The Togashi crack-up

togashi coverYoshihiro Togashi himself was in attendance at the 1994 summer Comiket, not a full month since the last chapter of Yu Yu Hakusho‘s lopsided final arc ran in Shonen Jump, and he was giving out free copies of a dojinshi he’d made. In addition to a meta-manga in which the main cast of Yu Yu Hakusho turn out to be actors with completely different names and personalities, a Henshuou parody in which a sobbing Togashi begs in Yamagata dialect for people not to bother him about YYH anymore, and whatever the hell this is, the dojinshi also included a Q&A with Togashi and a two-page letter in which he explained why the manga had such a turbulent ending. Both are terrific and, thankfully, someone has already done a (good!) translation. The Q&A is here and here, and the letter, which I especially insist you read, is here and here.

I find the whole thing to be just delicious. I mean, there’s this:

There were several times throughout Yu Yu Hakusho that I finished chapters on my own. It was always whenever my stress level was hitting its peak. I don’t know if this will make any sense, but the way I relieved the stress of not being able to draw my manga satisfactorily was to draw it by myself. As a result, the chapter that week would be horrific. I was just dashing off the backgrounds and characters. The spinoff chapter “Two Shot”, Karasu versus Kurama, Yusuke versus Sensui, the chapter where Yusuke and Raizen meet: I drew them almost all on my own. As one letter correctly criticized me of, I did the latter two chapters just both before they were due, 19 pages in half a day each. Maybe that makes me unprofessional, but I felt satisfied with myself doing it. At that point I’d lost all reason to keep from acting on the urge to draw by myself, regardless of what people think or how awful it may come out looking.

Wow — half a day? Let’s remind ourselves what those parts look like, shall we? First, Yusuke versus Sensui:


Yikes. And then Yusuke and Raizen:


Good god.

And then there’s this:

Q: What was your favorite part?

A: Itsuki’s speech inside the Reverse Man [‘uraotoko’]. Itsuki’s parting line contains a cri de coeur of how I felt at the time. (laugh)

Here’s the line he’s talking about:


“The two of us are going to go spend our time in quiet; we’ve had enough. You go find some other enemy and continue fighting.” This would’ve been around the point where he’d supposedly talked the editors into letting him bring the series to an end.

Also worth noting: according to the Japanese Wikipedia page for Yu Yu Hakusho, the series ran almost entirely uninterrupted in Jump for its four-year run except for one single issue, which is sort of surprising if true. ♦

Three anecdotes about Ashita no Joe


A funeral service was held for Tooru Rikiishi in an auditorium at Shonen Magazine publisher Kodansha’s Tokyo headquarters on March 24, 1970, roughly a month after the character passed away in the magazine. Some 700 fans managed to attend, somehow, though it was held on a Tuesday afternoon, when most of them presumably had school or work. Staged by avant-garde theater troupe Tenjo Sajiki (“Ceiling Gallery”), the service was complete with a picture of the deceased overlooking a boxing ring brought in from Korakuen Hall, and included the standard reading of sutras and lighting of incense, as well as a somewhat less conventional KO count to ten on a gong. The eulogy was read by troupe leader Shuji Terayama, who described Rikiishi as “an illusionary force of the Establishment dreamed up by slum guerilla Joe Yabuki”.

He wasn’t the only one who was reading politics into the comic: when Japanese Red Army terrorists hijacked a passenger plane in order to defect to North Korea, they issued a statement declaring, “We are tomorrow’s Joe.” That was just a little over a week after the Rikiishi funeral, and one day before the first episode of the Ashita no Joe anime aired.

Joe was popular with Japan’s right-wing crazies as well. Late one summer night, Ashita no Joe fan and regular Nobel Prize nominee Yukio Mishima appeared at Kodansha’s Shonen Magazine department. A devout Magazine reader, he’d been busy shooting his film Black Lizard and hadn’t gotten a chance to pick up the issue that had come out that day, so he was looking to purchase one directly from Kodansha. They explained to him that they weren’t able to handle any financial transactions there in the magazine offices, but they would be happy to offer him a copy of the latest issue for free. Mishima gladly accepted and went on his way. ♦

Chiba Tetsuya at the 33 anniversary of Rikiishi's death, in 2002.

Chiba Tetsuya at the 32nd anniversary of Rikiishi’s death, in 2002.

The manga artist as child liar

tumblr_inline_nclk86Zqra1qheujoTaiyo Matsumoto, in a 1997 interview:

Creating manga is kind of like you’re a child who’s stolen some money, and when asked about it you lie and say you found it on the ground, but then the grown-ups keep asking more and more questions, and you have to keep making up more and more lies and make it more real. Like, I’ve already gone and said that I’d make this series, so now I have to follow through on that original lie to the end and make it look like something real. People who are good at making manga are really good liars, I think.

Inio Asano on Nijigahara and Punpun


In 2010 Inio Asano put out this book called Ctrl + T, which was this odd mishmash of various illustrations he’d done over the years, a Solanin side story, a couple of odd one-shot stories, and some interview-like pages of text (90% of which were pure silliness). The book doesn’t sound like much, but there were some real nuggets for fans.

Here’s a tiny one that could easily be overlooked, though: toward the end of the book are a couple of pages highlighting all of Asano’s published books up until that point in 2010, and the descriptions for a couple are of some interest. Here’s what it has to say of Nijigahara Holograph:

Having made his career with short pieces, Asano had almost always planned out his manga before setting out to draw them — until this book, that is, which he says he made up as he went along. When putting the serialized chapters together in book form, he added a good 60 pages and rearranged the structure of the story, but the story is so filled with riddles that Asano himself claims that at this point he’s forgotten what’s supposed to foreshadow what. An experimental work that continues to cause lively debate over its interpretation even now, four years after its publication!

Made up as he went along, you say! And then here are some interesting bits of what they have to say about Goodnight Punpun:

After having his editor reject his idea for a battle fantasy manga set in a hot spring resort, Asano started searching for the manga he really wanted to make, and in the end came up with a character born from the artist’s doodles: Punpun. In an attempt to break free from being typecasted as the creator of “feel-good twenty-something manga” , Asano went on the offensive with Goodnight Punpun, offering up new possibilities in the art of manga. Punpun is also Asano’s first attempt at a long-term series, which he explains should come out to be “around 11 volumes long, as I have it planned right now”. Incidentally, while almost every character and episode in the series has been drawn with some sort of payoff later in the series in mind, the game of hide-and-seek between the principal and vice principal in chapter 2 is, unfortunately, meaningless.


With the two double-page shots of Aiko crying in volume two, Asano made a declaration of intent of making Punpun a long-term series. One can see him saying goodbye to his former short-story artist’s way of using page space.

The hide-and-seek game in chapter two didn’t mean anything. There you have it — hard-hitting news, here at Mangabrog.