Crunchyroll speaks with the creators behind the So I’m a Spider, So What? original novels and spin-off projects!
So I’m A Spider, So What? is nearing the Season 1 finale and we’ve got something special to celebrate! Some of the creators of the original source material were kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions about So I’m a Spider, So What?, their thoughts on the anime, and much more! With us are light novel author Okina Baba, light novel illustrator Tsukasa Kiryu, manga author Asahiro Kakashi, and side-story manga author Gratin Bird.
First, we have questions for Okina Baba, the original light novel author. How did you come up with the idea of having the protagonist reincarnated as a spider?
Baba: Part of it was that reincarnating in other worlds was a trend on the Shosetsuka ni Narou platform, and I've mentioned this before, but That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was a big influence. The day that I decided to start writing a story about reincarnating as a monster, there just happened to be a spider in my dreams, and that was all it took.
There are a lot of video game elements incorporated into the setting; do you play them yourself? Is there any game that influenced the plot or how the story is unfolding?
Baba: Yes, I love video games. But lately, I've been so busy, and I haven't gotten to play many. I wish I could. (Laughs)
Were there any games in particular that influenced So I’m a Spider, So What?
Baba: There's so many. In terms of RPGs, there's obviously Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy as the big-name examples. For action, probably Monster Hunter and similar titles, I would reference them for the fight scenes.
Is there anything, in particular, you'd like to point out about the anime?
Baba: Episode 4 made a big impression on me. That was the big battle with the monkeys. When Kakashi-sensei illustrated that in the comic adaptation, I was overwhelmed with how many monkeys there were. (Laughs) I had heard how it had been a lot of work, so I was anxious about it being even more work for the anime. But when I saw the scene, they were animating smoothly, and it made for an impactful image, so I was just impressed with it.
Regarding Yuki Aoi-san, is her performance just like you envisioned for Kumoko?
Baba: I think so. Or maybe I should say, I can't imagine anyone else other than Yuki-san's voice now. (Laughs) The fact that she's able to do something as weird as performing four roles by herself, who all talk to each other, makes me amazed at what she can pull off.
Did you specifically ask for her during the casting?
Baba: That was something I discussed with the anime staff and made the decision collectively.
Next, we have a question for Tsuaka Kiryu, the original light novel illustrator. There aren't many people who describe spiders as cute, but everyone talks about how cute Kumoko is. Are there any special tricks to making her look cute?
Kiryu: I am one of the people who do think spiders are cute, so from the very beginning, that was a part of how I drew her. But the idea was to make her design a little more appealing to people who don't like spiders, so I discussed with the editor what it is about spiders and insects that creep people out.
We concluded that thin legs are scary and that having a lot of hair makes them seem poisonous in a way that causes disgust. Those were the two big factors, and then from there, we ended up going with a slightly more smooth-looking design with short legs to look cute. But even then, it was still pretty tough, and as I think it was shown in the rough designs on display in So I'm a Spider Ex, I ended up doing around 100 different variations.
Baba-sensei, what did you think when you first saw Kumoko's design?
Baba: What I received was that lineup of 100 different designs, at first. They had different types of heads and bodies, all distinct, and I got to watch the refinement process as it happened. And then when I was presented with the final version, it was a feeling like "Oh, there it is. This is it!" (laughs)
Next, we have questions for Asahiro Kakashi, the manga adaptations' author. How did you end up drawing the manga adaptation? Were you aware of the source material?
Kakashi: I hadn't read it myself, but my editor described it as a project with a lot of momentum and asked if I wanted to be involved, in addition to mentioning that they didn't have anyone else in mind for the manga, "So could you please do it?" (laughs) I was worried about what I was signing up for at first. It had many views on the "Narou" website, but I think they weren't sure if anyone was up to the task of doing the manga.
Early on, there was the real sense that it'd be a crazy project, and maybe more than I could handle, but did I want to try? But then it turned into a huge hit, and as someone involved with the project, that was a big relief, but at that point, it was like, "We're counting on you, Kakashi-sensei, because this manga is a crucial part of the franchise and the magazine."
Expectations were running high. So I was kind of freaked out. (Laughs) So it was kind of what you might call an intermittently intense project? (Laughs) But ultimately, it was a matter of trusting in the skills I've developed over my career, and I was grateful for the opportunity.
What kind of influence does Kiryu-sensei's art style and designs have on the manga adaptation? Was there anything, in particular, you had trouble with?
Kakashi: This is something I've mentioned before, but early on, I was frustrated by how hard it was to put any of those designs into motion. (Laughs) They were kind of a questionable fit for manga-style art, plus they would've pushed my draftsmanship ability beyond its limits, so I kind of had to redo them all, starting with a monochrome base, as well as rethink the colors. I wasn't sure what to do about the lack of a head, considering that spiders don't really have one, so that was a challenge.
I ended up sorta just sticking a head on the thorax like the way ants have one. Then there were the questions of how there are some really sad and intense scenes, and I thought about how people cry at Pokemon movies, so maybe that's the level of detail we should go for? I ended up discussing it with the editor, and we decided that "Pokemon level" was probably the right thing to aim for in terms of how detailed the art would get.
There are also some games on Steam and such that make great use of silhouettes. I thought that the linework for the various other characters should be something I can whip up quickly, tailored to an environment with a lot of contrasting light and shadow. I do feel kind of bad about what I did to Kiryu-sensei's designs (laughs), but it is what it is.
Next, we have a question for Gratin Bird, The Daily Lives of the Kumoko Sisters’ manga author. In your opinion, what would you say is the appeal of the story, as well as the spinoffs?
Gratin Bird: Well, I think having a spider for a protagonist is something you won't see anywhere else. That's probably the most vital point of distinction. And as far as Kumoko goes, early in the story, so much of it is about her struggling, going through this brutal attempt to survive, enduring real frustration but working through, gradually getting stronger all the time. On top of that is the mystery of how her story will eventually tie into the human side of the story. There's a real sense of "What is this? How is this going to work?" that, as you read it over time, you start to formulate theories about what's going to happen and realize what parts were foreshadowed. I think that's a big part of the fun.
In addition, there are the things I introduce to the story, like how cute the other monsters are, the catfish in particular. These are the monsters that were part of intense battles in the main story, but even then, you can't bring yourself to hate them, and the fact that all these different characters have their unique charms is really enjoyable.
As to how I approach the appeal of the spinoff, I just think really hard about it every single time. (laughs) In my head, it really is like, "Think like the alternative is gonna kill you." (Laughs) I somehow manage to come up with some material. Still, the spider sisters were originally the same person, along with the fact that we haven't left the Great Elroe Labyrinth yet, which is kind of limiting for a comedy manga. Part of how I've dealt with that, and this is going back to video games, is I've recently bought a VR headset and have been playing things like Skyrim VR. I'll head into a cave in those games and try to do some zen meditation, basically going, "So, now what?" (Laughs) "Okay, we're here in a cave, what are we doing today" that sort of thing. That's part of how I tackle it.
Now, we would like to ask everyone some general questions. Is there anything that you all thought, seeing the story go from a novel to a manga, a spinoff manga, and now an anime adaptation?
Baba: We don't really talk that much, not altogether. I've only spoken with Kakashi-sensei twice before, in meetings.
Kakashi: That's right. The rough details for the comic adaptation were discussed over a lunch meeting, but other than that, it's been pretty hands-off. One other thing I remember was asking something about a bit I wanted to do for the Demon Lord, but not much other than that.
So it's less that you're talking to each other through your editors all the time, and more like you're just discussing things with your editors like you would with any other project?
Kakashi: That's right. I mostly try to avoid stepping on any toes. I turn to my editor to make sure that the chain of command doesn't get disrupted at all.
Kiryu-sensei, was there anything that Baba-sensei specifically requested?
Kiryu: For the most part, I'm left to handle the character design, and it does feel like I just discuss things with my editor. One thing I can remember that I was asked to change my initial design for Shun to make him look more ordinary. (laughs) I had him looking a bit sharper in my original design, a little stronger, so I was asked to make him a bit more normal-looking.
Baba-sensei, does that mean your image for Shun is that he should be kind of young and not particularly strong looking at the start?
Baba: I think so. The original design was a bit more angular-looking. So he gave off a feeling of being strong already. (Laughs) For the anime, too, when I spoke to Shun's actor, Horie-san, I asked him once to go for a more average-sounding performance. He's had many roles; many of them were heroic characters, so the way he shouts came off as too powerful. (Laughs) I had to ask him to go a little weaker, and that's similar to the request I made of Kiryu-sensei after seeing the original design for Shun.
Thank you so much. Did you receive any similar requests, Gratin Bird-sensei?
Gratin Bird: I'm really allowed just to do whatever I want. (Laughs)
Honestly, I've got so much freedom; I start to wonder, "Is this a good idea?" And when I convince myself that it's fine, I start to get into a game of chicken about how far I can go. (Laughs) But then Baba-sensei wrote the afterword for the collected volume, and it was like, "Okay, I've been forgiven." (Laughs) I'm not sure about how far I should go sometimes. It is a comedy, and comedy has an element of destruction, so I get anxious about just how much havoc to wreak.
Do you have anything to say about that, Baba-sensei?
Baba: Not at all. Keep on flying free, all the way to outer space.
Gratin Bird: Thank you so much. (Laughs) And I'm really sorry.
Baba: Seriously, I want you to approach the comic like you're trying to fly to the moon. (Laughs)
Gratin Bird: Thank you. It's a relief to get permission. (Laughs)
Do you have anything you'd like to say to overseas fans?
Baba: It's a huge honor to know that fans from overseas are enjoying the story. I hope they continue to have fun with it.
Kiryu: I've gotten messages from people all over the world on my personal Twitter, and those are always a joy to see. Thank you so much for your support.
Kakashi: Let's see ... I've got quite a few foreign followers too, and in particular, it seems that non-human characters are really popular in North America. (Laughs) There's going to be a lot more monsters to come, so I hope you look forward to meeting them.
Gratin Bird: It makes me curious about how the translation handles things like Kumoko talking a mile-a-minute or all the jokes that are involved (laughs), I'd honestly like to see that. But it all boils down to Kumoko-chan, our funny little Kumoko-chan, and all her intense battles, and I hope people continue to enjoy her adventures.
Skyler loves writing and chatting about anime, and is always ready to gush about the latest One Piece chapter. Read more of his work at his blog apieceofanime.com and follow him on Twitter at Videogamep3.
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