Schwarzesmarken: The hardcore shared world of Kouki Yoshimune and Hiroki Uchida Interview Translation (Part 1)

Schwarzesmarken: The hardcore shared world of Kouki Yoshimune and Hiroki Uchida Interview Translation (Part 1)

Schwarzesmarken is set in East Germany, where the human race is on the verge of extinction due to the invasion of BETA, a species of extraterrestrial origin, and is fighting with every weapon at its disposal. It has also been adapted into an animated TV series, which has been airing since January 2016.

Translator Note: The original word used in the title is ごりごりGoriGori worldview, which can have a variety of meanings including but not limited to overwhelming, serious, and extreme. Or in contexts like when you are biting on a hard object or rubbing something violently with force.

The key to the story is the 666th Tactical Surface Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the “Schwarzesmarken” (Black Declaration), the most powerful unit in the East German Army. They were experienced in using the tactic “Laser Jagd” (Laser Hunt) – Pronounced Laser Yakuto- to counter the laser-class BETA that emit powerful laser beams.

The series of works that began with “Muv-Luv” by Kouki Yoshimune sensei spun out several stories that form a single worldview, depicting people living in the midst of a great unyielding wave. “Schwarzesmarken” is one such work in the Muv-Luv world. The original novel was written by Hiroki Uchida.

Before the climax of the anime, Yoshimune sensei, creator of “Muv-Luv,” and Uchida sensei, author of the novel “Schwarzesmarken,” had a talk with each other. The original interviewer (Yohei Hosokawa) asked them about their thoughts on the work. The original article is available on Excite. Translation is prepared by the author of this article.

■ Various creators expand the world of the work

  • Can you tell us how the “Schwarzesmarken” project started?

Yoshimune:

Originally, “Muv-Luv” started as a project to create a base for what we call the “Shared World” business, in which various creators expand on a single worldview, like “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Star Wars”. In the second project, “Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse (TE),” set in the United States, we established the foundation that characters and Robots from all over the world could be the main characters, and that Japan was not a particular exception. Next, I thought to set the story in Europe, focusing on East and West Germany.

  • Why was it Germany?

Yoshimune:

Under that pretext, Germany is a country with a very fascinating atmosphere and language that reaches a wide range of otaku, from the general public to military head types, and is in many ways in a contrasting position to Japan in the “Muv-Luv” world. Historically, it was a key player in the two world wars and went through the Cold War division between East and West, and was foreseen at the time to be the center of the EU, making it the perfect setting for the European arc. Since the development of “DUTY -LOST ARCADIA-” (*), which is set in West Germany, had already been decided, I thought that no one but Mr. Uchida could depict East Germany. At the time, I had asked Mr. Uchida, who was a fictional war novelist, for advice on military aspects and a short story for the setting book(**). Coincidentally, around the same time, Mr. Uchida also proposed a military school project set in Germany.

(* The story centered on West German TSF surface pilots in the European Union.)

(** Included in the Japanese book Muvluv Integral Works)

  • So it was a Gakuen (School) Setting?

Uchida:

At first it was like that, yes. I was thinking of a story set in a joint East and West German training school in the “Muv-Luv” world. It was supposed to be an upbeat gathering of students from the east and the west, and then develop from there into tough battles.

Yoshimune:

It looked very catchy, but it also had some similarities with “DUTY,” so I persuaded him and said that I wanted to see a realistic East Germany battle with a lot of Uchida’s Gorigori style, and he got on the East Germany project we had in mind. The reason was that the element of the weak being at the mercy of politics and conspiracies was one of the major tastes of “Muv-Luv”.

Uchida:

East Germany is a socialist country and a harsh world, but the story grew from the question of what would happen if they were thrown into a war against BETA.

■ Schwarzesmarken: Passing on the imagination received from our predecessors to the next generation

  • What was the impetus for your involvement with the “Muv-Luv” series?

Uchida:

Above all, “Muv-Luv” was interesting. I was introduced to it by an employee of AGE whom I knew.

Yoshimune:

This is the first time for me to hear directly from Mr. Uchida about his impressions of my work. I am overjoyed.

Uchida:

Both “Muv-Luv” and “Muv-Luv Alternative (hereafter, “Alt”)” were works that made me think “I wanted to convey that!” and they were works that were trying to hit the audience with their fists clenched. In those days, adventure games for beautiful girls were often written by multiple writers, and you could see the personalities of each writer as you played the game. However, “Muv-Luv” was a straight road game, and only one person’s personality could be seen. The robot design also pays homage to works such as “Gundam” and “Aim for the Top! Gunbuster”. I thought it was interesting to include that as well.

Yoshimune: 

I am delighted that you understand this. The chain of adding our essence to the imagination we received from our predecessors and passing it on to the next generation is our creative mission, isn’t it?

  • As for the period setting of the work, while most of the “ALT” series are set in the year 2000 or later, this work is set much further back in time, in 1983. Is this the “worldview business” approach mentioned earlier?

Yoshimune:

It was decided from the beginning that the East Germany project would be set in the past. I can’t tell you why yet (laughs). I just want to say while each of the “Muv-Luv” series entries is an independent story, the entire thing is what I would say a concept of a single episode of history, (Laughs)

Uchida:

In the world of “Alt” there are robots called Tactical Surface Fighters (TSFs), and the TSFs in “ALT” and “TE” are the second and third generations. TSFs are weapons, so their performance improves with each generation. I like the rough and wild looks of the weapons of World War II, so it was fun to portray have the first generation play an active part.

  • Was Mr. Yoshimune involved in creating the detailed plotting of this work?

Yoshimune:

Not really, after presenting the direction of the project and the main characters, I basically tried not to get involved unless I was consulted about a conflict with the worldview or setting. Content that develops or expands on a worldview cannot be strengthened unless it goes through the hands of many creators. The strength of “Gundam” content is the result of the accumulation of interpretations by various creators. Therefore, for “Schwarzesmarken,” I left everything to Mr. Uchida and Akira Yamazaki (an ixtl employee), who was in charge of the project.

  • Even for the anime series?

Yoshimune:

Yes, it was the same. We basically decided not to add any more foundations after the first few preparatory meetings for the animation, when we needed to finalize the direction and confirm the settings. Otherwise, the purity of the content created by Mr. Uchida and Mr. Yamazaki would be dulled.

  • Was Mr. Uchida present?

Uchida:

I participated in all scenario meetings via Skype. I went to the art setting meetings only when I was invited. However, I rarely interfered. Director Tetsuya Watanabe and Tatsuto Higuchi, who were in charge of series composition, took charge of organizing the project. The two of them had a quick understanding of the worldview, and I think we were able to communicate well with them.

To be continued in Part 2 of the Schwarzesmarken interview, to be translated at a later date.

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