This is PART 2 of the interview that we did to Sazane-sensei, the mastermind behind Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World (KimiSen).
In this interview we asked a lot of granular questions about KimiSen; it might contain minor spoilers about the anime. But if you’re a big fan of this superb story, you can’t miss this interview!
He told us a lot of things that he hasn’t revealed yet, not even in the light novel!
Now here’s the interview, hope you enjoy it!
Note: If you missed PART 1 of the interview, check it out here. And the interview has been edited for clarity.
Mipon: Out of curiosity, any reason why you wear a Panda helmet during your public appearances?
Sazane-sensei: When I’m making a public appearance, I want readers to focus on the story itself, rather than me, the author.
That was my reasoning at first, and [because of publicity around KimiSen], I’ve recently begun to prefer hiding my face. I thought a costume head might work, so I started browsing Amazon for ideas.
I found a couple of cute ones, but I decided on the panda since it matched Iska’s black-and-white swords. It’s perfect for that color scheme that appears in the story.
Sazane-sensei’s Assistant Editor: Wow, I didn’t even know that! [laughs]
S: I think I talked about it during one of the Fantasia Broadcast events.*
*Fantasia Bunko livestreams on YouTube.
Assistant Editor: Oh yeah, that’s right. Now that you mention it…
S: At book signing events, I don’t wear the mask. Aside from a couple of times online, like on YouTube, I don’t normally show my face.
AE: You’re usually wearing the panda mask for stuff like photo shoots and such.
M: There seems to be one floating around the internet.
AE: Yeah, that’s no good.
S: I think that was from an overseas book signing event. Taiwan, probably. One of the fans must have sneaked a shot and posted it online.
M: That’s not very cool of them. Have you done other overseas book signings or events?
S: The event in Taiwan was the only time, I think.
After releasing my debut novel, maybe eight or nine years ago, they invited me to an event there. At international events, it seems like most people don’t hide their identities at all. Everyone just comes on stage and says “Hey, I’m the director of ____” or “I was the producer on ___.”
M: Yeah, there’s not really a common practice of hiding your identity overseas. How often do you go to these events?
S: The Taiwan event was the only overseas event I’ve been to, but I usually do one or two a year in Japan.
AE: You did that online signing event the other day, right?
S: Yeah. For the online events, I’ll often show my face.
M: What does your typical day-to-day look like while working on KimiSen?
S: I live and work in a 1DK room, which is pretty small. Over the past year or so, I’ve pretty much only been writing and sleeping.
But I love writing, so when I’m done working on KimiSen, I start working on something else right away.
S: I love League of Legends, so if I finish writing for the day, I’ll often watch a match to unwind. I’m a fan of the American teams Cloud9 and TSF.
M: I understand that KimiSen takes place in the same “universe” as other series you’ve written. Is there any possibility of characters from those series making an appearance in KimiSen?
S: The worlds are connected to an extent. I brought along a copy of volume 9 of KimiSen and another of my novels called “World Enemy.” [Here, Sazane-sensei shows us the novels].
S: As you can see here, Yunmelngen appears in both. I explained this to Nekonabe-sensei and asked them to draw him in their own style so that Yunmelngen’s costume design fits in the world of KimiSen. As far as KimiSen goes, this is the most direct connection.
Also, this is a little behind-the-scenes trivia, but when coming up with the design of Iska’s master Crosswell, I had Nekonabe-sensei base it off of this character called “Noa” from World Enemy.
AE: Wow, you’re right. They’re very similar.
S: But in general, I try to keep these connections to a minimum. Otherwise, readers might feel like they have to read this other series too if they want to fully understand what’s going on. I don’t want to pressure them to read these other stories; instead, if they happen to read them, I hope they notice these minor references.
I actually made that mistake with my debut novel, Tasogare-iro no Uta Tsukai, and Hyouketsu Kyoukai no Eden, which I wrote afterward.
S: I carried over a lot of the story and setting from my first work into the second, so people reading “Eden” had to go back and read ten volumes of “Tasogareiro” to fully understand things.
S: So, while the worlds are connected to some degree, I just try to have characters pop up in other stories without making a big deal out of it so that fans who’ve read those stories might notice.
M: Interesting. So, you deliberately don’t acknowledge the connections in the stories themselves.
S: Right. It’s kind of like a bonus for fans who’ve read my other novels.
M: Let’s dive a bit deeper into KimiSen’s story now, first focusing on the Heavenly Empire. In the scene from the anime in which Iska has rescued Sisbell, his comrades are of course happy to see him return safely, but none of them ask about his motives or goals in rescuing Sisbell. Some fans were left a little confused as to why they didn’t confront him. Do they simply trust Iska so much that they don’t need to ask? Or is there another point in the story where Iska explains things to them?
S: There is definitely such a scene in the light novel. Story-wise, right after episode 12 of the anime ends, Iska explains that Sisbell is the girl he rescued in episode 1.
Note: In October 2021, an Anime sequel has been announced. So, we’ll see this scene in season 2.
S: The anime ended up being only 12 episodes, but if it were 13, we would have been able to show that part. In the end, it’s just a question of how much time we had to work with.
M: Mismis is of course one of the more popular characters in KimiSen, but can you elaborate on how she became the Captain of Iska’s squad? Just going by the anime, she doesn’t appear to look or act much like a typical soldier, and viewers weren’t able to see her fully demonstrate her strengths.
S: Mismis’ backstory, simply put, is that her father served in the Heavenly Empire’s army before retiring due to injuries. Following this, she resolves to join the military to serve in place of her father.
S: She wasn’t naturally suited to being in the military, but she made it in through sheer determination. But as you can see with how she cares for Iska and Nene, Mismis is incredibly caring and considerate. For example, in episode 3, when she notices Iska facing the window and asks him why he looks so serious.
She knows that she lacks what it takes to be a combat soldier, but despite that, she proves her worth as a captain by supporting her subordinates to her fullest and caring for them as best she can.
Her position becomes very unique as the story proceeds. As you know, in episode 5, she becomes a witch—there are no other characters in the entire story who both serve the Empire and are witches.
Mismis’ decision about where she belongs and how she’s going to live her life are major themes later on in KimiSen’s story.
M: How about Nene? We know that Jhin and Iska were recruited by Crosswell and that Mismis joined to carry on her father’s legacy, but what about Nene’s circumstances led her to join the military?
S: For Nene, her backstory is explained more in the Secret Files volume 2 book of short stories, which is available in Japan now.
S: I’m not sure how far the English translations have progressed though.
Note: KimiSen’s volume 8 just came out this month in English. You can check it out here.
So if you wait a bit longer, you’ll be able to find out. But When Iska and Jhin were living with Crosswell and training under him, that young girl who often came over to play was in fact Nene.
So, the three of them have known each other for quite a long time.
M: So, we’ll just have to wait and find out when the English version comes out! How is the order of the Saint Disciple seats decided? Is it based on strength in battle or some other reason?
S: Strength, age, and length of service in the Empire all factor into it, but generally, the decision is made by Emperor Yunmelngen.
S: If Iska had remained a Saint Disciple, he would have gradually risen up through the ranks. But all of the members have their own specialties, so it’s somewhat difficult to rank them purely in terms of power.
So Yunmelngen’s decisions are often based on who he can trust most, who he wants to have on hand, or even who he’s suspicious of and wants to monitor.
Meanwhile, Risya has remained in the fifth seat ever since she became a Saint Disciple.
M: Let’s change gears and talk about the Nebulis Sovereignty now. There are various noble houses, such as the Zoa, Hydra, and Lou, competing for control over the Sovereignty. Within the Lou house, there are also first, second and third princesses. Is there a point in KimiSen’s story where we learn more about the power struggle and hierarchy of the royalty?
S: At some point, I’d like to explain the backstory of the three houses in detail. Most likely, it would be a side story and not part of the main KimiSen plot.
So I definitely want to dive deeper into this topic, but I’m still figuring out how exactly I want to do it.
S: What I can explain at this point is that the first queen, Nebulis I, the younger sister of the founder, Nebulis, had three children and passed away shortly after.
Because she died so suddenly, there hadn’t been time to establish a formal system for succeeding the throne. Her older sister didn’t want to become queen so that reduced the potential candidates to her three children, one of whom would become Nebulis II.
S: Each of them were incredibly gifted, however, making the decision on who’d become queen even more difficult. Ultimately, this resulted in the struggle for succession of the throne.
M: So, we can expect to learn more in a KimiSen side story?
S: Yeah, if there’s demand from readers.
M: I understand that most of the Nebulis Sovereignty’s citizens are astral mages, but some are not. How do they feel about their lives under the rule of the sovereignty?
S: There are certainly non-mages living in the sovereignty’s territory, but there’s not really any discrimination or unjust treatment. Quite the opposite, in fact, because if the astral mages were to treat them poorly, they’d only have more enemies to contend with. As far as the Nebulis Sovereignty is concerned, their only enemy is the Empire who persecuted them; everyone else they consider friendly. So, there’s lots of non-mages living throughout the sovereignty, and mages aren’t given special treatment or anything. Also, as part of the backstory, the man who Nebulis married was an ordinary, non-mage human.
M: So ordinary humans are generally satisfied with life in the Sovereignty? Would they ever consider fleeing to a neutral city, for example?
S: That’s right. Some might move to a neutral city, but there aren’t really any reasons for most people to do so.
M: Returning to the topic of the royal family, who is the father of Alice and her sisters? Is he involved in the story?
S: He’s alive and well, but he just doesn’t play a significant role in the story. There’s no big reveal or surprise about him, really.
S: I’ve thought about writing a short side story about him, but I likely won’t. He’s just a minor character and isn’t closely involved with the main storyline.
M: What is he up to during the events of the anime?
S: He’s just living with the queen in the Nebulis Sovereignty. He has his own duties and responsibilities of course, but the queen generally handles public matters, while he’s in the background.
M: I’m curious about the astral vortexes in the KimiSen world. Did any other vortexes appear during the time between the start of KimiSen’s story and 100 years prior, when the first vortex appeared? Both the Empire and the Sovereignty seem to know a lot about them, so it would be odd if they got all that info just from the one occasion a century ago.
S: When the first vortex appeared 100 years ago, they began appearing regularly throughout the world.
Whenever they did, the Empire would try to destroy them, while the Sovereignty would try to secure them. That scramble for the vortexes has been ongoing for the past 100 years.
M: Is there an exact number of known vortexes that exist in the world?
S: There’s not a specific number, but they tend to be localized in a few regions. This region here, marked in purple, is where a lot of them happen.
[Here, Sazane-sensei shows us a map of the KimiSen world, which he has saved on his phone]
M: Has this map been revealed yet?
S: There’s a similar map shown very briefly in the anime. Here, you can see the Empire in blue, here’s the Sovereignty and this area is all desert.
M: We know the surnames of most of the characters in KimiSen, with the exception of Iska. Does he actually have one, and will it be revealed at some point?
S: Iska’s voice actor, Yusuke Kobayashi, actually asked me the same question [laughs]. He does have a surname, but he’s deliberately hiding it for a good reason.
Right now, I’m trying to decide whether to directly reveal Iska’s surname in the story itself or leave some hints and have readers imagine what it might be.
As I’m putting the final touches on the story, I’m considering that kind of thing, as well as other questions like whether to have an epilogue.
M: Either way, I look forward to finding out! How close are we to the end of KimiSen’s story?
S: I already had the ending planned out when I began writing, but I can’t say when it’ll end or how many volumes are left. You’ll just have to wait and see.
All I can say now is that the story is in the second half at this point.
M: Since anime tourism is a big part of Mipon’s content, I was wondering if there are any real-life locations that KimiSen is based on or inspired by.
S: Like I mentioned earlier* while planning the manga, I send Okama-sensei reference material for backgrounds, objects, towns and so on that are used when designing the locations.
*He mentioned it in PART 1 of this interview.
For example, the neutral city in episode 3 is meant to be a very cultural, cosmopolitan place. Using Google Maps, I looked for different locations and came upon some images of Munich.
S: There were lots of bright, orange houses lined up, and I thought that looked really nice, so I sent along some images of the city as reference material.
S: There’s also the casino in episode 4, which is modeled after Las Vegas.
S: For the scenes where the vortex appears in the anime, I asked the staff to create something like the Grand Canyon area in the U.S.
And there’s also the desert resort in episodes 10, 11, and 12. That was heavily influenced by Dubai since you’ve got the desert and ocean right next to each other.
M: How about Japan? Is there any real-life location here?
S: There are lots of Japan-inspired locations in my other novels, but not so much with Kimisen. All I can think of at the moment is this scene in episode 12. There’s this really neat factory area in Japan.
[Sazane-sensei shows us a photo on his phone]
M: Oh, that looks like the industrial park near Kawasaki.
S: Yeah, I think the place in this photo is a steel mill. The final battle scene in the anime is based on this. In KimiSen, it’s an oil extraction and refinery plant, but the real-life model is in Japan.
End of interview.
In case you missed it, here’s Part 1 of the interview.
Here at Mipon, we’re big followers of KimiSen and Sazane-sensei and I highly recommend you check out the latest volume. The English translation of Volume 8 of the light novel just came out this month. Check it out here.
Thanks again to Sazane-sensei for his revelations about this magnificent story.
Thanks to Fantasia Bunko, Sazane-sensei, our friend Kei and everyone that made this interview possible.
Finally, thanks to the Mipon community, and r/KimiSen/ for the questions and suggestions.
Editor: Chelsea McWillis.
DISCLAIMER: All the images above were used with the permission of Fantasia Bunko and KADOKAWA.
©2020 Kei Sazane. Ao Nekonabe/KADOKAWA/Kimisen Project
For more interviews, check out our interview with Deca-Dence and Burning Kabaddi’s author.