During an Anime Expo interview, I spoke with creators Yoko Taro (NieR Automata), Atsushi Ohkubo (Fire Force), Hiroyuki Seshita (Ajin), and the mononymous Jin (Kagerou Project) about how they came together to make the upcoming anime sci-fi death-game anime, KamiErabi GOD.App.
In KamiErabi GOD.App high school students will compete in a series of death games for the chance to be crowned as the new god of their world. While the premise of KamiErabi GOD.App. is narratively similar to The Future Diary, its creators say its world is even crazier.
“I mean, it really is crazy. The world we’re in is already crazy. I mean, it’s super crazy. And what we’re doing is we basically just matched perfectly the world that we’re living in,” director Seshita told Kotaku. “From the very beginning, we were saying, ‘Okay, let’s make it so that [the anime feels like] there’s weird going on from the get-go. And every single time we worked on this, we tried to make sure that we infused it with some craziness because that matches our world.”
Despite KamiErabi GOD.App’s death-game premise, Seshita said the anime fits better in the fantasy genre. You can check out the trailer.
While the premise of the anime promises to be a wild ride, what’s even crazier is the collaboration between the folks working on the show, given their busy schedules. When I asked how the quartet came to team up for the anime, Taro, who the others credited as the one who officiated their collaboration, said it all happened over drinks.
“When I understood that Seshita-san was going to be involved—I really was a fan of his work—I said at least we can go have a drink and see what happens,” Taro said.
Taro hand-waved being called the leader on KamiErabi GOD.App, saying each creator’s “strong individual characteristics” helped in equal measure in the planning process for the anime. Taro credited Seshita’s experience making video games with computer graphics and 3D animation as well as his coordinating large production teams as the force that kept each creator grounded.
“If we hadn’t all been in this situation where we were kind of looking for something different or transitional in our careers, maybe [KamiErabi GOD.App] wouldn’t have happened, but I think it was great,” Taro said. “We were all kind of doing things in our separate ways. After we all got together and really joined forces, it all kind of came together in a kind of miraculous way.”
Taro credited Seshita’s guidance as a critical part of their collaborative creative process in helping character designer Ohkubo and series composer Jin, young “passionate” artists who are used to creating on their own, by instructing them to go all out on making their new anime series a bold and provocative new experience for viewers.
“For me, [working on KamiErabi GOD.App] was actually this feeling of total irresponsibility. Like literally, I didn’t feel the pressure of responsibility at all. It was just pure fun,” Ohkubo said. “But if we didn’t have the ass-whipper [Seshita] to be responsible and get the team whipped into shape, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Jin, who wrote and on the music for the Kagerou Project on his own, said the producers wanted his role on the project to assist in shaping KamiErabi GOD.App into a show that shape and make it into an anime “was going to work.” However, when Seshita approached him, Jin said he requested that he put 100% of his being into creating something “really bold and daring” that would surprise people.
“The thing is that even if someone in Japan says to you, ‘Okay, do whatever you want, right? Anything goes. Anything is fine.’ They usually don’t mean it. However, in my case, I literally took them at their word. I said, ‘literally anything goes. I’m gonna do whatever I want,’” Jin said. “And when I did, I was told by the director and the producer that they were kind of surprised, saying ‘Wow, this is kind of sugoi.’”
Up until the last second of working on KamiErabi GOD.App, Jin said he had to push his limits while working on the anime to ensure that it would meet both his and his fellow creators’ expectations.
“The momentum that we had as a team plus the individual characteristics that we brought, I think, is what made this successful,” Jin said.
KamiErabi GOD.App is slated to release on Crunchyroll in October.
Kotaku is covering everything at Anime Expo 2023, including big announcements at panels and exclusive one-on-one interviews with the industry’s biggest creators. Whether you’re a seasoned anime fan or a newbie, you can keep up with all things Anime Expo 2023 here.