Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online
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Sword Art Online Kv
Ordinal Scale Interview with Director Tomohiko Ito
What New Game World Awaits in Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale?
“The new game Kirito takes on joins together the real world and the world of AR”
Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale
Interview with Director Tomohiko Ito

Kirito and his friends take on a new game

――This Sword Art Online film has been long-awaited. What kind of film will it be?

We started off by saying, “Let’s make a new game.” From there, we had Kawahara (Reki Kawahara, author of the original work) come up with a number of ideas. The production team and myself discussed those together, and then had Kawahara write the plot. From there, Kawahara and I went back and forth to come up with a plot based on that. What we ended up with was an approach that’s different from the VRMMORPG we’ve seen.

――So Kirito and his friends will be taking on a new game that Kawahara came up with?

It will be an AR (augmented reality) game instead of a VR (virtual reality) game. From my very first meeting with Kawahara, we thought that it would be fun to experience the world of Sword Art Online in the real world. For example, fighting monsters at nearby shops, or how the game would change the landscape you’re used to. The other stories were about virtual worlds, and we decided that it would be fun to write one about a world that’s connected with the real world using the abilities of AR.

――Until now, SAO has used VR headsets like the NerveGear and AmuSphere to enter the virtual world (FullDive), giving the player the opportunity to adventure in a different world. AR is based on the real world, expanding it using digital information as you adventure in the real world. AR which uses GPS has been a hot topic recently.

Yes. I’ve actually tried it myself recently. I feel like there’s a ways to go with it yet, but that’s how AR gets brought into our lives. It might even be more of a lifestyle than a game. If AR grows, I feel like our environment will change. It seems like recently AR has been done moreso through smartphone games. The movie is set in 2026, and I feel like there’s a surprise waiting for us there.


Will the new gaming device Augma become a reality?!

――Will a device like the NerveGear or AmuSphere make an appearance?

The AR information device Augma will make its entry. It’s a lot more feasible than the NerveGear (the VR device from SAO). It’s a more realistic gadget. I actually had the person designing the head mount device work on the Augma’s design.

――Wow! So the original creator is working on it?

It’s a very cool design. This is a long-awaited movie, so it’s an enjoyable task to take on.

――So what kind of game are Kirito and his friends playing with the Augma?

Its name is Ordinal Scale (OS). It obviously has monsters, but I won’t tell you what kind.

――Then that means that the monsters of the RPG OS will appear in the real world through AR.

This game is set in the real world, so when the movie ends, I expect people will leave and imagine Kirito and everyone battling in their own everyday places. If there’s one thing that’s changed from Sword Art Online and ALfheim Online, it’s the fight scenes. Sword Art Online had a different sense of reality. Like, when two people fought with swords, there would be moments of contact. It’s only visible in AR, though, so we can’t do that. There’s been a seal on the weapon art, so I have to figure it out for myself, as well. I’m figuring out how, in this kind of game, people would fight.

――That’s an important point. Up until now we’ve been following the “Black Swordsman” Kirito in VRMMORPGs, but this will be AR, so we’ll see Kazuya Kirigaya battle in the real world.

I’d like for everyone to get to see an unskilled Kirito (Kazuya) in a game they aren’t used to, haha. This isn’t a “new game plus.”

――Where does this movie land in the series timeline?

Right after the second season (Mother’s Rosary), it’s the middle of April in 2025, so after that. It takes place around two weeks later. If you’ve seen seasons 1 and 2, some familiar faces will appear, so there’s that connection, but there will be some surprises, I think, as well.


A movie that can be watched on its own

――Was there anything you were particularly conscious of while making this new film?

That’d probably be the difference between this and a TV series. Like, “what’s a movie?” I grappled with it with a sense of it being long overdue. There’s been a lot of cases of anime appearing in movie theaters, including works that follow a TV series. There are “movies” and there are “theatrical animations.” It’s very exciting to finally be working on a “movie.” By taking this on, we’ll have “made a movie.” I’ve been looking over this past year’s storyboards from the theatrical animation with a worried face, saying, “Ugh, I don’t get it.” It’s been a huge theme.

――How big is the scale of this work?

It’s a totally original work, and it’s pretty big with a runtime of more than 100 minutes based on the storyboards. I think it’ll be around 120 minutes.

――That seems like an incredible length.

Ehh, well… There are a lot of action scenes…

――In terms of making it, it seems like there’s a lot of substance. I’ve heard that music will be done by Yuki Kajiura, who also worked on the TV series.

I can’t imagine doing it without Kajiura. When I spoke with her about the background music for SAO, it came up that you can pick the song from three seconds after it starts, like, if it’s strong, scary, or about defeat. I was allowed to reaffirm the importance of that in SAO. That sense of being assisted by music was huge. I’m hoping for the same this time.

――And now, with this being an entirely new SAO work, there are a ton of fans getting together excitedly. Based on that, what do you want them to look forward to?

I’m sure long-time fans will have things they’re hoping or wishing for, and it’s not that we don’t know what those things are, but we believe that we should move forward. We’ve kept emulating that feel of SAO, and we tried a new approach. We wanted to make something new that both long-term fans and people who haven’t watched SAO would enjoy. That was our goal, so I hope we achieve that. I want this to be a movie that everyone is excited to go see together. There’s plenty of action, as well as romantic comedy elements, so it’s more of a date movie than a family movie. I hope that’s something everyone will look forward to.