GIBIATE interview with Ryo Aoki: 2020 anime brings Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D) and Naoki Serizawa (Resident Evil/Biohazard) together for one project [Anime Expo 2019]

Sensui Kanzaki, Kathleen, and Kenroku Sanada of GIBIATE
Sensui Kanzaki, Kathleen, and Kenroku Sanada of GIBIATE. Pic credit: GIBIATE PROJECT Production Committee

Expo 2019’s closing ceremony finished by shocking fans with the announcement of the GIBIATE Project. Described as the “ultimate survival action” anime, the new TV series brings together Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D) for Character Design, Naoki Serizawa (Resident Evil/Biohazard manga) for Monster Designer, and Yuzo Koshiro (Ys and Act Raisor) as Sound Creator.

A short video trailer was shown to audiences and then released worldwide. While it just gives a taste of what to expect from the GIBIATE anime, Amano will host the premiere screening of the first episode next year during Anime Expo 2020.

Here is a GIBIATE story summary:

The Year is 2030 in Japan. A Virus outbreak has covered the earth. Once infected, patients become monsters and change their physical form depending on age, sex, and nationality. The virus is called “Gibier”(wild game for many varieties). An Edo era time-traveling Samurai and Shinobi appear in the post-apocalyptic ruins.

They are helping a doctor who has dedicated his career for researching the cure for Gibier, but hordes of Gibier are after them and outlaws attack travelers for food – everywhere you turn, there is danger bearing down upon them!

The announced characters include Sensui Kanzaki, a traveling Samurai from the Edo period who is known as the Senningiri (thousand man slasher). Wielding both a Japanese katana and a Western-style sword, he has killed numerous enemies but now he’s taken a vow against killing.

Joining Sensui is an Edo period ninja named Kenroku Sanada. Blood relative to the Sanada Family, this Shinobi fights against Gibias using both blades and bombs.

These two warriors travel with the half-blood girl Kathleen, Dr. Yoshinaga’s assistant. Although she’s not a fighter, she managed to save Sensui and Kenroku when they first time-traveled to the modern world.

Immediately following the announcement, Monsters and Critics had a chance to sit down with Executive Producer and Original Story Writer Ryo Aoki. In the past, he’s written for the BONJOUR Sweet Love Patisserie anime and the Shibuya Hachiko-Made -another side- manga. He’s also offered supervision for the Girl Friend BETA anime TV series.

The GIBIATE Project started as a way of introducing the Japanese concept of “Wa” which means harmony. Aoki explained that GIBIATE was intended to be like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but instead of bringing superheroes together for a single story the GIBIATE Project will bring together Japan’s top-level “super creators” from popular video game, manga, and anime franchises which represent the success of Japanese art.

Besides the GIBIATE anime, the group plans on producing video games and comics based on the story.

Monsters and Critics: We have been hearing a lot how this project will be gathering a “super team”, individual creators who are famous throughout Japan. Is GIBIATE designed to be an ongoing project where people come and leave over time?

Aoki-San: All the creators that we announced will be continuing doing this project but they want to make it into a series so more creators are coming in and joining in the GIBIATE Project.

Monsters and Critics: So GIBIATE is intended to be not just a single season of anime, it’s going to be an ongoing series planned for the long term.

Aoki-San: Yeah, exactly.

Monsters and Critics: GIBIATE is also tying into video games and other forms of media. The one thing I noticed in Anime Expo 2019, in general, is that there were a bunch of announcements which took place first in America before Japan ever saw it. How is the marketing strategy for GIBIATE different from other Japanese projects?

Aoki-San: We will be doing the screening in 2020, which is next year here at AX, and we will release in the United States and all the countries where there are anime fans.

Monsters and Critics: GIBIATE is a survival action story and the GIBIATE trailer gave an idea on how it will appear artwise. Also, the type of action, how we’re having time-traveling warriors from the Edo period, but what is the overall theme?

Is it going to be Man vs Nature or is it going to be Man vs Man? The reason I say that is oftentimes in survival horror series that are made in America you will have zombies, you will have creatures, but sometimes the biggest villains are other people.

Aoki-San: GIBIATE itself is the name of a contagious sickness, the virus itself, and once you are poked by the needles that person becomes a monster, a Gibier. These monsters desire to find someone else to poke with these needles. That’s why the virus is very contagious and why it’s spreading. Zombies move slowly and they bite, but for GIBIATE they poke with needles.

Monsters and Critics: The Gibier are victims of a virus. Are there going to be any self-conscious Gibier that are not just ravening monsters? 

Aoki-San: It depends on the person, but once you are poked by the virus you will realize that you are becoming a Gibier. They have an overwhelming desire to make other people become one with them. That’s why the GIBIATE is growing.

Monsters and Critics: Often times these types of survival horror works are a commentary on either environmental problems or some sort of world problem. Is GIBIATE a commentary on any particular world issue?

Aoki-San: There’s no specific environmental issue that I’m thinking about but when people become a Gibier their genetic structure changed where they’re a chimera where their genes are half-virus.

Monsters and Critics: This is just the main way it spreads. Is it a commentary on the dangers of genetic manipulation?

Not as far as that. At the same time, Japan is a peaceful country but people are getting weak because they are not in danger. I want to bring up the Samurai spirit and the idea that people should stand up and fight for themselves.

Monsters and Critics: Do the time-traveling Samurai and Ninja have this culture clash where they’re unsure how to behave in this country; who is influencing who more? 

Aoki-San: GIBIATE is more desperate because it’s more contagious than zombies because Gibier move fast and they have the poison needles. The people who are surviving are hiding from Gibier but the Samurai and Ninja came to this world to help them. These warriors are their only hope to fight back against the GIBIATE.

Monsters and Critics: Is the time-traveling phenomenon related to the GIBIATE virus somehow or is it separate?

Aoki-San: Oh, that’s a secret! [Laughs] If you watch until the last anime episode you will find out.

Monsters and Critics: So there is a mystery to this story, as well.

Aoki-San: A very big mystery in the story.

Monsters and Critics: I’m assuming the mystery is not something they are going to be resolving in 2020? This big mystery is revealed over the long term?

Aoki-San: You won’t notice in the first episode.

Monsters and Critics: To people who will be watching the GIBIATE anime in the future, what do you want to be the biggest takeaway message?

Aoki-San: Many things are happening in this world right now and many are living in desperate situations. This anime’s starting point begins from this desperation, but people should not forget strength and kindness because no matter what your situation is you have to be very strong and keep hope and be kind to other people. To keep courage.

Monsters and Critics: To have the heart of the Samurai.

Aoki-San: Right, right. One question for you. How was the trailer? Did you like it?

Monsters and Critics: It was very good. I personally saw it on my phone because I arrived here [for the interview] early and I was not in the ceremony, I missed the closing ceremony. I’m so sad. [Laughs] I thought it was excellent. I loved the art style. 

Aoki-San: Thank you so much!

Monsters and Critics: No, thank you!

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