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Quarterly S Interview
Taken from Quarterly S January 2009 issue
Translated by Patches.
Q1. Well done on the completion of the Inuyasha serialization.Tell us how you're feeling after finishing such a long serialization.
A1. Thank you very much. Without regrets, it was a breath of relief when I finished drawing. Again, to all those who supported me over the years: the readers, the staff and successive managers, those involved with the anime, and everyone else involved in this project have my deepest gratitude.
Q2. With regards to the ending, what was the process that made you decide on it?
A2. The biggest issue was whether to have the heroine Kagome remain in the past or the present at the end, and since the anime's completion in 2004, I'd been constantly torn about it. As a result, that was the time I had the feeling I should be storyboarding the final chapter. Regardless of which world she chose, "separation" was unavoidable, so in the end, I decided I wanted to go in a direction where Kagome was happy, and people would still be pleased when they finished reading.
Q3. Inuyasha is your most serious and action-packed title to date, so what sort of motivation did you have to create it?
A3. I'd done continuous comedies with both Urusei and Ranma and wanted to try doing something more serious.
Q4. Tell us how you got the idea for "collecting the Shikon no Tama".
A4. I figured that "collecting" of items and companions was the basis of storytelling.
Q5. Since there are a lot of serious scenes in Inuyasha, is there anything you had to alter with regards to how you wrote the manga or your feelings while drawing it compared to your works until now?
A5. The biggest change was that so many of the sound-effects were notated in katakana. "boom" vs "BOOM" leaves a completely different impression.
(Translators Note: Sound-effects in katakana denote a "harsher" tone while hiragana is a more "smooth" tone. It's sort of the difference between writing something in bubble print vs. a sharp, jagged font. Explosion sounds in comedies would be written in hiragana because it's supposed to be a funny "boom", while in dramas they're in katakana because it's a serious "boom")
My feelings when writing are the same. Whether gag or serious, pacing is a necessity. When it first started, I think the readers were a bit perplexed by "Why isn't this funny?" And when it got into more intense scenes and the characters weren't smiling as much anymore, I was worried that the readers were growing tired of it.
Q6. When Inuyasha is sniffing around with his dog ears, or when Kagome is mad at him, it usually looks really charming, but on the other hand, when they're in battle or serious, I think it's intense and cool. With the male leads that you write, I think the balance between charm when they get in trouble and coolness in serious situations is perfect, but is it enjoyable for you to write male characters like that?
A6. It's very enjoyable. Drawing characters' faces when they get in trouble never gets old.
Q7. In Inuyasha, if there is a particularly memorable segment, please tell us.
A7. In volume 18, the scene when Kagome is crying when she first realizes she's in love with Inuyasha. The story in volume 11 when Miroku's Kazaana rips. The entire Shichinintai arc. Also, the scenes where Kagura and Kikyo died, though there was a sense of loss, they were still memorable. I love the final chapter, myself.
Q8. In Inuyasha, if you have any particularly memorable character or one you had the most fun writing, please tell us.
A8. I like everyone. I liked the scenes where there was tension when Kikyo appeared. Miroku was easy to write both when he was being silly and when he was giving expositions. On the other side, writing someone as dead serious as Sesshoumaru was refreshing to me. It was my first attempt at writing characters such as Jakotsu from the Shichinintai, so that was fun.
Q9. The seven men of the Shichinintai were seven different characters, and while they were villains, they still had their appeal, so what sort of atmosphere were you going for when creating them?
A9. When it came to the villains for the Hakureizan arc, I thought that I would need a group in order to get the length I wanted. When I originally created the characters I hadn't planned on seven, but when it came time for them to appear, I thought of the days of the week.
Q10. In the beginning, Inuyasha's heart is closed off and he gets along poorly with Kagome, but as the story progresses, he trusts everyone and develops a particularly good relationship with Kagome. When reading, one gets the impression that Inuyasha gained human compassion at some point, but in the process of writing, is there any point where characters simply behave on their own accord?
A10. As the stories accumulate, you just get to know what kind of people they are.
Q11. You've always written stories that contain a lot of characters, but what is the appeal of writing that sort of manga?
A11. Rather than say I want to write a lot of characters, when it's a long-running serialization, the number of characters just multiplies. But, having a lot of characters helps me write a lot of stories without it getting boring.
Q12. Regardless of the series, all the characters are written with such care, and it seems like everyone always gets a happy ending, but why is that?
A12. Writing characters to have happy endings is so I can feel good about the story once I've finished it. Even when I'm writing stories with a lot of sadness and hardship, I like stories where it's all redeemed somewhere.
Q13. Even amongst the villains, none of the characters give off the impression of being truly evil, but do you get that same impression when writing the head villain?
A13. Even with villains, I'm unable to write a character that I truly hate. When I'm writing evil characters, I think a lot about why they became evil, and what sort of background and motivation they have. I couldn't write them any other way.
Q14. Ever since you were a child you've been intimately acquainted with shonen magazines, and since your debut that hasn't changed and you've participated actively in shonen magazines, but what is the appeal of writing for shonen magazines?
A14. I have no other answer other than I love shonen manga. I just feel good reading and writing it.
Q15. In your shonen publications, there are usually characters who aren't human. For instance, hanyou like Inuyasha, aliens like Lum-chan, men who turn into women like Ranma, characters with other qualities that humans lack, the ability to transform, existing on a vague boundary between man and woman... those kinds of characters. Why is it that you have so many characters like that?
A15. Because I like them. I think that "out of the ordinary" is more like "a dream" in manga terms.
Q16. If you have any stock ideas for your next project, we'd like to know the range of possibilities you're thinking of.
A16. There are no stock ideas. I'm in the process of thinking of my next project.
Q17. You usually write very long-running serializations, and since your debut you've never really taken a break from writing manga, so please tell us what motivates you to write manga, and if there have ever been any times that made you really happy to write it.
A17. "I like manga" is my motivation. The time when I am happiest is when I'm writing. And since I read all the fan letters, it's a big encouragement.
Q18. Inuyasha being no exception, all your works until now have focused on the Japanese lifestyle, so what motivates you to write manga focused on Japan?
A18. First, I start with the assumption that my readers are Japanese, having Japan as the setting just seems like the natural conclusion. It may be a minimalist explanation, but even if other parts of the world were involved, since my goal is to write about everyday life, and instead of the rest of the world and reality playing too prominent a role, I want to be able to empathize with the readers.
Q19. In your works, there are characters who are cute, mysterious, funny, and use a lot of different poses, so could you tell us where these poses come from?
A19. I draw what my hand tells me.
Q20. Who is your favorite character out of all the works you've done?
A20. I like the idiot characters like Ryunosuke from Urusei and Ryoga from Ranma.
Q21. Inuyasha is a love story, but are there any legends or folktales that you particularly like?
A21. It's a novel, but I love "The Cauldron of Kibitsu" from "Ugetsu Monogatari" to death. The Russian drama "Twelve Months" is also like a dream to me. (Translators note: the story she's referring to is called "Twelve Months" in English, "Dvenadtsat mesyatsev" in Russian, and "Mori ga Ikiteiru" ("The Forest is Alive") in Japanese)
Q22. Are there any recent works or people you particularly enjoy?
A22. I like the presence of Matsuyama Kenichi. As for current manga, I enjoy reading Higashimura Akiko's "Himawari!" every week.
Q23. What sort of tools do you use for your color and monochrome painting?
A23. My pen is a Zebra G pen. My tones are mostly Retora or IC. Inking is with a Pilot drafting pen. For hilights I'd say I use Biguma. For color, I use Sakura Mat watercolors, Holbein, Dr. Martens ink, and Nicker poster color.
Q24. Before you go into storyboarding, are there any reference books you use? And when you're not doing storyboarding, do you just have ideas come to you in the middle of your everyday life? If there are, can you tell us what times?
A24. I don't use reference books, when I'm doing storyboarding, I just make a memo of ideas that come to me. I usually have ideas in the corner of my mind, but I have my most concentration when I'm at my desk.
Q25. Do you draw any doodles unrelated to your work?
A25. Not very much anymore.
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