【interview】The Eminence in Shadow Daisuke Aizawa original author


Animate Times has been providing fans with a series of interviews with cast and crew members involved with the anime 「The Eminence in Shadow」, and now「 Daisuke Aizawa」, the creator of kagejitsu (short for the Japanese title) and author of the original work, is here! Together with his editor, Mr. Shimizu, he tells us how he came up with the idea of「kagejitsu」, the background behind the creation of characters such as「Cid」 and 「Shadow Seven」, his favorite episodes of the anime, and also introduces some highlights of his original novel volume 5, which was released on December 28, 2022.



interview Daisuke Aizawa 「The Eminence in Shadow」

Daisuke Aizawa 「Cid is a character that reflects my own values」.

-First of all, How did you come up with the idea for 「The Eminence in Shadow」?

Daisuke Aizawa : The beginning of my first work was when I published my own work on the novel submission site 「Shōsetsuka ni Narō」. At the time, there were a huge number of works based on the theme of 「Different World Reincarnation」, which had long boasted its dominance as a popular genre. Although there were many competing works, I decided to dare to write a work on 「different world Reincarnation」 as a start. I was still exploring, but after I had written about two episodes of 「kagejitsu」, the idea of including an element in the work where the characters’ thought crossed paths came to mind, and I felt a sense of certainty rose up that 「this could be good」 within me. I had never written a novel before, and I wasn’t sure if I was capable of writing a proper novel, but at any rate, it looked like it might be interesting, so I decided to give it a try. That was how I felt at first (laugh).

-The main character, Kageno, is reborn as a new baby in a different world. The Diabolos cult he mentioned at random actually exists, and moreover, they act on a great ambition. It’s a rather large scale story where they (the enemies) and the Shadow Garden led by Cid face off. How did you construct this worldview?

Daisuke Aizawa :I don’t have any particular 「strong assertion」 or 「commitment」 to the worldview of the work. I added various elements based on the idea that this kind of worldview would make it easier to move the story and characters along in an interesting way.

I was surprised by the overwhelming strength of Cid and Seven Shadows from the beginning.

Daisuke Aizawa :I myself love the exhilaration of the 「me, TUEEE style!」(I’m too tough style!) I hope readers enjoy it as much as I do.

-The main character 「Cid」is a 「Chūnibyō」 who pursues strength, but he is a mysterious character with ambitions to rule the world not in the front world but in the shadows and a yearning for so-called 「mob characters」. How did you create this character?

Daisuke Aizawa :One of the things I wanted to write about in this work was to express my values that I have gained in my life. In doing so, the surface of the work could be anything, not 「Different World Reincarnation」, for example, but something like a 「shounen manga」. I myself have been choosing what to value and what to discard from my own perspective in this world since I was in junior high school, and as I have gradually become able to verbalize this, I have been able to delve deeper into this work.

When I was in junior high school, my thinking was shallow, and it was really 「Chūnibyō」 or something like that. As I grew older, my perspective broadened and I began to see things from different perspectives and angles, and I thought it was time for me to express 「this is how I think」. That’s why the main characters in my work are all like that (laugh). What Cid values this time is a 「powerful man behind the scenes」. I myself do not have such a feeling (laugh), but I made that part of my work accordingly.

Editor Shimizu-san : In the conversation with Ruslan in episode 9 of the TV anime, Cid says, 「I make a clear distinction between what is important to me and what is not」, and in the scene with Alexia in the hot springs in episode 11, he says that he separates 「things I like that are not important」 and「things I don’t like that are not important」 . You are talking about that kind of 「making a choice」, aren’t you?

Daisuke Aizawa :Yes, that’s right (laugh).

-I see. But I am relieved that Mr. Aizawa is not so ambitious as to aspire to be the ruler of the shadows (laugh). Masayoshi Oishi of OxT, who is in charge of the anime OP song 「Highest」, which appeared in the second installment of the series, said, 「I appreciate the feeling that the Main character picked up on the thoughts of Chūnibyō that we had in our elementary and junior high school days and gently patted our wounds」. Since you understand 「Chūnibyō」 so well, do you feel the same way, Mr. Aizawa?

Daisuke Aizawa :I think I have a lot of that. I was quite 「Chūnibyō」 myself in junior high and high school (laugh).

Click on the image to go to youtube. ↓

-The character of 「Chūnibyō」 is characterized by a strong 「delusional power」, but even in the real world, Cid’s obsession to become stronger by pushing himself to the limit is tremendous

Daisuke Aizawa :When I look at him, I feel that he is somehow connected to a complex or something he is not satisfied with, so I wonder if I myself was also desiring power at the time. (laugh) I was still unstable when I was in junior high school, and I couldn’t accept reality as reality, so maybe I have been lying to reality in various aspects, and I think there is a little lie mixed in Cid as well. ……

-And the Seven Shadows who support Cid is one of the main attractions of your work.

Daisuke Aizawa :There is no deep meaning in the 「seven」 part. There is a theory that humans can memorize up to 「seven」 at a moment’s notice, and I thought it would be easy to remember because it is the lucky seven. As for the individual characters of the Shadow Seven, it is as if I created the necessary characters at each moment. Therefore, I did not create a detailed character set in advance of creating the work, but rather, girls were born by chance, and the detailed setting was gradually solidified later.

Editor Shimizu:  The characters are created from the viewpoint of 「it would be easier to move the story if there were such a girl」 in the development of the story led by Cid. However, if the story is filled with too many settings, it will be difficult for the story to move forward, so I have the impression that Mr. Aizawa created the characters with a certain amount of blank space so that the story can move in an interesting direction at each moment.

Daisuke Aizawa :That’s right. Of course, when Mr. Tozai-san illustrated the novel, there were many visual decisions that had to be made for the convenience of the story, so we consulted with each other as we created the work.

Daisuke Aizawa talks of Tozai’s drawings「The Eminence in Shadow」

-The illustrations drawn by Tozai-san in your original novels are also very attractive. What made you decide to ask Tozai-san to do the illustrations?

Daisuke Aizawa :First, our editor Shimizu-san suggested 「Why don’t we ask Tozai-san to do the illustrations?」 I told Mr. Shimizu that I would definitely like to ask Tozai-san to do the illustrations.

Editor Shimizu : I suggested that he would be able to expand the world view of Mr. Aizawa’s work with his visuals(illustrations).

Daisuke Aizawa :One of the reasons I wanted to commission Mr. Tozai for a job was his wonderful use of color. The colors were different from anything I had seen before, and when I asked him about it later, he told me that he used to work as an animator. I was convinced that his current illustrations were born from such experience.

Editor Shimizu :There were a few things I wanted to emphasize in the visualization of this work. The most important of these was 「character design」. It goes without saying that Mr. Tozai’s drawings are very beautiful, but he also designs original characters as well as derivative works on Twitter, etc., and has published many of them as a single picture, including the background of the picture. In 「kagejitsu」, as mentioned above, we did not dare to detail the character settings and left some freedom and blank space in the design, so we thought that Mr.Tozai would be able to visualize Mr.Aizawa wonderful world view and characters with his originality in his illustrations. For these reasons, I proposed to commission him.

-After Mr. Tozai gave you the OK, did you leave most of the design work to him?

Editor Shimizu :We decided on the essential settings for the character and told them to Mr. Tozai beforehand. I told him about the hair and eye color, and other points that should not be shifted as part of the character’s unique personality.

Daisuke Aizawa :Mr. Shimizu gave me a character sheet format to fill in settings such as height, weight, and costume, and told me to 「fill in the blanks in this document and submit it」. As mentioned above, I had not fully decided on the character and left a lot of blanks in the settings, so I could not fill them in at all (laugh).

Editor Shimizu :Also, Mr. Tozai and I talked about how we wanted to create a 「one-of-a-kind character」 in this work with many attractive characters, especially Seven Shadows, so that fans could say, 「I love this character」, and we wanted to bring out each one’s different charms.

Daisuke Aizawa :On top of that, I felt that we had Mr. Tozai create original character visuals while letting his imagination run wild.

Director Nakanishi , who had been reading 「The Eminence in Shadow」 since the web novel days

-How was the anime adaptation decided and at what stage did Mr. Aizawa find out about it?

Daisuke Aizawa :I think it was around February 2020 when we received a concrete proposal for the anime adaptation.

Editor Shimizu:  From an editorial standpoint, from the time the first volume of the novel was published, I had a strong desire to make an 「animated TV series」 so that many people could enjoy this fascinating story and its characters. So I worked with 「Mr. Aizawa」 and 「Mr. Tozai 」on the book, hoping that it would be a book that many people would want to see in an anime as well. I remember that when the first volume of the novel was completed, I handed the book to the producer of the anime of this work and told him, 「Please make it into an anime」 Then he read work, and the anime adaptation proceeded under the surface.

-Mr. Aizawa, what did you think when the anime adaptation was decided?

Daisuke Aizawa :「Oh …… I see. ……」 kind of …… (laugh). I couldn’t accept it as a real event, but as the project progressed, it gradually became more and more real, and I was very honored and happy.

Editor Shimizu:  Indeed, the initial reaction of Mr. Aizawa was like Cid’s reaction to 「things I like that are not important」, like when he and Alexia went to the hot springs (laugh).

All: (laughter)

Daisuke Aizawa :No, I was really very happy! (laugh) But I wasn’t very familiar with anime myself, so I couldn’t fully accept the fact that my work was going to be made into an anime (laugh). As time went by, I became more and more excited.

-Did Mr. Aizawa have any requests for the production side when it came time to make the anime? 

Daisuke Aizawa :I had a chance to check the scenario of the anime and made some suggestions within the scope of supervision. However, we did not make any special requests. I basically left it up to the animation production team.

-What did you discuss with director Kazuya Nakanishi when you first met?

Daisuke Aizawa At first, I greeted him remotely since we were in the environment during the Corona epidemic, and then we talked specifically about the scenario of the first episode.

-When you appeared in the last interview series, Director Nakanishi said that he read The Eminence in Shadow about 5 episodes into the web novel series and was convinced that this would be a work that would become an anime.Have you heard about this talk directly from the director?

Daisuke Aizawa I heard about that talk when I actually met the director after the greeting at the remote, and I was very honored and happy to hear it. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet someone who has appreciated this work from the very beginning, and to have him direct an animation based on my original work.

-I am sure that because he was involved in this anime as he had to be, you can feel his love and respect for the work throughout the anime.

Daisuke Aizawa I am truly grateful !

-By the way, what is your impression of the casting of the characters from the original work?

Daisuke Aizawa I left the casting also entirely up to the anime production team, and I feel very honored to have such a splendid and talented cast involved in bringing the characters to life. I was delighted to find that the voice actors’ voices and performances of all the characters were beyond my image and beyond my imagination.

What is Mr. Daisuke Aizawa ‘s favorite Eminence in Shadow episode ?

-What are your impressions of the TV anime version?

Daisuke Aizawa It was very interesting! On top of that, when I saw the characters I had imagined in writing moving in the anime, I felt as if I was a stranger to them. I was happy, but I also felt a touch of sadness, as if they had left my hands and gone far away. …… (laugh). But I am really happy.

-I was surprised by the unimaginable development from the first episode, how did you feel Mr. Aizawa?

Daisuke Aizawa I thought the anime was very interesting because it depicted a different story structure from the original novel I wrote. On the other hand, I was a bit worried about how the audience would perceive the story, but I was relieved to hear that the response from the audience was positive.

-What did you think of Seiichiro Yamashita’s performance as Cid?

Daisuke Aizawa I think he was very suited to the role! The presence of the Main character that I had thought of in the text (novel) felt more real in the anime, which was great.

-What did you think of Mr. Yamashita’s full-length line, 「I am Atomic」?

Daisuke Aizawa It was great ! Combined with the unique expression of the anime, it worked well with the voice actors’ performances, and it was great. I am sure there must have been a lot of hard work involved, such as using different lines for Cid and Shadow, but I am very glad that Mr. Yamashita was able to play the role of Cid.

-Can you give us your favorite scene or episode from the 13 episodes of the anime?

Daisuke Aizawa I was really impressed with the atomic episode (episode 5) after all, and it is my favorite episode.

Editor Shimizu:  At the beginning of episode 8 of the anime, there was a scene where a terrorist appeared at the school and Cid defended Rose-senpai who was about to be stabbed, but in the same scene at the end of episode 7 before that, there was no monologue from Cid at all, but in the same scene at the beginning of episode 8, Cid’s monologue was included. He happily said, 「It is the role of the mob to be the first to be killed」,and I really enjoyed watching the same scene and drawing but with a different expression, which is unique to anime.

Daisuke Aizawa I liked that part too! Also, the exchange of lines between Shelly and Alexia in episode 7 had a feel to it that cannot be expressed in writing, and I felt that it was the anime that made it stand out as interesting, which was great and my favorite!

-I also that there was a photo of Alexia and Cid hidden behind a picture frame in that scene, which is a unique effect of the anime.

Daisuke Aizawa I was very happy to see the attention to detail!

Daisuke Aizawa ‘s favorite Seven Shadows is 〇〇「The Eminence in Shadow」

-By the way, do you have a favorite character?

Daisuke Aizawa I would have to say the main character, Cid, and (Seven Shadows) Delta, because both of them are inspired by my own life, and I used to own a dog.

Editor Shimizu: Is that such an oblique reason !? (laugh) Delta is still not in her element in the anime, but in the original novel, there are episodes in which Delta appears a lot, and she is a lovable and endearing character, isn’t she?

Daisuke Aizawa She is a fun character to watch (laugh).

-When Asami Seto, who plays Alpha, appeared in this interview series before, we talked about how great Alpha’s sense of being a rightful wife was. Are you conscious of this aspect of Alpha?

Daisuke Aizawa She was also the first Seven Shadows character, so I was conscious of trying to make her a character with no diminishing points. As a result, she became a 「perfect superhero」 character.

-Speaking of characters, I like how you can immediately tell how they are treated in the anime just by looking at their names, such as 「Hyoro Gari」 and 「Jaga Imo」, Cid’s friends at Midgaru Academy. How do you give them simple and unique names?

「Hyoro Gari」(ひょろがり) A cursing term used to refer to a skinny and poor body with little fat and muscle, i.e., a scrawny body. Basically, it is used to describe the unmanly slimming of men.

「Jaga Imo」(じゃがいも)  potato

Aizawa: I don’t have much of a sense of naming (laugh), so I tend to give names that are relatively character-oriented directly. 「Jimina Seinen」 is one such example (laugh). In the new episode I’m writing now, there will be a character named 「Gete-Mono」, so please look forward to it! (Laugh)

「Jimina Seinen」(地味な青年) A conservative young man. A subdued young man.

「Gete-Mono」(ゲテモノ) A rustic, commonplace vessel of crude workmanship as opposed to elaborate articles (luxury goods).

-Your work can be said to have been created by Cid, in his imagination of a lax setting, and that was the impetus for the story. When you were a child or a boy, did you ever think of a mysterious setting or fantasize about 「being who you imagined you would be?

Daisuke Aizawa I did. When I was in elementary school, I wished I could be faster in running, and when I was in middle and high school, I thought of 「Sephiroth, cool!」 from 「FF (Final Fantasy) VII」. And so on!

–Mr. Oishi of OxT (opening theme song) said that when he was little, he played special moves, climbed high places and looked down on people from above, and Tom-H@ck played vehicle piloting.

Daisuke Aizawa I didn’t actually act much, but I would imagine things. I like video games, and I was very much influenced by the games I played as a child, especially from 「FF VII」 to 「FF IX」, and I had a great admiration for Sephiroth. …… Sephiroth is not a powerful man in the shadows, but Cid has that kind of air about him, too. Looking back, I am not consciously aware of it, but I am sure that Sephiroth has had an influence on me.

Daisuke Aizawa About the future development of the 「The Eminence in Shadow」

-What are some of the future highlights of the anime?

Daisuke Aizawa As the story progresses, the sense of scale gets bigger and bigger, but Sid remains the same, and I think the gap between the two is be fun. I hope that anime fans will enjoy this aspect of the story. And I would be happy if you could look forward to more of Cid as the Main character in the future! (laugh).

-On December 28, the long-awaited latest 5 volumes of the novel will be released. Please introduce some of the highlights and points of interest.

Daisuke Aizawa In terms of easy-to-understand topics, Zeta and Eta, who had not yet appeared much in the original work or the anime, will make an appearance. Of course, the other Seven Shadows and Alexia and her friends will also be active. The story is getting deeper and deeper as we start to see the respective movements of Cid and the Shadowgarden side and Alexia and the Midgar Academy side. On the other hand, Cid himself is still enjoying himself, doing whatever he wants (laugh). I think that fans of the original work as well as fans of the 「kagejitsu」 comics, anime, and games will also enjoy the story.

Volume 5 is a little further along in the story than the anime story, but the original story changes the focus of the characters in each episode, and some characters that do not feature much in the anime are also depicted in the story. I think there are many things you can understand the meaning of by reading the original work and comics after watching the anime. We hope that those who are interested in the story will read the original novel and comics and enjoy 「kagejitsu」 even more.

「The Eminence in Shadow」 Final message from Daisuke Aizawa

Daisuke Aizawa First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has read my novels for your continued support. I feel that I have come this far thanks to all of you, so I can only say truly thank you. I would also like to thank everyone who has been watching the comics, anime, and games. I hope you will continue to enjoy the work as the series as a whole continues to grow more and more interesting. And for those of you who have not yet experienced my work, if you have read this interview and would like to read the novels and comics, or enjoy the games and anime, I would be happy if you would touch my work once to see if you are interested in it.

Editor Shimizu: 「kagejitsu」 has been developed in a number of media, including the original story, a comic book, an anime, and a game. Each medium has its own unique and wide-ranging expression, so I am sure that those who are interested will enjoy all of them, and I would be happy if you could enter the world of 「kagejitsu」 from the easiest place to touch.

Daisuke Aizawa  Yes, that’s right ! I hope you all enjoy the work!

Thank you for watching. See you soon.

The Eminence in Shadow interview Page


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