Another beloved Japanese animated title is about to be adapted for American consumption, and so our watch begins. The track record of Hollywood in handling anime properties has not always been the steadiest. Recent efforts like this year’s Ghost in the Shell failed to impress while some pray each day that the Akira adaptation never gets motivated enough to actually happen after years driving fans to drink.
This is the atmosphere into which Sword Art Online enters. The novel and animated series about people trapped within a virtual reality, living out their lives in a fantasy world of swords and savagery, has built a passionate fanbase over the years, so it seemed inevitable that someone would eventually come knocking on its door. For better or for worse, we’d like to remain positive about this project, and hope that the crew of this particular ship understands the storm that lies ahead on their journey to production.
Tapped for this perilous endeavor are Skydance’s Patrick Massett and John Zinman, of the outstanding drama series Friday Night Lights and the first Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, itself touched recently by the reimagining fairy. Massett and Zinman will serve as writers, showrunners, and executive producers of the series, along with co-writer Laeta Kalogridis of Avatar.
The original Sword Art Online is a surprisingly sensitive story packed with emotional, human-scale dramatics to go along with the sword-clanging spectacle of video game heroes brought to life in battles with each other as well as all manner of strange beast. It features a massive range of interesting characters to draw from, a significant number of which happen to be female – somewhat of a rarity in popularized fantasy.
We don’t know what to expect from this latest in the not-so-amazing pantheon of anime adaptations, but we’re encouraged that this is being presented in series format rather than ziplocked into an unwieldy film. We can only hope that the characters and their world shine through as we await its arrival.