We're gonna make an anime! And I’m really stoked about it 🚀 🪐
I have been struggling to hit upon dope Web3 projects these days. Being logged in 24/7 since the Y2K doesn't help that much: I have become a bit fussy when it comes to web culture-related things.
However, I recently stumbled across Shinsei Galverse, an NFT project by Emi Kusano and Ayaka Ohira, with the help of Devin Mancuso & Jack Baldwin. The team, supported by their numerous Gal holders, aims to release the first-ever anime backed by the Web3 community. I had a crush on this project. Indeed.
Kicked off earlier this year, the otaku-run initiative bundles an exciting and well-rounded roadmap that merges Showa-era anime aestheticized gals with a trippy magical girl-inspired tale. The whole journey is wrapped in a Web3 ecosystem. Under the rallying catchphrase WAGMAA - we're gonna make an anime!, Shinsei Galverse is a call to embody one of the 8,888 collectible NFTs and develop, all together, a story and a batch of design assets that the core team is constantly pitching to major anime studios. Hopefully, the final product will reach the mainstream and make it to Netflix Japan! Who knows.
I contacted the gals' crew to get a few details about the project.
How did the idea of Shinsei Galverse come about?
Ayaka: As a freelance animator, I have created music videos and other works, mainly with a 90s atmosphere, gal culture, and space themes. In making the 8888 collectible NFTs, I thought it would be interesting to create a story in which multiple gals are active in space with a nostalgic vibe.
Emi: We first met when I asked Ayaka to animate a music video for me. We both love retro-futurism and hit it off. The original prototype was my music video directed by her, "Glass ceiling" music video. After brainstorming together about the concept, we came up with a style that fused the magical girl and cyberpunk styles we had seen up until now.
Can you talk about the inspiration for the design? Why did you use these Showa-era aesthetics in 2022 over CG/3D?
Ayaka: I have loved manga and anime since I was a child and often imitated them in my drawings. The 90s and 00s anime and manga remind me of the feelings of nostalgia and longing and bring back the pure creative spirit that I used to draw so selflessly. I thought it would be nice if someone could recall those feelings through the characters of Galverse.
Why did you choose this kind of 魔法少女-inspired narrative?
Ayaka: I was greatly influenced by the anime I watched growing up. My favorite anime of the 90s, such as Magic Knight Rayearth and Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, were full of magic! I am also into AKIRA, Ghost in the Shell, and Shōjo manga, so I would like to create a new story that combines a sci-fi, cyberpunk worldview with magical girls.
Emi: On my side, I was influenced by many sci-fi anime when deciding on a scenario setting for an as-yet unrevealed anime. My favorites are Psycho-Pass, Evangelion, and Steins;Gate. I hope to create a mysterious world that combines the future vision of the creators of the 90s and the current context of Web3.
How do you think this project differs from the many NFT/PFP projects unveiled daily?
Ayaka: Each of the 8888 bodies and NFT can be a protagonist with a name, a story, and a personality. Also, creating the animations is the roadmap, and everyone in the community can contribute to the content. This initiative has never been done before.
Emi: There are many anime projects, but I believe there has never been an anime picture on the market that is cute and badass from a woman's point of view. And until now, there have been many anime projects that did not involve Japanese people. I think we are the first example of a successful Japanese animation project. Ayaka and I have been doing this style for a long time. We did not follow trends or marketing, and we did themes that we could continue to create, making us unique.
Is the gals community only for girls?
Ayaka: Although Galverse is in the form of a woman, it is the personification of cosmic energy, so it has no gender. Of course, gal holder is not a women-only community; anyone can join! Gal is a concept, not a gender, so anyone with a gal mindset is a gal!
Why are Web3 specificities crucial to this project?
Jack: Galverse wouldn’t exist without Web3! Devin met Emi through her son’s NFT art project. I was in the same DAO as Emi. The dream of funding a creative work like an anime without going through the traditional studio system was just not plausible before now.
So on a very project-specific level, Web3 is the reason Galverse exists. More generally, we see everything we do through the lens of Web3. It’s about living and breathing those community-first and community-ownership values which are core to the space. It’s about doing new and exciting things with NFTs that have never been done before. It’s about creating experiences for people to interact with the media and the world of Galverse in a way they’ve never seen before. From a creative and commercial perspective, it’s also an entirely new way of funding a creative work with creative control that you would rarely achieve with traditional models.
Many people not very familiar with that space may mistake Galverse for a DAO. Right?
Jack: Galverse is not a DAO, but we take a lot of inspiration from them. I think DAOs have, so far, excelled at more nebulous goals and ideas - like allocating members’ funds in investment DAOs along the lines of a broad thesis or cultivating communities that grow in cultural influence.
Galverse is a project with a very specific goal: to make an anime based on the creative worldview of a couple of talented creators. That’s a much more challenging task for a DAO to achieve since a specific set of steps and connections need to be made. We are built with a lot of the core values of a DAO. All our funds are transparent in a team wallet on the blockchain. We share as much as possible about meetings, progress towards our goals, and experiments we’re running within the project. You can drop into our chat anytime, talk to the team, and ask us questions. The community does have significant input into the creative process and even elements of the commercial process.
In what way does the community-driven approach empower the project?
Jack: Our goal for making the anime is that a gal holder will watch the result and think, “I had a real, meaningful impact on the creation of this piece of work.” And, of course, we hope they love it.
Ayaka is super enthusiastic about involving the community throughout the creative process. We’re experimenting with some mechanics now, partly derived from DAOs. It’s a crawl-walk-run process - starting simple with community members suggesting names for places and people in the story, voting on designs, and things like that. We’re moving towards more complex mechanics like Gal Auditions, where you might embody your Gal and pitch her to show up in a chapter of the manga or episode of the show in the future.
There are also a lot of little moments - Ayaka pops into the discord to stream her illustration work, and people can talk or give feedback on ideas. Emi asked for gals to display in an exhibition at Haneda airport, and hundreds of people put their gals forward! Personally, it’s an amazing project because nothing is behind locked doors, in a dark office somewhere. From the day we publicly announced Galverse until now, it’s been a collaborative process with community members.
Are there any limits to community involvement?
Jack: Creative projects aren’t always best executed by the hivemind. It’s the old joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. A robust creator or auteur at the helm can make something much more substantial.
So in that sense, the anime should be Ayaka and Emi’s creative direction, with community input enhancing and building on it. That idea requires commitment and collaboration from both the creator and the community.
Also, we’re a Web3 project interacting with the traditional world of anime studios and Web2-natives.
Sometimes they’ll ask to meet under an NDA, and we can’t be as upfront straight away as we’d like. For the anime side, we’re being very specific about our needs as a community-driven project and how much the studio will need to share with us and the public. That will be written in the contract. Likewise, we want to work on secret projects that excite the community and potential new members or that represent a first for the space. In that case, we’re torn between sharing everything and keeping a few things behind the curtains to have an impact when they release.
What is the cool part about being part of the gals community, and what are the benefits?
Jack: Beyond the usual appeal of gathering with like-minded people and talking about stuff you all like, it's an intense dive behind the scenes of making an anime and into the creative process.
Right now, that's having input into the manga that Ayaka's creating. We're sharing meetings with anime legends - producers and directors behind works like AKIRA and Cowboy Bebop. Once we sign with a studio, it's seeing the process from start to finish of making an animated production and having input to parts of that process.
I was something of a lapsed anime fan, or at least trapped in my tastes from the 90s, and this has reignited my love and interest in everything animated. The longer-term pull is that maybe your gal will show up in the anime or something cool.
We are also working on some unique technology to track your journey with Galverse. This 'thing' is quite cool and develops to be entirely specific to you and your gal.
Do you know how much time completing the entire roadmap will take? When do you aim to be done, and that you can pitch to a studio?
Jack: We've already been pitching to studios for quite a while - and vice versa. We want to come to the community with a shortlist of producers and studios that fit the project's creative demands, are prepared to open their doors to the community, and work for the project's budget. This should happen pretty soon.
Creating the anime will take quite a while - that's just the nature of the beast. We always planned on releasing a sneak peek sooner than later - a project needs to show progress and stay relevant. Initially, we thought of that as a trailer, teaser, or opening cinematic.
But we've recently shared with the community that we're moving in the direction of a music video. We asked for perspective and input on that. It makes sense - Ayaka's background is directing and animating music videos. Emi is a musician. And it ticks the same boxes as a teaser or trailer while potentially reaching more people.
Our dream is 'Galverse Forever,' and we can always be making new stories, tech, and experiences in this world. It's such a rich and pure creative seam to draw on. Beyond just our team and project, Ayaka has stated her desire for something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe - she wants Galverse to be a world that other creators can build on, whether community members or professionals.
The collection is sold out, but you should definitely check out the secondary market on OpenSea.
To learn more about the project, head over to the website here.