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 their list of volumes has continued to grow throughout the years, so has the curiosity of their readers. Readers and journalists alike have gone through lengths to get to know the author of this popular series; the writer often rejecting interviews and comments on their work.

Despite their popularity and influence in the country, they remain a highly private person. The ability of a famous entity to conceal their identity from the public has baffled many readers and avid supporters. 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 they shed light on the struggles of a young man and his aspiration of becoming a hero. Amidst the countless challenges thrown at him, they tackle dark and sinister matters. This forces readers and viewers alike not only to look within themselves but also view the world around them with a different perspective.

Yusagi’s light novels continue to enjoy success and acclaims with the public. Let us center our discussion around the anime author, Aneko Yusagi, and their 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 translated into their work.

While Yusagi’s creations are marketed towards boys and the male market, the author’s gender remains unclear. A quick search on the Internet yields little to no results. Audiences don’t know whether to use male or female pronouns for the author. Although there is insufficient information that points to this, some viewers and fans believe that the writer is a woman.

To be clear, Aneko Yusagi is a pen name. This pseudonym arose speculations about the author. 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.

The pen name is not a traditional Japanese name. The leanings of this pseudonym may relate to a variety of factors. Yusagi’s name seemingly bears similarities to another writer named Natsume Akatsuki. Who for the longest time was considered to be a woman primarily because his name sounded feminine.

Worlds Created by Aneko Yusagi

Yusagi is the creator of The Rising of the Shield Hero, written prior to the light novel series achieving unparalleled heights in the anime industry. The author initially started posting their creations on Shosetsuka ni Naro. This user-generated website, created by Yusuke Umezaki in 2004, publishes novels for a variety of readers. The web novel was initially titled 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 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, Aiya Kyu adapted the novel series to a manga series, also published by Media Factory. In total, 22 volumes have been published as of June 25, 2019. Meanwhile, One Peace Books, its 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 his assigned shield.

Undergoing a series of difficulties – including betrayal 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 heroes in the stories they read largely inspired their original concept of heroes. Rather than finding inspiration from people they knew in real life, Yusagi sought connection with characters they felt they identified with. From there, they fashioned characters of their own which aimed to capture their unique point of view.

Yusagi’s fondness of playing games, such as Ragnarok Online, also translated towards their work, 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 capture what it is to be human.

Despite meeting for only a brief period of time, Aneko asked the anime makers to portray the heroes in their own light. Rather than demonizing them as villains who were only after power. In a 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 reaches not just a local audience in Japan, but also a more expansive audience in North America. The creators announced the series’ approval for a second and third season during the recently concluded 2019 Crunchyroll Expo.

Controversies Surrounding the Author and Their Work

The light novel series, manga series, and anime adaptation performed well in Japan. However, 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 of the author being a man due to their 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. This 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 their possible gender assignment played into crafting and weaving the whole storyline. Albeit embroiled in controversy, the series captured Aneko Yusagi’s intention to put morality at its core. Thus paving the way for more intellectual discussions in the future.

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

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

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