. But Suguha's design didn't end up like that!

Kawahara: Yeah. Aside from the hairpins, it doesn't really look like a distinctive hairstyle, but it doesn't make her look anything like a minor character. It looks attractive even on her figures. Also, in the anime, there are quite a few scenes where she's wearing jersey, but her slightly unfashionable outfit goes quite well with her hair. There are even figures of a jersey Suguha.

——In contrast, Leafa is awfully gaudy, huh.

Kawahara: Leafa's design, on the other hand, is filled with distinctive features, yet it doesn't feel over the top. The design sure has a strong sense of wholeness.

——Braided hair, a ponytail, a ribbon, and elf ears…… among abec-san's designs, the one for this character probably has the most symbols in it.

Kawahara: Also, I'd think that the colour is hard to work with, but it's quite in harmony with the design. Suguha and Leafa are probably the best demonstration of abec-san's skills at character designing.

——Now, this topic came up a bit earlier, but what do you think about Taketatsu Ayana's performance as the voice of Leafa?

Kawahara: If I recall correctly, she didn't originally participate in the audition for the role of Suguha, right?

——Indeed, there was another role in mind for Taketatsu-san, but she was later nominated for Suguha's role by the director and producers. Although we had held auditions for the role, we couldn't quite decide on a person who would be capable of expressing the mental ups and downs of Leafa's role in the 《Fairy Dance》 arc…… after repeated meetings, we decided to try asking Taketatsu-san, a person who had displayed her capabilities performing as a variety of characters at the time, to take up the role.

Kawahara: I see. 『#My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute#(Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai)』 had come out just before then, so I had retained an image of Taketatsu-san's role as the heroine, Kirino, and I was quite impressed by how she handled such completely different roles. She portrayed Leafa's diligence so well and I felt absolutely nothing off with her performance from the very start.

——Like Tomatsu-san, the voice of Asuna, she completely understands her role and is able to match it……

Kawahara: Yes. Perhaps with how she makes the character sound more adult-like. The resolution in her voice during the confrontation against the Salamanders at the very beginning left me awfully impressed.

——Taketatsu-san's shouts have the intensity of one from a drama.

Kawahara: Man, that's so true! I believe Taketatsu-san's shouts have been the most intense. They sound so fully serious, but not coarse. Lately, among the many voice actresses with clear high-tone voices, there have been some with low-tone, or stouty voices, and these get to shine best during shouting scenes, I believe. Supposing the 《Alicization》 arc gets visualised, there are some staggering shouting scenes there, even if at the very end, so I would definitely like to hear them……!

Best of Leafa

Now then, at this point, we'd like to hear Kawahara-san's most recommended Leafa scene!

Kawahara: Although quite the cruel scene to Suguha herself, it would be the scene where she realises in 《ALO》 that Kirito is her big bro, logs out, and then finally lets out everything on her mind at the door to her room when Kirito comes after her. The 《Fairy Dance》 arc was written specifically because I wanted to depict such a drama, thus that part was, of course, fun to write—— while the latter isn't actually the case, I did feel that it was a great achievement.

——Just when Suguha, somewhat worn out by the feelings she had held for her brother with all her heart all this time, thought, "Looks like I can trust this guy", he turns out to actually be her brother himself……!

Kawahara: I felt that if I'm writing about VR games, this was something I had to do. An in-game acquaintance turning out to be an acquaintance in real life isn't such a surprising thing in Internet games nowadays, it wasn't that common in those days and it was a scene that I really wanted to do. Also, the scene in the anime version was also very splendid. The storyboard for that scene was done ad hoc by Nagai Tatsuyuki-san (animation director and producer. Most important works include 『Toradora! (director)』, 『#The Flower we Saw that Day#(Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai) (director)』, and others), and his production was awfully good.

——Next up, in regards to abec-san's illustrations, which one of Leafa/Suguha do you love the most?

Kawahara: Hmm, there's a lot of them. Despite receiving this question before, I still can't decide…… If pushed to pick one from them, I'd go with the light novel volume 3 one where she says 『……I'm such a dummy, dummy, dummy!』.

——It's a scene with Suguha's cute side on display, huh.

Kawahara: Volumes 1 and 2 gave off an awfully serious atmosphere, thus this illustration allowed me to feel a bit of relief—— I believe it really left an impression on me.

^ A cute illustration that almost makes you hear her saying "Dummy, dummy, dummy!". Wouldn't there be a lot of people who were left impressed by this illustration, as we talked about in the interview?
(First publication: Dengeki Bunko 『Sword Art Online 3 - Fairy Dance』 frontispiece)

Leafa's future exploits……?

——Some time ago, you brought up that "I'd like to bring a conclusion to her feelings for Kirito in the near future"; is there anything else you'd like to write about Suguha/Leafa in the future?

Kawahara: Excluding that…… she did become the God for the Orcs in Underworld during the 《Alicization》 arc, thus I would like to write a scene of one more descent unto Underworld!

——Entering one more time… but 300 years have passed inside, right?

Kawahara: Yes. Thus, unfortunately, Rirupirin, the patriarch of the Orcs that fought alongside her has already passed away, but the legend of her should still live on among the later generations.

——Sinon, on the other hand, didn't really get to do that much God-like stuff due to her to-the-death fight with Subtilizer, thus Leafa's the one with more impact on Underworld, huh.

Kawahara: Indeed. She'd be the next one in line after Kirito and Asuna as someone whose presence left a mark on the world, thus I would definitely like to write what happens next.

——We'll be eagerly awaiting her exploits!, right. Thank you for today!

(A certain day in May 2017: In the editorial department)


1. ^ 直刃 is a term for a straight hamon (katana blade pattern/visual effect created on the blade by the blade's hardening process).
2. ^ Refers to the Gyokuryuuki High School Kendo Tournament (玉竜旗全国高等学校剣道大会), a high school kendo tournament hosted by The Nishinippon Shimbun (western Japan newspaper) and the Kyushu Kendo League each year in Fukuoka city in late July.
3. ^ 直, the first kanji in the name Suguha (直葉), means "direct, honest, frank, straightforward".


  1. Thank you as always , i check daily your site to see new releases. ^^^ GL

  2. Hola mil gracias siempre reviso su pagina