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Fantasy sci-fi anime 'Sword Art Online' to become a live-action, U.S.-produced TV series

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

Contrary to some early expectations, 2012 anime "Sword Art Online" didn’t achieve quite the same breakout popularity among mainstream western audiences as "Dragon Ball," "Ghost in the Shell" or "Cowboy Bebop." Still, "Sword Art Online" proved to be a massive hit among the demographics it was tailored for: fans of animation, video games, and fantasy storytelling.

Based on an ongoing series of novels from creator Reki Kawahara, "Sword Art Online’s" popularity has been strong enough to fuel multiple anime seasons, manga retellings, and five video game adaptations. Now, the intrinsically multimedia tale of a group of gamers trapped in a virtual reality role-playing game looks to be heading into a new realm, as America’s Skydance Television has acquired "Sword Art Online’s" global live-action rights.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the California-based Skydance has announced it is planning a "Sword Art Online" TV series, with its pilot being written by Laeta Kalogridis, who will also serve as an executive producer on the project. Kalogridis’ eclectic writing credits include "Terminator Genisys," "Shutter Island" and the Oliver Stone-directed "Alexander," and she served as a producer on James Cameron’s "Avatar" and "White House Down." Kalogridis was also temporarily attached to DreamWorks’ upcoming "Ghost in the Shell" motion picture.

As is always the case with anime-to-live-action projects, the question arises of how closely the adaptation will adhere to its source material. For his part, Skydance founder and CEO David Ellison, who will also be a producer on the live-action "Sword Art Online," sounds content to leave well-enough largely alone, giving his goal as to “build out a deeply immersive new universe of SAO in an authentic way that honors its well-established fan base.” The basic synopsis released by the company also stays similar to that of the original series, saying it focuses on a group of friends trapped inside a virtual reality game, with male lead Kirito’s name unchanged.

At this stage, the series has neither a cast nor network, but Skydance sounds committed to making it a reality. The company also says it is planning a "Sword Art Online" “virtual reality experience,” although given the ominous in-story connotations of such technology, existing fans may need some measure of courage to take the plunge and try it out.

While a number of Japanese animation series have been adapted into Hollywood movies in recent years, Skydance’s TV plans are a unique alternative in anime-to-live-action undertakings. Whether this move comes in response to certain high-profile theatrical busts, or was made to better appeal to how young fans consume narrative-dense media in the modern era is unknown, but if the live-action "Sword Art Online" turns out to be a success, you can bet producers on both sides of the Pacific will take notice.

_Source: The Hollywood Reporter via Twitter/@kazumamiki2016 via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- IBM Japan recruiting alpha-testers for actual VR Sword Art Online game -- Sword Art Online anime movie announced, will feature all-new storyline from creator Reki Kawahara -- Otaku generation gap – Fans in their teens, 20s, and 30s reveal what got them into anime

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SAO is a harem anime set in an interesting VR world. But its still a harem anime with the young male audience as it primary target. Although the main female characters are portrayed as strong in SOA they are still rendered helpless requiring a male hero to save them. The culture in the US has moved away from women needing to be saved by men. Just take a look at the latest Star Wars films. When this story is retold by american writers it will be very different. It may still happen in a Matrix or Tron like world but the character dynamics will be very different. Wether this is a wanted or an unwanted change in SAO fan's eyes, it will happen none the less.

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I haven't seen this particular anime, but the whole "Stuck in a video game" theme has been around since the early 2000s (if not earlier).

The idea itself has merit, and the popularity of MMORPGs in general could make for an interesting TV show...just not sure an anime-style TV show would be the best fit. Anime like this tend to rely on fast pace or adrenaline pumping scenes which tend not to pay off in live action.

...why not use the base idea, but build it as something with a thicker feel along the lines of Lost or Walking Dead?

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As I stated in other articles, Japan should stop making live action stuff. It turns out terrible. They don't incorporate any of the cgi. It seems like they just keep it cheap.

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I really want Gun Gale Online. It was a focal point of SOA2 and it looked like it would be a ton of fun! Let's go! Make it happen!

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Attack on Titan live-action adaptation: Hugely unpopular. Avatar the Last Airbender live-action adaptation: Hugely unpopular. Dragon Ball live-action adaptation: Hugely unpopular. Parasyte live-action adaptation: Hugely unpopular.

Are we noticing a pattern yet? Just because these shows were popular, doesn't mean that the live-action adaptations will be likewise popular. They achieved their results because they work as anime. They don't work in other formats. It doesn't matter who produces it, who stars in it, or how big the budget is: it'll still flop faster than a Snorlax using Body Slam. Let's focus less on adding another toxic live-action to the list of failures, and more on making SAO into an actual virtual reality game. They held a demo back in February (I think, or March) which showed it could be done, though there's some kinks to work out. I think people would rather play SAO than watch it getting butchered.

@kaynide: SAO was a pretty good show IMO. It did have quite a few fast-paced moments. A popular complaint though is that the romance elements distracted the viewers from the plot. I'm inclined to agree with that actually. Even so, it was superbly well done over all.

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They could treat it like they did All You Need Is Kill == Edge of Tomorrow

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Are we noticing a pattern yet? Just because these shows were popular, doesn't mean that the live-action adaptations will be likewise popular.

Hollywood Movie industry never learns from the past mistakes. They keep making the same mistakes. I can't imagine what the live action would be like when the anime is already terrible.

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Why? Why,why,why,why,why,why,why,?! Why must everything be turned into some lifeless live action nonsense?! I really hate Hollywood. They're so out of ideas that they have to grope their grubby fingers even over Anime. GitS, Detective Pikachu, now this. This is yet another failure waiting to happen that will tarnish the source's name.

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GitS, Detective Pikachu, now this. This is yet another failure waiting to happen that will tarnish the source's name.

Have ya played Detective Pikachu? There's nothing to tarnish!

And All You Need Is Kill == Edge of Tomorrow is fine

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