Inio Asano interview — “Reality is tough, so read this manga about cute girls and feel better”

Warning: This interview contains serious spoilers to Goodnight Punpun, is very long, and will answer an alarming amount of the questions you had about that fucking manga. Also, if you like this interview, might I also recommend Matt Thorn’s debunking of the myth that Asano is transgender?


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–Congratulations on finishing Goodnight Punpun. How does it feel?

Inio Asano: It’s good to be finished, at long last.

–It’s your longest work yet. A kid could have entered elementary school and graduated by the time you’d finished.

Asano: Almost seven years. I’d had the outline of Goodnight Punpun laid out from the start and I’ve known for years now how it would all end, so it’s felt like it’s been finished for a long time, for me. But I couldn’t let myself slack off. I had to see it through to the end, or else I wouldn’t be satisfied with myself. So I stuck with it, and in the end it came out as double the length I’d planned it to be (7 volumes). So, yeah, it really is good to be done, at long last.

–I interviewed you back when volume 3 came out, and you said at the time that you made up the overall plot of the whole manga in about 30 minutes. What was the story that you’d come up with at that point?

Asano: What I had planned at the time I’d finished the first chapter was that it’d tell the story of this boy named Punpun as he grew up, spanning roughly ten years.

–I see.

Asano: The heroine was Aiko, and if you were to label it by genre, it’d be a love manga. A romance. The turning point of the story was to be some sort of incident that happens partway through, after which Punpun and Aiko go on the run, and then the second half of the story was supposed to be like a road movie.

–So the gentle tone of the story back when the characters were in elementary school was always going to be violated.

Asano: I’d known from the start that an incident would happen later on, and I wanted to make it as absolutely shocking as possible, so I decided I would take the time to fully draw out their silly childhood. Continue reading

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“I believe in female supremacism”: A Hiroaki Samura interview

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The following interview is from an issue of the newly defunct magazine Manga Erotics F a little over a year old, a few months after Blade of the Immortal ended. Samura also started a new manga series in the same Erotics F issue: Harukaze no Sunegurachika (“Snegurochka of the Spring Wind”), a single-volume story set in the Soviet Union that goes on sale in Japan in July, and which they refer to in the interview.

So, are you ready to see Samura say some strange, sometimes troubling things about the fairer sex? Great! Here we go:


–Your history as a manga artist has been discussed elsewhere quite a few times already, so this time I want to stick to a narrower, more specific theme—girls. So, first, let’s talk about how you do women in your manga. Visually speaking, what is it you pay attention to when you’re drawing a woman? Continue reading

Inio Asano on Nijigahara and Punpun

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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. Read it here first before you see it on the Drudge Report.

Taiyo Matsumoto with Inio Asano and Keigo Shinzo

So, today I bring you a recent conversation between Taiyo Matsumoto, Inio Asano and Keigo Shinzo that ran in Monthly Spirits. The first two names should be familiar to everyone, but I don’t think anything of Shinzo’s has been translated into English, so I don’t suppose anyone knows anything about him. He came out with a pretty good first book that generated mild buzz among cool manga readers back in 2010, and he’s put out a few things since then that I mostly haven’t read yet. Here’s a sample of what his stuff looks like.

But anyway, here’s the conversation. Don’t say I never do anything for you, internets.


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Keigo Shinzo: Okay, right off the bat, the question I most want to ask you, Taiyo, is how did you feel about your manga when you were 27 years old? I think it would’ve been right around the time you’d finished Tekkon Kinkreet.

Taiyo Matsumoto: How old are you, Shinzo?

Shinzo: 27.

Matsumoto: I’ve almost got two decades on you, then — I’m 46. What about you, Inio?

Inio Asano: I’m 33.

Matsumoto: You guys are so young. You wouldn’t know it reading your manga. These days, they sometimes put your age in brackets next to your name when you get interviewed for something — “Taiyo Matsumoto (46)”. It always gets me. Like, “They can’t mean me, can they?”

Shinzo/Asano: (laugh)

Matsumoto: Okay, when I was 27… Let’s see. Tekkon Kinkreet was a total flop, so I took my editor’s advice for my next work and went with a sports manga — Ping Pong. It was after finishing Ping Pong (at age 30) that I decided I wouldn’t do weekly magazine serializations anymore. I would wake up, sit at a desk stacked with CalorieMate bars, start drawing, and the next thing I knew it’d be evening. It was no way to live.

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Taiyo Matsumoto and Daisuke Igarashi

Here’s a conversation between Igarashi Daisuke and Taiyou Matsumoto that ran in the magazine Brutus in early 2012.

Picture of Matsumoto and Igarashi, from the relevant issue of Brutus.

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Taiyo Matsumoto: I feel like you kind of came out of nowhere. I’ve been drawing manga for about 25 years, but you really blew me away. I first heard your name around the time Witches came out, and at first I thought you were still new to the scene. This guy is just incredible, I thought—it was so polished and everything. I was a little worried for myself.

Daisuke Igarashi: I found out about you when I was a student. Your work was being featured in a magazine or something, and seeing your manga cover designs I thought to myself, “This is really good, this is my kind of art”, but I figured I would probably be influenced by it if I read it, though. That fear kind of trumped everything else, so I avoided your work for a long time. (laugh) Nowadays I actually read your work just to steal from it, though.

Matsumoto: I find I can’t tell who you’ve been influenced by when I look at your work. With most manga artists you can see that, Oh, this artist’s a Katsuhiro Otomo fan, this one’s a Yumi Tada fan.  With your art, though, I can’t tell; you leave me wondering, “What artist is this guy into?” You’re original, I guess is what I’m saying. Hmmm… it feels kind of like you’ve come to manga via painting.

Continue reading