Lycoris Recoil Staff Interviews: Story Designer Asaura

This is one of the staff interviews from the “Heroine Archive” fanbook released in mid-February by Ichijinsha.

Story Designer: Asaura

Born in Hokkaido Prefecture. Known as an author.
Won the Newcomer and Grand Prizes in the 5th Super Dash Bunko Novel Awards and debuted in 2006 with his novel “The Crimson In The Yellow Colored Flower.” Has penned other notable titles including “Ben-To” and “Knights of Sidonia: Undoubtly Common Love.” Has recently written scripts for anime including “Phantom in the Twilight” and “revisions.”

From the world itself to the characters, plot, and so forth, Asaura was the one who built the foundation for Lycoris Recoil (hereafter “LycoReco”). As we look back at the story, we talk with him regarding the various chemical changes that occurred when director Shingo Adachi joined on.

Everyone’s “reason it was a hit” was different

– It’s been a little while since the anime broadcast finished. How are you feeling about the series now it became a big success?
Asaura: That everyone could enjoy this title gives me such a pleasant feeling above anything else, but honestly, my shock is still quite strong. I have the feeling of “we created something really good” but the sheer amount of the response we’ve received is something beyond anything I predicted.

– What do you think the reason it became a hit was?
Asaura: ……It’s a mystery. (laughs) When I asked about the big response the show had, the entire staff started to talk about their reasons it became a hit. Everyone shared their theories and what they believed, but we all differed in our thoughts. (laughs) Even including director Adachi, I don’t think there was a single person there that truly knew why it became a hit.

– So what’s your thoughts about why it became a hit, Asura-san?
Asaura: After the show was halfway through, it got a further boost for reasons I don’t quite know, but I think what started getting peoples’ attention was the voice acting for Chisato. It was obvious that (Chika) Anzai-san’s performance was different at a glance from other anime. Naturally, that “presentation” that was on display wasn’t solely because of Anzai-san’s power, I feel that her acting from director Adachi and sound director (Kohei) Yoshida-san combined with the work from the animators was a real challenge. I think their final combined form was what moved the audience.

– So you’re saying that Chisato’s lively actions were what hooked people into this world at a glance?
Asaura: I would say so. Especially since the younger generations are familiar with VTubers this day right? Chisato isn’t 3D or an avatar, but she has that lively sensation to her that’s close to those acts. I think that having that type of atmosphere in an anime story feels fresh, yet I think it’s also familiar at the same time.

– I understand now. There were a lot of younger viewers, so I feel like your claim has a lot of substance to it.
Asaura: Thank you very much. But of course there’s differences. (laughs) When the light novel (“Lycoris Recoil Ordinary Days”) came out last September, I saw a lot of comments floating around saying things like “I bought a light novel for the first time in a while,” or “this was the first Asaura book I’ve bought since ‘Ben-To’.” So those fans’ ages should be quite older than the others. That’s why it’s completely a mystery. (laughs)

Together with Chisato, the title itself changed

– I see even more now. (laughs) As story designer, you worked together with director Adachi to create the backbone of “LycoReco.” Do you have any memorable occasions that stick with you of that time?
Asaura: When director Adachi joined the title, I recall that occasionally we would have the chance to go eat dinner together and talk so much there. This was director Adachi’s first time as a director and it was my first time designing the story for an anime title, so we both talked to each other as “this might be the first and last time we experience this.” During that time, we weren’t stingy about our thoughts and would do our best to be upfront with each other since we thought this might be a “once-in-a-lifetime” situation. Because we were giving everything to it, we got submerged in the title, but I still think now that was good for it in the end.

– Is it true that when director Adachi joined the show, the somewhat brutal world you had imagined changed course to something more pop and casual?
Asaura: I’d say it’s actually harsher. After all, the shifts in tone are much wider now. You have the everyday life with the girls chattering away without a care, and then you feel like there’s a real chance someone could die in the battles. I feel like the current generation might find it harder to accept that type of serious drama. Chisato herself changed quite a lot. At the beginning she was closer to where Fuki is as a character with justice overbrimming in her. Then gradually she became brighter and then that atmosphere of Chisato came out like that. The scenario itself didn’t change that much, but I was immensely surprised that as Chisato changed, the feel of the work itself changed suddenly too. It was like you hand over the ingredients to make curry and you get beef stew in return. (laughs)

– So the ingredients were the same, but the way you cooked it and seasoned it was completely different, right?
Asaura: It feels like something similar to historical novels. Despite the fact that they have to go along with what happened in history, the character traits of the historical people can be completely different. It was that kind of feeling.

– Were you aware of that when you were depicting Chisato in the novel?
Asaura: If I can say something to not be afraid it’ll be misunderstood, I think it’s impossible to completely depict the anime version of Chisato in a novel. She’s a character that’s only complete when you add in Anzai-san’s voice, so I think it’s illogical to think you could write that into a novel. For example in episode 2, there’s a scene where Chisato sees a red sports car in a parking log and grabs onto the chain fence while saying “Whoa it’s a supercar! Wow! Amazing!” but if I wrote that in a novel as-is, then I feel like the readers would think “Is this author playing around?” (laughs) That kind of nonverbal charm of Chisato is tough to try to replicate in a novel.

– So then when did you see the appeal of “Chisato and Takina” as buddy cops?
Asaura: From a early stage we decided that since Chisato was already a complete character that she wouldn’t grow during the story. Conversely, I thought about having Takina be the character who grew and then wanting her to be the partner who saves Chisato from a crisis at the end. That type of buddy drama is a winner when you combine a veteran who’s near retiring and then a fresh-faced newcomer, but since there’s no difference in Chisato and Takina’s age, I thought it could be a new way to feel this type of buddy cop drama.

Fuki’s complex emotions

– Excluding Chisato and Takina, there feels like a lot of human relationships that you could dig into like Chisato and Fuki and Takina and Erika.
Asaura: You’re right about that. Since you mentioned Chisato and Fuki, I had thought about an episode just depicting their relationship, but due to length circumstances, I had to abandon it. We clarified it in the main show that these two were originally partners, but where Fuki is the type to stay put when Chisato leaves her, Takina is conversely the type to chase her down. They were a combo that Mika put together, so she respects him, but that past is hazy now. And now she’s with a new partner in Sakura, so that’s how she feels now.

– That type of relationship where she’ll use harsh words for Chisato, but she really doesn’t mean them is pretty entertaining.
Asaura: They were together from a young age, so she got to see Chisato constantly treating things flippantly so that might be why she’s so serious herself. Fuki’s personality was created when she was together with Chisato, so after Chisato suddenly left her, Fuki took over that strong sense of responsibility and keeping things right.

– So when you think about it, Chisato was the one who caused Fuki to suffer, right?
Asaura: That’s right. In the early stages, Fuji was a protagonist in the plot, so I have a lot of attachment to her character, but there wasn’t enough room to clearly depict her mental state.

– What about the relationship between Takina and Erika?
Asaura: I didn’t touch those two that much in the plot that I had written, so I feel that story is largely director Adachi’s intent. Actually he requested of me “I don’t want there to be any beautiful girls besides Chisato and Takina” in the plot at the beginning, but eventually, Erika’s character design was depicted very cutely, so her amount of appearances increased in the end. So I don’t know how much we aimed to depict them after all.

– When confronted with Erika’s desperate emotions, Takina is rather cold-hearted, isn’t she?
Asaura: During episode 11 when Takina and Erika are together, Chisato is in danger, so Takina isn’t completely there in mind. I feel like they’d have time to talk properly once the main story is over, wouldn’t you think? I feel I’d like to write that meeting.

– There’s a lot of other characters who show interesting sides. Do you have any favorites?
Asaura: The one who was more interesting than I thought was Robota. In my head he was completely created as a joke character so I didn’t quite know when we first created him if he would survive the story. That same feeling must have entered the other staff members’ heads as they gave him a siren that flashed on his head as a gimmick. (laughs) And he became a loveable character with a lot of appearances.

The particulars of how the non-lethal bullets were created

– We know that you’re a gun fanatic Asaura-san. Can you tell us the particulars of how the guns and bullets in “LycoReco” including Chisato’s non-lethal bullets were created?
Asaura: We had nonlethal bullets because we were airing it over-the-air in Japan and some concern from Aniplex’s side regarding overseas distribution. “It’s a bit unappealing to have the protagonist kill people with a gun.” At that time I thought “This is a gun action show and you’re saying this to me now?!” (laughs) I thought about it a lot and used real-life rubber bullets in order to create the fictional “plastic frangible bullets” in the show. I mention the details about them in the novel, but these bullets are meant to give a big impact to someone if they’re hit with it at close range. However, if the distance increases, then the impact force decreases and the accuracy also considerably shrinks. In short, it’s a bullet that you have to have considerable mastery over the gun at short distances to use these bullets. Originally “LycoReco” was going to use the C.A.R. System (a fighting method where you hold the gun at a slightly diagonal way with both hands suited towards close range combat), so I thought this was surprisingly well-suited for that type of combat and decided on these bullets.

– If it was usual bullets, then 1 or 2 would be enough to cause someone to fall over in agony, but Majima has some weird endurance power to him.
Asaura: That’s just anime. (laughs) There was a scene where he got hit with a rocket launcher in episode 6 and lived, but that wasn’t present in the first scenario. However, the rivalry between Chisato and Majima would’ve been boring if it ended there, so that scene was created where he lived. Well, I think there’s a sense of relief where if Majima is your enemy, he’ll survive somehow. (laughs)

– Oh, I see now. How did you come about equipping all the Lycoris?
Asaura: The Lycoris all use a Glock-like gun, but when I thought about the C.A.R. System, I chose a model where there wasn’t a thumb safety (where there’s a lever controlled by the thumb). Also, in episode 11, there’s a sub machine gun that appears where the recoil is absorbed by the user, so I needed to find a model that smaller girls could use. I also looked for handguns and magazines they could use as well.

A big turmoil (?) at the real Miyakojima

– How do you feel about the theme of this show and how it ended?
Asaura: At this point in the story where the DA has the backing of the government, they’re always willing to do whatever it takes when something dystopic approaches. However, this is a world where Japanese people will remember that strange feeling, so how do they maintain that balance when an enemy like Majima comes around and points them out? While it’s something we created ourselves, I think it’s a really unique type of story.

– And at the end it became a draw between them.
Asaura: But the real winner was Majima. They weren’t able to recover the 1000 guns he spread out, so the unrest will continue in society and at that point, Majima almost nearly accomplishes all his goals.

– And despite all that, it’s interesting that Chisato’s story ends with a happy ending.
Asaura: It’s because Chisato herself doesn’t care about those type of political theories. If she and the people around her are happy, then she’ll have a happy ending.

– Going through all 13 episodes, what are some very memorable scenes for you?
Asaura: The first scene that shocked me was the water fountain scene in episode 3….. but I think that’s a bit too on the nose. But if we’re talking about others that rise up, then it’d have to be the scene on Miyakojima after Chisato and Takina re-unite and are drinking tea at the café. Chisato asks “How did you figure this place out?” and there’s a cut where she holds her hand out to Takina and I really love how her wrist moves in that scene.

– That’s quite detailed.
Asaura: That café actually exists on the real Miyakojima, so maybe it’s because that café made a very strong impression on me when I went there. Actually, when the final episode was broadcast, several of us involved gathered to watch it on Miyakojima. We all gathered in a hotel room to watch it, but once we found out there wasn’t a same-time broadcast in Miyakojima, we had to hook a tablet to the TV to watch it. Everyone worked together and we were able to plug in a HDMI cable to the back of the TV prior to broadcast. It was exactly the same as in episode 12 when Chisato and Fuki were frantically plugging in the USB drive. (laughs)

The reason Chisato and Majima love movies

– The novel “Lycoris Recoil Ordinary Days” also became a bestseller due to the response to the anime.
Asaura: Before it went on sale, I remember thinking “how could this happen?” when it received an additional printing. Thankfully I was able to experience something I hadn’t had before. When I wrote the novel, I didn’t want it to just be something to supplement the anime’s setting, I wanted it to feel like additional episodes for the anime so there were a lot of stories that had a lot of variety.

– It is really extensive when you consider stories like Takina falling in love and a zombie story. It’s like a broad picture of the “LycoReco” title.
Asaura: Thank you very much. I don’t know how “LycoReco” will develop in the future, so even if someone besides me would be in charge of the plot and scenario, I wanted to show the potential of the title saying “It’s okay even if you do this.” Although it may be a dream ending, by writing something as wild as a zombie story, it wouldn’t be strange to even have an isekai reincarnation would it? (laughs)

– There’s a lot of jokes that link to the main story like Chisato’s fixation on movies.
Asaura: Although there is a reason that Chisato likes movies. When we were first designing Majima, one idea we had was that he was a former film director. I pictured him filming cult movies while attacking a real town and laughing “Hyaaaahahahaha!” (laughs) Chisato would talk to that kind of Majima about movies, so that’s how she came to like movies as her character.

– And so the scene where Chisato and Majima discuss films was born from there?
Asaura: It was. Also there’s a scene where Chisato loans Takina a lot of DVDs, isn’t there? That’s a real story that happened between director Adachi and myself. Director Adachi said to me that “[he’s] not really well informed on gun action stories,” so for reference, I loaned him a lot of those films on DVD and Blu-ray. I never heard if he actually watched all of them, but every time I see a scene in the anime about movies, that pops into my head.

– What kind of title is “LycoReco” to you Asaura-san?
Asaura: It’s the best harvest that director Adachi and I could create together. If it was written as a novel, it’d be interesting, but not suited to be depicted as an anime and the reverse. Furthermore, being able to experience how things are going now was marvelous and I truly learned so much about the techniques and thoughts for current times. “LycoReco” was thankfully a title that spread to a lot of people, so I’m very thankful I was able to see a lot of reactions to it. I feel like that will be useful in titles I work on in the future, so I’m grateful that this was been such a blessed experience for me.


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