[Character Book] Vol.4 Sinon

Wow, it's been 1.5 months since our last release. I've been so swamped with uni and kendo stuff that I haven't had the time to actually translate anything since the beginning of September... I could squeeze out some time for translating some SAO manga chapters, but since our only typesetter is busy with other stuff, so we couldn't release those manga translations for quite a while anyway... As such, I decided to release the translation of another character book for the time being. This time, the star of the show is Sinon. There weren't much of any spoilers in this one, so it should be safe to read even if you aren't caught up with the latest translations of Alicization.

P.S. If anyone with typesetting experience is interested in helping us release our manga translations, do let us know.



Raws: SAO Scans
Translation: Gsimenas

Liz & Silica

Reki Kawahara Interview: About Sinon

Sinon's character and the origin of her name

——As is customary, let's start with the origin of the character's name; was it Shino or Sinon that you thought of first?

Kawahara. Let's see. In this case, I did not have any particular model in mind either, so her real name came first.

——And that led to her avatar.

Kawahara: Indeed, I first thought up the name "Shino" and, as mentioned by the character herself in the novel, her avatar name was derived from it. When I was contemplating what I should do for 『SAO's』 3rd Arc, I decided to go for a story featuring guns rather than swords; then, when I wondered "what kind of girl would the heroine for a gun game be?", I came up with the idea that she would be "a girl with a trauma related to guns". So, I decided to go for a name that sounded lonesome, rather than overly bright, hence why I chose an old-style, composed name like 詩乃 (Shino).

——So, you mean to say that the primary foundation for Sinon's character is—— "a girl with a gun-related trauma".

Kawahara: Yes. The first thing that I came up with was the story of her being involved in a robbery incident that led to her shooting the criminal with a pistol; I believe this would be the absolute starting point for her character.

——Killing someone with a gun is quite extreme for a backstory.

Kawahara: Though, it would be impossible in modern Japan. It seems that there were several brutal incidents caused by the use of pistols in the Showa era days, which resulted in much stricter handling of contraband. Even so, I wanted to depict a character who developed a trauma because of such an "impossible experience". With such a deviation from reality, I wanted to create a girl who would be able to view the game world from a different vector. Though…… albeit I was the one who wrote it as such, "suffering from a fit whenever you catch sight of a gun" sounds like quite a handful. While there wouldn't be much of any chance to experience this in the real world, it's not like you can avoid them in graphical mediums.

——They do appear quite a lot in fiction, after all. By the way, where did the idea for a sniper girl come from? Did you have this idea in mind from the very start?

Kawahara: Since she is the heroine of the 《GGO》 story, I did, of course, consider the option of having her use a gun wildly, but——I made a decision against using a submachine gun or an assault rifle at an early stage of writing the story. This may have been an arbitrary impression of mine at the time, but since assault rifles and submachine guns are loaded with a ton of bullets, which means people shoot a lot with them, I thought: wouldn't it be hard to make them stand out?

——I see. True, with a gun that creates hails of bullets, it does sound difficult to describe how it's fired in each scene bullet by bullet. Especially in a text-based medium like novels……

Kawahara: In Sigsawa Keiichi-sensei's (novelist, representative works include 『Kino's Journey』, among others) 《GGO》 spin-off, the heroine's gun is a P90 submachine gun, yet even the character herself stands out and has quite a few highlight scenes - just about what you could expect from a guy like him…… In any case, at the time, this was the reason why I thought that the main character should either be using a pistol, or a single-shot rifle. But then I figured, aren't people who wield pistols in games the close-quarter combat types, who fight by charging at their enemies? That doesn't quite sound like "Shino", I thought. In that case, rifles it is.

——In that case, of all the rifles, why did you decide to go with the 《Ultima Ratio Hecate II》?

Kawahara: I wanted the gun itself to have a character—— in my opinion, the best candidate for "the gun that makes the character" was the Russian sniper rifle "Dragunov", but unfortunately, a Dragunov had already been used by the heroine in Director Oshii Mamoru's film "Avalon"(1) (laughs). In that case, what would be the next best gun with a character, I wondered; at that moment, I thought of Hecate II. There probably isn't any gun other than the Hecate that uses a wooden grip and receiver. Oh, and then there's its name. Pronounced as Hekāto in French and Hekatē in English, it refers to "The goddess of the underworld". That sounded great, so Sinon became a sniper girl and an anti-materiel rifle wielder.

——So Sinon's character was created from the ideas of "a trauma from the past" and "a gun character"?

Kawahara: That's right. As such, her personality inevitably turned out like that. A rather cool girl who doesn't let others get close to her, yet is actually quite lonely.

——With a background and a weapon like that, it is kinda hard to think of her as the happy-go-lucky type (sweatdrop).

Kawahara: True. A bit of a digression, but during the time I published the 《GGO》 story as a web novel, I saw someone posting a comment, "Is Sinon a tsundere?", on my site's bulletin board. This was my first encounter with the word tsundere, so I asked "Huh, what's a tsundere?", and was then told "A tsundere is a recently made concept that goes like this" (laughs). I remember that I answered "She's just a tsun", in the sense that "Nah, Sinon isn't really much of a dere."

——Actually, she is indeed a "tsun". Her feelings for Kirito aren't really dere—— more like she sees him as a rival, I guess?

Kawahara: Well, she sees him as a comrade-in-arms, or a kindred soul. I believe that's about what she thinks of him.

——Including that point, while it's just my personal impression, I feel that Sinon is the character whose "foundation" is hardest to see. While we do not have much information on Silica and Liz, you can still visualise them; Sinon, however, is on the tough side…… Kawahara-san, are there any more "Sinon is kinda like this" bits that you have in mind?

Kawahara: Since she's a grandpa and grandma girl, she is actually quite household-oriented. She's quite good at cooking. Seeing as she cooks for herself each day. Hence, among the SAO heroines, she is just about No.1 household-skill-wise.

——So she can actually cook better than even Asuna……!?

Kawahara: Though probably only limited to Japanese-style meals (laughs).

——Will we get to see a demonstration of her skills in the future?

Kawahara: She isn't really the kind of person to make meals for others. Though her daily dishes are tasty.

——She herself feels like a granny. I bet she'd be good at cooking nitsuke.

Kawahara: Well, she does somewhat feel like a granny when she goes after supermarket sales, since she is trying to minimise her living expenses. Seeing as she lives alone and wants to save up what little allowance she gets.

——Did she have a part-time job?

Kawahara: I did not write about her having a job in the novel, but we decided to make her have one for the movie. Though, her part-time job probably isn't all that fashionable. Something like a lunch vendor. Or working at a shop in Ameyoko(2) selling toy guns—— on second thought… (laughs).


Kawahara: Actually, she took up marksmanship at school and plans to be a police officer in the future…… I assume. And participate in the Olympics with her marksmanship.

——Oh……! Indeed, knowing her background, I assume she hates crime; add in her earnest personality and it's a perfect fit for her.

Kawahara: Of all the members of the 『SAO』cast, she is the one and only character for whom I have plans when she becomes an adult. Seeing as even I myself have absolutely no idea what will happen with Kirito and Asuna in the future (sweatdrop).

——Now that we've unveiled an unexpected part of her story…… I would like to enquire about Sinon being a girl with glasses. According to her background, her bulletproof glasses are just for appearance's sake; how did she become a girl with glasses in the first place……?

Kawahara: Actually, she did not have glasses during the web serialisation of the story. Just like in the case of Leafa, this was all Miki-san's handi—— actually, they are the result of the character designs by abec-san, and I very much like them. Though, due to the aforementioned plan to have her take part in the Olympics, I could not make her have poor eyesight, so I went with her using the glasses for show.

——Bulletproof glasses… where did that come from?

Kawahara: I believe a fellow glasses user would understand (sweatdrop); when you're always wearing glasses, you start getting the feeling that "aside from improving vision, they also offer protection". And when you don't have your glasses on, you start feeling anxious about your eyes being so exposed (laughs). So, I thought up that Sinon also wears her glasses for "protection", as a way to fight her trauma. Thankfully, various "Sinon glasses" goods have come out, and they make her character stand out, thus abec-san has contributed greatly towards making Sinon into who she is right now.

——I have seen people sharing their desire to have bulletproof Sinon's glasses, also known as Sinon-Glasses by enthusiasts, seeing as they used bulletproof glass in the novel (laughs).

Kawahara: If that trait was actually reproduced, they'd be freaking expensive! Actually, there's a bulletproof polymer called NXT that can be used for glasses, but while its functionality is impressive, it's also highly-costly……!

——Incidentally, how much would that be?

Kawahara: Try looking up NXT polymers.

——(Looking it up) Whoa, I see……

Kawahara: For a girl with no money to spare, this is probably Sinon's one and only item of luxury. Seeing as the glasses along with the frame easily cost 50,000 yen(3). I welcome people obsessed with Sinon's glasses to give them a try! (laughs)

Sinon from various angles

——Let's continue. We've touched upon this some time ago, but I would like to delve a bit deeper into what kind of person Sinon is. While she is indeed cool and composed, I assume that's not all there is to it.

Kawahara: Yes. Actually, she is quite passionate; she gets excited by what excites her. In my opinion, Sinon's most impressive line is definitely when she told Kirito "In that case, I'll have you protect me throughout your life!"; there aren't that many people who could utter something like that. It is because she is a cool yet passionate person.

——Sinon's shouting scenes are just as impressive as her cool scenes. A bit of a digression, but Kashiwada Shinichirou (Aniplex; producer for the 『SAO』 anime series) has said that while Alice from the 《Alicization》 arc is unique, Sinon is the one and only heroine who can rival Asuna in the competition for Kirito.

Kawahara: Indeed, Silica and Liz know about the feelings Kirito and Asuna share between themselves, while Suguha is also his little sister, so they're all one step behind.

——So, did Asuna sense this and think, "I'd better win over Sinon to be on the safe side!". That's why Sinon was the only one who got a nickname, 『Sino-non』, from her, and why Asuna gets along so well with her—— that's what Kashiwada gossiped about them (laughs).

Kawahara: Asuna sure is scary! (laughs)

—―Of course, it's all nothing but the drivel of some hopeless adults. That aside—— this may turn into an Asuna talk, but since we were talking about why Asuna gave Sinon alone a nickname, 『Sino-non』, I would like to enquire about the actual reason for that.

Kawahara: I see (laughs). Asuna gets along well with Silica and Lisbeth as well, of course. Yet Silica and Liz themselves feel a bit inferior to Asuna. The two are plagued by the awareness that Asuna is one of the people who risked their lives on the foremost lines to save them, while they themselves stayed in the safe zones……

——So, you're saying the respect, or rather, the shame kinda gets in the way of their friendship.

Kawahara: Yes. On the other hand, Sinon isn't an SAO survivor, thus she is someone who could become friends with Asuna on an equal standing, regardless of what happened in SAO. Also, while this isn't part of her background in the light novel, in the web version, Asuna had killed people in 《SAO》 just like Kirito. Even if this particular detail wasn't kept, she is still one of the few women who had experienced "struggling for one's life against other people", such as in the crusade against LaughCof that was depicted in the anime, or in the case of Kuradeel; thus, I believe that she and the traumatised Sinon are naturally drawn to each other.

——Ooh, thank you very much! Now then, let's return the subject to Sinon—— I would like to ask for your impressions on abec-san's designs of Sinon!

Kawahara: I think that they're marvelous designs that do a splendid job of bringing together the traits of coolness & passion that form Sinon's complex character. Though…… Sinon-san's hairdo looks quite difficult. Even if I were to try drawing something like that, something would definitely feel off (sweatdrop). I think it must take quite a lot of work to animate it (laughs).

——It pretends to be a simple shortcut but is actually quite different. Like those bits that hang on the sides……

Kawahara: Also, I believe that abec-san's girl characters shine best when they have almond-shaped eyes and Sinon is about the only 『SAO』 character with clearly almondish eyes. abec-san's style itself is cool, so, taking abec's way of drawing characters into account, Sinon could be the best one in the sense of matching "abec's drawings".

——How about the voice of Sinon, Sawashiro Miyuki-san, who brought new life to the character in the anime?

Kawahara: Actually, Sinon's voice actress Sawashiro-san was the only character whom I desired to have on the cast from the very start! She was already an influential figure at the time, so I was awfully delighted when she accepted the role. Her very first recording was for the 『AW&SAO』 Drama CD; at that time, Sawashiro-san asked me "What kind of girl is she?" and we talked a lot on the subject——

——The character commentary was the strong point of the Drama CD(4), yet Sawashiro showed just how well she grasped Sinon's character!

Kawahara: As I recall, when I told her about the trauma in detail, she took it all in and complemented it with her cool performance, leaving me with a single thought: "Wow!"

——Actually, whenever we heard her voice on the scene during post-recording, it sure packed a punch…… During Sinon's anger and shouting scenes in the postrecording of 『SAOII』, I could feel a shiver outside the booth (laughs). I guess that's what you call talent for acting…… Even among the cast of 『SAO』, she has quite the career, after all.

Kawahara: Even Matsuoka Yoshitsugu-san (voice of Kirito) flinched quite a lot during the postrecording…… (laughs). When Sawashiro-san appeared as a guest on the radio programme "Sword Art Onair", the atmosphere sure was something. Even Tomatsu Haruka (voice of Asuna) was a bit nervous at the time. Sawashiro wasn't one to refer to Tomatsu-san as "Tomatsu-kun" or just "Tomatsu" (sweatdrop).

——While Suguha is a bit of a special case in this regard, unlike the other main members of the cast share the sense of solidarity of SAO survivors, or rather the awareness of being such people, Sinon is a character who possesses "seriousness", so Sawashiro-san, who has a bit of a different standing compared to the other members of the cast, playing the role of Sinon could be called a case of "best casting".

Kawahara: True. Also, she is probably the character who requires the biggest difference in acting between her game avatar and real life personas. The two personalities are already quite similar in 『SAO the Movie』, set after Shino conquered her trauma; however, at the time of the TV anime, her character was notable for the fact that her real world self was timid and fragile, as compared to the coolness of her personality in-game. This required quite the talent in acting to pull off.

——In that case, let's turn to our closing question…… What would you like to say to her as the author?

Kawahara: Despite her not taking part in the death game, in a sense, she is a character upon whom I forced the hardest life of all the characters in the story. I want to tell her that I want to make her happy.

Top recommended Sinon scenes!

Kawahara-san, of all the Sinon scenes, please tell us which one is the best one to you.

Kawahara: I've mentioned this before, but it would be the "In that case, I'll have you protect me throughout your life!" scene. The fly in the ointment is that this took place inside a cave in 《GGO》 and thus it did not look as great as it was supposed to.

——That scene was picked up by the cameras, right? What did the audience think of it?……

Kawahara: They don't pick up the players' voices when they talk, you see, so the nuances weren't exactly conveyed properly. Let's see…… Also…… if I were to pick another best one scene, it might be the one where her tail was grabbed by Kirito in the 《Calibur》 story? (laughs) It was unusual for Kirito to do something like that and it was rare to see Sinon react like that. Quite a peculiar scene.

——abec-san's illustrations for the 《Calibur》 story were quite comical; quite a breath of fresh air. Also, Sinon's "Remember me each time you pull out this sword" line there was quite impressive.

Kawahara: Uttering something like that in front of Asuna is a thing only Sinon could pull off, I believe.

——I wonder what exactly was Asuna feeling when Sinon uttered that line……

Kawahara: Uh, I don't want to think about that (laughs).

——(Laughs). Well then, next up, which of abec-san's Sinon illustrations do you like best?

Kawahara: That would definitely be the key visual for the TV anime's 2nd season. Sinon's cut-in was fascinating, but illustrations featuring her entire body are quite rare and cool. The ballance with her Hecate was excellent.

^ The top recommended illustration mentioned in the interview: a key visual for the 『SAOII』 anime. An illustration that abec-san put his heart and soul into, cramming it with elements from the 《GGO》 story.

——That key visual is awfully popular. Goods made using it are famous—— It's a good representation of Sinon. If pushed I'd say that most of the later key visuals feature Kirito in the foreground…… Well then, let's make this the last one. Is there any story about her that you would like to write! Though…… we've already heard about Sinon's future…… How about something in her future aside from her being a police officer?

Kawahara: I would like to show what her school life is like now that she has conquered her trauma. Like, was she able to reconcile with Endou-san (the schoolgirl who bullied Sinon)…… Since they're both girls, it sounds quite tough. But I would like them to have a reconciliation in the future.

——It might be difficult unless some kind of new event occurs……?

Kawahara: Indeed…… You can't just ignore the bullying or pretend that nothing ever happened as she did solicit Shino for money. I do think it would be rather hard to reach a reconciliation. Well, Endou-san is quite an eccentric character, seeing as she brought her elder brother's model gun to school, so that may make things difficult too……

——She would have been in trouble if someone checked her belongings…… (sweatdrop). By the way, what's going to happen to Sinon's approach towards Kirito? Will there be some action…… I wonder?

Kawahara: It might be difficult, seeing as the next story will have Alice, who takes it a step further, compared to Sinon……! Though, I think that might serve as provocation.

——She is a person who has said "protect me throughout your life!!", so I am interested in where this will go. Though, as you mentioned at the beginning, the position of Kirito's comrade-in-arms or something like might very well suit her……

Kawahara: Yes. Be that as it may, I would like to write about the kind of stance would take in the quarrel between Asuna and Alice.

——We are looking forward to it! Thank you very much for your time again.

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

Liz & Silica


1. ^ Refers to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avalon_(2001_film)
2. ^ Short for Ameya-Yokochō, an open-air market in the Taito Ward of Tokyo.
3. ^ About 388-389 Eur or 446 USD at the time of the translation.
4. ^ Refers to Ordeals of Kirito (http://dreadfuldecoding.blogspot.com/2014/12/ordeals-of-kirito.html), an audio drama story that was released a couple of months before the first SAO anime began airing. Shino had a role in the story, even though her anime debut only came two years later.


  1. Hi Gsimenas. I wanted to thank you for your work and was wondering if you are interested in translating volumes 19 and 20 of SAO as any other group plan to take them. Thanks in advance.

    1. I basically have little to no interest in doing v19-20 for the following reasons:
      1. The volumes are licensed and I don't want to get into legal trouble.
      2. The books will be getting official translations in a couple of years anyway. It's one thing to work on a project that will need 5+ years for the official publisher to catch up on the story, made worse by the fact that the series is ongoing. However, Defan is still interested in doing v21 (maybe even more), while v19-20 aren't exactly necessary to read to be able to get into v21+ since Moon Cradle is just a side story with little relevance to the main plot.
      3. By the time I'd be done with them, Yen Press would probably be nearly caught up to me and publish their own version, so it just seems like wasted time to me. I prefer working on stuff that I don't expect to get translated otherwise.
      4. Uni and real life are sucking up most of my time. I barely have enough time for some low-scale translations like interviews and manga. It would be even more problematic to find enough time to translate an entire light novel volume, let alone two. Heck, I've been meaning to translate Clover's Regret volume 2, but I never even got around to starting it in the past few months...

    2. Thank you for all the things you have done for the SAO community. SAO Wiki and even side stories, useful information about SAO.
      Thank you very much.
      #Beater from The Hassasin Team, a part of Fandom SAO VietNam.

  2. When will you translate volume 5 and 6 of the interview? I'm interest about them.

    1. Don't know. These character books are things I translated when I've got nothing better to do. Since I've got plenty of things to do both in real life and with other translations, I presume that I won't get to finishing them until mid-summer at the very least. Interviews aren't material that's easy to translate, after all.