Cover of light novel published by Tokuma Shoten on April 28, 2011
|Genre||Steampunk, Adventure, Science fiction|
|Written by||Chiaki J. Konaka|
|Illustrated by||Yoshitoshi ABe|
|Published by||Tokuma Shoten|
|Original run||July 2009 – July 2010|
Despera (ですぺら Desupera) is a planned anime series, written by Chiaki J. Konaka and featuring character designs by Yoshitoshi ABe and which was to be directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura. This would be the second time all the three main creators of psychological thriller anime Serial Experiments Lain will be collaborating once again for the new project, and it is Nakamura and Konaka's third collaboration after their work on Ghost Hound. The title Despera derives from a poem of the same title by Japanese Dadaist poet Jun Tsuji. Though the title of Tsuji's poem comes from the word "despair" or "desperation", the official blog states that it can also imply the Spanish word desperado. A graphic novel serialization relating to the anime is being published in Japanese magazine Animage, beginning from its July 2009 issue.
In 2011, it was announced that the anime adaption has been put on indefinite hold, due to Nakamura having fallen ill. On June 29, 2013, Ryūtarō Nakamura died due to pancreatic cancer. At Overload 2014, ABe announced that a new director was found to continue working on Despera.
The story centers around a 12-year-old girl named Ain, who often builds devices despite the lack of scientific background for them. The sci-fi alternative period story is set in Tokyo during the Taishō era in 1922, one year before the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake.
Ain (あいん Ain) - A 12-year-old girl who resides in her workshop inside the basement of the Ryōunkaku in Asakusa, Tokyo. A technical genius with no prior scientific knowledge, she is able to create electronic devices far beyond the capabilities of the current era. Some of the devices created include early versions of a modern computer, complete with typewriter keyboards and cathode ray tube display monitors. In the novel version, one of her ongoing works is a mysterious robot which she refers to as Father (お父さん Otō-san). Despite being 12 years old, she often displays a mature expression of an adult. She also displays an uncanny ability to generate electricity from her hands when she takes on a tank squadron later in the story.
Takeshita (竹下 Takeshita) - A man in his 30s who is an associate of Ain's. In the prologue chapter of the novel, he claims to be able to see the future through the displays on Ain's computer monitors. In the novel version, he sells these information, known as prophecies, to the Japanese military and the aristocracy to fund for Ain's inventions. In the serialized version, he has no name and is only referred to as "the man", and his face is unseen throughout the illustrations. In both versions, he is described as being emotionless, and only displays deep affection for Ain.
Enoki (榎木 Enoki) - A military officer who works for the Japanese army's science institute. He holds the rank of 2nd lieutenant. Enoki is sent to Asakusa to investigate the unstable electrical discharge occurring in the vicinity of the Ryōunkaku.
Kimiyasu Fuenokōji (笛小路公寧 Fuenokōji Kimiyasu) - A Japanese nobleman with the title of viscount. It is unknown what relationship Kimiyasu has with Ain, but he is interested in her unorthodox inventions. He has a primary residence in Sanbanchō of Chiyoda-ku, and a second residence at the Kanda-Surugadai district.
Barbara Andrei (バルバラ・アンドレイ Barubara Andorei) - A Russian woman of aristocratic origins, Barbara is a refugee who escaped from Harbin during the disownment of the presence of Russians by the Chinese Republic. She lives in the Kanda-Surugadai residence owned by Kimiyasu who has taken her in. Ain is particularly uncomfortable of Barbara's presence as she is frightened of her pale white complexion, presumably having never seen a Russian before.
Thirteen chapters were released in serial form in Animage magazine between July 2009 and July 2010. The complete novella was published as a single volume on April 28, 2011, and included new story content and illustrations.
- 00. "Prologue" (序章 "Joshō")
- 01. "The Girl Below the Twelve Storeys" (十二階下の少女 "Jūnikai shita no shōjo")
- 02. "The Russian Lady of the Mansion" (洋館の露西亜貴婦人 "Yōkan no roshia kifujin)
- 03. "Asakusa Tales" (浅草異譚 "Asakusa itan")
- 04. "Electric Girl Versus Tank Corps" (電気娘対戦車隊 "Denki musume tai sensha tai")
- 05. "From Beyond the Screen" (銀幕の彼方より "Ginmaku no kanata yori")
- 06. "In the Corner of the Triangular Second Floor" (三角二階の片隅にて "Sankaku nikai no katasumi nite")
- 07. "The Black Cat of the Twelve-Floor Pagoda" (十二階天塔の黒猫 "Jūnikai tentō no kuro neko")
- 08. "Devil" (魔王 "Maō")
- 09. "Sky" (空 "Sora")
- 10. "Parting" (離別 "Ribetsu")
- 11. "The Nightmare Which Does Not Continue" (続かぬ悪夢 "Tsuduka nu akumu")
- 12. "Meeting" (邂逅 "Kaikō")
During Sakura-Con 2009 held on April at Seattle, Washington, famed character designer Yoshitoshi ABe revealed that he will be developing a new anime titled Desperant (デスペラント). He also announced that he will be working with many of the staff who worked on Serial Experiments Lain. Details on the storyline were scarce as ABe stated that the anime has not been officially unveiled in Japan, but revealed that it will be set during Japan's Taishō era. In his official blog the very next day, ABe clarified that the title of the anime is called Despera and not the one he stated earlier, due to a speaking error during the convention announcement. In his official website, Chiaki J. Konaka has announced a graphic novel serialization in Japanese magazine Animage which will last for one year, with the story penned by him and artwork provided by ABe.
Production was placed on hold due to Nakamura's health issues. It was unknown whether development will continue following his death in July 2013, until ABe announced that production will continue.
In January 2015, Yoshitoshi ABe announced that the project is continuing with a new director after Nakamura's death.
- (in Japanese) Kuninosuke, Matsuo. Nihirisuto: Tsuji Jun no Shisou to Shougai. Orion Shuppansha, Tokyo. 1967.
- "Animage's Despera official blog". Retrieved 2009-09-11.
- "Serial Experiments Lain Director Ryutaro Nakamura Passes Away". Anime News Network. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
- "Yoshitoshi ABe Live Drawing Demonstration". 11 October 2013.
- "2009-06-06 - MOON PHASE 雑記". Retrieved 2009-06-06.
- "ABe Develops Desperant Anime with Lain Staffers (Updated) - Anime News Network". Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- "ABlog 今やっている仕事の紹介とちょっと訂正". Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- "Scan from Despera's final chapter".
- Animage's Despera official blog (in Japanese)