Why a Gag Manga for ELDEN RING? We ask manga artist Nikiichi Tobita about his thoughts on the start of the series!
"ELDEN RING The Road to the Erdtree," has begun its serialization on a free web magazine, "COMIC Hu," on September 4, 2022.The series draws attention because of its unique interpretation/adaptation of the huge hit action RPG “ELDEN RING” with more than 16.6 million copies sold worldwide into a gag manga. This time, we have interviewed the manga artist, Nikiichi Tobita, about his impressions of ELDEN RING, on which he says he’s spent more than 200 hours in the first round.He also talks about how the series has become a gag manga and his thoughts on the work.
The next update of "ELDEN RING The Road to the Erdtree" (episodes 3-4) is scheduled for September 19.Please check it out along with this article.
Interview with Nikiichi Tobita, the artist of "ELDEN RING: The Road to the Erdtree"
The day after seeing the video of ELDEN RING, he’s received an offer to do the comic adaptation!
――You have long been known as a video game enthusiast.Would you share your gaming history?
Being of the NES and Super NES generation, I was exposed to quite a few major titles like "Dragon Quest" and "Final Fantasy." I wasn't very good at action games, so I played RPGs most of the time.
――If you are not good at action, ELDEN RING must have been difficult for you.
It was really tough [laughs].Back then, I was concentrating on drawing pictures and comics for a while, so I had fewer opportunities to play games, and then I played the three games in the "Dark Souls" series and ELDEN RING.I seriously thought they're trying to kill me but I worked hard to complete the game.
Although I was able to finish the game, I was not as good as those players who shared videos of their play online....I often found myself running out of stamina and getting beaten to pieces because of my play style of heavily utilizing shields.It is amazing that the game is balanced in such a way that even I, who am not very good at action games, can finish the game.
――What was your impression of ELDEN RING after having played the "Dark Souls" series?
The atmosphere of the game was completely different from the "Dark Souls" series, and I was impressed by the grandeur of the golden trees seen from the field and the beauty of a broken world.The field was very vast, and the sense of openness and freedom was something I had never seen in past works, so I was very impressed by that.
Incidentally, I was looking forward to the release of ELDEN RING as I saw the trailer during the "Summer Game Fest" in June 2021, and the next day or so, I received an offer from the editorial department of "COMIC Hu" to do a comic book adaptation of the game.
――What a timing!
At first, I thought it was a scam [laughs].Since I had received the offer before the game was released, the first time I played it was almost like a location scouting experience.I often observed the landscape with Telescope, and I was so focused on that that I often fell to my death [laughs].I also took individual photos of the flavor text of each item and saved them.
――You yourself have drawn manga with fantasy elements, what was your impression of the fantasy world of ELDEN RING?
As I mentioned earlier, first of all, the scenery is beautiful.I was also impressed, as a person who draws things, by the way in which the architecture, accessories, and everything else were so elaborately created.Furthermore, since George R.R.Martin was involved in the creation of the world setting, the existence of "mythology" came to the forefront more than in previous works, and I was impressed by the worldview colored with mystery and enigma.
By the way, since George R.R.Martin was involved, I thought I should check out "Game of Thrones "* before playing the game, so I watched the drama.Then I saw that it was a gritty, blood-drenched story.So I thought to myself, will the game be like this too?
"Game of Thrones": An ensemble drama series based on George R.R.Martin's novel series "A Song of Ice and Fire," set in a medieval European-style fantasy world.
――The actual storyline of ELDEN RING was quite different from that of "Game of Thrones," but it may have something in common in that it featured numerous characters and their relationships were intricately intertwined.
Even after 200 hours of play, I still had a strong desire to remain an adventurer in this world.
――The main character in the manga, Aseo, starts out as a tarnished wretch, but what class did you play in ELDEN RING yourself, Mr.Tobita?
My character was a Vagabond: I was really encouraged by the shield with a 100% physical cut rate.Now I mainly jump around with my duel wielding jump attack, but back then I didn't realize how strong it was, so I just played in the same style as before, heavily utilizing shields.
――How long did it take you to complete the game?
The first round took about 200 hours.I moved along pretty carefully while exploring and observing and almost completed the game in about 150 hours.But when I looked at the guidebook, I found that I had missed a lot.I thought, I should take a look at those elements before completing the game, so I continued my exploration and ended up playing for another 50 hours.
――Who was the most difficult of the boss battles?
The most difficult battle was definitely "Malenia, Blade of Miquella." I thought it was a disaster [laughs]! The runner-up was "Margit, the Fell Omen." I had fought and defeated Margit during the network test, but when it came time to fight him in the main game, I just could not beat him, and I didn’t know what to do.I found that Margit was tough to beat without the proper level and equipment.
But even though my level had improved and I was supposed to be well-equipped, I really couldn't beat Malenia....laugh].Basically, I had been trying to fight bosses up to that point without using spirit ashes, but for Malenia I thought, I can't do it alone, and I was going to use "Mimic Tear Ashes +10" to beat her to a pulp.But as you know, whenever Malenia's attacks hit me or the spirits, her HP would be restored.And I thought, oh, no! The spirit ashes have been counteracted too!
――Did you eventually break through in multiplayer?
No, I did not rely on multiplayer to fight.From there, I really concentrated and took on many challenges and managed to win by myself.I was really strong.I prefer to join other people's worlds as a helper in multiplayer games rather than calling for help.
――Which of the non-boss enemy characters did you have difficulty with?
The Royal Revenant of course.It had a lot of legs and they grew out of the ground.I had a really hard time with them....Then there was the Guardian Golem at the bottom of the cliff in Caelid; I went down the cliff to find where the paintings were and there it was, and it was incredibly tough to beat.With its high HP, magic shots, and the narrow footing down there, I think it was probably the toughest enemy except for bosses.And the thing is that even if you have defeated it, you don't get anything in return....laughs].
――Who was the most memorable character among the NPCs?
There are many interesting characters in ELDEN RING, but the most memorable one, although it may be a bit cliché, is "Iron Fist Alexander." In the "Dark Souls" series, there were also Siegmeyer* and other knights of Catarina.Alexander is a healing presence similar to Siegmeyer, and in such a bleak world, it is comforting to have a character with a bit of a droll personality.It's also nice to have an event that makes you feel a little sad.
Siegmeyer: A knight in the Catarina series of armor with a distinctive rounded form that appears in "Dark Souls.NPCs with the same equipment have appeared in the series, such as Sieglinde in the same title and Siegward in "Dark Souls III," and the Catalina series equipment that Siegmeyer were equipped with also appeared in "Dark Souls II.
――It's a great character, both in terms of appearance and content of events.
I was also really happy to see the Patches*.I played the game thinking that they had created Easter Eggs for the fans of the past games, since they had the same appearance, name, and equipment.
Patches: A famous skinhead NPC from "Demon's Souls" whose standard move is to pretend to cooperate with the player and then betray him.The name Patches also appears in From Software's action game "ARMORED CORE for Answer."
――Who among the bosses impressed you as a character?
Well, among the bosses, I would say that my impression of Radahn’s character changed before and after playing the game.Before the release of ELDEN RING, I had personally drawn a countdown illustration on Twitter and watched the trailer many times for reference.Then I looked closely because I was curious as to what was going on under Radahn's feet.And I sawt that he was riding a horse that was very small relative to Radahn's body.
At first, I wondered what it meant, but when I looked at the text explaining Radahn's Remembrance (Remembrance of the Starscourge) in actual play, I thought, so that's what it was all about! I was able to understand why Radahn was using such magic, and I thought that he was rather a profound character.
――How did you feel when you reached the ending of ELDEN RING after spending 200 hours?
Even though I had spent that much time on the game, I still had a strong feeling that I wanted to play a little more, and that I wanted to remain an adventurer in this world.The game was really challenging, but I still wanted to play more.When I think back on it, I feel like saying, you son of a bitch to the bosses I had a hard time defeating, but the game was fun after all.
――By the way, which ending did you see in the first round?
I just wanted to save Melina, so Shabriri tricked me and I ended up as the "Lord of the Frenzied Flame" in the first round [laughs].When he asked me, "Are you okay with that?" I somehow convinced myself to think, I see your point....
――I think it is rare to reach that ending inadvertently, given the circumstances.
The fact is that there was a player's exquisite message before the sealed door.Taking that as a hint, I asked myself, is this how it's supposed to be done? Then I tried it out and there was no turning back....That was sad.Melina got really mad at me and even made a shocking declaration [laughs].
Dreaming of a baseball match between Tarnished and Demigods!
――Now, I would like to start talking about the main topic, "ELDEN RING The Road to the Erdtree".How did it become a gag manga?
In our initial discussions with the editorial department, we decided not to simply follow the story line of the original work, as is often the case with comic book adaptations of games.We thought it would be a bit difficult to make one of the NPCs the main character or to make it a serious story.Besides, the more serious a game is, the more interesting it becomes when you make a gag based on your own interpretation.
――In fact some comically depicted manga fanart often attract people’s attention.
Since I'm more of a gag person myself, I thought it would definitely be more interesting if I approached from that direction.Then I talked to the editor about it, and he said, "Gag is a possibility," and that's how it was decided [laughs].
――The more hardline the worldview is, the greater the gap is when it is made into a gag.Did you have to make any revisions when making the first episode?
When we were working on the story, there were some revisions, but basically the story was accepted almost unchanged, and I was surprised that it worked.
――The scene where Flasks was attached to the buttocks was intense [laughs].
In terms of character portrayal, there was a time when I received an NG for portraying Patches too coolly.I was asked to make Patches sneakier and more hateful, and I had a hard time adjusting in those areas.
――Since you decided to make it into a gag manga, what is the scene you want to draw in the future?
For my part, I would like to have a baseball game between "The Demigod team and the Tarnished team" if it is approved [laughs].I don't think they would ever approve it because of considering the worldview, but in the event scene before the battle against Radagon, there is a moment in which Radagon strikes a pose raising his weapon.I want to draw that exact pose after he hits a home run [laughs].
――I would like to see that, even if it is a bonus manga at the back when it becomes a book called the ELDEN RING baseball version [laughs].
I can easily imagine something like an amazing magic ball being hit back by "Carian Retaliation." Incidentally, we are planning to introduce almost all of the characters in future installments, so we would like to keep all of them alive.In that sense, I think it will be an entirely different thing from the main game.
――It is a world I would like to see because it is a gag manga, not a game.
That won't be possible in the game, but I would like to keep everyone alive as long as possible and have a lively version of the Radahn Festival.I don't know how far this manga will go, but for the time being, I think it would be great if we could go all the way to the Radahn Festival and party hard.
――There are many intricate designs in ELDEN RING.Is it still a challenge in terms of drawing?
That's right.Basically, many of the characters are wearing armor with detailed patterns, so it is really hard to draw them.In case of using a CG model, once you have made it, you can just move it around but it doesn’t work that way in drawing.I had a hard time drawing Blaidd, but I became almost discouraged by Tree Sentinel [laughs].If I had to do it again, I would make him wear a T-shirt with Erdtree printed on it and the word "Tree Sentinel" written on it [laughs].Joking aside, now that I have the opportunity to do an adaptation, I hope to reproduce it in manga form as closely as possible to the original work.I don't think I will ever be involved in such a masterpiece again...Apart from that, there is another side of me that doesn't want to dress Aseo.Personally, I like him naked [laughs].But I don't think he will be naked all the time.I would like to dress him in the various equipment that appears in the game, and I would like to draw him in it.
――I think the charm of the comic version is that you can see aspects of the characters that are not in the original work.Which character would you like to make move differently from the main game?
Ranni is very popular in the game, so I would like to have her appear a lot.Therefore, we would like to have Ranni-related events and characters related to her, such as Blaidd and Iji, appear in different ways from the main story.
――Although Blaidd has not yet appear in episodes 1 and 2, it is fun to see him becoming a different character in episodes 4 and beyond.
Blaidd has become a much better character [laughs].Ranni has also become a comical character different from the original, so I hope you enjoy that as well.
――This comic book was distributed almost simultaneously in 12 languages in total.What was your impression when you heard about this?
It is not very common to hear of a gag comic being distributed simultaneously around the world.I was really surprised to hear that they offered to translate it, knowing that it was a gag.
――I am also interested in how it will be received overseas.
That's right.It's not exactly a gag or a cartoon, but there was a player overseas named "Let me solo her" who was once the talk of the town.The player was summoned to fight against Malenia, and although he was completely naked except for a jar on his head, he really did defeat Malenia by himself.
Both in Japan and abroad people tend to like someone who looks ridiculous but is a solid game player.I believe we share the sense that the seriousness of the world makes it funny all the more when it is turned into a gag.I am not sure if my gags will be understood yet, but I hope that people from all over the world will read this book, because I have not included any material that would probably only be understood by Japanese people.
――Finally, please share your enthusiasm for the start of the serialization and a message to our readers.
I'll never forget the shock I felt when we first decided to go with a comedy but didn't know what the standards were for how far we could take it; we decided to go very far and the result was that it was accepted with almost no modifications.I was so shocked that I couldn't help but exclaim, "Really?!"
I would also like to apologize in advance to those who seriously love the hard-core world of ELDEN RING, as the content will probably offend them.However, I am describing the world of ELDEN RING and its characters from a different perspective than the main game, so I hope that those who have even the slightest interest will give it a try.I know it will never happen, but I think there may be a future where we can have a baseball duel, so I hope you will read it.I would love to play baseball in the Wailing Dunes [laughs].
This article is an English translation of an article from Famitsu.com which is distributed on a trial basis. The article prepared in Japanese based on information in Japan has been automatically translated using the "DeepL" translation tool.
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