The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter Director Kenta Onishi & Novel Editor Satoshi Shoji

by Kalai Chik,

Anime production for fantasy light novel, The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter by Meguru Seto, is well underway by studio Okuru to Noboru. Kodansha announced in May 2020 that the series will be coming to life on screen in January 2021. Originally serialized on Shosetsuka ni Naro, a user-generated publishing site, the series has also received a manga adaptation. Crunchyroll's series-focused panel included director Kenta Onishi (whose previous work includes Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove it) who will be making his directorial debut on this anime. Alongside him at Cruncyroll Expo was Satoshi Shoji, who is the editor for the novel series and line producer Yuki Yamada

Yamada and Onishi are not strangers to each other as they've worked together on other projects, but this would mark the first time Yamada has collaborated with either of them. After some quick introductions on their roles in the anime, line producer Yamada shared that the project received the green-light news sometime between winter and spring of 2019. Once that news was released to the public, editor Shoji recalled that the creator, Meguro Seto, was incredibly excited and looks forward to it.

Speaking to the challenges as the series is barely underway, Yamada shared that there are times when the main staff and workers who are on the front lines can't meet directly so they must adjust and make sure that the teams are on the same page. Onishi added on to say that the staff are both young and haven't worked with each other before; a challenge in production is figuring out what everyone is capable of and what they want to do. Shoji spoke on behalf of Meguro Seto, and said although the script checks have been smooth, the lack of bumps have made the anime staff nervous.

Onishi felt the pressure of how daunting the job of adapting a novel can be but hopes that it's an anime that audiences will anticipate. On a similar note, Yamada feels as if his worries are more vivid than anything else, however he's encouraged by viewers who become interested after seeing just a tiny bit of it.

Since this is his first directorial role, Onishi took the lessons he's learned from other directors on various anime that he's worked on and applied it to this one (i.e. how to frame female characters). The production is still in its early phases, so Yamada regretfully informed the audience that nothing major has happened on the anime side just yet. Luckily everything has been smooth so far.

The panel asked personal questions such as favorite characters, what skills the guests would want, etc. According to Shoji, what makes The Hidden Dungeon appealing as a fantasy series is how soothing the story is. Not just the aspect of how the characters interact, but how they make the reader feel better.

Kenta Onishi: Director of The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter

The previous anime, Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove it, was a popular romantic comedy anime based on a manga. Since The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter is based on a fantasy light novel, what aspects of the story did you want to focus on when directing the anime?

KENTA ONISHI: I focused on the growth of the protagonist Noir when he meets Olivia in the dungeon, and how he continues to grow as he meets the heroines, sharing in the hardship and earning the trust of those around them. I also focused on the light-ecchi story aspects.

You've worked on a number of different anime series in various occupations such as animation director, assistant director, etc. How did that previous experience inform or help guide your work as a director on Hidden Dungeon?

KENTA ONISHI: I've worked on battle animes, ecchi animes, comedy, and romantic comedies. This series has various scenes where the heroines and the protagonist Noir are crying or laughing and experiencing new encounters and farewells. I've utilized my experience in working on the visual presentation and flow of these scenes.

What did you enjoy most about working on this anime?

KENTA ONISHI: We're still in the middle of production, but I enjoy checking layout corrections and coloring, art, filming, voice, and music. Especially since this series has an ecchi story aspect to it, I always look forward to the completion of those parts.

Although the voice actors haven't been revealed to the public, was there anything in particular you looked for when you were casting for Noir?

KENTA ONISHI: Noir's personality is a little different between the anime and the novel. In the novel, he's a modern guy who's a bit sarcastic, but in the anime, he has a kind and gentle personality. He does have a pervy side, but at his core is decisive and takes action when needed. I believe I chose a person who can express those qualities.

What can fans look forward to in the anime that would be different than reading the light novel or the manga?

KENTA ONISHI: With the anime, the scenes that everyone just imagined will actually move and have voices and sound. With novels, the fun is in imagining things from the words, and with manga, it's enjoying the art while imagining the moments between the panels. All this while imagining the voices.

Satoshi Shoji: Editor of The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter original novels

As this will be an anime based on a light novel that also had a manga adaptation, how did you help with adapting the original story for the anime?

SATOSHI SHOJI: For the anime, I worked with author Meguru Seto to review various aspects such as the scenario, film, voices, and merchandise. I believe my top priority is to facilitate smooth communication between the original creators, Meguru Seto and Note Takehana, and the anime staff.

Was there anything that you or the author, Meguru Seto, wanted to make sure the anime would include?

SATOSHI SHOJI: Meguru Seto really wanted that scene from the last part of the comic's first volume. It's the one where during a guild drinking party, Noir hallucinates Olivia and starts bowing to her. For me, I hoped that would put in a lot of fanservice scenes! (Laughs)

Did you have to do a lot of research on the fantasy genre before working on this series?

SATOSHI SHOJI: I think that even with the same types of fantasy, recently people prefer relatively light-hearted works. As an editor, I'm always considering how readers can enjoy and comfortably read the work.

Similar to other fantasy light novels, Hidden Dungeon includes a large number of characters. How do you as the editor help to provide balance between the cast?

SATOSHI SHOJI: I read the draft and consulted with Meguru Seto if I had questions. I selected the scenes that Note Takehana would illustrate, and I tried to make sure that each character had an equal amount. It's always hard to choose since this series has so many appealing scenes!

If you were transported into the world of Hidden Dungeon, would you want to be in Noir's position, or would you rather be another character?

SATOSHI SHOJI: Hm...I think I would be Noir. It's a unique chance to go on an adventure you could never do in the real world!

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