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How Oshi no Ko Got Its Extra-Long Premiere

by Lynzee Loveridge,

ANN's coverage of Anime NYC 2023 sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!

The 【Oshi No Ko】 anime series was a breakout hit last year. The series smashed records at streaming service HIDIVE to become its "#1 series launch in the streamer's history." The anime's opening song, "Idol," by YOASOBI, earned its own accolades, topping YouTube's global song chart and streamed over 400 million times before making a high-profile appearance on America's Got Talent.

The anime series 【Oshi No Ko】 delves into the reality of Japan's entertainment industry, following the teenage actor Aqua and his sister Ruby's idol group after the murder of their mother, Ai, the center idol of the group B-Komachi. The twin siblings are both reincarnated; Aqua was formerly Ai's gynecologist before his untimely death, and Ruby was a young girl who died of illness. Aqua becomes dedicated to solving the mystery of his mother's death while navigating the world of entertainment.

We spoke with director Daisuke Hiramaki, assistant director Ciao Nekotomi, and producer Shimpei Yamashita about preparing for the series' extra-long premiere, its depiction of the idol industry, and what fans can look forward to in season two.

【Oshi No Ko】 takes a very frank look at the entertainment industry and how it intersects with the Internet. As professionals in this industry, did you find certain elements relatable to your own work experience?

Producer Yamashita: The original story depicts a situation that is close to the reality of the Japanese entertainment industry but is packaged into episodes that offer hope, and I think that can be continued in the anime. There were quite a few things I could relate to. As a producer, I thought it was quite realistic to see how the people behind the scenes are always interacting with each other in various ways outside the public eye.

When adapting the manga into the anime series, many fans were curious about the 90-minute premiere. What led to this decision? Do you think a longer first episode is an overall benefit to a series?

Director Hiramaki: There were two aims, both on the producing side and the production side. I didn't want to split up the narrative that the readers of the original manga's first volume had experienced. I thought the best solution was to adapt the first volume into the anime's first episode as-is, so that's what I suggested.

Producer Yamashita: It was the same on the producer side. I had read the first volume before talking with the director and production team and wanted to make an animated film based on the excitement of the first volume, so we started the project from the beginning with a firm plan to make a 90-minute film, show it in theaters, and show it on TV as well. We started the project with a firm frame of mind from the beginning.
When I talked about this with the director and the animation company, they said, "That's what we thought, too. We think that would be a good idea, but can we do it?” I said, "I'll do it," and told the person from Shueisha, "I want to do it." The original manga side also thought it was a good idea, so I thought again that it was a good thing that we realized what everyone thought was a good idea.

So it all came together. That's great. When it came to developing Ruby, Kana, and MEMcho's idol performances within 【Oshi No Ko】 , were there any real idol performances that helped inspire you?

Director Hiramaki: Since they are the new B-Komachi idol group, it is as if there were three “Ai”s from B-Komachi…I mean, the first assumption is that the group inherits Ai's will. However, since Ciao Nekotomi directed the performances, Ciao-san might have someone in mind.

Assistant Director Ciao Nekotomi: I didn't get any inspiration from real idols per se. However, as the director said, we built the New B-Komachi based on Ai. When I was working on the first episode, we pondered things like what kind of idol Ai was and what kind of aspirations she had in dealing with her fans. As I went into this process, I talked to the original creators, Aka Akasaka and Mengo Yokoyari, and we had quite a deep discussion about it. I used that as a reference to create the idol group's image for this work.

Aquamarine is unique in that he has sort of the cynicism of an adult despite appearing very young. Do you see his attitude as a reflection of his unfortunate circumstances, the entertainment industry, or just someone the audience can relate to?

Director Hiramaki: This is a question for the original creator, Akasaka. But I can share our perspective. I asked Akasaka-sensei this exact question about Aqua. From my perspective, Aqua's character is defined by the connection between his physical part and his mental part. Because he has memories from his past life. I think Aqua is just Aqua and that he has that kind of personality just because of his past memories. That's my opinion.

Is there anything that each of you do to help keep your positive attitude while working in the entertainment industry?

Director Hiramaki: I'm thinking…sleeping. Laughs.

Ciao Nekotomi: Following my routine every day.

Producer Yamashita: I'm not doing any of that. Laughs. I'm awake all day. I do things that I like, but making animation is my hobby, too, so it all works out.

Is there a moment in the 【Oshi No Ko】 anime that you're particularly proud of?

Director Hiramaki: I don't have confidence in myself, but I have a staff that supports me with that. We have fabulous members working with me who not only do what I ask them to do but are willing to think for themselves. They don't just work normally, they consider the task and draw.

Assistant Director Ciao Nekotomi: I'm the type of person who is confident in myself (laughs) The scene I guess I'm most proud of is where Ai dies.

Season two was announced after season one. Is there anything you would like the audience to look forward to for the next season?

Director Hiramaki: The atmosphere and the setting of the upcoming anime season will change completely. At the same time, if you have been following the manga, I think that part of the story will be depicted in the anime and will be further enhanced. We add so many more elements into animation. So, please enjoy the differences.

Assistant Director Ciao Nekotomi: In the second season, Aqua, Kana, and Akane will be performing on a stage featuring Japanese cultural elements. We will be able to see many different aspects of the main characters, and we will also see many kimono and other costumes with Japanese motifs. I think that viewers who are fans of “Taiga” (historical dramas) will enjoy it a lot and will come to like 【Oshi No Ko】 even more. I hope you are looking forward to it.

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