• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

'Everything is a Lie' — Yoko Taro, Hiroyuki Seshita, JIN, & Atsushi Ōkubo Discuss KamiErabi GOD.app Anime

by Lynzee Loveridge,

ANN's coverage of Anime Expo 2023 sponsored by Yen Press!


Little is known about the KamiErabi GOD.app anime, but its staff line-up is full of heavy hitters. The production boasts character designer Atsushi Ōkubo, the manga creator behind shōnen hits like Soul Eater and Fire Force, and writer JIN whose career spans popular music and novels, including the multimedia project Kagerou Daze. Hiroyuki Seshita is putting his experience from Knights of Sidonia, Ajin, and the Godzilla anime film series into helming KamiErabi GOD.app at his studio UNEND. Rounding out the crew is popular video game creator Yokō Tarō.

Taro has become a popular social media figure due to his equal parts frankness and evasiveness when discussing his work. His public persona is cheeky, and he rarely appears at public events without his Emil mask. The mask has become iconic in its own right, appearing throughout the Nier game series. Understandably, fans were shocked when Taro came on stage during the "The Art and Mediums of Storytelling" panel wearing a giant leprechaun head. It turns out that the mask was lost during an outing in Los Angeles, where Taro and his crew had their fair share of drinks. The mask wasn't recovered, and Taro and Co. had to find a costume shop for a last-minute replacement. The result was a mask more akin to Notre Dame's Fighting Irish mascot.

According to Kotaku's Isaiah Colbert, Taro told him a producer from Fuji TV was responsible for the lost Emil mask.

Undeterred by the mask malfunction, the KamiErabi GOD.app moved forward with the panel discussion, and things immediately got silly. Panel host Kyle Cardine opened by asking the team to describe their creative style in one word. Taro set the mood with "Everything is a lie." Seshita followed up by mirroring Taro's answer. In perhaps an attempt to answer seriously, JIN offered "love," but Ōkubo immediately redirected things back to the dark side with "death."

KamiErabi GOD.app is the first anime series project at Seshita's UNEND studio, and the director is taking his 30 years' worth of experience from his past CG animated works and plans to refine them at UNEND. However, it was apparent during the panel and talking with Seshita that he is aware of the limitations and the anime audience's criticism of the format.

"I want to use CG as a technique for long-running stories and series, but I'm also full of defects, and I'm self-conscious in that area as well. There are defects in the technique, but once you fall in love with something, the defects don't matter," Seshita said. However, those defects became more apparent to Seshita after a fight sequence clip was shown in front of the panel audience.

"It's not finished yet, and this reminds me there are still some parts I'm concerned about. Wow, I better get back to work."

The team was equally serious and glib during their interview with Anime News Network. Slowcurve lead producer Toshiaki Obata joined Seshita, Taro, Ōkubo, and JIN for the interview.

ANIME NEWS NETWORK: Can you discuss your new studio UNEND? When did you decide to establish the studio?

Hiroyuki SESHITA:  So I was actually a Polygon Pictures for eight years, from 2008 to 2018. They have an amazing studio. It's fantastic. And they took excellent care of me. I had this huge desk, this amazing space, and they took such good care of me that it was actually too comfortable. I said, "If I stay in this situation, I'm going to tank. I'm going to lose my edge." So I decided to start a company of my own. 

You needed the challenge.

SESHITA: Actually, things have been so difficult at our company now that I thought, "Oh, I want to go back to that time." But in any case, I'm 56 now, and I left Polygon Pictures when I was 51. I have friends who are retiring, and I thought, "Well, maybe I should retire." But honestly, the reason I haven't is because I want to develop my 3DCG skills, right? I want to develop that art. It's important for me to continue to do that. Right now, people hate [3DCG] in Japan because they think it's fake, it's not real, they don't like it. It's not well-received. It's not because I'm masochistic, but it really is because I want to give my development of 3DCG a little bit more time. That's why I created my own company. 

Yokō Tarō, your video game work has included the likes of Drakengaard and Nier, but KamiErabi GOD.app is your first foray into the death game genre. What is it about this genre that is appealing to you? 

Yoko TARO: This is something that I touched on in the panel, but my first contact with this project was because Obata-san introduced me to Seshita-san and invited me to work on a project with them. I said, "I don't have time," so I turned them down. But then Seshita-san said, "Well, let's maybe have some drinks and deepen our friendship and just become better friends." We weren't really working together; it was a drinking party. Then that turned into, "Okay, well, let's turn this into a meeting," and gradually, it moved in the direction of a project.

So it had this atrocious start to it, but we were drinking and drinking, and the project never really started. In fact, when anyone asks me, "What do you think about this" or "What do you think about that" often, I just say, "Well, I don't even remember because I was so drunk." 

Toshiaki OBATA: At the same time, there was a request from Seshita-san and myself to Yokō Tarō. The idea was, "What if we were to make something kind of gory and crude?"  So we continued to press our request and see if we could turn that into a project.


What is it like to have your character designs turned into CG? And how is it different from when they've been adapted for 2D animation?   

SESHITA: laughs

Atsushi ŌKUBO: I don't know how honest I can be about this.

SESHITA: No, you can say you were totally disappointed. I'm fine; I mean, all that is in the open now, so we're good.

ŌKUBO: So, as you know, I draw manga, and that turns that gets turned into images, right? I do everything by hand because this is for the Japanese anime market. So whether it's by hand or not isn't what makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable. It's actually that this has to be passed off to someone else who's not me, it gets out of my hands, and they're no longer my images. So, for example, the artist's unique individual qualities end up getting filtered out because those are then turned into images that go on the screen, right? 

In any case, it's irrelevant whether it's 2D or 3D. Sometimes you have that filtering-out process, and I will say that in this case, my drawings weren't simplified. It's 3D, so there's an extra dimension there. We're also using a lot of modeling to make sure it gets converted into 3D well. So there's no simplification process. But for me, as a manga artist, I just want to feel like my style is being reflected, that's what was important to me, and I think that was able to happen in this case. 

The term 'Obsession Battle Royale' is used to describe the secrets of the characters in KamiErabi. What inspired you to add this theme to your overall story? 

JIN: I started on this project late, and the base was already there by the time I arrived, which included this concept of "obsession." But personally, one of the reasons why I was interested in that was because I'm interested in this raw aspect of humans, these almost unspoilable humans. The intention was there just to depict that in a raw, direct way, right? Another part of the story is that humans have this impurity to them. They have this weakness, but at the same time, they have beauty in them, right? Those things flesh out the story so that everything can then be construed so that it becomes perceived as beauty.  That, to me, is a beautiful thing.

OBATA: We actually got some hints from Yoko-san about this because people have this interior, right? They have their inner thoughts and their inner self, their secrets, and the things they can't say. For a lot of people, those are things only God knows. That interiority and secrets kind of equate to this concept of God. So we thought, "Well, what if those deep, dark, dirty secrets turned into this confrontation between the characters?" So they're literally battling to become God. That was a hint that we received Yoko-san.

Death game anime are known for their surprising and violent deaths. Can we expect the same in KamiErabi?

SESHITA: The story is somewhat secret, so I can't say too much about it. And I say this because I really respect them, but Yoko-san and JIN-san are crazy. There will absolutely be surprises and unexpected transitions and unexpected things that happen in this; 100% you can expect that. group laughs But, but! I don't want to raise anyone's expectations that it will be that crazy. Actually, in that case, then, there's not going to be anything unexpected. It's going to be a nice little thing. Exactly what you expect. 

There are a lot of examples of death game anime. What makes KamiErabi different from other works?

TARO: Honestly, I don't think you can see this as a death game anime. I know that it may seem that way to some people, it may look that way, but it's really not. If you try to make a death game anime right now, there's no point. That wasn't our intention. We never intended to make a death game series from the get-go, so it really is not a death game. We don't want to create this anticipation that it is because if you watch this thinking it's a death game anime and it's not, then you're going to be disappointed.

Ah, right, because you might expect someone to die in every episode.

SESHITA: I mean, there will be some deaths. If we're talking about whether it's the same as the other stuff we've worked on, like Soul Eater, Nier, or Kagerou Daze, I guess people can expect what they're going to expect. I mean, there might be some shared elements from those, but they will expect whatever they expect because those are the projects we've worked on. It is what it is. So, I mean, honestly, if we just wrote a whole bunch of absolute lies, and people come, and they watch it, and they like it, then that's fine for us. That would be great. 

But isn't everything a lie?

TARO: Exactly, everything is a lie

ŌKUBO: If you don't watch KamiErabi, you'll die, so please watch it.

KamiErabi GOD.app will stream on Crunchyroll in October.

Panel and interview translation courtesy of David Higby.

discuss this in the forum (2 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

Interview homepage / archives