Typically, whenever Nier creator Yoko Taro makes an appearance, the auteur keeps his face hidden from the public with a giant mask based on Emil, the strange-looking Nier character. However, while attending Anime Expo 2023 to promote his new anime, fans witnessed a new and honestly pretty horrifying look for Taro. When I asked him what had happened to his old mask, he told me that he’d lost it the night before the convention.
According to Taro, the Nier creator wasn’t to blame for his missing mask. You see, a producer from Fuji TV, which Taro describes as one of the “biggest and most ambitious” television companies in Japan, lost the Emil mask while the two shared drinks at a Los Angeles bar the night before Taro was supposed to host a panel about his upcoming anime, KamiErabi GOD.app.
Taro claims that when he asked the Fuji producer to procure him a new mask to wear for Anime Expo, the producer said he couldn’t find any. That is until they stumbled upon a large leprechaun mask at a costume store in LA.
“Of course in LA, you know? Leave it to LA to have this specialist store just for masks. And so we went into that store and there was the biggest mask like literally the biggest one they had was one that was sitting up on the shelves and had been there for 30 years,” Taro told Kotaku.
Taro suggested that the mask was a going-away present that the store owner’s grandmother had gifted to the business, “or something like that.”
“I thought ‘Oh, poor thing, but it was the best mask there. It was just the best fit. And so I convinced them to let me buy it,” Taro said.
Yoko Taro is convinced that his creepy new mask is cursed
The mask apparently cost him $US120 ($167), which Taro thought was cheap considering how last-minute his need for it was. However, its “super cheap” price tag came with the caveat that there’s a high probability that it’s cursed. His running theory is that it’s either possessed by the spirit of the store owner’s grandmother or a cousin who apparently died in 1945.
“It’s gotta be possessed or something like that. … It has to be cursed or possessed. There’s something going on with it,” Taro said.
When I suggested the mask might be good luck instead of being cursed, given its leprechaun-like appearance, Taro looked at me in surprise, saying “Is that what it is? A leprechaun mask?” I said it kind of has a St. Patrick’s Day vibe, but that didn’t seem to change his mind about it being cursed.
To his credit, the soullessness of the mask makes it leagues creepier than Emil’s mask, so he might be on to something.
For the time being, Taro’s staff is floating the idea that it’s probably in his best interest to return the mask to where they got it from. Whether it’s in fear of it actually being cursed or not they did not specify.
Kotaku is covering everything at Anime Expo 2023, including big announcements at panels and exclusive one-on-one interviews with the industry’s biggest creators. Whether you’re a seasoned anime fan or a newbie, you can keep up with all things Anime Expo 2023 here.