Interview with Screenwriter Chiaki J. Konaka

This week APGNation was lucky enough to sit down with screenwriter Chiaki J. Konaka, the man behind such works as Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze, and Digimon Tamers, to talk about such diverse topics as his style of writing, the horror genre, and his return to writing for anime.  In addition to his work in the anime industry, he has also penned several films, novels, and live-action Tokusatsu shows. His most recent work in the world of anime was 2007’s Ghost Hound.

APGNation: First of all, thank you for speaking with us at APGNation. Would you tell our readers who might not know your work a little about yourself and what you’ve written in the past?

Chiaki J. Konaka: Hi, I’m a writer of screen/anime scripts and novels.
I’ve written over 200 scripts for Japanese movies, animes, and tokusatsu(SFX series).
Some people know me as a horror theorist.
Some people say I am a Sci-Fi anime writer.
I’m not sure what I am.

APGNation: Is there any major differences between writing for TV anime, movies, and video games? If so, what is your favorite medium to work with?

Chiaki J. Konaka: Most people say that anime and live-action scenarios are different ways of writing.
But in my scenario writing theory, there’s no difference.
The difference between movie and TV shows is just about the running time.
I don’t have any favorite format.

APGNation: Works such as Serial Experiments Lain have elements of horror despite not being strictly horror themselves. How has horror as a genre influenced your writing?

Chiaki J. Konaka: “Lain” the series was made after the original video game version, but TV series was almost an original story.
When I started to plan the TV story there was no limitation, so I decided to start the story as a cyber horror; but I didn’t want to keep that concept through the series.

APG: The Serial Experiments Lain video game is very different from the anime. Could you tell us a bit about how these differences came about?

Konaka: The video game version of “Lain” and TV “Lain” are individual stories from one  another.
I only wrote the scenarios for movie parts for the video game version.
The characters of the video game were made by Yasuyuki Ueda, the producer.

 APG: Of the works you’ve written, do you have a favorite?

Konaka: Um… for now, maybe it’s “Ghost Hound”, the last production made with Ryutaro Nakamura (The director of Ghost Hound and Serial Experiments Lain, among other works).

APGNation: In terms of other writers and fiction, who or what would you say are your greatest inspirations as a writer?

Konaka: Books. So many books in fiction and nonfiction.

APG: Anime as a medium and industry has been changing quickly in recent years. Where do you think it will end up in the future?

Konaka: Well, I’ve not been active in anime production these 7 or 8 years.
I can’t say what’s going on recently in anime industries. I write mainly novels these days.

Ain, the main character of Despera, and Lain, main character of Serial Experieriments Lain. Art by Yoshitoshi Abe.

Ain, the main character of Despera, and Lain, main character of Serial Experieriments Lain. Art by Yoshitoshi Abe.

APG: Recently, Yoshitoshi Abe announced that production has resumed on the Despera anime. Can you comment on the status of this production?

Konaka: What? Is it truly “announced”?
Unfortunately I can’t precisely answer that, but it might be so…

APG: Do you have any advice for our readers who are trying to become writers?

Konaka: Watch many movies made in ’70s (Made in Hollywood, Japan, any kind of that).
Then you shall find the “Philosophers’ stone”.
May at it from to the contemporary the discourse.

APG: On that subject, how did you decide to become a writer yourself?

Konaka: Until I graduated university, I wanted to be a film maker and I started a job in video direction.
But one moment, there was a director who wanted me to write the scenario.
Then I found myself as a writer.

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APG: In Digimon Tamers, the story often references the works of HP Lovecraft. What is your opinion of Mr. Lovecraft’s work and how did you decide to reference them in Tamers?

Konaka: Yeah… I have to admit I’m a huge fan of Lovecraft.
And that has been well know among our industry.
The director of “Digimon Adventure 02” wanted me to write the script that featured Dagomon.
But I think there are no elements of Lovecraft in Tamers.

APG: Is there anyone you’d like to work with that you have not yet?

Konaka: In anime?
As I said so, I don’ t know the recent industries.

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APG: Modern technology is a major theme in Serial Experiments Lain and Texhnolyze. What are your thoughts on modern technology and its advancement?

Konaka: I do not have a concern particularly about modern technology.
However, when you’re based on the criticism standpoint, it does not also mean that you do not touch the thing.

APG: Being in the industry, do you watch anime or play games as a hobby?

Konaka: No. Sorry for that.

APG: In your name, there is a J. Why is this?

Konaka: When I was born, my family belonged Anglican Church.
J means John, the christian name .
But later my family changed to protestant.
When I started to make 8mm film (12 years old), I credited myself as “Chiaki J. Konaka”.
I thought it was cool such as “Charles M. Schulz”.

It’s a kind of joke. Actually I’m not Christian.

APG: Once again, thank you very much for speaking with APGNation. Do you have any parting words for your fans among our readers?

Konaka: Thank you for reading this.
I’m going to back to anime.
I can’t tell what it is, but maybe you’ll enjoy it in 2016.

I would like to thank Konaka for taking time to respond to our questions, and to all our readers for continuing to support APGNation. You can read more about Konaka’s work at his personal site Alice6.

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Nicole Seraphita
Written by
My name is Nicole Seraphita and I’m 27. I’ve been gaming since the days of the NES and have owned at least one system from each generation since then. My favorite type of games if most definitely RPGs, with my favorites being titles like Chrono Cross, Persona 4, and Tales of Xillia, though I also sometimes dabble in platforming games, fighting games, and visual novels. When I’m not writing for APGNation or playing games, I enjoy table top and card games, watch anime, and write fiction that I occasionally publish online. I tend to write a lot of Sci-fi and the occasional bit of fantasy, with the often overlooked sub-genre of Biopunk being my favorite. I’ve also written a few visual novels, though only one of them has made it all the way to completion thus far. My current dream is to be able to bring the Monster Girl genre to a western audience.

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