Popularity Contest Questions (Heathcliff, Kunori)
In the third popularity contest held by Kawahara Reki as Kunori Fumio, back during the web novel period (to be more exact, in 2005), he figured,
“There’s not that many new characters, thus I was worried there won’t be much difference from the first and second times. Hence, if I ask for questions… if I were to do that, the much-more-unknown sub-characters might just get more votes as the main characters already have quite a bit of information on them.“
Hence, it turned into a Q&A session with the characters.
Spoilers alert. This was held some time after he started writing Alicization.
Spoilers this time are up to volume 2 of the light novel. Anime-only viewers are strongly advised to not read this until they finish episode 14, to avoid spoilers (but there’ll still be some light spoilers from the later parts of the series).
*-s are links to notes. Click on them.
The number within the brackets is when the non-question (invalid) votes are added in.
2nd – Heathcliff (Kayaba Akihiko) – 48 votes (75)
Extra – Kunori (Kunori Fumio) – 30 votes (32)
2nd – Heathcliff (Kayaba Akihiko) – 48 votes (75)
Q. Are you a boke? Or a tsukkomi?
A. I realised that there were mere few who laughed at my jokes as a boke when I was an elementary school student. *
Q. If I were to ask for you to mention one of the games you like best, which would it be?
A. If you mean aside from SAO, it would be Wizardry, a game from long ago. I acquired a lot of inspiration from it.
Q. Are all of the main members of SAO from Tokyo because you chose to have it that way?
A. Wasn’t only one portion of the clearing group originating from Tokyo? (Kunori Note: Lisbeth and Silica are from the rural areas, but they reside in the hostel of the high school that Kirito also attends)
Q. Did you face much trouble or anything like that before the completion of SAO?!
A. It was a death march that words could not even hope to describe in full.
Q. Please tell me your hobbies.
A. Cooking, I suppose.
Q. Kayaba-san, with a restriction to only one!! I want to know your taste in women…
A. I wouldn’t really know about what type I like, seeing as there was only one woman close to me.
Q. Do you have any hobbies aside from research & development?
A. I enjoy cooking.
Q. What kind of technique is on the 1st stage of the Holy Sword skill?
A. “Divine Sword”, it’s a technique that releases a strong light from the sword to blind the opponent.
Q. Did you know about Yui’s existence?
A. I didn’t spare it any attention at all, a great opportunity gone by.
Q. The players you liked, or perhaps had an interest in, please. If possible, the reasons too.
A. It certainly wasn’t feelings of romance, but it was true that I was fascinated by Asuna-kun. I got slightly shocked when Kirito-kun stole her away.
Q. What did you do as a club or circle? *
A. I was in the Mathematics Club during my high school years. I was in and out of the laboratory from my 1st year onward in university, so I didn’t associate with any circles.
Q. How strong are you without cheating?
A. I simply can’t win against the young with my actual reflexes…
Q. What is Kirito-kun to you?
A. When he completely saw through me on the 75th floor, I was suspecting it to be actually a story schemed up by some people from the world of SAO, along with those in the real world.
Q. What were the criteria to become a member of the Knights?
A. The main few were chosen by me basically for their physiological parameters, but to be honest, a great majority of the group’s members were scouted by my subordinates.
Q. What were you planning to do if the entire clearing group were to get annihilated? I doubt any of the player characters will try to clear the game aside from them, after all.
A. I wonder, I dare say a new batch of people will emerge, won’t they? Of course, the reason why I say that is due to that certain amount of trust I have in all of the players.
Q. Have you already prepared the speech and stuff you were going to use when you reveal your true colours on the 95th floor?
A. Well, of course I had already prepared for the performance, one that would make all tremble with how dramatic it would be. It was a genuine loss for all SAO players to be deprived from watching that.
Q. Are you viewing the continuation of the dream? (no answer is required)
Q. How was it playing as Heathcliff?
A. It was satisfying.
Q. Without the Immortality property, around how much HP would you normally have?
A. I believe there wouldn’t be much difference from Kirito’s final stats.
Q. What is that person in the real world to you?
A. A co-worker, and one who is beloved to me as well.
Q. Please tell me all of the skills in SAO.
A. Although I do not have the incapability to do so, this space is simply not enough. If you wish to know, do log in on the opening date for the service, in 2012. *
Q. Would orange names in SAO be revoked with time? Or perhaps a Karma attribute that could be restored through a quest from NPCs?
A. It automatically restores over time for the first 3 times. The time after that, there’s the opportunity to restore it through a quest. From the 5th time onward, they would be permanently labelled as an orange player. As an exception, those who went into orange as a result of murdering another would be permanently unable to recover from it.
Q. For each type of weapon, how many kinds (like, how many for single-handed swords, how many for spears, etc) are there?
A. There should have been two to three thousand kinds prepared for each category. That said, eighty percent of those would be unique weapons with their own names.
Q. A question for the developers. Are there projectile weapons (bows, bowguns) within the usable weapons in SAO?
A. There was a lot of argument among the staff over this point, but in the end, ranged weapons were restricted to the throwing darts category. There were distinct weapons such as boomerangs and chakrams prepared as well, but they seemed to have extremely poor reception from people.
Q. At the present moment, you may exist as the world’s first electronic brain, but what are your thoughts on artificial intelligence with high adaptability?
A. I merely possess a pseudo-personality on the same level as existing AI. If I were to not recognise that, I would probably break down eventually. I believe that risk would remain even if I were to successfully copy my soul…
Q. In SAO, what are the top techniques for each of the skills like?
A. Basically, they’re mostly those with multiple consecutive hits, but there are exceptions, like the top technique, “Iai”, in the Katana skill.
Q. Did you think about the other unique skills and such?
A. 8 other types of unique skills were scheduled to be unlocked from the 90th floor onwards. “Darkness Blade”, “Battoujutsu”, “Shurikenjutsu”, “Infinite Spear” and such… I spent much effort on them, but… *
Q. What was the game you first created like?
A. It was when I was an elementary school student, but I recall it being a simple puzzle game.
Q. If you were to fight under equivalent conditions, how would it turn out?
A. With Kirito-kun, perhaps? That plan was to be realised on the final floor of Aincrad, but…
Q. Do you hold various other skills?
A. Holy Sword alone is fundamentally sufficient to protect myself, but in terms of data, I did have the One-handed Sword and Two-handed Sword skills as well.
Q. How did it feel integrating into Cardinal?
A. I mostly left the Cardinal System alone when I was managing SAO, but it seems to have operated flawlessly.
Q. Did you love the person who took care of you?
A. That would only be true if I really did understand the true meaning of the emotion of love, though.
Q. Please tell me what was the game you first played like.
A. It was an extremely old RPG known as Wizardry.
Q. So, did you really like things related to games and computers since your childhood?
A. Rather, I was engrossed in reading books.
Q. Have you prepared various events for the time you planned to estrange yourself on the 95th floor?
A. Of course, it would be a grand spectacle… or at least, it was planned to be…
Q. Kayaba Akihiko-san, what is your impression of Sugou Nobuyuki?
A. I wondered if he made a mistake in what he majored in, academically.
Q. In reality, were there feelings of love between your female helper and you?
A. Whether I honestly completely understood the definition of feelings of love, as accepted by the world at large, is…
Q. Was your final goal to become a resident of the virtual world? Or did you have objectives beyond that?
A. I reached my final goal when I made Aincrad float… that should have been the case, but.
Q. Do you think of yourself as “alive”? Or “dead”?
A. Biologically, I am unmistakably dead.
Q. What are your thoughts on the major in “Ghost in the Shell” (if you’re aware of it, Kayaba-shi)?
A. I am utterly envious of that perfect artificial body.
Q. What was your reason for establishing the Ethics Code removal setting?
A. Perhaps because it was a world devoid from almost all vice, such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Q. Are you going to materialise somewhere soon?
A. I have great interest in becoming a spirit, but it doesn’t seem to be occurring anytime soon.
Q. Please tell me your notion of “death”, Kayaba-san. I think of it as something like an extension of sleep.
A. The annihilation of accumulated information, perhaps. I consider death to be incomplete if you were to leave behind marks on the outside.
Q. Please tell me your hobbies that aren’t IT-related.
A. I don’t dislike cooking. Aside from that, perhaps Go. *
Q. What is the thing most precious to you in the world?
A. I wouldn’t really know unless I get my hands on it.
Q. What exactly is your dream?
A. To make Aincrad float… or so it was.
Q. Have you created any software aside from games? Also, you seem to be existing as an electronic brain presently, but have you noticed any defects when compared to when you were alive, in terms of your thinking, memory and ability to learn?
A. I didn’t have any spare time to devote to anything aside from creating game software before I arrived at SAO, after all. As for the electronic brain matter, despite what it’s called, it is merely a set of programs to copy my thinking and memory to the highest feasible extent, so it cannot be compared to that from the past.
Q. What was the happiest thing that happened while you were playing SAO?
A. That time when my true identity was seen through by Kirito-kun, maybe. At that moment, I finally understood that I was nothing more than another player.
Extra – Kunori (Kunori Fumio) – 30 votes (32)
Q. Will you continue to write side stories after the end of the SAO serialisation?
A. I wonder about that. Before it really ends, I can’t really…
Q. What is your job?
A. There’s no connection to novels, but I’m doing something in a corner of the publishing business world.
Q. What are your height, weight, three sizes and the type of woman you like, lol?
A. Eek, my personal data will definitely be an absolute secret. The type of woman I like would be those addicted to books.
Q. How much time do you devote to writing in a day?
A. I do most of the work in a family restaurant, so it doesn’t take much time. At most, I update with what I wrote in only two hours.
Q. Where do you basically get your inspiration and such from?
A. There are many times when I hit upon ideas while fantasising about this and that in my futon before sleeping. I usually forget most of it when I wake up, though.
Q. Who is the most difficult character to write about?
A. It’s probably Kirito. I think he’s the most unstable character throughout the progression of the series.
Q. Do you have any image songs for each of the characters?
A. Nope! There are songs I imagine about when writing certain scenes, though. If I were to state an example, for the scene during the destruction of Aincrad, a song named, “Yakusoku”, by Kasahara Hiroko-san resounded through my mind. *
Q. Didn’t you start actually regretting a little when you had to answer every single question?
A. A little? Start?
Q. How many Kunori-san has it been until this one? (metabolic) *
A. If you find out, you’ll become the next Kunori…
Q. What novels do you recommend aside from your own work?
A. It’s difficult with how many there are… Those from the all-time best would be Kanbayashi Chouhei’s [Sentou Yousei Yukikaze] & [Tamashii no Kudoutai], Oosawa Arimasa’s [Shinjukuzame] series, Tom Clancy’s [Jack Ryan] series and L. M. Bujold’s [Vorkosigan Saga] series, I suppose. I reread these books about once every year. *
Q. What are your writing-related plans from now on?
A. I can’t think of anything until the end of SAO 4!
Q. Do you have any considerations or points of improvement in regards to your own work (SAO)?
A. I have a great amount of that. Especially for SAO 1, which could only be considered as the writing of an amateur at most, so I want to do a full-scale revision of that… though I’ve been saying that for the last two years, haven’t I. (haha)
Q. Which character is your favourite among your own?
A. I try my best to look at the characters objectively. (haha) It does seem that getting captivated by your own characters will lead to ruin in various ways!
Q. Not taking the characters that appeared, but is it OK to make Kirito’s adventure into a game?
A. Derivative works are greatly welcomed.
Q. What will you do if you get 1st place?
A. I’ll advertise for a lover.
Q. Who would you want as your girlfriend in reality among the females in the SAO series?
A. I-I’ll be sure to observe my own characters from a distance, so… (haha)
Q. Please tell me how you came up with the concept for Meta Metabolic.
A. It happened when I was thinking how easy it would be if there was someone willing to draw illustrations for me.
Q. If you were to give a voice to Asuna, who would you entrust it to?
A. I’ll boldly try saying, Sakamoto Maaya-san. *
Q. How many new settings have you created for the sake of this question and answer session this time?
A. I can’t keep track.
Q. Does your work not exist anywhere aside from on the web, Kunori-san?
A. Nope, they don’t.
Q. Please share some of your writing speed with me.
A. It’s already depleted.
Q. Can you pick me up?
A. I’ll pick you up if you’re a cute kitten.
Q. Kunori-sensei, what are novels to you?
A. If you’re referring to “writing of novels”, it’s training my ability to form sentences and my creativity… or so it was, until I opened the site… I feel like I’ve been unable to reach my peak condition on that lately.
Q. Why won’t you sell it as a book?
A. It’s fairly difficult making an actual novel as a doujinshi… The page count and all will result in something ridiculous…
Q. To be honest, don’t you regret starting on this project?
A. There’s just around a fifth left… around a fifth left…
Q. By the way, what about the electronic sister and the magician of the library?
A. (∩ﾟдﾟ)ah-ah, I didn’t hear anything. *
Q. Thank you for writing SAO. I hope you really do commercialise it.
A. Thank you very much too. Commercialisation… it’s true that I doubt it’s at a level of quality worthy of that, though… (haha)
Q. What do you think of first when writing a work?
A. The last scene.
Q. Kunori-sensei! Please, please make SAO into a book by itself somehow, even as a doujin product!!
A. I want to make a doujinshi, and I’ve been saying that for years, but in terms of page count, it really does seem difficult to compile all of the main stories together.
Q. Is the last boss of the renewed Aincrad, the “Devil King Heathcliff” or something like that as expected?
A. Of course not, that wouldn’t happen… or maybe not, huh. (haha)
Heathcliff-1: Boke and tsukkomi refers to a two-man comedy act. The boke’s the funny man and the tsukkomi’s the straight man.
Heathcliff-2: Circle refers to a gathering of like-minded individuals, somewhat like a more informal club.
Heathcliff-3: The main story started in 2012 in the web novel, unlike 2022 in the commercial published novels. All dates were shifted 10 years into the future.
Heathcliff-4: Battoujutsu, the “art of sword drawing”, a Japanese term for techniques for engaging a sword. Shurikenjutsu, techniques for using those Japanese concealed bladed weapons.
Heathcliff-5: Go, as in the board game with round black and white pieces.
Kunori-1: “Yakusoku“, or “Promise”, the ending theme of the last episode of Macross II.
Kunori-2: I’m unable to find a copy of it anywhere now, but “Meta Metabolic” seems to be a mystery/horror web-novel he wrote with himself as the theme.
Kunori-3: Kanbayashi Chouhei‘s “Sentou Yousei Yukikaze (Battle Fairy Yukikaze)”, “Tamashii no Kudotai (What Drives the Soul)”. | Oosawa Arimasa’s “Shinjukuzame (Shinjuku Shark)”. | Tom Clancy. | Lois McMaster Bujold.
Kunori-4: Sakamoto Maaya, perhaps well known for voicing Ryougi Shiki and Oshino Shinobu, for her works in recent years.
Kunori-5: I have no idea. Probably related to another web-novel of he wrote?