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Shedding the Spotlight on Anime Author Aneko Yusagi

Little is known about Aneko Yusagi, famed author of the beloved light novel named The Rising of the Shield Hero. As his list of volumes continues to grow throughout the years, so does the increasing curiosity of his readers. Readers and journalists alike have gone through lengths to get to know the author of this popular series. Often being rejected by the writer himself for interviews and comments on his works.

Considered as a highly private person despite his popularity and influence in the country. Many readers and avid supporters are baffled by how a famous entity managed to conceal his identity from the public. The gender of the author is also questioned over and over again. With readers and viewers alike speculating how gender and sexuality play into the overall storyline and development of the light novels.

Yusagi’s light novels, The Rising of the Shield Hero, remain relevant in today’s modern times. Primarily because it sheds light on the struggles of a young man and his aspiration of becoming a hero. Amidst the countless challenges thrown at him. It tackles dark and sinister matters. Which forces readers and viewers alike not only to look within themselves but also view the world around them with a different perspective.

As Yusagi’s light novels continue to enjoy successes and acclaims with the public. Let us center our discussion around the anime author Aneko Yusagi and his contributions in the world of anime.

Who is Aneko Yusagi?

Aneko Yusagi was reportedly born in the Kanagawa Prefecture from the Kanto region in Japan. A number of dedicated anime sites and forums reveal that Aneko held a special interest for reading and playing games. Later on, the author explored these themes and avenues and these interests were translated into his works.

While Yusagi’s creations are marketed towards boys and the male market, it is unclear what the author’s gender is. A quick search on the Internet yields little to no results. With audiences being confused about calling the writer with male or female pronouns. Although there is insufficient information that points to this. Some viewers and fans of the franchise believe that the writer is a woman.

To be clear, Aneko Yusagi is a pen name. This pseudonym has been linked to speculations about the author. Being a woman, saying the ‘ko’ in Aneko Yusagi’s name is feminine and usually denoted for women in society. ‘Aneko’ also means ‘older sister’ in Japanese. Which may be partly the reason why individuals are quick to assume that the novelist is really a woman.

Far from being a traditional Japanese name. The leanings of this pseudonym may be attributed to a variety of factors. With the most popular reason as the name-bearing interest for the user. Yusagi’s case seemingly bears similarities to another writer named Natsume Akatsuki. Who for the longest time was considered to a woman primarily because his name sounded feminine.

Worlds Created by Aneko Yusagi

Yusagi is the creator of The Rising of the Shield Hero. Prior to the light novel series achieving unparalleled heights in the anime industry. The author initially started posting his creations on Shosetsuka ni Naro. A user-generated website created by Yusuke Umezaki in 2004 which publishes novels for a variety of readers. The web novel was initially titled as Let’s Become a Novelist.

After achieving unprecedented success in the field and enjoying countless readers being hooked to the then online novel, Media Factory approached the novelist. Since then, the company has worked with Aneko Yusagi to rewrite the series and expand the storyline and character development. The first release done by the company happened in August 2013, which provided readers first access to light novels within Japan.

The task of enhancing the storyline went mainly to Yusagi, while Media Factory tapped another artist by the name of Seira Minami to illustrate the series. After enjoying a period of success, the novel series was then adapted to a manga series by Aiya Kyu, also published by Media Factory. In total, 22 volumes have been published as of June 25, 2019. Meanwhile, One Peace Books, it’s North American counterpart, successfully published the first volume by September 15, 2015.

The Rising of the Shield Hero follows the story of Naofumi Iwatani, an Otaku from Japan who spends the majority of his time playing video games and manga. One day, Naofumi discovers that he has been chosen to save the world and that he has been transported to a parallel universe. Here, he learns the art of wielding weapons, particularly the shield has been assigned to.

Undergoing a series of difficulties – including being betrayed by some of his closest people – Naofumi goes on a journey to rise towards his destiny as the Shield Hero.

Humble Beginnings and Inspiration

In a 2015 interview with One Peace Books, Yusagi revealed that his original concept of heroes was largely inspired by heroes in the stories he read. Rather than being inspired by people he knew in real life, Yusagi sought inspiration and connection with characters he felt he identified with. From there, he fashioned characters of his own which aimed to capture his unique point of view.

His fondness of playing games, such as Ragnarok Online, also translated towards his works, with the main protagonist Naofumi bearing a similar love for games and manga. The author also wrote Naofumi in a multidimensional way, portraying imperfect characteristics and personalities that perfectly captures what it is to be human.

Despite meeting only a for a brief period of time, Aneko asked the anime makers to portray the heroes in their own light. Rather than demonizing them and being seen as villains who were only after power. In his meeting with The Rising of the Shield Hero’s director Takao Abo revealed how the author highlighted the need to show morality through the characters, and by extension, morality’s potential effects on people.

Today, the animated series is able to reach not just a local audience in Japan, but also a more expansive audience in North America. The series has reportedly been approved for a second and third season. As announced by the creators during the recently concluded 2019 Crunchyroll Expo.

Controversies Surrounding the Author and His Work

Even though the light novel series, manga series, and anime adaptation were received well in Japan. The show garnered flak within its North American audience for how it depicted slavery. Surprisingly, creators of the show state that the same story did not create a big stir among their local audience.

This controversy gave rise to allegations with the author being a man due to his sexist remarks and leanings throughout the whole storyline. With a particular focus on Naofumi and his enslavement of Raphtalia. The season premiere also showed false accusations of rape. Which further added fuel to the fire as it seemingly sets a negative precedent towards the whole series.

Such themes and representations brought discussions from different sides. Particularly questioning the gender of the novelist and how his possible gender assignment played into crafting and weaving the whole storyline. Albeit embroiled in controversy. The series and the light novels captured Aneko Yusagi’s intention to put morality at its core. Thus paving way more intellectual discussions in the future.

Though no one knows who anime author Aneko Yusagi really is. There is no doubt that the world and the community he created still plays a crucial role today. In many ways, his novels paved way for reader and viewers alike to look beyond what meets the eye.

What do you think about this piece? Do you believe that his gender plays a significant role in the trajectory of his story?

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