On September 15, 2021, an IMAX screening event was held to announce the completion of the movie “Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night” (to be screened on October 30, 2021). Tomatsu Haruka, who plays Asuna, and Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, who plays Kirito, took the stage, and LiSA, who is in charge of the theme song that was performed for the first time along with the full-length screening, made a surprise video appearance for the audience.
■Tomatsu Haruka and Matsuoka Yoshitsugu revealed their feelings for Asuna and Kirito.
Tomatsu, who played Asuna in this work for the first time in a long time, said, “I’m honestly very happy to be able to play Asuna at that time again, and I’ve been working with the SAO series for about 10 years, so it’s like a miracle that I’ve been able to be involved for so many years. And I’ve realized once again that this series is loved by so many people,” she smiled.
Matsuoka, who played Kirito, said, “I put a lot of energy into my performance. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with how the Aincrad arc from back then turned out when it was recreated with today’s technology. I’m speechless,” he seemed to be full of emotion.
He continued, “Some scenes brought me back some memories, and some stories were originally made. So there is the original story, but it is Progressive that ‘no one has ever seen’. Some scenes are connected from the TV series, and what Asuna was doing at that time, which is what you wanted to know, is condensed in this film. There’s a lot of Sword Art in there that you don’t know!,” he praised with a catchphrase.
Regarding the “SAO” series that has been running for about 10 years, Tomatsu said, “There are 97 episodes in the SAO series. I’ve been involved in various SAO series for the past 10 years, and I’ve continued to act in various contents, so I’ve never had a break in my career. It is fairly rare during my life as a voice actress, and I feel very fortunate,” she revealed and, “It’s like it is my normal life being with Asuna…… I can’t imagine my life without her. She lives in my heart like I can’t live without you (Asuna)!,” she shared her special feelings for the film.
Matsuoka also said, “I’ve spent half of my life as a voice actor with Kirito. I don’t have to think about how he was like when (the work as Kirito) comes. I can switch to Kirito,” he talked about how big this series is.
■What are the highlights of this work? “There are scenes where you’ll be like, ‘You were there…?'”
As for the highlights of the film, Tomatsu said, “Scenes and lines from the TV series appear in a different direction, and when you see it from Asuna’s point of view, you can understand why things happened the way they did, and enjoy the Aincrad arc from a different perspective. The story starts from Asuna’s point of view before she started SAO, so I think it will be easy to relate to.”
Matsuoka said, “Tomatsu-san has already told us everything, so… (lol). I’ll tell you the highlights from a different perspective. There are scenes where you’ll be like, ‘You were there…?'” (lol) Let me give you a hint: the Alicization arc,” he put our hopes so high that we can’t wait for its release.
■LiSA’s theme song! “Asuna wasn’t strong from the beginning”
At the event, it was announced that LiSA’s song “Yuke” would be the theme song, and as a complete surprise to the audience, LiSA appeared in a video for the stage greeting.
LiSA said, “The main character of this work is Asuna, and behind the strong and cool figure we’ve seen so far, Asuna wasn’t strong from the beginning. It is a work that touches on the true strength of Asuna. I wrote the song “Yuke” with the hope of delivering a cheering song like the strong and supple Asuna.”
Looking back on the time when she first got involved in the SAO series, she commented, “The first time I got involved in SAO was in the summer of 2012, when the TV anime “Aincrad” arc was released. Nine years have passed since then, and I’m looking forward to the start of the story that leads up to that. I hope you will enjoy the first story and the theme song “Yuke” that will lead us to SAO, which we have loved together.”
In response to the video message, Tomatsu said, “The moment I heard the intro to LiSA’s song after the main story, I got goosebumps…she was singing about Asuna, and it made me almost cry. It was the same feeling I had when I heard the opening theme song “crossing field” from the first season of SAO,” she expressed her joy and Matsuoka commented, “I felt the power of her lyrics once again since she sang the song again after the first season. The nuance of the lyrics of “Yuke”, and the way “Yuke” tells the story gently pushes us forward,” he expressed how he was moved by the song.
■This work can be enjoyed as an introduction to the SAO series!
At the end of the event, Matsuoka confessed that he was nervous because it had been a long time since he had attended an event, but commented, “The Aincrad of that time has come back. This time, Asuna is the main character, so we can knock two birds out with one stone. It’s a work that can be enjoyed as an introduction to the SAO series and I’m sure you will watch the TV series following this movie so…… Thank you for your support, guys!”
Tomatsu said, “This time, the staff made the film with great care in terms of visuals and sound so that the audience can enjoy it more in the theater. So, it’s a work that can be fully enjoyed in a movie theater! The film has been carefully designed to be easy to understand for first-time viewers and those who are not familiar with the SAO series. In other words, it’s a work that everyone can enjoy! And I hope you’ll pay attention to …… to see how the original character Mito will be involved.” Then, the event was brought to a close.
The movie “Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night” will be screened nationwide on October 30, 2021.
Original Writer / Original Story : Kawahara Reki (Published by “Dengeki Bunko”) Original Illustration/Character Design: abec
Director: Kono Ayako
Character Design, Chief Animation Director: Toya Kento
Action Director, Monster Design: Kai Yasuyuki
Sub Character Design: Akizuki Aya, Ishikawa Tomomi, Watanabe Keisuke Prop Design: Higashijima Hisashi
Art Director: Ito Yusa / Art Setting: Hirasawa Akihiro / Color Design: Nakano Naomi / Director of Photography: Oshima Yuki
CG Director: Oda Kengo, Nakajima Hiroshi / 2D Works: Miyahara Yohei, Seki Kaori
Editing: Hirose Kiyoshi
Music: Kajiura Yuki
Sound Director: Iwanami Yoshikazu / Sound Effects: Koyama Yasumasa / Sound Production: Soniludo
Produced by: EGG FIRM, Straight Edge Production: A-1 Pictures
Production: SAO-P Project
Kirito: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu
Asuna / Yuki Asuna: Tomatsu Haruka
Mito / Tozawa Misumi: Minase Inori
Klein: Hirata Hiroaki
Agil: Yasumoto Hiroki
Silica: Hidaka Rina
Diabel: Hiyama Nobuyuki
Kibaou: Seki Tomokazu
“Yuke” LiSA（SACRA MUSIC)
Words: LiSA / Music: Ayase / Arrangement: Eguchi Ryo
(C) 2020 Kawahara Reki/KADOKAWA/SAO-P Project