This year for Anime Boston, popular anime “Sword Art Online” was the main event. And to help promote the upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release of the show, producer Shinichiro Kashiwada and director Tomohiko Ito were on hand to talk about their experiences working on the project.
“Sword Art Online” started out as a popular light novel series that was turned into an anime. The story is about an online game where the players are trapped until the 100th floor is reached. If the player dies in the game, they die in the real world.
Kashiwada said that it isn’t common to turn a work as popular as “Sword Art Online” into an anime, with most anime adaptations coming from modestly popular titles that see their sales increase after the release of the show.
“It was already popular on its own,” Kashiwada said. “100,000 copies were sold in Japan before the anime.”
Kashiwada said that he and Ito were asked to help in celebrating the 20th anniversary of author Reki Kawahara’s work. Last year, Kawahara’s other popular work “Accel World” was also turned into an anime.
“If we were going to do it, we were going to do something big with them,” he said.
Ito and Kashiwada said that they were both surprised by the popularity in both Japan and the United States of the anime.
“The concept of an in game world where in the real world it’s game over, for viewers it’s not too far out of reach,” Kashiwada said. “It was easily accepted by fans. But I was still shocked.”
Ito said that this was their first convention in the United States, and that the energy from the American fans was different from the Japanese fans.
“The U.S. fans enjoy this,” he said. “It’s not a unique or special occasion for them. They’re fans on a day to day basis.”
Kashiwada said another difference between Japanese and American fans was that Japanese voice actors were the ones more likely to be asked for an autograph while creators were in the background.
“To be asked for an autograph is a new concept,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity.”
Ito said that he developed an interest in the anime industry when he was in high school and watched “Neon Genesis Evangelion” for the first time.
“It was the first anime where I was interested in the production process,” Ito said.
Kashiwada said that he started out in a career in law before finding himself in the anime business, starting with production company J.C. Staff.
“J.C Staff had a reputation for being strict and rigorous, but I thought I would get a good experience there,” Kashiwada said.
As for a second season of “Sword Art Online,” Kashiwada said that nothing has been decided yet, but hopes that a second season can be made.
“I would love to see it made, but there’s nothing to talk about yet,” he said.
“Sword Art Online” is scheduled to be released in four volumes on DVD and Blu-Ray starting in August. Currently the show is streaming on Hulu, the Aniplex Channel, and Crunchyroll.