One of the most talked-about anime groups of the season is Overlord. The number of copies of the original work, which was serialized as a web novel and published in book form, increased from 600,000 to 1.5 million after the anime aired. It is easy to see how the anime adaptation ignited the popularity of the manga. Overlord” is often seen as a representative work of the “I TUEEEE” genre on the Internet. However, “Overlord” is a work with a complex appeal that goes beyond that. In this interview, we asked the director, Mr. Naoyuki Ito, about his production method.
- Director of “Overlord” Naoyao Ito
- Overlord” draws on the experience of “Chihayafuru
- I felt a certain nostalgia for the original novel.
- I wanted to represent it properly as a character piece.
- I believe that the voice actors’ performances are worth listening to.
- 3DCG that exceeded our expectations
- Stop 250 cuts and move the full 50 cuts to make up for it.
- Ainz is a more human character than human.
Director of “Overlord” Naoyao Ito
Joined Tatsunoko Animation Technical Institute. Later joined Toei Animation. He worked as an original picture man and later became involved in various productions as a director, including “Ojamajo Doremi”, “One Piece”, and “Chihayafuru”. His directing credits include “Kanon” (Toei version) and “Ilya’s Sky, UFO’s Summer”.
Overlord” draws on the experience of “Chihayafuru
Director Ito has been involved in many productions. Which of these works have had a particular influence on “Overlord”?
ITO: Surprisingly, it is sometimes “Chihayafuru.
Oh. That is a little surprising. Chihayafuru” is based on a girls’ manga about competitive karuta, so the nature of the work is quite different.
Ito: That’s right. In terms of influence, it is not so much where specifically, but rather “how the scenario should be. I have always thought that if the scenario was good, we could make interesting animations.
Certainly, there are anime that have great pictures and movements but uninteresting stories.
Ito: I originally came from a drawing background, so I like to make animations with interesting movements, but “good drawings” did not lead directly to an evaluation of the work. I have always struggled with that point for a long time. I thought that as long as the scenario was well written, the story would be interesting and a good animation could be created. However, I had a dilemma in that I could not control the scenario. It was with these thoughts in mind that I was approached by Madhouse about “Chihayafuru” and did the work. In fact, when I read it, I find the original story interesting. Every time I read the original work, I get teary-eyed. …… (laugh)
Ito: I have to read it many times because I am making an animation. Therefore, we have to cry many times (laugh). So I thought that the way the story of “Chihayafuru” was created might have some kind of mechanism to move people. After that, I made a theater movie for Toei (“Pretty Cure Mana Marriage!The Dress of Hope for the Future). At that time, I was able to commit myself to the scenario because I was allowed to direct the film, so I tried to create the scenario carefully while utilizing my experience with “Chihayafuru”. Then, I received a certain level of reaction from the audience, who said, “It’s interesting. I felt like I had found a response there.
That “Pretty Cure” movie version will make you cry. ……
ITO: Oh, you have seen it? Did it look good? (Laugh)
I’m sure there is no one who can’t cry at that one. …… That piece was inspired by the way “Chihayafuru” was made…
Ito: That’s right. I tried to apply the same technique that was used in “Chihayafuru,” where the same line has a different meaning in the first half and the second half.
I can’t go into details because it would be a spoiler, but that was certainly a major point in that movie. So did you think of “Overlord” as an extension of that film, with an emphasis on storytelling?
Yes, I did. The original work is very interesting, so I thought that if I could bring out the fun of the story as it is, it would be a good start for me. It was similar to what I did in Precure, but there were a few parts where the meaning of a line said in the first half of the episode actually depended on the meaning in the second half. I wanted to make the most of it as much as possible.
Specifically, in episode 4, Ainz’s line “Stop wasting your time ……”?
Ito: Yes, that’s right. For example, Ainz retorts to Nigun’s line later in the episode, and connects “It’s selfish to blame him for that” in episode 8 to “I forgot to mention that I am very selfish” in episode 9. I like that kind of bluff (laugh). I thought that was a key point of the story.
I felt a certain nostalgia for the original novel.
You mentioned earlier that the original story is interesting, what was your first impression?
Ito: I read the web version first, and the amount of text was so overwhelming that I couldn’t finish it no matter how long I read it (laugh). On the Internet, it’s hard to tell where the breaks are because there aren’t pages like there are in books. Then, when I finally finished and thought I would read the next chapter, it often turned out to be a completely different story.
When chapters change, a novel can take on a different person’s point of view.
Ito: Yes, I did. I thought I missed the process of reading it and understanding the story as I went along. This kind of daringly unfriendly way of making a film is what I felt when I used to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion.I wondered where this story was going to lead and it has a proper end point. This is a technique that has been used in novels for a long time, but I thought it would be interesting to make use of it. Of course, I have to be careful about how much viewers are willing to endure the incomprehensibility. …… Most of what I do for Toei is aimed at kids. Even in stories with scenes of third-party recollections, the method tends to be one that prioritizes comprehensibility, such as “let’s make sure to show the main character. This time, the company was different and I thought it would be more interesting to be a little rough in such areas. I thought it would be possible to create a story that, as you look at it, you can see that it leads to this point.
In terms of connecting the story, some foreshadowing that cannot be digested in this anime adaptation, such as the background of “Ninya” in the work, seems to have been included. ……
It is not intended to connect the sequence to what follows. Without such foreshadowing, the sequence itself would not be possible. For example, even if a character is uncomfortable as a character and the reason for that discomfort is not within the scope of the animated series, I wanted to include keywords that would make the viewer realize that there is a reason for that discomfort. Otherwise, the character would just be a character with a sense of discomfort.
I see. You are trying to make viewers who have not read the original work feel less uncomfortable with the sequence by having them guess that something must have happened, even though they don’t know the specifics.
ITO: We are thinking about that kind of thing.
I wanted to represent it properly as a character piece.
Were there any difficult points in the process of adapting the original work into an anime?
I was troubled by the part about whether Ainz wanted to return to the human world. In the end, we decided not to think about it after consulting with the original author, since the story would not be told within the scope of this anime adaptation. In the book, I could express Ainz’s hesitation, but in the video, I felt that it would give the impression that he just could not move forward, so I did not think I could take up that space. I had more work to do as a priority.
I still don’t know if you want to return to the real world as far as the current publication of the original work is concerned.
Yes, I agree. If the story had been mentioned extensively as an important part of the original work, I probably would have added some nuance, but since the point of return of the original work itself was still unclear, I didn’t feel the need to deal with it extensively.
How do you feel about making animated pictures? I think it would be difficult to make an animation of so-bin’s manga because his drawings are so delicate.
ITO: So-bin’s drawings are very attractive, but to be honest, I thought it would be tough to actually animate them (laugh). However, before I joined the project, we had already discussed the possibility of asking Takahiro Yoshimatsu to create the characters, so once we decided on a direction, we were able to proceed without hesitation.
Yoshimatsu, you have been the driving force behind several of Madhouse’s major works, such as “TRIGUN” and “HUNTER x HUNTER”?
Ito: Yes. I thought about what form it would take if we were to go in a direction that would be close to Yoshimatsu’s personality. When I looked at the character drawings that were submitted to us, I saw that they had a different tone from the Western fantasy tone of the original work and were more in line with the nuances of a good Japanese anime. If this is the case, I thought that the world should be expressed properly as a character in order to reconstruct the world of the work. I decided to go for a presentation in which the characters themselves are interesting, not a presentation in which many characters are clumped together on the screen, but a presentation in which one character is in the frame and makes the whole screen stand up by itself.
It is true that if the characters are the same as in the original work, it may be difficult to create a character work.
Was there any kind of communication with so-bin?
ITO: Yes. With Yoshimatsu’s character design, I thought it would be possible to place the characters in the frame and then use the charm of the dialogue itself.
Ito so-bin-san gave us a draft of the character he envisioned, and although we were not able to reflect it 100%, we tried to use as much of it as possible. In particular, we received a large number of characters that were written in the original work but not yet illustrated. Of course, there are also Yoshimatsu’s original characters, but we decided on the direction to take while looking at so-bin’s drawings and making adjustments. Albedo’s full plate armor is an idea that so-bin gave me. However, so-bin’s picture has a lot of amount of information, so it is very difficult to draw.
As for Albedo’s full plate armor that appeared in episodes 3 and 4, it was not included as a picture in the original work.
That would be.
Ito: Yoshimatsu has organized that part, but there are still a lot of lines. It is amazing that Yoshimatsu can draw that picture so quickly. …… It is hard to find someone who can draw as quickly as he does among the drawing staff.
It is a picture with so many lines to draw in that it is rare nowadays. Do you have a lot of difficulty in this area?
Ito: Yes. My first thought when I started drawing the first episode was that it is surprisingly difficult to make Master Ainz’s drawing look like him. …… To begin with, the red eyeballs are inside the black eye sockets, so you can’t tell the finished product from the line drawings. I can finally get an impression of the face by painting the orbital area properly.
When you do line drawings, you don’t paint them black.
Ito: That’s right. The red eyeballs should also give a different impression depending on their size, but I struggled with this because I did not know until I photographed them. Therefore, I decided not to move Ainz’s face. When I drew the skeleton, it would look like a gag because the lines would inevitably become softer in the animated line. I tried to keep the same facial expressions as much as possible.
But you still want to stick to skeletons?
ITOH: In fact, it may have been the same as the look of the film without trying so hard. However, so-bin also mentioned in one of his notes that there is a way to show cool skeletons. It is true that the skeletons drawn by so-bin are cool. I wanted to preserve that nuance somehow.
You mentioned earlier that you basically draw the same face, but depending on the scene, it can look powerful or like you are laughing.
Ito: It’s a strange thing, the situation makes it seem that way. Of course, I have adjusted the shadows and so on. ……The other thing would be the play.
Ah! That’s Satoshi Hino’s play. I think that performance is very important when it comes to the fact that his facial expressions don’t change. ……
Ito: When the voice actor for the anime version had not yet been decided, I happened to hear Mr. Hino’s voice in the drama CD first and thought it would be good to use this voice (laugh). When I heard that Hino was actually going to be selected, I was relieved that we would be able to make it work. The order in which we approached the painting was that we first interpreted that the voice performance was Mr. Hino playing Mr. Ainz, and then we approached how we would do the painting.
So, what you said earlier about keeping Eins’ expression fixed is …….
ITO: Yes. It was only because of Hino-san’s performance that I was able to make a decision. I thought it would be better not to make the face symbolically startle or make an angry face badly, since the emotion was expressed only by the voice performance. To avoid lightening the character, the mouth was not moved unnecessarily and was basically kept closed. As a result, I think we have done very well in this regard.
I believe that the voice actors’ performances are worth listening to.
I read in another interview that the original author, Kugane Maruyama, was at the script meeting.
Ito: That’s right. Maruyama is a very nice man, and he has never told me “this is what I want you to do. We are warmly appreciative of your kind attention. I apologize for that, because the script meeting was mainly focused on adjustments that this line in the original story had to be removed. I have apologized a few times because at the last minute I said, “I want to put this in, so let me cut this one out! I’m sorry about that. …… For my part, I would like to make it a work that somehow gives something back. “What? I don’t want it to be something that makes Mr. Maruyama say, “What?
— So the script production was still about how to cut down on the original work
Ito: No. …… For me, on the contrary, it may have been difficult to restore the lines that I had shortened. Most scenarios are adjusted using a few sheets of manuscript paper at the beginning! If the number of pages is this large, we make a prediction that the content will be about this large. In reality, however, we can adjust the percentages of lines and tographs to fit within the script as much as we like. So there is sometimes the task of undoing shortened letters. That generally forces me to change things that would not have been possible without the back and forth of the original lines, or that would be more bluff if the full lines were used, into something that conforms to the original. That was a more important point than I thought.
I see. What about the overall direction of the work? Did you have a plan in mind for how you wanted the film to look like?
ITO: First of all, the main character is a skeleton and his mouth does not move, so we cannot see his facial expressions. Therefore, I wanted to make the surrounding characters’ facial expressions more dynamic.
Oh. So you were thinking of adding an animated feel to it?
Ito: That’s right. In addition to that, I tried to include something like “disreputability” (laugh). I wanted to create a unique character for the part of the hierarchical guardians, but also to create a nuance of the human side living with their feet on the ground on the human side. I thought this would create a sense of mismatch and make it more interesting.
That is exactly how episodes 1-4 were structured. Episodes 1 and 2 certainly focused on the guardians of the hierarchy.
Ito: For compositional reasons, we have no choice but to keep the characters in focus there. After that, they appear only a little bit, but the hierarchical guardian is a character who will become a main character in the future, so we cannot skip that part. I tried to do this while incorporating nuances that would make the guardians run amok.
You were skipped from the beginning. The character’s expression is also considerably broken. ……
Ito: This is the result of trying to do what we could. However, since Albedo and Chartier were originally hidden identities, it was difficult to draw a line as to how far we could break them.
From Episode 2. The scene where Albedo and Chartier check each other. Albedo’s face breaks down.
ITO: The first episode begins in a quiet place. I wondered if there was a nostalgia-like atmosphere as a keynote. I was aiming for sentimentality, but the music took over and I was surprised at how much better it turned out than I had imagined (laugh).
That sadness was wonderful.
Ito: In the original work, the story begins rather abruptly with Ainz’s question, “What is happening in this world? I thought that by creating a sentimental scene there, I could create an atmosphere.
That alone could be one story.
Ito: That’s right. But if that was all, it wouldn’t have been enough for the first episode, so I made it with a few flashy elements. However, we showed only the impact and basically did not describe the characters, which we complemented in the second episode. Then, in the third episode, the world is expanded. This area was created following the flow of the scenario.
This work is sometimes referred to as an “Ore TUEEE” type work, but in the following episode 4, Ainz’s overwhelming strength is on display, isn’t it?
ITO: That was quite a challenge. It was important to draw Gazef’s actions properly. Otherwise, it would be difficult to understand Nigun’s strength. I made a series of martial arts attacks a showcase to establish the superiority of their power. That’s essentially where you end up overwhelming the enemy. I think the point of this work is that when a hero character at that level struggles and says, “No,” a guy I don’t understand comes out and easily defeats the enemy (laugh). If you create a scene that draws attention to it, the rest is as you wish it to be. So it’s inevitably the gazeef who puts the effort into the drawing. When the Ainz come out, they basically take out the enemy in an instant.
(Laughter). I see. So that is the secret to expressing Ainz’s strength.
Ito: Anyway, as for Ainz, I feel that the more cuts you make, the weaker he looks. When the first angel is defeated, I used a triple action (the same cut repeated three times) because it would be confusing if I defeated all the angels in one cut…. But since it’s a triple action, you actually treat it almost the same as taking them down in one cut. From then on, we basically took it down in one cut, and the rest was a nuanced reaction of watching those who had been hit.
I think it was great. The expression that after the enemy disappeared in the black hole, it became night due to the effect of the black hole was also excellent.
Ito: That one was beautifully made by the art director, and the picture fits in well.
The artwork is by veteran artists Shigemi Ikeda and Yukiko Maruyama, right?
Ito: That’s right. I think it is better not to meddle too much, because beautiful backgrounds come up even without saying a word (laugh).
In terms of directing Ainz’s strength, Nigun’s play was also good in this episode.
Ito: I was surprised myself as to why they brought in Takehito Koyasu for such a role (laugh). As for the voice actors, we have the sound people cast them, so we don’t have anyone we can ask to be this person. However, there were many people who performed beyond what I expected …… (laugh). I had heard that Aoi Yuuki, who played Clemantine, was capable of that kind of performance, but when I tried it, I was surprised by the incredible tension. Moreover, she plays it so naturally. I was also overwhelmed by Yumi Hara’s high-tension performance as Albedo, and I have feelings for each of the guardians of the hierarchy. I have not had a chance to talk to her about it, but it seems that Aimi Numakura, who plays the role of Naberl, has read the original story quite thoroughly. I was a bit impressed by the very detailed nuances of her performance.
I think the quality of acting in this anime is very high, including the actors other than the ones I just mentioned.
Ito: I think the voice actors’ performances are also worth listening to. The members of the Jet-Black Sword were voiced by voice actors who are both talented and popular, and Ryutaro Okiayu, who left after saying only one word, was also very interesting.
Oh, by the way. I’m also surprised that Shigeru Chiba, who plays Tacchi/Mi, is a semi-regular and also plays a sincere character named Sebas.
One of the 41 supreme Touch Me
Ito: Chiba told me that he had never played such an Earnest role (laugh). He said. You mentioned that there were only ordinary lines in the script.
Ah, Good story.(laugh).
ITO: You also said that you are rather nervous because of that. I feel that you are taking the role seriously. This time we were blessed with actors.
Do you give direction to the voice actors?
Ito: Basically, Goh, the sound director, connects what I want to say, so it’s more like I’m being selfish with the voice actors (laugh). Gosan works very hard to convey this to the voice actors. Also, when it comes to sound, I had to order the music line that Gosan drew for me quite a bit about music. Sorry …….
Do you make counter-suggestions to the music line that the sound director has added, saying that it would be better this way?
Ito: Yes, that’s right. I am hoping to control the nuances of the song, such as wanting to end the song before the detailed gag scene. Of course, after making suggestions, we leave the final decision up to Gohsan.
3DCG that exceeded our expectations
The 3DCG is also quite eye-catching this time.
Ito: To begin with, there was talk of creating Ainz-sama itself in 3D. I think it was Hashimoto (animation producer at Madhouse) who made the decision to use 3D for animation production. For myself, the fact that the 3d director was Yabuta gave me a sense of security in those decisions. The first time I worked with Yabuta was at Iron Man a long time ago, but I knew the quality of his work.
Madhouse version of Iron Man
Yuda is also the 3D director of the “Marching Giants”, isn’t he?
Ito: Yes. I know his artistic style (laugh). He has a very interesting way of motivating himself. He also produces high-quality 3-D videos that exceed our expectations, which we appreciate very much. I have personally used CG in a variety of animation projects, so I was hoping to make good use of it in this project as well. The first time I used CG was for the opening of Kanon, for which I directed the series.
Ito’s first anime op canon to utilize 3Ⅾ. 2006
Ah, that opening scene with the scenery slowly turning around from the first cut.
Ito: That’s right. I wanted to rotate the screen so I asked them to let me make that part in CG, but it was still the early days of CG, so there was only the ground, the grid, and a stick figure on the display. …… (laugh).
Oh. So it was like only the camera work was attached.
Ito: That’s right (laugh). So I had to redraw a lot, but in the end I was able to create a bold picture with the camera moving through the meadows and snow, so despite the difficulties, I was finally satisfied with the final product. That experience made me think that CG was a good thing, and from that time on, I wanted to use it if it was available. If they could do it for us, we would leave some of the work to them and we would do the rest ourselves. We are trying to allocate our resources well in this way.
You have used a lot of 3D in the action, including Momon.
ITO: Yes. Yabuta-san said, “I want to do CG action too! (laugh). So please do CG! We have a hero in full plate armor with just the right amount of salt! I told him, “I’m sure you’ll be able to do it.
From Episode 9. This powerful looking skelittle dragon is also made in 3DCG.
The impression is that it is made seamlessly and without discomfort. Some people may not even recognize it as 3D.
Ito: Yes, that’s right. However, if full plate armor is to be moved, the enemy side that will eventually be hit will also have to be CG. If you make a cut at the storyboarding stage that is intended to be a complex composite of CG and drawing, you will find yourself short on time. If I use this kind of storyboard, it will be easier to create in this way. I try to design as efficiently as possible. For example, for episode 6, I was only involved in storyboarding the CG-related battles. They renovated the cuts to make it easier for the CG people to create. So if you look closely, there should be surprisingly few cuts where CG and drawing are combined.
So you basically make cuts using only CG? It is true that it is easier to make a cut if there is no connection with the drawing, since there is no need to match the 2D drawing.
Ito: Yes, because if there is a lot of communication with the CG side, the waiting time increases, so it would be better to devote that time to other tasks, wouldn’t it?
Ah. So you’re saying it would be more efficient to ask me to do all the massive cuts from here to here, all at once?
Ito: That way, we have more control. If we had asked them to do this and that, the work would have become inefficient, so we asked them to do as much of the work as possible at once. We were very careful to make the work as efficient as possible.
Stop 250 cuts and move the full 50 cuts to make up for it.
As well as the use of 3D, which you mentioned last time, it seems to me that you have paid a lot of attention to where to channel the energy of the drawings this time.
Ito: Yes. I am quite conscious of it. Producer Hashimoto has been very strict with me about it (laugh).
Do you decide which times to focus on the action depending on the number of episodes? I think episodes 4 and 9 were brilliant.
Ito: That’s what you assume from the scenario, and to some extent, Hashimoto has calculated where to invest the energy. But I was selfish in the number of episodes after episode 9, so Mr. Hashimoto may have his head in the sand that his calculations went wrong. …… (smiles).
Ah. Then I guess we can expect as much action in the second half as in the first half (laugh).
Ito: Nope. To be honest, if you have read the original work, you would know that …… it takes a lot of hard work to do that.
Speaking of action, Yoshiaki Kawajiri (director of Jubei Ninpu-cho and VAMPIRE HUNTER), who is a great expert in action animation, also participated in the storyboarding of episodes 7 and 8, didn’t he?
ITO: Yes. I was happy to be able to ask him because he is a great master and someone whose work I respect. He also read the original work with great sincerity, and he made storyboards on top of that, which was a big help. I know this is a small matter, but it is difficult to get people to read a work that is based on a novel. I wonder if people who are doing 10 or 20 cuts of the original work would bother to read a novel with a long story. Of course, as the person who requests the work, I want them to read it. It makes a difference in the level of understanding of the work. But there are scheduling problems on the other side, so it’s a difficult story. …… At first, Hashimoto was thinking of just handing me the scenario and having me work on it, but Kawajiri told me, “I can’t understand it without the original work. The work was done with great sincerity, so it was easy to convey the nuances of reproducing the original work, and the final product was a good one.
From episode 8, storyboarded by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Momon is standing against the moon in the blue night. This cut is typical of Kawajiri.
I know this is a bit of a side-track, but how do you feel about the control of the drawings for each episode? I heard that Toei Animation has a strict limit on the number of drawings, and I wonder if your experience in this area has been put to good use?
Ito: At Toei, there was a regulation on the number of pictures to be produced, which was 3,000. That regulation is the basis of my technique. But that is true, and I had a hypothesis. I had a theory that if I could stop 250 cuts, I could make a very dynamic and impressive animation by moving 50 cuts in full. …… For example, 50 cuts is a workload that could be handled by a single super animator if he wanted to (laugh). That is why we are talking about the need to create a proper scenario for this purpose.
I see. That is exactly the opposite way of thinking of the “animations that move around but do not lead to evaluation of the work” that you mentioned at the beginning.
Ito: I have my own ideals about animation, so I don’t have much resistance to stopping anything other than the 50 cuts that move.
To begin with, “Overlord” has interesting conversations. The “Pule Pule Pule Ate” that develops through conversation is also great fun, isn’t it?
Ito Oh, that anime. That’s so unfair! I’m looking at it thinking (laugh). It’s nice to be able to do what you want in a short time (laugh). The sound staff is the same as our animation, although the onsite staff is different. So the last time I was there for a separate recording, they were filming “Purepure” and I was peeking in on that dubbing after the main feature was finished, thinking it looked like fun. But it sure is pretty interesting just listening to the conversations and the voice actors’ performances! Overlord is fun, even the explanatory lines are enjoyable. I think that this is one of the charms of the work, and reproducing this as much as possible matched the nature of the work, which is to stop 250 cuts and move 50 cuts. Well, there are times when I’m forced to cut it even though the explanatory lines are nice.
What did you pay attention to in terms of direction during these conversations?
Ito: I was very careful with episode 5. It was an episode that could have ended with a conversation, but that would not have been enough for an animated picture, so the most important thing was how to arrange the people at first. Once you have that set in place, you can just move the camera around and pay attention to where to cut off the conversation.
Ah, you struggled with the placement to create a nice compositional picture.
Ito: Also, there are so many people in the Adventurers’ Guild that it’s hard to make Momon and the others stand out. It was a simple but important part of the project, such as having them talk to each other to make them stand out in the middle of the staircase. From that place, we returned to the place where we had first had the conversation, but even there, we changed the placement of the people a little to create a change. By doing so, I have structured it so that it is easy for the voice actors to perform what follows.
It’s also difficult to direct the show by continuing to show it only through conversation, isn’t it?
Ito: Yes, it is. However, every time I speak something, I have to do an acting drawing, and even just walking around a little bit is a lot of drawing energy. So basically, when you are sitting down, it’s better to stay seated so you can get the full benefit when you move it. You can also push through with technique.
In order to achieve what you just mentioned, I think it is essential to control the storyboarding process. The director did a lot of the storyboarding himself this time, didn’t he?
Ito: That’s right. I will be in charge of the last two episodes as well.
So you have drawn 5 storyboards for episodes 1, 3, 12, 13, and the opening, which means that almost 1/3 of the storyboarding was done by the director himself. That’s quite a lot for a recent animation, isn’t it?
Ito: As for episode 13, we have asked another person to handle the drawing process. …….
— Ah, so it will be a little easier then.
Ito …… drew the original artwork for the final episode.
Yeah! (laugh). You also do original drawings? That’s a lot of work. How many cuts do you do?
ITO: I’ve heard that I do more than Takashi Tomioka, so I think I probably do the most. I wonder if I am doing well.
— That’s not the time for you to respond to the …… interview, is it?
Ito: No, but I’m not in charge of action drawing. When I make a cut that is a little troublesome, I draw the parts that are hard for others to pick up.
Ainz is a more human character than human.
Ainz acts quite businessman-like, doesn’t he? There are many times when you shake hands with him, but is this consciously directed?
ITO: That scene is in the original story. But holding hands is a delicious point in the production. It is one of the few scenes in which Ainz and a human being can properly touch each other.
Episode 4, Ainz shakes hands with Gazef. Earlier, in episode 3, Ainz shakes hands with the village chief of Karneh.
I think this kind of behavior is the part that is typical of Ainz, don’t you?
ITO: Yes. I thought it was an important description because he is kind to his relatives but harsh to those who are not so kind.
As you mentioned earlier in the interview, you have not yet determined whether Ainz wants to return to the original world or not, right? In such a situation, where did you try to define his principle of action?
Ito: In episode 4, when you talk to Gazef, Ainz says that he feels the degree of attachment that you direct toward small animals. I understand that feeling a little myself. Frankly speaking, I don’t think we feel a true sense of reality toward a person we don’t know, no matter what his/her situation is.
It is true that when we hear about the death of a stranger on the news, we tend to hear it only as information rather than as mourning.
ITO: That kind of thing happens to everyone, doesn’t it? When I think about it, I feel that even if I do something for a complete stranger, in the end I am just a stranger and a hypocrite. But if someone you know is in trouble, you want to help them as much as you can, don’t you? In that sense, I think the character of Ainz is very empathetic.
It’s the same with the way he helped the humans in the village of Carne.
Ito: There’s a part of me that never forgets the favor I’ve received.
Indeed. You say you’ve become undead in the making, but that’s pretty much it.
ITO: It smells very human (laugh). Ainz is a skeleton on the outside, so perhaps that emphasizes the human-like aspect of his appearance. And even if there is something you want to do, there are usually restrictions, such as the need to keep up appearances. I think the character has become freer from that as well, which makes him more human and attractive. I admire him a little bit, and I can sympathize with him.
On the other hand, Ainz seems to want to take care of his former friends, what do you think about that?
ITO: It is not hard to understand. It happens to everyone that people who were good friends become estranged from each other. However, there is also the question of how to handle the current acquaintance. That is an area where I am looking forward to seeing how Mr. Maruyama’s original work is going to develop. I am also very interested in how Ainz, the Demon King, will ultimately treat the humans he cares about.
That may indeed be a key point in the future development of the original work. So what do you think will be the key point in the future development of the anime?
Ito: As those of you who have read the original work know, the final battle in the first anime season will be different from the battles in the past, in which the characters have been overpowered by overwhelming force.
It seems pretty difficult to visualize animation in this area.
Ito: I’m a little worried about what kind of impression people will have when they see it, but I just want to say that we are fighting the enemy just as in the original story (laugh).
My last question is that Overlord has been accepted as a work that has exceeded expectations. What do you think are the reasons for this?
ITO: I think a major factor is that the original work is interesting. I would be happy if this anime would encourage people to get involved with the original work as well. I’m the type of person who needs a trigger too. I want to read novels after being informed by others that they are interesting. People will not spend money or visit a theater if they are told that it is boring. I will continue to work on “Overlord” until its completion so that it will be an interesting work that people will recommend to others.
Thank you for watching. See you soon.