Ryo Kobayashi, Producer for OSHI NO KO, Shares Creative Insights at Doga Kobo

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

TV anime series OSHI NO KOis entering a pivotal state in the story. Gathering the staff and team to produce the anime is no easy feat. Doga Kobo producer Ryo Kobayashi shared with us what he looks for when assembling a team and how OSHI NO KOhad a unique 90-minute special for its first episode. 

As the producer for OSHI NO KO, what were your day-to-day responsibilities and tasks for the anime adaptation?

Ryo Kobayashi: Frankly speaking, the producer’s job is to manage schedules, budgets and allocate staff. But that’s kind of a textbook-like answer to some extent, and a more concrete impression would be like a jack-of-all-trades. And I say that because, after all, for each project, the people we’ll need will differ, and each and every time the team’s characteristics will differ. So, I kind of think the producer’s job is to do whatever is appropriate, depending on each and every situation.

When it comes to the OSHI NO KO project, in terms of a producer’s work details, are there any aspects that were different than other projects?

If you read OSHI NO KO, then you’ll understand, but I think it has a bit of a unique aspect to it. And what I mean by that is it’s difficult to classify the genre. For example, for a regular manga, you could be like, “This is a romantic comedy, this is a mystery, this is a multiple point-of-view springtime of youth drama, this is a suspense, or this is a plain-old reincarnation one.” And there are many more.

And the good point about OSHI NO KO and its appealing point is that it has various elements mixed into it. It’s like a surprising assortment of everything. In that sense, it’s really not like we can make a project work just by specializing in a certain part. For example, if it’s a mystery anime, there’s a person who specializes in mystery elements. If it’s action, there’s a person who specializes in action. So then we’d gather each of those kinds of people in their field of expertise to make this.

It’s really difficult to classify the genre for this series, and we can’t make it without having professionals from various genres. I kind of think that is the special part about 【OSHI NO KO】.

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

What about OSHI NO KO is different from other Doga Kobo productions?

This would really be the same as what I just mentioned, but it’s that the genre couldn’t be classified. It’s not like this really was something that can be compared to our own projects. Rather than that, compared to all works, I think what is different about this OSHI NO KO is the aspect of its uniqueness. But conversely, I also think that is a good point as well.

For example, it also has elements of a rom-com, suspense, and multiple-point-of-view springtime of youth drama. So, in some way after all, in regard to the readers, there’s something that catches their attention depending on what they like. I kind of think one would be able to enjoy various things about the series. They’re kind of like hors d’oeuvres.


As you mentioned, it’s quite challenging to get staff for this series, but at the same time, you were able to include many notable industry members as well. What did the process behind getting the staff members look like?

I think things in that area depend on each producer and it differs depending on each project. When I reach out to various staff members, each staff member’s abilities are incredibly important, of course, but I personally think the most important thing is their passion.

Conversely, there are a lot of people who have abilities, but who do not have passion.  Unfortunately, sometimes that can spread in a bad direction. For people who aren’t motivated, their motivation will fall even further as they work through each section.

When there are people who aren’t motivated among the main staff, it ends up that others will be like, “Then I don’t have to do things either.” And then, as if a chain reaction occurs, the people in the next section will feel the same. On the other hand, if someone does have passion, then even if that person lacks a little bit in some parts of abilities, other people would be like, “Even though this person is lacking in this part, they have passion, so I’ll support them.”

That is what is totally important. Although abilities are important, and while keeping that in mind, no matter how little you have of career experience, I appoint those who are motivated. When fellow people who are motivated gather together, then it likes things advance on their own, because everyone will discuss things of their own accord.

Honestly, a person who has passion can do anything. And when it comes to anime, after all, what makes it different compared to other mediums is that it is a team effort. One person alone doesn’t have to means to have maximum parameters for everything. You see, things are good as long as the parameters are high when you look at the team as a whole.

For example, if one person specializes in something and is totally devoid of other things, then that’s fine because another person can supplement that. So, when the team comes together as a whole, and if that team’s parameters look like a neat hexagonal chart (like an RPG stat diagram), then it’s a win for them. Rather than just getting people who only just high abilities, it’s better to gather everyone who has some abilities, but is also heavily motivated. You end up having superb parameters and things advance smoothly. 

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

OSHI NO KO is starting with 90 minutes for the first episode. What decisions led to this kind of unique first episode release? 

It’s not like we were particular about the first episode being 90 minutes. This goes for me too, and I think the people who have read OSHI NO KO would understand too. I think there is shock after you finish reading volume one. And, in a sense, the content of volume one is set-up like a prologue, and to some extent, volume one is set-up like it’s one movie.

The people who have read the manga would read volume one, not stop and read volume two, then not stop at volume two and read until the very end. So, when animating this work, we didn’t want to purposely go out of our way to split it up into thirds.

For a regular anime, we’d probably use up about four episodes for volume 1. But if we had done that, and this goes for me too, you probably wouldn’t be able to savor that moving experience the readers got to feel for volume one and go “It was so interesting that I ended up reading the whole thing.”

So, when we were like, “What do we want to do with that?”, it turned into, “Well then, we have no choice but to do the whole volume one, right?” It turned into, “You know, we could do it if it was 90 minutes.” And then we were like, “Has there been a 90 minute one in the past?”, and then that turned into, “Well, we have no choice but to do it, you know?”

We hadn’t done something like that in the past. But even having said that, although everyone is talking about that “It’s 90 minutes! It’s 90 minutes!”, the 90 minutes part is not what’s important. It’s about the fact this was kind of the only method we had when it came to how to animate this work, and when we thought about things like the joy that the readers felt, or how could we please the original creators.

So, as a result, it ended up being 90 minutes, but it’s not as if applying a 90 minute formula to a manga will absolutely produce good work, but when it comes to OSHI NO KO, it’s kind of like everyone together made the judgement that the 90 minute framework was the number one best thing for it. 

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

For the voice acting cast, could you talk about what the production team was looking for, for the characters, which led to the current cast?

In terms of deciding the cast for this project, we did auditions. We didn’t do anything at all like, “Well, this character is popular, so let’s go with this person.”, kind of thing. Honestly, we really flat out had people audition for all the main characters.

The original creators, the director, the sound director, and other staff members were looking for “Who in the voice actor best fits this character?”, and that’s the format we took.


Usually, after all, there’s like recommendations for certain people and then you choose from among them, but instead of that, you really did it via auditions?

We really did it through auditions. This is only in regard to this project but no matter how much career experience someone has, we continued rejecting those who were not a good fit for it, and that’s the format we took.

Conversely, Yurie Igoma-san, who played the role of Ruby, she didn’t have much career experience, but when it came to this project, she was chosen because we thought she would be a good fit.

For Rie Takahashi-san, who played the role of Ai, while she has career experience, we chose her because we thought she fits the role of Ai well. We didn’t care about career experience, so to speak. That’s why the original creators, the directors, and other staff thought about this together based on their love for this work, and that’s the format we took.


Any final comments to fans as they continue watching or start watching the anime series?

I think this goes along with the passion part from earlier, but I personally think this anime has been created in such a way that both people who liked the manga and watched the anime, and people who read the manga because they enjoyed the anime, will be able to enjoy this.

 What is important about this is that fundamentally we have not ineptly made cuts the content of the manga. We haven’t omitted things. Honestly, we devoted ourselves to adding a little something extra. It’s like we continuously stuffed things in that we thought the people who read the manga would absolutely be pleased with.

So I would be happy if people who like the manga, or who read the manga after watching the anime, feel that “Ah! It is made with love. It’s like they made this with love.”

Special thanks to Ryo Kobayashi and KADOKAWA for the opportunity. OSHI NO KO is now streaming on HiDive and other platforms. Yen Press is publishing the manga in English.

For additional information on OSHI NO KO, check out the official EN Twitter account @oshinoko_global.

Interview Interpreter: Adele San

Trasncription & Translator: Ryoko Saito

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