Part 1 of the Interview with Fujino Oomori-sensei and Keiichi Sigsawa-sensei
The mobile game app Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? ~Memoria Freese~ recently wrapped their first-ever collaboration, mashing them up with Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series. The event was titled “Travelers and the Labyrinth Country,” and featured a rich exchange between the familiar characters of DanMachi and the travelers of Kino’s Journey as they visit the city of Orario.
We sat down with the original creators, Fujino Oomori-san and Keiichi Sigsawa-san, for an interview to discuss the story behind this exceptional collaboration, with a scenario proposal from both creators.
In Part 1 of the interview, we look at the events that led up to this collaboration!
Fans looking to try Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? ~Memoria Freese~ themselves can check out more info here.
“The start of it all was a conversation I had with Souma Saito.” —Sigsawa
—So to start, could you tell us what sparked this collaboration?
Keiichi Sigsawa: The start of it all was a conversation I had with Souma Saito. Last year, when Kino’s Journey was being animated, he said this to me during the post-recording: “You know, I’m actually playing Hermes in DanMachi, too.” I responded, “That’s funny. That makes you the top voice actor for Hermes in Japan. If there’s ever a collaboration, you’ll have to play two roles, hahaha!” I was half-joking at the time, but I never imagined it would happen. Talk about jokes coming true.
Fujino Oomori: I actually heard about that story from Sigsawa-sensei.
Sigsawa: Every now and then, we authors ditch work and get together for drinks, but that was when I shared it with Oomori-san.
Oomori: When Sigsawa-sensei first told me, “Man, I’d love to see Hermes riding Hermes,” I didn’t know about the conversation with Saitou-san, so I thought, “This man just wanted to say that, didn’t he?!” Haha.
But honestly, I thought it would be really fun if we could make it happen, even though we were with different publishers. That was right about the same time that the producer from GREE contacted me to ask, “Are you interested in doing any collaboration projects for DanMemo?” so I told him, “Actually, I had this talk…” Then he got really into the idea and told me, “That’s great!” So I was happy. After that, the production really went through without a hitch.
Sigsawa: It was like the ball got dribbled and passed from Saitou-kun, to me, to Oomori-kun, then straight into the goal. There was also the added miracle that Inori Minase-san played both Hestia and Photo.
—Haha. From a joke at the studio to actual collaboration, talk about out of the blue!
Oomori: It was an incredible plan, without many precedents in the past. Afterward, I met with Sigsawa-sensei, and I recall telling him, “I think it’s going to go through.”
Sigsawa: I was like “Seriously?” myself, haha. I was still half in disbelief. After all, we both work under different publishers, so I thought we’d get shot down because of that. That’s why I think I told Oomori-kun, “If it does actually happen, please let me know.”
The birthplace of their joint scenario proposal was a steakhouse in Ikebukuro.
—So after that, things started on this big project with full supervision from both of you as scenario creators.
Oomori: Once I was nearly certain we were going to get an OK on the project, I invited Sigsawa-sensei out, and we both devised the plot together.
Sigsawa: That was in Ikebukuro.
Oomori: Sigsawa-sensei told me, “I’m hungry today,” so I told him, “I’ll follow you anywhere!” Then we went to a steakhouse…
Sigsawa: If the seats next to ours were too close, they’d hear everything we were discussing, so I wanted a good restaurant where we could relax and talk. So then we went to the steakhouse and ate a lot of steak.
Oomori: Haha. We ate about 300 grams, didn’t we? Without any carbs.
Sigsawa: I was full afterward.
Oomori: I had mine medium rare.
Sigsawa: Mine was medium. I just don’t usually order rare. The steak was delicious.
—So you had yours medium, Sigsawa-sensei… Huh? You only ate steak at the restaurant, or did you actually have your meeting, too?
Sigsawa: Of course, we spent about two hours churning out the finished plot outline. Ultimately, most of the meat, the ideas we created, were adopted as-is. When was that again?
Oomori: I think it was fall of last year. I was desperately jotting down memos while laughing as I listened to Sigsawa-sensei’s ideas.
Sigsawa: When we were thinking about what kind of collaboration it should be, we quickly decided, “It has to be Kino and the others visiting the world of DanMachi.” So we needed to iron out the details about what the story would be, how the characters of both works would interact with each other, and so forth.
Also, one I thing mentioned was that if the different groups from my series, like Kino and Shizu’s group, met in the collaboration, that would affect them in the main story, so we can’t have that. Even if they all visit the same locations, they can never meet. So long as we kept that part down, we could pretty much do whatever we wanted, so it was rather fun talking about it.
Oomori: That’s right. We both talked in depth about the backbones of our works to make sure neither of us ever violated the other’s taboos. After that, we focused a lot on the tempo. DanMemo is a game with a really good tempo in its conversations, so I had Sigsawa-sensei actually play the game for a bit to get a feel for it as we worked things out.
—So it’s a collaboration that incorporates many background aspects we haven’t seen in either work yet, then.
Sigsawa: We’re both creators, after all, so if the two of us are sharing any secret stories, then we’re going to get into dangerous discussions about the secret aspects of our works that haven’t been revealed yet. Oomori-san told me many secrets about DanMachi, but I’ve decided that I’ve forgotten them already, so I can’t tell you what they are.
Oomori: Man, I got to hear all kinds of key details, and it was really novel.
“I’ve been infatuated with [Sigsawa-]sensei since that day.” —Oomori
—My apologies for asking during your discussion, but how long have you two known each other?
Sigsawa: I think the first time we met was when a different author we knew planned a drinking party, right?
Oomori: I think it was around 2015. But I still don’t understand how I came to be invited there that night.
Sigsawa: The one who invited you was Ryohgo Narita-san, right?
Oomori: That’s right, Narita-sensei. We came to know each other because Suzuhito Yasuda was the illustrator for both DanMachi and Durarara!!, but all he said was, “I know of a fun drinking party, want to come?” and I had absolutely no idea what kind of gathering it was until I got there. That was actually a drinking party for the Dengeki Bunko authors, wasn’t it?
Sigsawa: Ah, haha. Yeah, that was mostly authors and editors from Dengeki.
Oomori: I realized it once I got there, and I was like, “Huh? Huuuh?!” It was a shock. Narita-sensei himself is a lot like Orihara Izaya, isn’t he? At the time, I didn’t know where to go, so all I could do was talk to Narita-san, who sat across from me.
—What were your first impression of Sigsawa-sensei?
Oomori: Sigsawa-sensei was wearing this huge backpack, as I recall. I remember asking Narita-san, “What did Sigsawa-sensei bring with him?” Then he told me something I wasn’t sure was true or not: “Sigsawa-sensei always carries survival gear with him, in case the world ends at any moment.”
Sigsawa: No, that’s half-true. At the time I had my bag with me, but I think I did have my sleeping bag in there.
Oomori: Really? Haha. After that, he took me with them to karaoke, but Sigsawa-sensei is a really good singer. We went again on a later day and he sang Kanon Wakeshima’s “RIGHT LIGHT RISE,” the ending theme for DanMachi. It’s sung by a female singer, so the register is high, but he sang it in a really deep voice and it was great, too!
Sigsawa: No, no, I sang in a different key to make it easier to sing.
Oomori: At any rate, I’ve been infatuated with Sensei since that day, haha. I was so happy at the time. I wish I had taken a video of it to treasure. That was what drew us together, and afterward Sigsawa-sensei invited me out more often, I believe.
Sigsawa: I had more opportunities to meet Oomori-san after that day. Narita-san knows a lot of authors outside of Dengeki Bunko, so I’ve met a lot of people through him, too. Also indoor football. I haven’t been recently myself, but you go right, Oomori-san? There’s an indoor football team for authors, and they’re open to people joining when interested.
Oomori: Yes, I stop by occasionally some nights. Man, I’m grateful that they’re always so welcoming, haha.
—I’m surprised to hear Narita-san was involved in creating this collaboration.
Sigsawa: I suppose in that sense, he was. If we hadn’t grown to know each other and become friends, we never would’ve talked about collaborating. I guess that was the groundwork to see Souma Saitou-san’s idea through.
Oomori: They can be so strange sometimes, but meeting people really is great.
“I dropped the draft down before their eyes. I really remember the producers’ tense smiles when I did that.” —Oomori
—So what was it like actually creating the scenario for this collaboration?
Sigsawa: With Kino and the others, the fundamental plot is that the travelers visit another country, encounter something new there, then end the episode by leaving. So to be honest, as long we kept that form of “they visited a country,” anything could go for the rest.
Since this collaboration involved them visiting the world of DanMachi, that fit perfectly into their pattern. If we tried the reverse, of them coming to Kino’s world, it would’ve been pretty difficult.
But in that case they’d still have to visit each city, so it would’ve been the same in the end. Kino can go wherever she’s called, so we didn’t have too much fuss about that and were able to settle on things quickly.
—So then Oomori-san took home the plot you two created, organized it, and handed it over to GREE-san?
Sigsawa: It was about two opposing notebook pages’ worth, right?
Oomori: About that much. Afterward, when GREE-san started talking about, “Well, what do we do for the plot then?” at the meeting, I dropped the draft down before their eyes. I really remember the producers’ tense smiles when I did that. They looked like, “Ah, shoot. Now we have no choice but to go get consent from KADOKAWA-san.” Like they were resigning themselves to that.
—Haha. The people at GREE must have been quite surprised.
Oomori: To be honest, I kind of wanted to pull something like Bakuman and be all, “Actually, it’s mostly done!”
Sigsawa: Once Oomori-san submitted the proposal, things went from there. I participated from the very first draft drawn up by GREE-san’s game script writers, and checked over the content from that point. By that time everything we requested was finished, but they expanded on the lines to make it even richer.
“I’d love to try writing in the style I felt from Kino’s Journey at some point sometime.” —Oomori
—Do you ever feel like you’re getting feedback for your own works when you interact with games, anime, manga, and other such works outside of novels?
Sigsawa: Well, in my case, anything can provide input.
Oomori: I feel the same as Sigsawa-sensei. Anything that makes me think, “This idea is interesting,” I keep in stock and incubate. From Kino’s Journey, I found the depiction of the “Country of Fireworks” (from Volume 6) really interesting, and I made a note to use it as reference at some point, haha.
—Sigsawa-sensei, lately you’ve been tweeting on Twitter about Laid-Back Camp, right?
Sigsawa: That’s right. There’s always some influence from the things I like. It’s just that if work with that right away, then the presentation will be too similar and it’ll seem like a rip-off, so I think I’ll probably do something once everyone’s hype for Laid-Back Camp has died down.
Oomori: I think I remember you talking about something like that a drinking party before. When I mentioned, “I’m having trouble coming up with ideas,” you nodded a whole lot and said something like, “Oomori-san, you should just borrow ideas after everyone’s forgotten about them,” haha.
Sisawa: You’re always going to be influenced by something when you’re creating. In fact, it’s impossible to create anything without being influenced by other things. Once that influence has fermented, that’s when it can become your own expression.
Oomori: This my personal theory, but I believe that hardly anything created now is creating 1 from 0. If anything, the work we do now is creating 2 from 1. Though that might sound impertinent coming from someone who only debuted five years ago.
—So you really do have discussions like at the drinking parties between authors, huh.
Sigsawa: Well, it’s not so much that we debate theories about the creative process as we just talk about a lot of different things. Things like, “I was influenced by this work,” or, “That one was interesting.” We got excited talking about a movie from a while ago too, Baahubali. All of us authors were shouting, “Baahubali! Baahubali!” That movie provided a lot to learn from. Its excessively hot action and excitement was amazing, like G Gundam’s.
Oomori: When authors get together and communicate, we gain information about things we don’t keep an antenna out for.
—So it’s not like you ask for or get advice for each other’s works that much, then?
Sigsawa: Not really. It’s more like, for example, I love guns and bikes, so I’ll get questions like, “What gun would be good to give this guy?” It’s more like we ask those who know a lot about a certain topic to tell us about it.
Oomori: We also have a lot of stupid conversations like one would expect at a drinking party.
“This collaboration really does feel like something we created together.” —Sigsawa
—So listening to how this all came about, it sounds like it’s actually been the most ideal way for a collaboration to happen. You two, the authors, had your own rich exchange, and then you worked on creating the content to be implemented.
Oomori: I’m happiest about the fact Sigsawa-sensei and I were able to have a whole lot of fun creating this together. Everyone involved with DanMachi, DanMemo, and Kino’s Journey is very passionate, so there were a lot of people who wanted to do something fun with this. I think that’s why everyone was happy with it, and we felt good about doing it together.
Sigsawa: This collaboration really does feel like something we created together. I’ve done several collaborations before with Kino’s Journey and Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, which airs in April, but fundamentally, I’m usually taking the passive role of checking the project proposal and major plot outline provided by the other partner. This time, we had a lot of fun putting ideas out and laughing together, and that ended up getting accepted. It was the complete opposite of the usual process. That’s all the more reason I was like, “Yeah, let’s do this!” and checked over it with more enthusiasm than I ever have before.
Oomori: I really agree. In fact, this project came about with us authors pretty much doing whatever we wanted, so part of me also feels really apologetic toward everyone at GREE-san and those involved with our works.
—So the connection between you two formed by Narita-san helped Souma Saito-san’s passing comment grow into this project. It truly is a miraculous collaboration.
Oomori: It really is. Personally it makes me think, “Is it Wrong to Try and Pick Up Friends at Steakhouses?” Haha.
The interview will continue tomorrow in Part 2.
© 2017 KEIICHI SIGSAWA/KADOKAWA CORPORATION AMW/KINO'S JOURNEY PARTNERS
© Fujino Omori-SB Creative Corp./Danmachi Movie Project
© GREE, Inc.