In a post-nuclear war dystopia, people are forced to live under a dictatorship with no control over their own lives. It appears that the populace has no means of protesting the oppressive regime of the World Empire, who has gained possession of all kinds of weapons. However, a resistance arises in rebellion, taking up arms in the form of ancient guns which have been left behind as antique masterpieces. As if responding to the rebellion, incarnations of these antique guns appear to support the resistance in the form of beautiful young men. They are known as Noble Musketeers and some of them can unleash a power called Absolute Nobility. What can this power do and how will it change the world!?
Senjushi: The Thousand Noble Musketeers is the anime version of a smartphone game with the same title. We interviewed Takumi Kohama, producer of the anime series.
It seems that the game and the anime series are being produced almost simultaneously.
That’s right. We do the world-building at our production studio. The mobile game is then created based on that and we animate it. Both media take place almost simultaneously as a project.
So you mean that it is not that one is adapted from the other? Neither an anime series based on a game, nor a game based on an anime series?
The game was released first and we intended to produce an anime series too, but it wasn’t green-lit at the beginning. Fortunately, many people seemed to have become fans of the game, and that allowed us to work on the anime version earlier than we expected.
We have a question from one of our readers regarding the adaptation.
What are the biggest challenges when it comes to adapting a mobile game into an anime?
First of all, it’s important to remember that what gamers see in these kinds of games is quite limited- only the things involved in the gameplay. When you create visuals for animation, you need to visualize the whole world and show it on camera. Therefore, we had to make the world of the anime a little bit more realistic. We aren’t creating it only for the anime series, though; sometimes we consult the game plots and sometimes we hold meetings with the game developing team to determine what is for the best. There are actually some occasions where we’re using plots that haven’t yet appeared in the game. Some things may appear different to the game from the gamers’ eyes, but they are often based on the original materials. We spend a lot of time considering how to establish the narratives in animated form while at the same time trying not to disappoint the fans who love the game. It’s important to think through where and how to make use and take advantage of animation.
The master, or the game player, is not supposed to appear on the screen, right?
Right. The master exists, but you can only see a part of their hand and that’s all. We debated on that a lot, too. It would be a lot easier for the drama if we let the master appear on-screen, but doing so creates a new relationship with each of the characters. Such relationships can often vary and be different from what each gamer already has in mind. So we decided to avoid that.
In the anime series, the master feels sick as they awaken a Musketeer from an antique gun. It is in the original setup that the master gets corroded as he or she uses their power. The more he or she awakens them, the poorer condition they end up putting themselves in.
Like a game restriction?
Yes. But, there is an indication that the power of Absolute Nobility unleashed by awakened Musketeers might affect the master in a good way. So, Musketeers try to unleash the light to shine for their master. We do not yet know what exactly Absolute Nobility does, but we may learn about it in the later episodes of the anime series.
This Absolute Nobility sounds like a unique feature.
The official homepage describes it in an abstract way as the ‘noble spark of life’ and explains it as a ‘strong and noble state of mind inviolable by anyone. Will be awakened when it reaches the highest.’ It can be interpreted in many different ways. As far as I’m concerned, I think it should be up to each character’s interpretation and such differences should tell you who they are. We discussed Absolute Nobility to determine what to focus on for the character’s main story in the anime series. What’s shared by all the characters is that they all want to achieve Absolute Nobility no matter what. They want it in order to help their master. To think about it, maybe it’s rather cruel that some of them can reach Absolute Nobility while some cannot. But they will learn that it is how it’s supposed to be through their experiences. That is about their development as characters and it makes them who they are.
What is going more smoothly than you expected?
Charleville has become an amazing character. He is sophisticated, dislikes getting covered in sweat and blood while fighting, and would not hesitate to retreat if there is a threat to his life. At a glance, he acts like he’s always fine, but he is actually scared. He just wishes to be with his master, and he would indeed like to quit all the battles and such to go somewhere else together with his master. He’s a naive boy in a way. You can describe him as the most honest and pure-hearted character in terms of his love for the master, but then again, what would he do if he ended up in a desperate situation in which he still had to fight? That may be an underlying backbone of the story in the series.
I found the relationship between the four characters from the American Civil War Team to come across really well in the second episode.
The director, Ken’ichi Kasai, has a delicate way of composing dialogue and building conversations. He is very good at delivering essential information naturally to the audience by accurately illustrating characters while at the same time having them communicate with each other successfully in each scene. I think he is admired by those in the know.
Napoleon is pretty funny.
Yeah. That character was hard to figure out. Foreign fans might not know what I’m talking about, but I think he is like Shigeo Nagashima (A legendary baseball player admired by fans in Japan. He often says nonsensical things, but his vague messages get through somehow.) I don’t know why but he has an enigmatic power of persuasion. Sometimes I think he knows it all and pretends like he’s air-headed, but then the next moment I find him to be just a weird guy. He presents a certain nuance that he has something special.
Ieyasu and the like appeared quite early on in the series, too.
In order to show all thirty characters in the anime series, I gave each group of them a mild mission, sort of. A team to look for antique guns mainly, a team of elite warriors for battles, and so forth. I believe gamers have a habit of treating characters in teams, like prioritizing one certain party for finishing a storyline and another for grinding, etc. The missions I gave them for the anime is just one of those tactics and a random choice of mine out of many. It is never meant to provide a correct way to clear the game or anything. After all, in my random party pickup, Ieyasu and the others form a smart and strong warrior team. That is why they appeared early in the anime series.
What about the Modern Gun characters?
They don’t appear all that much since they don’t have any dialogue in the main narrative. They just fight against the Noble Musketeers as mysterious beings. In the anime series, we have completely impersonalized all the characters on the enemy side including soldiers. First off, I talked to the director about what to do with the value judgment of those who stand up in resistance against the dictatorship. One of the concerns we had is that they could just appear as nothing but terrorists to the ruling side, and another is the goal of the resistance: what they are fighting for and what they want to accomplish through their battles. In order to determine that, we first had to decide how evil The World Empire should be and what horrible things they should be doing. Consequently, we decided that The World Empire should be objectifying people. They do not acknowledge the diversity of people, their individual differences, or their rights to freedom. They simply treat people as cogs in a machine or simple pawns, thinking that ‘they should follow us or we’ll get rid of them’. Therefore, these characters didn’t need to have human qualities, and we completely removed any elements of humanity from them to the point that some people who aren’t familiar with the series could mistake them as robots. By the way, having them talk in the next episode previews is just fanservice [laugh]. There is something entertaining about the villains being such trash and so stupid with a lack of dignity and nobility. We just wanted to feature that entertaining aspect a bit in a manga-ish way in the previews, but not for the main story of the anime series.
One of our readers wants to know about the difficulties of the project.
What was the most difficult part when doing this project?
Everything was difficult. There are so many characters and we struggled to portray each of them accordingly. Some characters only appear for a short time, but we still wanted them to have identifiable natures.
Why are certain characters chosen to appear in the anime series?
As far as I see, only F, Belga, and Eins make an appearance in the anime. Why were they chosen?
We had decided to have all the 30 characters at the start of the game appearing in the anime series. Only F, Belga, and Eins of the Modern Guns are appearing, but that’s because their characters perfectly match with the narrative of the anime series.
About female Musketeers
Which Musketeers are females? Are there any female Musketeers?
There are no female Musketeers. Some of them do look like female, though. [laugh]
About favorite Musketeers
Which Musketeer are you most fond of?
If I really think about it, I guess I have a personal attachment to Charleville. I think any character can show their human nature when they have a major role in a drama. It’s just that Charleville has got the role this time around, and I explored his feelings for the scenario. As a result, he has grown on me.
Is your opinion on war reflected in the anime?
from: Aoi Kinoshita-san
– What are your thoughts on war-related anime series?
I gave much thought to that when writing the scenario. But it’s difficult to have them all reflected in an anime series, and I try not to touch it directly in the narratives.
What are the biggest highlights of the series toward the end?
First of all, please look forward to the Musketeer featured in each episode. The four from the American Civil War are like young adolescents trying to seek their own identities in a way, wondering what Absolute Nobility is. They provide you with a clue to the story there. There is no clear straightforward answer to it, but you can see some hints. The highlight is to figure out what Charleville has concealed in himself. And what Napoleon and Ieyasu were suggestively mumbling about at the end of the second episode – which is actually related to Brown Bess. I hope you’ll enjoy finding out. Maybe the climax will have Napoleon’s past, the situation of Charleville, and everything else settled together.
Do you have a message you’d like to give to the fans?
This material may be a bit tough, but I would like you to let your imagination go wild, pick a character out of many and imagine what he has in mind while living his life. You should picture his background and everything to find your favorite character and enjoy the series. The anime series has some distinctive descriptions of their human personalities and interactions between the Musketeers that the game doesn’t offer. I hope you enjoy seeing such portrayals of the characters given in the anime series.
Born into such a severe world so suddenly, what do they think as Noble Musketeers? I’d be glad if you could relate to them after paying attention to the circumstances they’re in.
It may also be fun to think about what Absolute Nobility should mean to you and replace it with yours in the series. Please try that too.
Born in 1974. He is from Kanagawa prefecture. Having worked on casting and others mainly for Toei Animation Co., LTD since 1998, he has been working as an anime producer at Marvelous Inc since 2014. His works include: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!, Divine Gate.