Discussing the Background Art of OSHI NO KO with Art Director Tetsuya Usami

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

In the latest installment of our interview series exploring the behind-the-scenes ofOSHI NO KO, we’re focusing on the background art, the element that’s responsible for depicting the world inhabited by the characters. Through email, art director Tetsuya Usami shared with Anime Trending the process of crafting the show’s backdrops and the location that provided the trickiest challenge.

How did you come onboard the project, and what were your impressions of the manga?

Tetsuya Usami: As the production company is Dogo Kobo, I had worked with them on a previous work called Sing “Yesterday” for Me. So, I received an invite from them asking if I might want to try working on OSHI NO KO.

My impression from reading the manga is that I thought it was a work with a lot of insecure people. I thought it was because each person’s sentiments were crafted carefully. No matter which character it is, they have aspects I could sympathize with and have good impressions towards. Coupled with the interesting drama elements, I think it is an extremely appealing work.


The color palette in the show is generally warm and saturated. What instructions were you given for the mood of the backgrounds?

Since the characters’ have a high color saturation for this work, the backgrounds have also been brought closer to that. Regarding the color scheme, although this work has a lot of serious aspects to it, I thought it was also like a real-life drama series.

As such, the cold parts are cold, and the dark parts are dark. However, I do think it would be nice at some moments, one is able to feel something like “human kindness” in those moments. And that might be how things tied into the warm coloring.


What was your favorite location to work on for the series?

My favorite cut is at the #01A part, where Ai and Gorou are walking around the hospital grounds in the early evening. I feel like a gentle passage of time has been able to be expressed. In this series, there are a lot of evening scenes that appear, but the color tones do change depending on the scene. The views of the evening scenes are all my favorites.  

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

Were there any notable locations that were used as references for the backgrounds?

Although there are various locations that are part of the settings there isn’t any particular famous location that was used as reference.

If anything, I have used many anime works as reference, in terms of the way to draw things. I did receive a request from the producers that they wanted something with an uneven paint-style similar to hand-drawings, or something like the blurred sense one gets when drawing on drawing paper.

So, I did study techniques and ways of presenting things by looking at many anime works.


Which location was the most challenging to design?

If I were to give an example in terms of the art boards, that would be the scene where Ai dies. The location itself is simple, but the balancing of colors was difficult. Although cold colors are the base for the scene, I didn’t want it to simply be a cold scene. As such, I made places where the light hits and light flares using warm colors. I included reddish-purple type colors as a cushion in places where cold and warm colors overlap.

For the wood-base sides of the wall where the stalker and Ai face each other, I included green-type colors, as I thought it would be good if one would be able to feel the tension and the creepiness in the scene.

 In the end, I wanted to make it a beautiful scene, so things like the balance of light and degree of color saturation were very difficult to do. 

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

What would you like viewers to pay attention to for the background design?

Rather than paying attention to things such as detailed drawings and realistic textures that one often sees in recent anime, this is a work where we have paid attention to the balance of colors and using colors with a softened and natural feel to it.

Rather than wanting the viewers to “see this here,” I would be happy if they are able to think about the overall atmosphere or that the background for the characters blended in well.


What message would you like to give to viewers?

I heard feedback from many people saying they are enjoying 【OSHI NO KO】, so I feel honored by the fact that I am involved in it.  As I mentioned a little while before, from the standpoint of backgrounds, I think it is important that viewers are able to immerse themselves in the characters and story, so it would make me happy if I played a role where people are saying, “OSHI NO KOwork is good.”

I will do my best so that the viewers can continue to enjoy OSHI NO KO, so it would make me happy if all the viewers could support us, so that this work gets even more pumped up.

Thank you very much for giving me this kind of opportunity. 

Special thanks to Tetsuya Usami 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.

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