Author Okina Baba and illustrator Tsukasa Kiryu answered questions from fans for the Yen Press Presents: So I’m a Spider, So What? Panel at Anime Expo Lite 2020. Check out the full transcription of the Q&A!
Why a spider?
Baba-sensei: I get this question a lot, but the truth is there isn’t much of a reason. A spider just happened to appear in a dream I had the day I started writing this story.
Was having the protagonist be a spider your first choice or were there other animals you were thinking about having the main character be?
Baba-sensei: As I mentioned in the previous question, I just thought “Well, a spider appeared in my dream and all, so I guess that’ll work,” and started writing. I was always planning on a non-human protagonist, but as far as what creature to choose, I decided quite arbitrarily.
Was there any particular inspiration for making the series?
Baba-sensei: When I first encountered web novels, that was a major inspiration that had a huge effect on me. Until then, I always had a narrow view of novels as something that could only be published in book form, so I had no idea that there was such a thing as web novels, which you can write casually and post freely. When I found web novels, I decided to try writing a novel myself.
Why did you choose the title So I’m a Spider, So What? in that tone and phrasing?
Baba-sensei: When I first started writing, I came up with an outline for the story all the way to the end. When I tried to come up with a title based on that, this was the only one that came to mind.
Could you give a high-level overview of how you went about designing the Labyrinth? Did you start from the main character’s perspective and design sections in the order she experienced them? Do you pick biomes (such as lava zones) and then decide what monsters would fit into those zones or do you pick the monsters first and then decide the zones based on that?
Baba-sensei: I decided the areas and monsters in the Great Elroe Labyrinth more or less randomly. So sometimes I decided the area first and then came up with monsters, while other times I thought of the monsters first and made up the area accordingly.
How much do you like spiders?
Baba-sensei: My apologies to spider-lovers all over the world, but… as you may have guessed by the fact that I chose a spider for the silly reason that one just so happened to appear in my dream, the truth is I’m not particularly into spiders or anything…
My spider on the wall isn’t cute like yours. What did i do wrong?
Baba-sensei: How would you like a frog, then? A centipede or a snail would be good too!
Where did you get the names of the dragons from? They’re fun!
Baba-sensei: I choose all of the names of monsters and characters, not just dragons, based on whatever sounds good to me.
How hard is it to write about leveling up and stat increases?
Baba-sensei: Well, it is difficult. In the beginning, the stat numbers were low and there weren’t that many skills, so that was all well and good, but since they’ve grown into huge numbers as the story proceeds, it’s become hard to manage them.
Do you have a document of all the inner workings of the System? It is by far the most consistent and well-put together game system for a LN I’ve ever seen. I’ve been documenting everything on the English wiki and noticed how well structured and consistent it is throughout!
Baba-sensei: Unfortunately, no, I have no such documents. I’m not very good at keeping proper records of things I need to remember, you see.
If you were reincarnated into the world of So I’m a Spider, So What?, who would you want to be reincarnated as?
Baba-sensei: Even if I was reborn, I don’t think I could be anything more than what I already am. No matter who or what I was reborn as, I don’t think that would change.
Kiryu-sensei: If I was reborn as a monster, I’d want to be a snail (Elroe gastruch) or catfish (Elroe guneseven). As a snail, I could probably explore the caverns to my heart’s content without worrying too much about enemies, and I like that the catfish can swim in lava without dying (I’d like to try that once myself).
As for humans or demons… if there’s a job that involves researching nature and monsters, I’d like to reborn as that sort of person. It’d be fun to go around and visit places in the world of Spider that don’t show up in the story, don’t you think? Otherwise, I’d like to become a mage and research magic under Mr. Ronandt. Both the magic itself and observing Mr. Ronandt seem like fun.
How’s the workflow between you two at the time of making the character designs and what’s your opinion about the designs so far?
Baba-sensei: I leave all of the character designing to Kiryu-sensei. I actually try to avoid detailed description of characters’ appearances and stuff, since I prefer to leave those things to the reader’s imagination. I like to see how Kiryu-sensei imagines the characters, too, so I hardly ever interfere with the design process. So each time I see a new character design, I have fun looking at them and thinking “Ah, so that’s how this character looks in Kiryu-sensei’s eyes.”
Kiryu-sensei: First, I read the manuscript I’ve been sent a few times, to get a good idea of the character and monster descriptions as well as the overall flow of the story.
Most monsters are fairly simple to draw—they usually have descriptions of the real-life creatures they resemble (catfish, snail, wolf, etc.) as well as their habitats, actions, appearance and so on, so I just put them on the page as they’re described.
As for humanoid characters, I usually design them like this:
* If there’s a description in the story, I base it on that.
* For facial features, physique, hair, etc., I base it on their personalities (I’ll try and dig in deep. For instance, a character who seems to exercise and eat a lot probably has a solid build, etc.).
* For clothing, accessories, etc., I base it on the character’s personality, social status, homeland, organization, etc. (I’ll go off of certain keywords, such as nations/organizations that have a certain design concept in place).
The most difficult character to design was Kumoko-chan (as a Small Lesser Taratect). At first, I went with the realistic route and made her cute but fairly expressionless, but I received feedback that being too realistic just made the design creepy… so I changed direction to try and make it so that even people who are scared of spiders won’t be put off by the design. By the end, I think I proposed nearly a hundred different variations.
Also, Shun’s initial design was a bit sharper, but the editorial department requested that I make him “a little more average-looking.” That hadn’t even occurred to me…! It’s fairly simple to try to make a design cooler, but it’s difficult to make it less cool. Ultimately, I tried to emphasize his childishness and friendliness more.
When did you start writing it?
Did you plan the story in advance? If yes, then how long did it take you to get your final draft ready for the web novel?
How old were you when you started writing?
Which is your favorite character in the story?
Which character do you like the least in the story?
Is any of the characters based on your own self?
May we know the titles of your favourite books?
Baba-sensei: I first posted Chapter 1 on 5/27/2015, which is the very same day I started writing it. I planned out the general direction of the story in advance, but the truth is that I actually came up with all of those decisions on that same day when I first started writing. I was in my twenties at the time.
I suppose my favorite character is probably the protagonist? There aren’t any characters I hate, though. Since I wrote all of them myself, even the villains, I feel a degree of fondness for all of them.
As for a character who’s based on me, in a way I think all of them are, to a certain extent. Characters are born from within the author, after all.
I have so many favorite books that I just can’t narrow it down!
Kiryu-sensei: I really love all of the characters, so it’s hard to pick just one of them, but… as far as monsters go, the catfish and snails are my favorites (the way Asahiro Kakashi-sensei and Gratinbird-sensei draw the snails is just too cute…). As for human(ish?) characters, maybe White, Ariel, Mr. Oni, the master-apprentice trio of Mr. Ronandt/Julius/Aurel and the puppet spider sisters? But I love everyone else I didn’t mention in their own way, too!
I don’t have a least favorite character. Although I probably wouldn’t really want to be around Potimas… (When I send in illustrations, the name for his layer always ends up “Po.”) If he lived nearby, I feel like he’d always be knocking out the power in the whole neighborhood with his experiments and stuff, and I’d lose my art files, so…
Note: Asahiro Kakashi is the mangaka of the So I’m a Spider, So What? manga adaptation. Gratinbird-sensei is the mangaka of the spinoff manga So I’m a Spider, So What?: Diary of the Four Kumoko Sisters.
Which ruler skill would you have or be closest to having?
Baba-sensei: Oh, definitely sloth. Because if I could, I would love to just laze around all day.
Spider was a webnovel series at first and after the anime announcement, your works will be in three forms of media. How do you feel to have come so far?
Baba-sensei: I feel like I’ve been running non-stop all the way here, so it honestly still doesn’t feel entirely real. But as a result, I can focus on writing without worrying too much about all that, so I think it might actually be for the best.
How involved are you in the anime and what are your current thoughts about it?
Baba-sensei: I supervise the series composition and the script, among other things. It’s very thrilling right now, in many different ways.
If you could do your own Isekai Quartet who would it be with?
Baba-sensei: If we were going to do something like that, I think it would be fun to try gathering the non-human characters from various series.
Did/do you have any difficulties while writing? And how do you deal with those difficulties?
Baba-sensei: Lack of time is always a problem, yes. It’s always a battle against time and the page limit. In my case, I don’t often get stuck on where to go next with the story, but I do frequently write too much and end up going over the page limit. When I do get stuck, my solution is sleep! Get a good rest and reset! But then I lose even more time, which is a problem in itself.
Do you have a specific ending in mind or does it change as you write the story?
What’s your favorite videogame?
Did you draw inspiration from any particular videogames or other novels when designing the system?
Are there any characters you would like to write a side story/spinoff about?
The puppet spiders are cute, what gave you the idea to have them become more relevant characters in the LN?
Baba-sensei: Yes, I decided how the story will end before I began writing. However, the ending might differ between the web novel and the print version.
My favorite games are probably the Monster Hunter series. There are a lot of games that influenced the design of the system. I suppose you could say I pulled out elements from a number of different games and added them all together. As far as novels, “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” influenced the system as well.
I try to cram everything I want to write into the main story, so no spinoffs come to mind at the moment. Maybe I’ll think of one if I’m ever unable to fit everything into the main story.
And finally…because the puppet spiders were so cute!
Who’s better at dancing between White and Ariel?
Baba-sensei: If I had to pick one, I’d say Ariel. Why? Because White is such a home body!
Is there any hope of a yuri romance developing in the future, maybe for our dear Kumoko?
Baba-sensei: I’m not planning on going super in-depth with that sort of depiction, but if you’re asking whether it is or isn’t possible, I think it probably is. For one thing, I don’t think White and Ariel’s relationship can be summed up as a mere friendship. That being said, it’s probably not exactly romantic love, either.
Which of the cover illustrations is your favorite?
Baba-sensei: I love all of the covers, but I guess I probably have the strongest emotional attachment to volume 1.So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 1
Kiryu-sensei: I’m attached to every one of them, but if I had to choose, I would say my favorites are Volume 1, Volume 5 (I finally got to let Kumoko-chan eat some tasty food) and the cover of “So I’m a Spider, So What? EX,” which is scheduled to come out in Japan this winter.So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 5
When I worked on Volume 1 in particular, I remember being very nervous because I never expected to draw a light novel cover without any humans in it, but I was also excited at the new challenge.
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