“Project Qualidea” Special Roundtable Discussion with Sagara Sou, Tachibana Koushi and Watari Wataru
(Note: This is a translation of the interview featured on the Dash x Bunko website.)
Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin (Kuzu to Kinka no Qualidea, or Kuzukin for short) has created quite a stir after getting a second printing straight after its publication in January. Now that Tachibana Koushi has announced his involvement, this ambitious “shared world” project involving multiple light novel labels will now begin in earnest! Our newcomer Tachibana Koushi-sensei joins in to explain the full details behind his involvement in this mysterious project! Don’t miss this chaotic public roundtable discussion filled with explosive statements (?!)
The overly friendly (?!) relationship between the three authors
Editor: So I want to ask you about Project Qualidea. To start things off, do authors who write for different labels like you do often hang out together?
Tachibana Koushi (henceforth T): Yeah, it’s pretty normal.
Sagara Sou (henceforth S): It might only be a certain fraction of people who do it, though…
Editor: How did you three meet specifically?
T: The normal way, I think. We made our first contact at a drinking party held by the older writers.
S: But what about these days? Are there that many drinking parties?
T: There are, but I don’t really turn up when I get busy.
S: I get the feeling I don’t get invi-
T: They’re just looking out for you because they think you’re busy!
S: But I do recall meeting up with a bunch of other new writers and asking questions to the more experienced writers.
Watari Wataru (henceforth W): I was never invited.
T: There used to be a mixi group for new writers…
W: I used mixi, but I was never part of a group.
T: Aren’t you being too in-character straight off the bat?!
Editor: When was the first time you met?
T: I first met Watari-san at a drinking party. After that, I brought Sagara-san along. That’s where it happened, I suppose.
Editor: Is that when he got insulted on social media? (laughs)
S: Oh, right! I wrote about it in the Kuzukin afterword, but I mentioned that I read Watari Wataru’s blog, and then he went out of his way to insult me on his blog. (laughs)
T: This guy didn’t badmouth you behind your back. He knew perfectly well that you read his blog, so he posted it right where you could see it.
W: I’m not a big fan of backstabbing.
S: Riiiiight. (deadpan)
Editor: So you met up frequently after that?
S: We sure did. We became best buddies. My senpai writers even invited me to their homes and so on.
They started planning the project after just one day?!
Editor: All right, so what made you get a start on “Project Qualidea”?
T: I think it was when we started drinking. This was about two or three years ago. We’re all around the same age, so I said let’s do something interesting while we’re in our twenties.
S: So then we wanted to make a shared world.
Editor: It will be a crossover between the labels you all work for, where the stories share the same setting and backstory. Has the setting and plot for all of Project Qualidea been decided yet?
S: Tachibana Koushi said we should use the post-apocalyptic setting. He said that he could only write this sort of setting. I’m just a scenario writer here.
T: That’s the first time I’ve heard that. (laughs)
W: I hear the words of His Lord Tachibana Koushi from above and pass them along to Sagara-san, who transcribes them word-for-word…
T: Hold on a minute! We rented out a conference room and brainstormed ideas on a whiteboard, all three of us.
S: And after that, we went drinking in Shinjuku and that’s where the story took shape. You said, “Oh man, this bar is closing for today, so what are we gonna do?!” Then you said, “Oh, screw it!” and continued the brainstorming at a business hotel.
T: I swore I asked you if it was okay since there weren’t any trains at that hour.
W: When I said, “I’ll take a taxi home,” you guys were like, “Are you suuuuuure…?”
T: Then we spent about four hours together. We all wracked our brains right until the moment we nodded off.
W: In the meantime, Sagara-san hogged the toilet.
Editor: Why?! (laughs)
W: He said his stomach hurt. So basically it was Tachibana Koushi who decided everything.
T: Somehow, I get the feeling you’re pinning all the responsibility on me. (laughs)
Editor: So you pretty much decided all the worldbuilding in one day?
T: Yeah, but it was a really rough sketch.
The Hidden Story behind the Birth of Kuzukin
Editor: Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin was created as a prologue to the world’s setting, wasn’t it?
The authors: Weeeeeeell…
Editor: Oh? (laughs) I thought it was a kind of prequel to the project’s main story? It fits into the timeline like a kind of episode 0.
W: I dunno about that. I’m kinda fuzzy on the contents…
T: Says the one who wrote it. (laughs)
S: It was meant to be that way, but then things got complicated with the timeline… I think that lots of eye-opening things happen at the end of the story and that things will get clearer as more books related to the project come out. I hope that the ambiguous epilogue and suggestive chapter openings spark people’s imaginations and leaves them eager for more.
W: More like those chapter openings are the main story.
T: Then incorporate that into the novel itself! (laughs)
Editor: Was Sagara-san the one who came up with Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin’s structure and plot developments?
W: It was all Sagara Sou’s doing.
S: I was guided by His Lord Tachibana Koushi from above.
T: I got a call from Watari Wataru in the middle of the night.
W: I told him to think up a plot and then hung up. (laughs)
T: Actually, I had almost nothing to do with Kuzukin. Watching those two bicker back and forth, I figured it was more amusing to keep my mouth shut. And then I was shocked by what they came up with. I was like, what the hell is this?! (laughs) Far from telling the episode 0 story I imagined, it only advanced the plot about 0.7-0.8 per cent. If you put it in perspective, it was closer to 0.01 per cent. (laughs) No, wait, it really was an episode 0!
S: It all hinged on Tachibana Koushi’s input.
W: If it’s all Tachi-san’s plot, then he should’ve kept in touch with us!
T: C’mon. (laughs)
Editor: Wow, this really feels like you were improvising. So now it’s clear that Tachi-san was behind the ending of Kuzukin and the mysterious chapter openings.
T: Errrr… not quite. (laughs) That wasn’t me, it was something that the Watari-san and Sagara-san gradually incorporated later. So there you go, please look forward to it.
Sagara-san is Watari-san’s professional girlfriend?!
Editor: Say what you will about Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin, but Sagara-san and Watari-san’s “co-author” model makes it an innovative work.
T: Actually, I’d question whether this method of writing a book is all that unusual. Not the whole writing a novel like a relay thing, but two people writing a story with the same overarching plot.
S: I figured that if we called it an experiment, nobody would mind if it was crap…
W: But on the subject of co-authorship, it’s the most fun I’ve had.
S: Yep. I wouldn’t do it any differently.
T: So how did you actually write it?
W: Well, whenever Sagara-san finished writing a part, I started asking him passive-aggressive interview questions like, “What are you going to do about this?”
S: Then I’d cry and tell him, “Fine. I’ll rewrite it.”
T: Ah, but I kinda remember saying at a meeting that the whole “love you for your appearance” thing is like pure love when you really think about it. No matter what happens, you’ll stay with that person forever. “Why are we together?” “Because I like your face.” That has to be pure love! That was the only thing that never changed even in the end.
S: Towards the end I was like a wife who lives in another house but visits her husband all the time. I was going to Watari Wataru’s workplace and doing all the writing there. And when I said I’d finished writing and put my work in the dropbox, Watari Wataru would open the door next to me and say, “Look, you,” every time. (laughs)
T: These two are sharing a room together. (laughs)
W: We’re not sharing a room, but Sagara-san never seems to go home for some weird reason. At first he said he’d go home at around 11 at night, which he did. After that, he went home later and later, and now he’s here all the time.
T: Can’t you see he wants to be with you! (laughs)
Editor: Before you knew it, you were cohabitating. The message you two published before the book came out also had a story about you going to an inn in Hakone together.
T: Did they seriously go there? Going on a trip to Hakone together, visiting each other at work all the time, you’ve got to be having sex. (laughs)
S: See, once pretty much all the deadlines were over, I said, “See ya later,” to Watari Wataru on the doorstep of his workplace, and then I went to an internet café.
T: What a convenient girl you are. A professional girlfriend!
S: I couldn’t think of one reason why I had to go home.
T: Well, Sagara-san’s heart is in the internet café, just like a beloved hometown.
W: He should just get a taxi home. Although I seriously don’t get the point of that either.
S: The words “stay the night” do exist, you know.
W: There’d be trouble if I didn’t let you go home.
T: Just as you guys are getting completely love dovey, the wife’s secret lover appears—me. (laughs)
Editor: So then it became a threesome? A three-way co-authorship, I mean.
W: Aren’t Tachi-san and Sagara-san letting themselves go a bit much? I couldn’t possibly think of any other combination.
S: Oh, so now you’re disowning us. (laughs) But, you know, if we did write a three-way novel, Tachibana Koushi would end up writing everything for sure.
W: Yeah, probably.
T: Quit it, you guys! (laughs)
W: I mean, let’s just be honest here. It didn’t pay off well.
Editor: Say what?!
W: I mean, seriously, I get the feeling that if one person wrote it they’d get the job done quicker. That goes both ways.
S: You procrastinate all the time when you write by yourself…
W: You can’t win in this world. What I did understand was that what Sagara-san wrote didn’t match what I wrote. Especially that heroine… Seriously, I could not get my head around her. (laughs)
The Birth of the Legendary Heroine Johannes!
Editor: Almost all the reader comments were about the heroine Chigusa Yuu (AKA Johannes). She really made quite an impact.
T: To be honest, just reading the start of Yuu’s parts kinda made me want to stay away from whoever wrote it. (laughs)
S: Was she that bad?!
Editor: Was Yuu modelled on anybody?
S: Watari Wataru!
W: Shut up.
W: The readers think of me as an upstanding member of society, so they probably didn’t make the connection.
S: Well, see, the book was written to debunk that idea. (laughs) It shows how Watari Wataru is different from his media image—the real Watari Wataru is like this.
T: Now that you mention it, there are some resemblances. (laughs) When Yuu insults Haruma by saying, “Even a person like him deferred to someone. It’s amazing what school does to a person,” that’s the kind of thing Watari-san says a lot. Why are his putdowns so excellent?
S: Why did you say such a terrible thing?
W: Oh yeah, I did kinda add that part at the final stages. It’s like, huh? Was it needed that much?
T: But when you read it all the way to the end, it’s weird how she still seems cute. She’s such an overpowering heroine that in any other work you wouldn’t get behind her and it’d be unreadable, but she had Haruma (the protagonist: Kusaoka Haruma) wrapped around her little finger.
S: It was supposed to be that Watari Wataru would do Haruma’s parts and I would do Yuu’s parts, but whenever our own character had lines in the other writer’s part, Watari Wataru would almost always come to me, saying, “I can’t write Yuu’s lines.”
W: I could write her lines in the second half of the story, when her relationship with Haruma was developing, but at first I was absolutely stuck.
T: Even though she’s your brainchild. (laughs) Before you knew it, you ended up writing her as a complete monster.
W: Towards the end, I finally started thinking of Johannes as our child. At first, I was seriously thinking, I gotta fix up the bastard who wrote this.
S: Haruma is a stand-in for the readers, so as Haruma warmed on Yuu, Watari Wataru warmed on Yuu as well.
Editor: On the other hand, Haruma is the sane one, relatively speaking.
W: Well, you know, he had a lot on his plate. In Haruma’s case, anyone would look like an upstanding individual next to Johannes.
T: He’s a tsukkomi character, after all. But that’s why I think he ended up as a different character from Oregairu’s Hachiman.
Editor: Johannes tears things down; Haruma keeps them together. It really does seem like Haruma was the one who had his hand on the rudder the entire story.
W: The rudder he tried to grab turned out to be broken.
Editor: But a really beautiful theme came to the fore at the very end. I thought it was wonderful how you managed the landing so well.
W: Ahh, yes, that was the last day. It just came out that way. It was the only way we could do the story.
T: That’s really impressive. This story gives off a “two skilled authors went down to business on the endless, filler-ish plot” sort of image. It’s not the first time I’ve thought this, but you two are way too good at writing.
Editor: Indeed, I was also stunned by how two authors with such different styles were able to collaborate.
W: I suppose there aren’t that many authors who make strong statements through their writing. The fact that we were saying, “what do I know about what you wrote?” to each other came across loud and clear. (laughs)
Editor: Oh, I see. The “co” in “co-authorship” must be short for “confused”.
T: Or maybe “collision course”. (laughs)
S: My father read Kuzukin and said, “This Watari Wataru guy sure can write.” And then he read my parts and said, “This is just like Murakami Haruki.”
Editor: That’s a great compliment!
S: Well, the problem is that my father hates Murakami Haruki.
Everyone: (uproarious laughter)
T: What’s with the roundabout insult? (laughs)
W: Like father like son, eh?
T: I think Sagara-san must have learned something from his father to be able to write Yuu the way he did. (laughs)
Editor: So who’s your favourite Kuzukin character, everybody?
W: I like Johannes in the scenes where I don’t have to write her. When I do have to write her, I think to myself, “What is up with this chick?” (laughs)
S: I like Johannes… too… I guess…?
Editor: That didn’t sound very confident. (laughs)
S: I mean, I put the protagonist aside and think of him as the audience stand-in whenever I write, so Johannes is far and away the easiest to write.
T: So all the hating comes from Watari Wataru. (laughs)
Editor: What about you, Tachi-san?
T: I guess I like Johannes as well, when I think about it… Is that laying it on too thick?
Editor: No, this must mean that she is a memorable heroine in both name and substance. (laughs)
S: I’d like to write her again sometime.
W: I’d like to read about her while having nothing to do with the writing.
S: C’mon. (laughs)
The Future of Project Qualidea
Editor: The readers have many questions they’d like to ask you, so let’s start with the first one: what is “Speakeasy”?
S: That’s our unit name. When we came up with the story, that’s the name of the kind of businesses we often frequented, for some reason.
W: Well, he’s not wrong.
T: Sure he is. (laughs) That’s our unit name, so we plan to release any future books for this project under that name.
S: It appears as if “scum” describes Haruma and “gold coin” describes Yuu’s obsession with money, although in reality both of them describe Yuu.
T: She really is a domineering heroine. (laughs)
S: Wasn’t the original title “Qualidea of the Radiant World”? We changed it just before it got published, though.
W: You really know your stuff, huh?
S: I don’t think you know it, but I actually wrote the title as well.
Editor: What about Qualidea?
W: Qualidea is whatever you think it is.
T: That sounds like an urban legend. (laughs) Qualidea has a lot of meanings, but that’s something that’ll be made clear in this project down the track, so look forward to it.
S: There are honestly a lot of things I’d like to say, but it’s too early right now, so I regretfully apologise. But we’ve prepared a lot of shocking twists, so the first order of business is to keep an eye on Tachi-san’s work.
T: So much pressure. (laughs)
Editor: The hype is escalating! Finally, do you have any messages for all the readers out there?
W: Oregairu season 2-
T: Shut up! (laughs)
S: First of all, I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t read Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin yet to go pick up a copy.
W: We’ll continue the series if we sell X amount of copies.
T: Stop! That’s too real. (laughs) There will be lots of Project Qualidea books coming out in 2015 including Kuzukin, so I hope you all look forward to following the series!
Editor: Thank you for lending us your time today!
Translator’s Commentary: You can read my English translation of Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin here. As of the time of this writing, the first five chapters have been uploaded, although I have finished the draft of the entire novel. Expect the full release early next year.
For those of you unfamiliar with the authors involved, Watari Wataru wrote Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru, Sagara Sou wrote Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko and Tachibana Koushi wrote Date a Live.
So far, the Qualidea project consists of the following media products:
- Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin (light novel) by Watari Wataru and Sagara Sou [IN STORES NOW]
- Itsuka Sekai wo Sukuu Tame ni -Qualidea Code- vol. 1 (light novel) by Tachibana Koushi [IN STORES NOW]
- Sonna Sekai wa Kowashite shimae -Qualidea Code- vol. 1 (light novel) by Sagara Sou [IN STORES NOW]
- Itsuka Sekai wo Sukuu Tame ni -Qualidea Code- vol. 2 (light novel) by Tachibana Koushi [RELEASE DATE: 1/20/2016]
- An untitled story by Watari Wataru covering the “Chiba arc” (light novel) [RELEASE DATE UNKNOWN]
- Qualidea Code (manga) published in Jump SQ magazine [RELEASE DATE: 2016]
- Qualidea Code (anime) produced by A-1 Pictures [RELEASE DATE UNKNOWN]
Additionally, there will be an interview with the three authors in the February 2016 edition of Newtype magazine. I will try to get my hands on it so that I can translate it. I hope that this interview will clarify the relationship between the upcoming anime and the light novels. There appear to be some inconsistencies between the anime characters and the light novel characters, so my suspicion is that the anime tells an original story based on the LN’s setting and premise.
If you have any further questions about the project, feel free to ask and I will answer as best I can. Bear in mind, however, that not much information is actually known about the series yet. Nevertheless, I will try to keep abreast with all the developments related to this project and keep you posted with accurate information. For now, enjoy this cool key visual:
Posted on December 28, 2015, in Translations and tagged date a live, hentai ouji to warawanai neko, qualidea, QUALITY, sagara sou, tachibana koushi, watari wataru, yahari ore no seishun love come wa machigatteiru. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.