An interview with Aneko Yusagi

1. When did you first get the idea to combine gaming with writing a light novel?

I had the idea for a while before I started posting on a popular internet site called "shosetsuka ni narou." But before I decided to post any of my writing, I'd thought it was too niche to receive much attention.

Note: Aneko's posts to the website referenced above received millions of views before they were collected and published in print.

2. Where does the inspiration for your characters come from? Are the characters inspired by people who exist in your life?

My concept of the original heroes (Naofumi, Motoyasu, Ren, and Itsuki) were mostly inspired by the protagonists of stories I'd read in the past. I tried to think about characters I'd felt a connection to from an objective standpoint, then wrote about the characters from the impression I'd gotten from that line of thinking. Other characters were built out of an attempt to symbolize some character ideas I had, with some rearranging here and there.

I don't typically model characters on people I know, though the only exceptions are some of the enemy characters. There are some enemies that are very unreasonable and violent--I based them on some people I know.

3. What are some of the books that inspire you?

I was mostly inspired by online games, specifically by a defense-specialized crusader character in "Ragnarok Online." It is a very powerful and dependable class, but it's virtually impossible to level one up without a party.

As for books specifically, I like to read slice-of-life manga, or manga that features animal protagonists.

4. The main character, Naofumi, displays conflicting moral tones. He seems considerate yet often crass at the same time, to downright immoral as well, as with his laissez faire attitude toward slavery. Could you explain your intention by creating a character with rapidly wavering moral tones?

I like to think of Naofumi as being like a mirror. He responds to kindness with kindness, and to evil with evil. Like a shard from a broken mirror, he has some pointy edges, but in the end he's a sympathetic character who cares for others.

As for purchasing a slave, he was forced to do it because of his situation--he needed help from others in a time and place where no one would help him. In the modern world, where people are moved and controlled by money, company employees have a lot in common with slaves.

It is preferable to have morals, but we've made a world where being strictly ethical can no longer survive. There are a lot of people out there that simply don't respond to ethics--in the face of people like that, what option is left besides emotionally insisting on your place and your views? My intention is to show that in the face of enemies like that, we often have no choice but to launch a counterattack.