Raiku Makoto-sensei Special Talk: My Rookie Years
First published in the March 2002 issue of the magazine Shonen Sunday R, reprinted in volume seven of Konjiki no Gash!!. No infringement on any copyright is intended with this translation, and no profit is being made.
The format is slightly odd for an interview: the interviewer isn't quoted, only Raiku Makoto. It was translated by, well, me, so if you wish to reproduce it or quote heavily from it, please direct a link back to http://gash.medoroa.net with credit.
With many many thanks to kailing for beta.
The best thing about becoming a manga writer is definitely that I can make children happy. When I get fanmail, or when I see the postcards they send me where they have done their very best to draw Gash's face, I'm really encouraged.
I decided to become a manga writer in my first year of kôkô1. I just loved drawing, and I was actually also thinking about becoming a painter. But I would look at things like Picasso's abstract paintings, and I couldn't understand why something ordinary people had a difficult time understanding was considered so valuable (laugh). So I thought I'd like to write manga that children could understand and enjoy; I thought I'd like to become that kind of manga writer. That has become reality, so I'm really happy now.
But in the beginning, I didn't know how to draw manga at all. So I copied some other manga at first and submitted it to Sunday ... but, or should I say of course, I didn't win any awards, and they just sent my manuscripts back.
I made two or three submissions like that, and then thought I couldn't just keep drawing and submitting, so I made up my mind to bring my manuscripts to the editorial office myself2. That was in my second year of kôkô I spent four or five hours traveling from my home in Gifu3 to Shogakukan4, and I was more excited than nervous.
But while the editor was looking at my manuscript in a booth at the publisher, my heart kept beating furiously. When he5 had finished reading and said, "I'll be your advisor, so keep bringing in what you write," I was extremely happy. It felt like I had become a manga writer in some small way (laugh). About a year after that, when I was in my third year of kôkô I threw everything I had and all my passion into a piece called Bird Man and submitted it. It was chosen in "Manga College"6, and became my debut. When I saw my own manga in Sunday among all the other long-running series, I wasn't as much happy as I was embarrassed. It's presumptuous to even compare my manga to those others, but in comparison, it was seriously unskilled.
I had had my debut, but I thought I was still nothing more than an amateur, so I thought I'd study manga while working as an assistant7, and I moved to Tokyo after graduating from kôkô I was so lucky that after a few months, I became the assistant of Fujita Kazuhiro8 who I was a big fan of. But during the first while, I was afraid even to touch Fujita-sensei's drawings. I recall that the first thing I ever drew as an assistant was a flower.
I learned so much after becoming an assistant. I became painfully aware that my skills were lacking compared to others, and I was just frantic to catch up. I wrote short pieces like Genmai Blade and Aishû Hero Babaan while working as an assistant. Even then, I was always thinking about how to get the protagonist's passion across to the readers. When I read those pieces now, I'm embarressed by their lack of skill, though.
So, because Genmai Blade was well-received, I was able to start a series called New Town Heroes in Sunday Super9. It was drawn on a monthly basis, but the experience of drawing a manga within a limited amount of time was valuable, and I make good use of it now.
From my debut to the start of Konjiki no Gash!! in January 2001, I spent a long time working my way up, but I don't think that time has been wasted. Especially during the six years I worked as an assistant, I didn't only gain technical skills but also watched a lot of movies and read a lot of books at the recommendation of Fujita-sensei. If it weren't for those experiences, I wouldn't be what I am today.
But as a manga writer, I have finally reached the start line. I'd like to continue writing manga that readers will enjoy and won't disappoint them.
1. Something like highschool. Students usually attend from they are 16 to 18.
2. This might sound like a weird thing to do, but isn't uncommon among amateur manga writers.
3. A prefecture in the west of central Honshû. Also the name of the capital city of the prefecture, but I don't know which Raiku is talking of.
4. One of Japan's biggest publishers. Located in Tokyo. Later to publish Konjiki no Gash!!
5. I'm assuming it was a he. Shonen manga editors usually are.
6. A manga competition Weekly Shonen Sunday runs. I gather.
7. Here, of course, he means an assistant to a manga writer.
8. A manga writer of Sunday, famous for Ushio to Tora and Karakuri Circus.
9. Monthly supplement to Weekly Shonen Sunday.
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