Next to join the presenters were special guests Cassandra Morristhe voice of Leafa, and Michelle Ruffthe voice of Sinon, who introduced themselves and their characters, and expressed their appreciation for all that the past ten years have brought.
First up in the programming was the results of a fan survey for all-time favorite episode of Sword Art Online. In third place was the emotional scene between Asuna and Yuki in Sword Art Online season 2, episode 24, “Mother’s Rosario.” Leigh told the audience that when she was delivering her monologue, she imagined that she was speaking to her great aunt her, who had unfortunately passed away a few weeks prior. Second place featured the scene between Kirito sharing a meal with daughter Yui in episode 11, “The Girl of the Morning Dew. First place went to episode 9, “The Blue-Eyed Demon,” when audiences encounter Kirito’s Starburst Stream attack for the first time.
Next, after introducing Sword Art Online: Alicizationthe hosts brought onstage Brandon Wincklerthe voice of Eugeo, and Kayli Mills, who plays the titular Alice. They swapped stories, including their favorite scenes– for Winckler, it’s the fight between Eugeo and Bercouli, whereas for Mills, it’s the press conference where Alice is asked to prove she’s human.
For fans who enjoy gaming, the Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris RPG DLC expansion Blooming of Matricaria is out this summer. Fans eager to check out the new mobile game coming out later this year, Sword Art Online: Variant Showdown can pre-register online now.
The hosts then introduced their next special guest, Anairis Quiñoneswho voices Mito in the Sword Art Online movies, Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night and Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Kuraki Yūyami no Scherzo. Adapted from the Sword Art Online: Progressive light novel, the movies are a re-telling of the Aincrad arc through Asuna’s eyes. The second film, Kuraki Yūyami no Scherzo is slated to be released this fall.
Joining virtually with a recorded message was Yoshitsugu Matsuokathe Japanese voice of Kirito, and Haruka Tomatsu, the Japanese voice of Asuna. Asked to talk about what they’ve learned from their characters, Matsuoka said, “Kirito has the ability to do things that others can’t, and the reason is his strong willpower. If the average person living a normal life encountered what Kirito has, most would feel the need to give up. The notion of, “Maybe I should give up isn’t an option in Kirito’s head. He’d rather just get the job done. He mentions that in “Yui’s Heart.”: “Trust and regret, rather than doubt and regret it.” … I really admire that about him. To be honest, I’ve had moments where I said, “there’s no way I can do this.” But I’ve been able to overcome challenges. Surprisingly, things end up working out if you don’t give up.”
Regarding Asuna, Tomatsu said, “Asuna is the polar opposite of me. To me, Asuna is the ideal girl. She’s the type of girl who has so many qualities that I find so charming and so admirable. While I do play her, I’ve always looked up to her over the past ten years.”
Speaking on their experiences on what it’s been like going back to the beginning in the recording of Sword Art Online: ProgressiveMatsuoka said that it hasn’t been easy, adding that out of the 13 years he’s been working as a voice actorten of those years have been with Sword Art Online. He mentioned that he never could’ve imagined having the opportunity to return to the beginning, but at the time, “Every day was scary… I was filled with anxiety, it was that difficult. But thanks to so many people’s support, advice, and listening to what the staff had to say, and also what my colleagues had to say, I was able to feel more confident about one week before (recording). I couldn’t have done it on my own and it is thanks to everyone’s help.”
Tomatsu added that revisiting a 15-year-old Asuna was more than just taking into consideration things like the difference in age or her fighting capabilities, but also the relationships that she’d built, including her relationship with Kirito. “While this Asuna was nostalgic, to me, it felt like meeting a new Asuna as well.”
The panel finished with a trailer for the upcoming Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Kuraki Yūyami no Scherzoand a hearty show of appreciation from all the cast members for their producer, Hiroe Tsukamotowho couldn’t attend the panel, but has supported them over the past ten years.