Nisio Isin Interview on Katanagatari – Translation

This interview was released on the Katanagatari official website. If you are a fan of Nisio Isin’s other works, I would very much recommend Katanagatari. The interview does not contain any major spoilers, so would be useful if you would like to get a feeling for the sort of work Katanagatari is.


– ‘Katanagatari’ will be the second work from the NisiOisin Anime Project. What was the concept when writing these novels?

I actually wrote ‘Katanagatari’ with the idea that it would be like a one cour TV anime series. It wouldn’t however be a simple serial work, as I would always write each volume with the feeling of directing the work towards the same climax found in a finale.

I also wanted to reduce the amount of ‘Bakemonogatari’-like dialogue. Whilst one reason for doing this was due to the number of pages being limited, by intentionally reducing these elements of dialogue I was able to focus more on the action, how cool the characters were, and so on. This is the sort of work ‘Katanagatari’ is.

– Compared to your other works, ‘Katanagatari’ has a lot of characters. In general, how did you proceed in making these characters?

In ‘Katanagatari’ the world I’m depicting is that of victory and defeat. So in each of the 12 volumes, a battle in some form will occur. Fundamentally Togame and Shichika will be at the centre of the battle, so depicting the ‘enemy’ acts as a starting point in making these characters.

– Well then, now that the main two have been mentioned, I would like to ask a few questions about them. The protagonist Yasuri Shichika doesn’t wield a sword and fights with his bare fists. How did this idea come to be?

Upon writing a period piece, when I thought of writing something with strong battle-like elements, I thought of writing a genuinely strong protagonist. I already had the theme of collecting 12 swords, so in regards to this I thought of various things like “Just what sort of sword will the protagonist as a swordsman wield?” or “What sort of sword will make him strong?”. A swordsman with no sword was the conclusion I came to.

– What about strategian Togame?

I have yet to publicly talk about this inside story, but whilst writing tactician Hagihara Shiogi who acts as the antagonist of the Ningen Series, I thought of the existence of the ‘strategian’, contrasting with the role of the tactician. I kept this idea away and ready to be used at some point. Then when I thought of writing a character to join ‘the strong but naive Shichika’ in their travels, I thought of one that was ‘weak but could get by using their intelligence’. This was when I could bring this idea to realisation. This was Togame.

In the early stages, amongst production staff they were calling her “a strategian famous for not making clever schemes” (laughs). It’s easy to think “Will she be all right?”, especially in the first half, but actually, I had the plan to use the battles in the first half (volumes 1~6) to focus on Shichika, and the second half (volumes 7~12) to focus on the schemes of Togame. So looking at the story in its entirety, it’s made so that both characters can be properly defined. In this regard, I would be glad if you could enjoy and watch it to the end.

– The Togame depicted in volume 7, the beginning of the second half, is certainly very impressive.

Personally, I did put a lot of thought into volume 7. The climax of the battle is unique, it felt like all the leading characters had assembled, so I thought the material was worthy in introducing the second half of the story.

– Certainly, once at the halfway point a great variety of characters start to appear.

One idea I had was to have a great variety of enemies appearing throughout the 12 volumes. Just, if I were to write a story where the enemies appear in order of strength, then I wouldn’t be able to fill 12 volumes. So writing about ‘different types of strength’ was something I struggled with at the time. I would of course like you to focus on the main two, but I would be very happy if you could also do the same for the other characters as well.

– What did you think of the already finished first episode?

I’m not able to say very much as this is something people will watch for themselves, but what impressed me the most was the fact that “Take-san’s drawings are able to move. Even when animated, they’re still very appealing”. That left quite an impact. I had thought the appeal of Take-san’s art was in her still pictures, so I was very surprised by the skill and attention shown by WHITE FOX.

The action, one of the main themes of the work, is incredibly cool, so please look forward to this as well.

– Finally, could you please provide a message to those who will, as an anime or novel, be experiencing ‘Katanagatari’?

I’m sure there will be many who have read or seen ‘Bakemonogatari’, and will on top of this be experiencing ‘Katanagatari’. The concept of these two works are completely different and are very much opposites. Even for me, none of my novels contrast each other as clearly or as well.

‘Bakemonogatari’ is a story about the affirmation of the present. It’s a story of people who will look at their current situation, accept it and say “this is fine, just as it is” in a negative sense. So to speak, it is a story where things aren’t clearly settled or come to an end. For example, Araragi’s relationship with Shinobu is very representative of this.

‘Katanagatari’ is a story where things are clearly settled and come to an end. In other words, it is a story where people die; a story where somebody’s life will come to an end. I am depicting those who are prepared to die and fight against death; their ‘way of life’ up to and including their death. This is why, whilst writing I thought to try to make the fall of these characters as brilliant and striking as possible. These two works are respectively, so to say, stories of ‘life’ and ‘death’.

So if you see both works with the same feeling I think you will be very surprised. Therefore, I’d be very glad if those who had already watched ‘Bakemonogatari’ could remove any preconceptions before watching ‘Katanagatari’.

1 year starting from January; thank you very much for your continued attention.

– Thank you




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