【OSHI NO KO】 galvanized the anime community as it aired week by week. Ahead of the TV anime release, we had the opportunity to talk to director Daisuke Hiramaki and ask him about the adaptation.
*Daisuke Hiramaki will be in an AMA session on the official @oshinoko_global X (formerly Twitter) account on November 15 at 5:00 PM ET.
How did you first get involved with 【OSHI NO KO】 anime project?
Daisuke Hiramaki: I’ve worked with animation studio Doga Kobo before and know the producer, Ryo Kobayashi. Kobayashi-san approached me about a series and I was interested.
What aspect of the manga caught your attention that got you to become the director?
Like everyone else on the staff, they were fans of the series before joining the project. I’m a little different as I didn’t know about the story. Kobayashi-san introduced me to the series. The first volume cover really captivated me and it looked cute, but I felt a little betrayed after reading it. The title itself is a pun. 【OSHI NO KO】 can refer to someone, but it could also mean the child of the “oshi.” The double meaning was really interesting to me.
Storywise, the first volume was fast paced and showcased the behind-the-scenes of the entertainment industry and intrigued me. Kanna Hirayama, the character designer, also influenced me. And thus, I decided to be the director.
What was the working relationship like between you and Assistant Director Chao Nekotomi-san and Character Designer Kanna Hirayama-san?
I’m amazed at both their passion for the series. I felt that my job is to create a foundation for this passion to develop and flourish.
Between Nekotomi-san and myself, it’s a friendly relationship and I try not to create walls. The industry has a very top down structure, especially as a director on the top. I wanted to not limit the creativity and a more friendly relationship that may not be expected in other anime projects.
What was the creative decision behind making episode 1 extraordinary at 90 minutes long?
First and foremost, we felt the first volume of the manga could not be broken into three parts. Even if we did, 3 episodes each at 23 minutes long (about 69 minutes of content) would still be less than 90 minutes long. We wanted to make sure we keep as much of the content, because it’s tough to cut it. The first volume follows a “kishōtenketsu” and elements of storytelling from a beginning, development, twist, and conclusion.
The staff also felt we needed to do it as one complete episode. We think passionate fans would appreciate this approach as well. Since the main story of 【OSHI NO KO】 is not focused on Aqua and Ruby’s childhood, it would be ideal to wrap it up sooner rather than later. We wanted to focus on their teenage lives.
The series is focused around the idol and music industry which would require heavy reliance on music and sounds. How was that incorporated throughout the series?
Idol is not quite the main theme of the story. The main theme of the story is revenge and trauma. Since Ai is an idol, we have to pay attention to what songs are used and played. I had to discuss with the manga authors what image we wanted to give B-Komachi when it came to their music and sounds.
There are two B-Komachi groups, one with Ai, and the other later in the anime series. I wanted to show the difference between the two generations. The song and melodies were a bit different to showcase that. If you watch the dances closely, you’ll see that even their cheers are a little different, especially the cadence and rhythm. In a way, the cheer and song Ai performs will feel older.
Could you talk about the “wotagei” that Aqua and Ruby perform as babies during Ai’s performance?
The wotagei sequence is actually an original. There’s no generational difference. The real wotagei moves are cooler, but it’s tough to show that in animation. We made it more cute rather than cool. When we drew the rough sketches and showed it to the manga authors, they thought it was really cute and we went with it. Even though it wasn’t an important scene in the series, we wanted people to laugh and get a reaction out of it.
【OSHI NO KO】 covers a variety of intense topics and challenges working in the entertainment industry. How did you balance both the comedic moments and intense moments in the anime series?
It’s very well done throughout the manga and it’s already balanced in the original source material. I felt we didn’t need to add anything to the balance. In the manga, serious scenes are very intense, but can transition into a comedic moment. We made sure to incorporate that into the anime adaptation. We like to use the camera angle and zoom in and out of scenes. It helps break tensions and add comedy to moments. It’s just one tool and example we use.
To expand on that, some directors would create rules to not move the camera at all and stay faithful to the original source. I’m actually one of those types of people. But this time, I decided not to do that because I would not be able to capture the expression and nuances in the story.
When you say rules, could you elaborate on that?
Rules in a sense that the director would have a way to do things. For this series, I got assistant director Nekotomi-san to do things I would normally do myself as the director.
In an anime adaptation, it allows the opportunity to create scenes with more attention compared to a singular manga panel or page. How did you decide when to do that for 【OSHI NO KO】?
Because of scenes and perspectives, we have taken liberties in how we adapt scenes such as the camera and angeling. It’s how we implement the same scenes and get viewers to feel the same way, like how they read the manga. Even though we show a scene differently in the anime compared to the manga, it can still be faithful to the adaptation.
Any final comments to fans as they watch the series?
The series covers a difficult topic. Many Japanese readers may feel the series could be very painful and be so close to real life, including myself. It should be entertaining. We bolstered things in a way where it can be enjoyed. It is a work of fiction and for entertainment purposes. Please enjoy watching the anime series.
For additional information on 【OSHI NO KO】, check out the official EN X (formerly) Twitter account @oshinoko_global.
Interview Interpreter: Adele San
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