Yuji Yanase is the director of the anime If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord (Uchi no Ko no Tame de Areba, Ore wa Moshikashitara Maou mo Taoseru ka mo Shirenai), a Summer 2019 anime based on a light novel series of the same name by Chirolu (HJ Novels/published by Hobby Japan, with illustrations by Kei and Truffle). It’s been attracting attention as a unique fantasy that differs from other stories in the same genre.
In the story, Dale is a highly skilled adventurer at the mere age of 18. One day in a deep forest, while on a quest to defeat some monsters, he comes across a little devil girl with a broken horn, Latina. Having lost her parents, she was wandering in the forest all by herself. Dale just couldn’t leave her alone and decided to take her with him and become her guardian. Latina is so adorable that Dale soon finds himself turn into a doting parent.
MANGA.TOKYO interviewed the anime’s director Yuji Yanase about his thoughts and focus on the series.
──Please tell us about your first impression of the original novel.
I saw the illustrations by Kei and Truffle and found Sylvia incredibly cute. I know everyone else says the protagonist Latina is cute, but to me Sylvia is the cutest one. As for the novel itself, my impression is that the plot has unexpected twists that make for a rather nurturing narrative.
──What did you think when you were first approached with an offer for its anime adaptation?
You know, the original novel is published by Hobby Japan. The last series I directed before this, In Another World with My Smartphone, was also published by them. To tell you the truth, I’ve always been kind of a freak for plastic models and have been a keen reader of their magazine Hobby Japan since I was a junior high school student. Their magazine was like a forerunner back then for plastic models. It might sound rude – and I’m sorry if it does – but I wished I could brag and tell my younger self in the past, like, ‘You know what, you’re gonna be doing a job involved with that magazine you’re reading in the future!’ [laugh] Well, a different genre, but still. I was thrilled at such a thing, not related to anime.
──Have you ever thought that it could be hard to adapt it into anime?
Since the illustrations in the original novel are amazingly cute, I was a bit worried about whether we could animate the characters and still have them look cute. I knew it could make the show enjoyable, but having such cute characters might make things difficult for us on the animation side. We all have both strong and weak points, and I thought it would be tough if we couldn’t make the characters cute enough.
──What did you pay extra attention to to emphasize Latina’s cuteness?
If you really pay attention to her, I think she is somewhat stubborn. I want to show that other side of her while keeping her cuteness. I mean, you know how she has Dale wrapped around her little finger at that age? [laugh] If you read the light novel I’m sure you can see that Dale is being played. Besides, she’s so lucky to have him around. She doesn’t need to ask for anything; He buys things and brings them home for her; He gives her a lot of money, and he is amazingly strong. He is her guardian, and a doting one at that. I think we succeeded in portraying his character well. The success in portraying Dale’s ludicrousness is largely owed to [Nobuhiko] Okamoto’s acting, and we have to thank him for it.
──Is there anything in particular you paid attention to in the character depictions?
I put extra effort in avoiding any kind of sexual characteristics. You can probably think of other series that often have certain depictions and setups that conjure up that kind of image. But with this series, I felt that it would make people very angry if I did that. I’ll be honest here, I often upload risque drawings of my series on Twitter. I did a lot of drawings when I was working on In Another World with My Smartphone, but this time around, I’m hardly drawing anything. I don’t feel like drawing as much when I think about the fact that I don’t want this series to be erotic in any way. [laugh]
──You mentioned Sylvia earlier as your favorite character of the series.
I personally like Sylvia and Chloe. Chloe’s got great eyebrows. I love characters with thick eyebrows. In the original illustrations they aren’t so thick, but when the anime character designs were made, the moment they appeared on the screen I knew they had to be thick! She’s a character with neat thick eyebrows and I love them. [laugh]
──Are there any other aspects of the series you paid particular attention to?
I just wanted to make it cute. At the recordings, I even told the voice actress that all I needed was to have a cute Latina and that’s it. [laugh] During the meetings for the key animation, we basically got it done with ‘make it cute’ in mind. Latina needed to be cute just going about her daily activities. That’s the most important thing in this series in my opinion. When we went through the animation for check-ups, we even did some re-drawing just because Latina wasn’t cute enough. Without explaining what was wrong, where it was wrong, or how it was wrong, I just asked everyone to make her cuter simply because she wasn’t cute enough, and that was all I said. [laugh]
──Is there anything in particular that you don’t want viewers to miss?
We inserted different bumper images before and after the commercial break in every episode. As for the lines spoken there, I asked Latina’s voice actress Kanon Takao to do whatever she liked, and I left it up to her. She had complete freedom over those lines, so I want everyone to enjoy them. At first she asked me questions about what kind of thing she should say, but by around Episode 3 she stopped asking. She came in with confidence like she was well-prepared, so I was like, ‘Let’s have a listen, then’. Then, as time went on, she started to be like, ‘See what I’ve done this time?’ and it turned into something like a competition between us. In the end, maybe she won and I lost.
──Please give a short message to the fans.
Latina can’t speak human language at first, but she learns it little by little and starts being able to communicate with others and fit in with those around her. I hope you enjoy seeing her grow. She was brought alone to a strange place, but as she encounters the people who live there, she becomes the very heart of the community. I want you to feel the warmth that the surrounding characters have towards Latina. You could say it’s something like a record of her growth and path to adulthood, so I would like you all to enjoy it in that way.
──Thank you very much.
Freelance animator and director.
Born 1967 in Aichi prefecture.
Takes part in the animation for various works, with a focus on TV anime. Has been also recently taking part as director.
His major works as animation director include Slayers TRY, Kyo Kara Maoh!, ARIA THE ANIMATION, and Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Second Plate. For key animation and episode direction his works include My Bride is a Mermaid, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and Yo-kai Watch. His major directing works include Himegoto (aka, Secret Princess), Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan, and In Another World with My Smartphone.