Interview with Kouki Yoshimune – The main writer of the “Muv-Luv” series.
This interview is a personal translation by me from the artbook Muv-Luv Alternative – LD06 Adoration, Released in 2011, along with the interview with Wei Luxin, author of the Day After. Translation Here.
The interview includes minor spoilers for Muv-Luv Adoration and some speculations about the future of the series and the Total eclipse anime.
Interviewer: With the announcement of the anime adaptation of “Total Eclipse” (Hereafter: TE), the “Muv-Luv” world is finally heating up. I had a direct interview with Kouki, who wrote the scenario for “Adoration” in Chronicles 02 for the first time in two years!
Muv-Luv Adoration Interview with Kouki Yoshimune
ーNow, I’d like to ask you a few questions today.
First of all, I would like to express my deepest condolences for the many precious lives lost in the Great East Japan Earthquake and my heartfelt sympathy to all the people and families affected by the disaster. The heartache and sorrow of the people in the affected areas who are still struggling to recover are unimaginable.We would like to do everything we can to assist in the recovery from this foggy disaster. We would like to continue our support activities without haste, perseverance, and without giving up.
Our company has been producing our own titles with the theme of confronting “The grief and pain” of having one’s daily life suddenly disintegrated and having something precious taken away. In particular, we believe that the contents related to “Muv-Luv” are the stories that should be adapted to such a situation, and with the cooperation and support of the companies involved, we have created we are continuing with the “Phoenix” charity project as a measure to support the recovery from the disaster. We hope that everyone outside the disaster area will join us!
ーI would also like to express my gratitude for your support. Speaking of foggy, not only did Age suffer a devastating attack at the development office, but also The Day After (TDA) and The Season You Were There (Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu) were also heavily affected. Weren’t they…
When we were told that we couldn’t make the game because of its setting and worldview, our minds went blank and our eyes went black (laughs). However, we didn’t sell the game for its expression of disaster, but rather for its depiction of despair and the strength of the human will to fight against such things.
On the other hand, Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu depicted a disaster as a gadget to add excitement to a romance story, so we decided that we had no excuse when we received complaints and decided to drastically revise and rework the scenario. In the route of Munakata and Kazama, they are trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building after a major earthquake caused by the “causality of Hangar 90” in the alternate world. It was going to be a situation where we would be forced to ask ourselves, “Who should we save first?”. In addition to being ridiculed for preying on the disaster, we had to make this decision from various perspectives, because if we didn’t pass the ethics review, we would not be allowed to be sold in major stores or on major shopping sites. So, I’m deeply moved that we were able to successfully release Chronicles 2 in this way. I am very grateful to all the users for their support.
—I agree with you very much. Now, let’s talk about “Adoration” in Chronicles 02. Please tell us how you decided to write a scenario after a long time.
“Adoration” is originally an episodic story outside of “The Euro Front” (Hereafter: Euro). The “Euro” is a shared world project that is the signature of the serialized project “TSFIA”, which features three dimensional objects related to OLTA in Hobby Japan magazine (Hereafter: HJ magazine). This is the 50th installment in the series, and the first medium-length video or game adaptation.
I had planned to write “Adoration” by myself from the beginning, because the serialization in HJ magazine was my responsibility as editor-in-chief, and because I was given unparalleled treatment in terms of the number of pages and the appearance on the cover. It was also due to “Kimita” being postponed due to the disaster, and because “Adoration” was written by Aoi Miyata, who has been supporting our graphics from behind the scenes.
Since it’s going to be a real spinoff title, it had to be drawn by Kouki Yoshimune, the representative of “OLTA” content — no, it shouldn’t be written by anyone but me!
I was so excited by myself, (Laughs).
— Unlike the previous protagonists, Seijyurou seems quite young, what was your intention in setting him up?
There are a lot of writers who want to write “Old man-meets-girl” type stories these days, including Wei Luxin and DDD. (laughs)
The first thing I wanted to do was to introduce the world and characters of “Euro”. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a great idea to have an objective third party who is not familiar with European affairs to help users understand what’s going on, so I decided to have a protagonist who is not normally involved with Ilfriede and his friends. The important thing is that he won’t be a love interest for the main heroines.
Also, I wanted to emphasize the contrast with “TDA” in terms of the content that should be released at this time of the earthquake and the girls’ growth, so I decided to set the characters in their “Kitchen-age” (laughs).
—I see. (laughs) – Seijyurou was a child with a rather painful personality, but he is strangely popular, isn’t he?
That painfulness is a symbol of youth maximized in every sense (laughs), including narrow-mindedness and dogmatism. It’s always the case that “Kimi ita”, “Muv-Luv” series, and even “TDA” make such a child grow up through suffering and extreme situations, then “Adoration”, as a contrast, is a story that makes you grow up only through such amateurish situations that you can look down on and makes fun of, and the favorable words and actions of such people who do that. Seijyurou is an idiot, but he looks at himself objectively, reflects on himself, notices and corrects himself, and grows. I think that’s what makes people love him. Because of the length of the story, he doesn’t hesitate and struggle for a long time, and he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes (lol).
—(laughs) In the end, you grow up to the point where you reflected on yourself as a painful child.
I think everyone has that experience of suddenly having a flashback to their younger days while they’re shaping up and shouting to themselves, “I’m going to cut my head off” (laughs) For Seijyurou, I guess that’s what he remembers from his time in Europe. He’s like the person he was when he was “kitchen age” as defined by Ijuin-san’s radio show.
—I’d like to ask you about the other characters. Ilfriede’s character is quite active, or rather forceful, and has an interesting personality.
Considering the crimes, punishments, fate, and life that Ilfriede has to deal with in the main story, I thought it would be good to have a character like that. I wanted to make her more like the privileged people of the Japanese Empire and the British and Soviet Union, who have not yet lost their “Source of Attachment” (Laughs). On the contrary, I wanted to give the European continental countries a tendency similar to the resignation that they have already lost everything and have nothing to lose. The moment Aoi Miyata’s character design was chosen for a character with such origins, Shizuka Ito was chosen as the voice actress (Laughs). As a side note, the voice recording of Gozen was just like a “read-aloud” or a “reading session,” and there was almost no correction of the performance. It was a very enjoyable recording (laughs). The reading of the character and scenario, the sharpness of the intuition …… were all perfect (laughs).
—I see …(laughs) Please tell us about the other characters. Helga and Luna were also unique characters.
We had a lot of trouble finalizing the details of Helgarose and Lunateresia. We called in the young development staff many times until we had a solid idea, and had them give us their opinions and suggestions on what we should do and what we should not do. Finally, I said, “I’ve got it! That’s it! Luna and I were a couple in my imagination right now…” I almost cried (laughs).
—Helga seems to be in the family of Meiya and Yui. Both characters have a huge gap between everyday life and seriousness. She is a knightly girl, but also likes cute things. ……
I think the main weapons of the imperial warrior girls like Helga, Meiya and Yui are “Prideful Endurance” and “Unrewarded but Noble” (Laughs), so I thought of an event where they writhe in agony while having their numb legs rubbed (Laughs). A young employee said, “You can do it! That’s it! I was just having Helga cook dinner for me in my fantasy!” When I received an endorsement from the company, the rest is omitted (Laughs) I was told that Saki Nakajima’s passionate performance was also pleasant in a good way’ or ‘stupid in a good way’ (laughs).
—Compared to Helga, Luna Theresa is a character in the difficult genre of natural romantic brainy tactical machine girl?
I’ve never heard of that genre before, (laughs). Well, since Luna is in the dark this time, I guess I have the impression that she’s a little less prominent than the other two, but whatever. Miyata’s soft expression and Kaori Nazuka’s acting and voice make her a mysterious and black-hearted character. I think I was able to show off my potential (laughs). Once the main story starts, I’ll be playing the role of a rabble-rouser or trickster among those three, so I thought it would be enough to show a glimpse of that this time. Hot Jupiter!
—Hot Jupiter! And speaking of strange, Captain Ralerstein, how did he become such a character?
He was originally inspired by a rough drawing of an old man who looked like Dali that Miyata drew for a study of Euro characters (see Lunatic Dawn 2), and decided to go with a Jojo-like weirdo character of that type. (laughs) I wrote the scenario as a hot and bitter character who comes at you with a blank expression, fiddling with his beard and striking a decisive pose in the Araki style. The first time I saw him, I couldn’t stop laughing and couldn’t do anything because I was wondering where the sound of his beard would come. There isn’t a single employee who didn’t burst out laughing at the scene where Brigitte glances at him from behind. In terms of the player syncing up with the protagonist’s feelings, I think it’s comparable to Marimo-chan (Laughs). A few years ago, when Kuririn sang the theme song for “Red”, there was an event to announce the anime, and Mr. Kuroda was the MC. I had made up my mind that there was no one else like him!
—(laughs) Wolfgang is a two-and-a-half-eyed, or rather, a lively Characterwho has settled into the position of Seijyurou’s older brother, but is there a model for this Character?
Wolfgang is a character that you should look forward to in the future. I asked Shinya Takahashi, who I had hit it off with at a drinking party at another site, to do the voice (Laughs), and even before I could explain Character’s background and fate, he said, “He’s a good guy, isn’t he? But he reeks of death. …… He’s definitely going to die in the middle of the story, isn’t he…”
—Is he going to die? (Laughs)
Human beings, you know! You will die one day. You can’t choose your birth, but you can choose how you die!
—Yes. Brigitte is a sexy sister with a sexy mouth. Is there a reason why she hasn’t had a bio-implant?
It’s trivial (laughs). Well, Sister Bri is the image of Angelina Jolie from Sky Captain. Her voice is also very sexy, as is Junko Minagawa’s. I think she’s in the category of a bitchy older sister, but she’s got a lot on her shoulders, so I’m sure she’ll turn out to be good once the main story starts. I’m sure you’ll be able to understand why I’m so excited about this.
—When I learned that Sir Ralerstein was younger, I was slightly dizzy (laughs) Next, Sieglinde and Eichberger-but the Major’s character was a little surprising. Why was the character so obsessed with potatoes …!?
Well, he’s German, (Laughs).
This time, due to the length of the game and the point of view, there was little time to portray a person of high rank. I’ve been working on this for a few years now, and I’m really excited about it. On the other hand, Sieglinde should not deviate from the template of the character that you imagine from the picture, and I thought that would be enough to represent her role in the main story and her character of “modesty”, leaning on Aichberger like a shadow. And yet, she was more popular than Ilfriede and the others among the younger employees of the development team, which didn’t make sense to me.
— Seijyurou is very popular among users, but will he ever appear again in the main “Euro” series or other titles?
As I’ve mentioned several times, the story line for “Euro” is already in place, and in the future I’d like to develop it into a manga version, a film version, or a game version. At that time, it will have a formal title like “TE” or “Schwarzesmaken”, but the story itself will be depicted up to the situation after Operation Cherry Blossom. If Seijyurou lives that long, there’s a chance he’ll appear in the story (laughs).
—Are you serious? By the way, “Euro”, “Total Eclipse” and “Alt”, which have been decided to be made into anime, depict almost the same time period.
It’s a shared world, so of course, there is an agenda. “TE” is a story that begins about six months before ALT and ends around Operation Cherry Blossom. “Euro” starts about a year before the arrival of Takeru and continues until after Operation Cherry Blossom. There are many characters, incidents, and events that may or may not be intertwined (Laughs).
—Please tell us something about the anime adaptation of “Total Eclipse”!
It’s not in the Noitamina script (laughs), and we’re about halfway through the script meetings. Anyway, the makers, producers, and directors are all avowed fans of “Alt” and “TE” (Laughs) It’s been 9 years since the “Muv-Luv” anime adaptation offer (lol) It’s been 2 years and 7 months since the “TE” anime adaptation offer as well (laughs). It took a while, didn’t it? The announcement of the anime adaptation may have given us the answer to why the serialization of the Dengeki Daioh and the radio TE on Bunka Hoso started, and why the novel book and the game project stopped.
—Why don’t they animate “Muv-Luv” or “Alt” first, with “TE” being the spinoff, so to speak?
Many of the TV animations that you watch for free are produced by people who have risked hundreds of millions of yen to bring them to the world, and the people who have the right to decide on the production and investment are not the people who care about the content and quality, but the people who only care about the profit margin and the superiority as an investment target, which is the natural and totally correct reality in a capitalist society.
And in these days of selling tempestuous characters, the elements of “a long story based on a game,” “a nagging and enthusiastic fanatic,” “a difficult and troublesome theme,” and “a robot that is not only expensive to produce, but also lacks the human resources to do so” are all serious negatives for both investors and people who don’t want to take responsibility for failure.
After reflecting on the fact that “Muv-Luv” had not been made into an anime for many years, even though it was offered at the planning stage by one of the biggest anime makers in the industry and the budget was the same as that of a certain Mobile Suit, “TE” has been promoted with the following low-cost strategy: “Easy-to-access stage that does not require political consideration, “Non-galge character design,” “Novel original work so that abbreviations are not called degradation,” and “Demonstrate the product power of the three-dimensional (copyrighted) products ahead of time”.
(laughs) And, if TE is successful as an animation – in this case, success is not “reputation” but “sales of related products and video games” to put it bluntly – then the obstacles to making it into an animation will disappear if it proves to be worth the risk, and it will become a target for investment, and Muv-Luv and Alt can be made into animations with zero commercialization. So, the anime adaptation of “TE” will be possible. Therefore, making “TE” into an anime is not a goal, but just a start.
But I have no intention of throwing away my reputation. That’s why I’ve tried to create a scenario where people who know the original story can watch it with the same freshness and excitement as viewers who have never seen it before. I don’t want to distance myself from the anime from the safety of being the author of the original work and secure a risk hedge in case it is not well received (laughs).
For the past three years, I’ve been trying to drastically change the company’s structure in order to create a system that allows me to concentrate on my own creative work and to focus on the development of anime and other media. In fact, for the past three years, most of our time has been spent on preparations for animation, politics, and management, and in terms of development, we have repeatedly postponed projects, which must have looked like a lost cause to you. Recently, the earthquake caused another major stumbling block, but now we’ve gotten back on track with the animation work and organizational reform, and we’ve reached the point where we can write scenarios on our own. From now on, I will be in charge of copyright management. By completely separating planning, development, and management, we will be able to expand the scope of what we produce, so please keep your eyes peeled!
—Mmm! I’m looking forward to that. By the way, in the novel “Total Eclipse”, we’ve reached the point just before Takeru’s arrival, but who is the heroine in the game and what kind of route will she take?
Why do you have to go there at the end? (laughs) Seriously, I will say it (laughs).
— Please tell me important information so as not to spoil.
As I said earlier, the Novel is written as a “summary”, so the story is a single flow, but in the game, you can choose according to the characteristics of the medium. Depending on the scene you see, it may change or branch into different developments or multiple endings. However, it is not a “heroine strategy. We have already announced that this is not a “heroine capture” concept.
— What about the release of the games that we lost touch with for so long?
I think it will be released at the same time as the anime airs. The platform is still undecided. I think it’s best to release the game just before the final episode because there are many cases where the anime version of a title whose game has already been released will be perceived as “degrading” by fans of the original work, even if it’s well done. That’s why I’ve said publicly that the novels in TE are “like a pseudo-version of the game with all the rules integrated and abbreviated”. This is based on my theory that the order of “novel-≫animation-≫AVG” is the best for each medium, the people involved, and all the fans.
— Thank you very much for your time today.
Oh, thank you very much (laughs) ― I don’t really care, but isn’t it too abrupt? Isn’t this ending too abrupt?
— It’s for the convenience of the page.
Oh, right (laughs).
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