The TV anime Overlord III will reach its final episode in the 13th episode broadcast on 2 October and The Saga of Tanya the Evil has announced the production of a completely new film version. Both of these two works have original novels published by KADOKAWA, and are popular titles at the top of the otherworldly reincarnation genre.
Comic Natalie therefore set up a dialogue between ‘Overlord’ author Maruyama Kugane and ‘The Saga of Tanya the Evil’ author Carlo Zen. We asked them about their relationship, which is like when the next runner smoothly receives the baton from the previous runner in a relay race, while confirming each other’s presence as they continue to run. We hope that this dialogue will serve as a baton between the two films.
- Mutual awareness of each other from the time of the web series
- Isn’t it strange to have a skeleton as the protagonist? (Carlo)
- Overlord’ only if you are stunned by the mating of Lizardmen (Maruyama).
- The exchange of words is interesting because misunderstandings occur (Carlo).
- If The Saga of Tanya the Evil runs three cool episodes, I’ll think about continuing Overlord (Maruyama).
- The otherworldly reincarnation boom continues in a different form (Carlo).
Mutual awareness of each other from the time of the web series
You two seem to have known each other for a long time, but when did you first become aware of each other’s existence?
Carlo Zen: I was first aware of you not as Mr Maruyama, but as muchimuchipuririn (Kugane Maruyama’s former pen name). More than that, I was aware of the work Overlord. This was because Arcadia (the novel submission website where the two had published their works) was a format where the work was more likely to attract attention than the author.
Arcadia （Novel submission website】Arcadia Main (mai-net.net)
Maruyama Kugane: “The Saga of Tanya the Evil” was naturally something I was aware of from the time I was on Arcadia, but the fact that I completed it left a strong impression on me. posting web novels is something you do as a hobby, so you have no obligation or responsibility to finish your work. So while there are many people who just run out of steam and disappear, I thought that you had to have a strong will to write all the way to the end.
Carlo It’s difficult, isn’t it? Even if you write about what you like because it’s your hobby, there is the problem of whether the audience will be happy with it. In my case, I’m like a stubborn ramen shop that says if you can’t eat what I make, get out. I’m the type of person who forcibly shoves ramen into the reader’s mouth and hopes to hear what they think.
Maruyama: Arcadia was a place where I couldn’t write unless I felt that way.
Carlo The novel submission website Novelist’s Letter, which has become popular in recent years, takes the stance of supporting what you like. But Arcadia was a place where people who liked your work and people who didn’t like it were shouting abuse at each other and beating each other to a pulp.
Maruyama: Arcadia was hell. It was the first street of hell (laugh).
When was the first time you met him in person?
Carlo It was after The Saga of Tanya the Evil was published, so at the end of ……2013. I remember that Maruyama-sensei invited me and we had a potluck.
Maruyama: I remember when The Saga of Tanya the Evil came out. I thought, “It’s so thick” and “I didn’t realise they made the cover like this”. But we saw each other from time to time after our first meeting, so I don’t really remember what we did.
Carlo: You get together with a few of us for dinner rather often, don’t you?
Do you mean with fellow writers?
Carlo Yes, that’s right. I’m a latecomer to the Arcadia boom, so I don’t have many people I can call my peers. We were both on the same Enterbrain (now KADOKAWA) novel label and had the same editor, so I was able to meet Mr Maruyama rather casually. When was it that we went to jojoen together?
Jojoen is famous for its expensive yakiniku restaurant in Japan.（The image shows the Skytree branch.）
Maruyama: There it is, there it is, jojoen at Solamachi. jojoen had never been to jojoen, so I suggested we go to the Skytree shop and eat while looking down (laugh).
Carlo I was harassed there (laugh).
Maruyama Eh? You’re lying? I don’t remember, so it’s no big deal (laugh).
Carlo When it was decided to make an animation and it was about to be broadcast, I, Mr Maruyama and two other teachers went out to eat together. The three of us had already successfully animated the film, and Carlo, you know what I mean, don’t you? They put their hands on my shoulders and told me that if the animation failed, everyone would be in trouble.
Maruyama Really? Wasn’t it something along the lines of ‘it’s hard being involved in an animated film’ and ‘it’s going to be hell from now on’?
Carlo It was extremely hard at that time. And everyone was saying whatever they wanted, one teacher said I shouldn’t go to the site, and the other teacher said I should go properly.
Maruyama: That teacher goes to the field.
Carlo Then Maruyama Sensei says, “It’s up to each person, so you can do what you want, ha ha ha” …… After all, which one should I refer to? (laugh).
Maruyama That’s fine, it’s led to your current success.
Carlo As a senior student, I wish you had at least encouraged him or something.
Maruyama But you don’t encourage people when you meet someone in particular, do you?
Carlo I do! (Laugh)
Isn’t it strange to have a skeleton as the protagonist? (Carlo)
I could feel how close the two of you are. Going back to Overlord in 2010 and The Saga of Tanya the Evil in 2011, both of you started writing heavy fantasy works that started with a reincarnation in another world around the same time. Was this because there was a trend in Arcadia at the time?
Maruyama: I didn’t read many original works in Arcadia, so I don’t have any memories of that. There were more derivative works.
Carlo In the case of secondary works, I think there was a trend towards reincarnation in order to include a new protagonist in the world of the work, rather than reincarnation in a different world.
─ In such a situation, what was the reason why you both wrote original works?
Maruyama: I wrote it because there was no work that was ideal for me.
Carlo: I wrote what I liked, too (laugh).
Maruyama I only wrote because I wanted to read it myself. In that respect, I think that the Ranobaku authors who have won awards and made their debut have done a lot of research on the subject matter and so on. When I listen to them, I wonder why they think so much about it. That’s really the right kind of writer, a professional writer.
Carlo If they were professional baseball players, we would be like amateur players. It’s like when you’re throwing the ball on the riverbank and the old man tells you to come over and you go over there and you realise, ‘This is a game’.
What are your impressions of each other’s work?
Carlo: When I read Overlord, I remember being surprised that it didn’t aim for the high road. Isn’t it strange that a skeleton is the protagonist? Maruyama Sensei likes non-human things, doesn’t he?
Maruyama Isn’t it strange to have an infant as the protagonist?
Carlo: It’s a royal road to have an infant as the protagonist.
Maruyama When you say it like that, I wonder if that’s true, it’s frustrating.
Carlo It’s quite common for little girls to fight in other worlds, isn’t it? Anyway, when Overlord became a novel, I was most surprised by the addition of Albedo, who didn’t exist in the web version. Was that because you wanted a lubricating presence in the story?
Maruyama: Something like that. The main character wouldn’t move if the original version was left as it was, so I added him as a ‘no-brainer’.
─ What was your impression of The Saga of Tanya the Evil?
Maruyama: I thought, “Would you put a character with a name like Mary Sue in the story? I thought (laugh).
─ ─ “Mary Sue” is slang for an original character who appears in derivative novels. It is often used to mean a character who does not fit the world of the work, born from the author’s ideals. ……
Carlo I like meta stories, so I do them quite intentionally.
Maruyama: Usually when writing for the web, the story tends to get longer as it progresses compared to the first story. This is partly due to the increase in the number of characters, but ‘the Saga of Tanya the Evil’ didn’t do that, it just moved right along and got to the end of the story.
Carlo– I felt I had to finish it properly, and there’s no point in prolonging it. I could go on and on about the exchanges that took place at the back of the page if I wanted to. For example, there are hundreds of books about August 1945, a mere 15 days in the Japanese Empire. There are many stories about what army officers did on that day, and what they did on that day, but that is not a story. It has value as a source material, and it can be a personal drama, though.
You both read each other’s work quite a lot. If you were to write a spin-off of each other’s work, what kind of story would you like to write?
Maruyama: I’m not as smart as Carlo, so I can’t write The Saga of Tanya the Evil (laugh).
Carlo If I were to write a spin-off of Mr Maruyama’s work, I would write a Tragic one about the side overrun by Ainz and the others.
Maruyama Is that so?
Carlo It would be a story where the army we worked so hard to gather was overrun in an instant. But you can already read a lot of spin-offs of Overlord in secondary works.
Maruyama: I’m glad that there are more secondary works. But since ‘the Saga of Tanya the Evil’ requires a lot of brains, I don’t think the number of secondary works tends to increase much. It’s difficult if you don’t have knowledge of military or history or something like that.
Carlo I write with a relatively empty brain, but it’s true that the hurdle may be slightly higher for war stories. But isn’t the recent ‘Overlord’ gradually moving in that direction? Politics, for example
Maruyama: That political story I wrote is a story full of holes, written by someone with an empty brain, you know?
It’s true that ‘The Saga of Tanya the Evil’, which is based on a war motif, requires sensitivity and knowledge of expression.
Carlo I’m basically writing about walking a tightrope and taking a step on the edge of danger.
So you write by stepping on a tightrope (laugh).
Carlo If I can’t step in, I can only write about how it’s not good for people to die, so let’s all get along and have a cup of tea. Violence is not good, so let’s have tea, but tea is environmentally destructive, so let’s have water. It would be a story about how we all drank water and became happy. Who would read such a story (laugh)?
Overlord’ only if you are stunned by the mating of Lizardmen (Maruyama).
Let us ask you about each of the anime series you have worked on. What was your impression when your work was adapted into an anime?
Maruyama: Anime is anime, books are books (laugh).
Carlo Is there some circumstance you don’t want to talk about? (Laugh)
Maruyama That’s not true (laugh). Thanks to the animation, the books have sold so well, so I am grateful.
Carlo: At first I was impressed that the characters moved. It’s an animation, so it’s only natural.
─ To what extent were the two of you involved in the animation adaptation as the original authors?
Maruyama: I’ve been doing this because I want people to be prepared to do what they want with the anime and the books as books.
Carlo: It’s difficult to determine the original author’s stance when it comes to making an animation. Some people are too forward and lose their balance. Also, with novels, no matter how you do it, you write them, but when you leave it to others to write the animation, you don’t know what to say or how to say it. It’s not only the scriptwriter’s opinion, but also the director’s and producer’s. With that many people involved, I’m amazed that the scene in Overlord where Ainz is stunned by the mating of the Lizardmen was made into an anime (laugh).
Maruyama That’s important, isn’t it? That’s why “Overlord” is what it is. It wouldn’t be ‘Overlord’ without that scene.
Speaking of service scenes, the first episode of the third season was a bath scene.
Maruyama: If you put the bath scene in the middle of the story, the story would get mixed up, so they put it in the first episode. Anime needs bath scenes, after all.
Carlo: In my TV anime, they put the swimming costume episode in episode 11.
Maruyama: Swimsuit episodes are also necessary. I want to see the swimming costume episode of Overlord at least once.
Carlo First of all, why don’t you write your own?
Maruyama: No! If I write that, there will be more pages (laugh).
─ If that’s the case, why don’t you make it a bonus for the novel?
Maruyama That’s it! Eins’ swimming costume, eh?
Carlo Ainz-sama is a bone, so he doesn’t have to wear it (laugh). Speaking of which, in the anime, I have the impression that Ainz has a bit of a solid skeleton. I had the impression that he was more like a slender bone, so I was surprised.
Maruyama: If we added more lines, it would kill the animation production site (laugh), and no one can completely move a drawing of so-bin’s quality.
The exchange of words is interesting because misunderstandings occur (Carlo).
In anime, the performance of the voice actors is also important, isn’t it?
Maruyama: Voice actors in animation are at the top of a kind of pyramid, so they are professionals. They are able to respond immediately to the instructions of the sound director and the director. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Carlo: They are able to understand what people are trying to say, and they have a huge amount of talent to respond to that. I was impressed by the voice actors’ ability to switch between different shades of performance.
I personally felt that both ‘Overlord’ and ‘The Saga of Tanya the Evil’ were very comical in terms of animation. In particular, Ainz’s unintended remarks are followed up by his subordinates on their own, and Tanya’s words are often taken the other way round. The stories that turn from such misunderstandings have a lot in common, don’t they?
Maruyama: That’s because we like that kind of “misunderstanding”.
Carlo: That’s what’s interesting about the exchange of words, isn’t it? There are many funny misunderstandings in the real world too. When the US Navy asks troops on the battlefield, “Where are you now? and the admiral thinks it’s a provocation and goes berserk and runs into the enemy, there are quite a few stories like that. I think, “You guys are so stupid, it’s adorable.”
If The Saga of Tanya the Evil runs three cool episodes, I’ll think about continuing Overlord (Maruyama).
The TV anime “Overlord III” will soon reach its final episode, bringing the three-cour story to a close. What do you think about that?
Carlo: But I would like to see the continuation in the anime as well.
MARUYAMA: Then, if ‘The Saga of Tanya the Evil’ runs for three cool episodes, could you also produce a continuation of the ‘Overlord’ anime? (Laugh).
Carlo That would either get me killed by the ‘Overlord’ fans or have them cheering me on.
Maruyama As long as I myself don’t get killed, it’s OK (laugh).
I want fans to support each other’s works through this feature.
Maruyama But do you think that the fans of The Saga of Tanya the Evil and the fans of Overlord overlap?
KADOKAWA representative: I think there’s a huge overlap between the fans.
Maruyama Really? Do they overlap? The former Enterbrain (Hobby Book Editor) Overlord, The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Ninja Slayer, Log Horizon, you know? To be honest, I don’t think there’s any overlap between fans at all.
Carlo There is a slight feeling of that. The old Enterbrain is not a hub airport where everyone gathers. It’s more like a connecting point between hub airports (laugh).
The comic version is serialised in the same monthly magazine Comp Ace (KADOKAWA), so we have an image of being close to each other’s works.
Maruyama: For Comp Ace, it was my dream to have the Lizardman from Overlord on the cover in conjunction with the anime. But it was impossible (laugh).
Carlo I knew it, Maruyama-sensei, you like things that are not human.
MaruyamaI want to see something strange. I wanted to create a legend. It would be nice if there was only one strange thing when all the covers of the past were lined up in a row.
Next, let us ask you about the film version of ‘The Saga of Tanya the Evil’. What kind of film do you think it will be?
Maruyama: Is it an original work this time?
Carlo Yes, it’s all new. It’s an interlude between the end of the first season of the anime and the new story. If we were to do a second season, the film version would be the connecting point.
Maruyama: So you said that people who are looking forward to the second season of the TV animation should watch the film version.
Carlo That’s a very conventional advertisement, saying ‘please watch it’ (laugh). On a serious note, it was a bit difficult this time. Even if we were to do an original story, we had to think about whether we wanted a story from a completely different era or a story that would connect to the second season. Moreover, it would be no good if we had to watch it to find out about the second season. That’s if there is a second season. Also, as animation is a team effort, we had to think about how the original author should be involved. In that sense, I’m glad I was involved in the TV series at least once.
─ What do you think would have happened if you had been involved in the animation from the film version out of the blue?
Carlo: It would have been horrible. Animation is a time-consuming and costly process, so even if you wanted to create detailed images, for example, it might be difficult to do so due to manpower. It’s not good for an author who doesn’t know better to say too much about that. In that sense, animation is about what you can make with the materials you have. I want to make chashu pork ramen, but what if there is only chicken instead of pork?
You often use ramen as an analogy, don’t you? (Laugh).
Carlo I like ramen. I go to many ramen shops here and there and tell people about them, but I can’t help but evangelise only the weirdest ramen shops to everyone.
Maruyama: That’s why you get sick. You’re still young, so it’s OK, but in a little while you’ll get worse and worse. What are the results of your blood tests, what are your liver values?
Carlo I don’t drink or smoke, so my health is pretty good.
Maruyama It’s good that your liver values aren’t bad. Your liver will get better soon. When I went on a diet, the values came down to normal at once. I’m surprised.
Carlo The liver is a strong child, a hard-working child.
MaruyamaThey say if it breaks down, it won’t come back, so you should be careful.
I’d like to talk about that at the drinking party, please (laugh).
The otherworldly reincarnation boom continues in a different form (Carlo).
─ Do you two still read web novels?
Maruyama: I do. In the current Naro genre, works that mock and laugh at the avenger are popular, and then there are villainous daughters stories. If it’s a villainous daughter story, then ‘I live by the motto of modesty and honesty! is at the top of the list.
Carlo That was a novel quite a while ago, wasn’t it?
Maruyama: Yes. I mean, who wrote that? Humble and Steadfast is at a high level of writing. He doesn’t use words incorrectly and he knows things very well, which is great.
Carlo I read a lot of stuff too, but a lot of it is secondary works.
─ Did you think that the popularity of the so-called Otherworldly Reincarnation genre would become so established?
Carlo Which story would you like to hear, a serious story or a joke?
I’m interested in both, but let’s go with the serious one.
Carlo: The otherworldly reincarnation genre itself isn’t really new, is it? The current works are new only in that the world axis is moving, but even the classic Robinson Crusoe, for example, arrived in a new world, and adventurers in so-called maritime adventure novels have been going to new worlds for a long time. Gulliver’s Travels is a prime example of this: it’s another world.
Carlo: He goes from England to India, where he becomes rich and successful, or from England to America, where he makes a name for himself. There are countless such things, so I guess people really like thought experiments to see what kind of success they can have in a different society. This is the serious part of the story. I’m talking about the silly one, but I’m talking about the fact that Japan is in a downfall and reality is shit right now, so it can’t be helped (laugh). I don’t think the story of changing the current society with dreams and hopes can be that convincing. Of course, creating such stories is one way of doing it, but it’s hard when people ask if they can read it as their own story.
Maruyama So, how long do you think the otherworldly reincarnation boom will last?
CarloI think it will continue in different forms and in cycles. The current format of getting hit by a truck and going to another world will probably taper off, but going to a place different from the here and now is a royal road for stories. In that sense, someone will find a new vein of ore that is different from the current format, and everyone will go there in droves. At this stage, it’s like California during the gold rush, everyone has come here, but the veins are all dug and now it’s time to see what’s next. We’re waiting for someone to go somewhere else and say, “There’s oil!”
Maruyama: Isn’t it basically publishers who are looking for oil fields?
Carlo But it is people like us who are the pioneers in finding oil fields. The publishers distribute the oil fields we find through pipelines and put them out as if they were saying, ‘We drilled the oil fields’.
Many fans are looking forward to the completion of Overlord and The Saga of Tanya the Evil before the oil field story. Finally, what is your enthusiasm for your future writing career?
Maruyama: I’ll finish ‘Overlord’ in five more books. The longest five books! Make sure you emphasise ‘longest’ when you write the article.
Carlo: ‘The Saga of Tanya the Evil’ will have its 10th volume at the end of September. When The Saga of Tanya the Evil was first published, I was asked to finish it in four volumes. When it sold a little, I was told, “Don’t worry about it, just take your time writing it”, or “It’ll be fine in about six volumes”. And now I’m up to volume 10 and the publisher says I should publish up to this level. But I don’t believe what the publishers say.
Maruyama: I have five books left, so I guess I have three or four years to go.
Carlo What are you talking about, who said in 2013 that you would be finished in about two more years? I remember thinking, “Maruyama-sensei will retire in 2015, that’s sad.”
Maruyama I really can’t finish writing. The pace has slowed down recently, it’s no good.The pace of one book a year is not good.
Carlo I’ve heard that since we met, haven’t I?
Maruyama Really? Well, I’m almost there.
Thank you for watching. See you soon.