Aki Hamaji ‘s manga 「Bocchi the Rock」 has become a work that has dominated the animation industry this season.
The catchphrase 「If you’re introverted, let’s rock!」 had a huge impact as the anime. Although it is often thought of as a gag manga about an introverted girl, Goto Hitori (Bocchi-chan), who is bursting with negativity, it is actually a masterpiece about Bocchi-chan’s growth and friendship with her band members, a growth story that takes the high road, and a wonderful work that is also a great music manga.
I interviewed the creator of such a remarkable work, manga artist Aki Hamaji , directly, and asked her about the future of her manga, which we are anxious to hear about, even though the animation just reached its final episode on December 24, 2022.
- 【Interview】 Aki Hamaji 「Bocchi the Rock」
- Is Bocchi-chan a character based on the author herself (Aki Hamaji)?
- 「Bocchi the Rock」 Aki Hamaji ‘s Character Design Technique
- 【Bocchi the Rock】 What is Aki Hamaji ‘s method of expression?
- Aki Hamaji ‘s real-life experiences live on in Bocchi the Rock.
- Bocchi the Rock ‘s future prospects and a final message from Aki Hamaji
【Interview】 Aki Hamaji 「Bocchi the Rock」
Is Bocchi-chan a character based on the author herself (Aki Hamaji)?
–「Bocchi the Rock!」 has become one of the most talked-about anime of the season. Looking at Twitter, tweets with the hashtag were a big hit on the day the anime aired, and it was a regular trending topic.
Aki Hamaji : I was very surprised that the response to the anime was even greater than I had imagined. The main character, Goto Hitori (Bocchi-chan), has a lot of negative aspects, from his character to his gags (laugh), and I never expected to receive such support from the viewers. Seeing the excitement this time around makes me feel as if it is not my own work.
-Bocchi-chan is one of the most introverted girls in previous Kirara (Yonkoma manga monthly magazine) works. Why do you think she has the sympathy of her fans?
Aki Hamaji :I feel that Bocchi-chan is probably a character that has been accepted because of today’s social networking society. On social networking sites, you can show off your skills and become a hero, but I think there are people who are troubled by the gap between real world. I myself have such feelings, and when I let Bocchi-chan speak for me, I think that many more people than I had expected were able to relate to her.
The way Bocci-chan, a negative girl, is stepping forward is sure to make you want to cheer her on!
-So, is Bocchi-chan ‘s personality modeled in part after Ms Hamaji herself?
Aki Hamaji :Among the members of the 「kessoku band,」 I think Bocchi-chan’s personality is the most similar to mine. I am similar to her in that I get carried away easily, and if I receive even the slightest praise, I immediately think that I might be able to reach a higher level (laugh). Also, I guess where I resemble her is that my Delusional is boundless. I think my personality is a mix of Bocchi-chan, Yamada, and Hiroi, and I feel that I have all the elements in me except for Kita-chan.
–But then again, Bocchi‘s negative thinking in the early part of the first volume of the comic is very intense (laugh).
Aki Hamaji :Maybe that’s because I myself am the type of person who starts with 「negativity」 no matter what I see (laugh). Bocchi-chan’s lines come out naturally, without her having to think about them.
Bocchi-chan starts a part-time job but has a hard time. She will be scheming how to take a day off from her part-time job. ……
「Bocchi the Rock」 Aki Hamaji ‘s Character Design Technique
— What I find in Ms. Hamaji ‘s work is skillful character design. Each character is well drawn with simple lines, and the coloring of the hair is good.
Aki Hamaji :I didn’t envision the excitement of work as it is today, but I thought that if the character designs were too complicated, people wouldn’t draw fan art, etc., so I kept the modeling simple. The pink hair may be an influence from Kaosu-chan from 「KOMIKKU GARZ」 (laugh). Besides, originally, many of the characters in Kirara (magazine) works have pink hair as their Main characters.
Pink hair, pink jerseys, black guitars, and cute hairpins. Aki Hamada ‘s character design is superb, bringing out the cuteness of the girl.
The manga 「Comic Girls」 is written by Kaori Hanzawa and serialized in the same Manga Time Kirara MAX magazine, and a TV anime aired in 2018.
-The way she wears a jersey and plays a music instrument is also a great representation of Bocchi-chan ‘s introverted personality.
Aki Hamaji :I wanted to create a character with no fashion sense, so I thought it would be a good idea to have a character who wears only plain jerseys all the time. In the character list I sent to the editor, Sekoguchi-san, in the beginning, I had her wearing jerseys, so I had a solid image of her.
–In a music manga, music instruments also project the image of the character. Why is Bocchi ‘s favorite guitar a Les Paul Custom?
Aki Hamaji :When I first started planning the manga, I was not at all familiar with music instruments and couldn’t even tell the difference between a bass and a guitar. The character design was decided first, so I thought that black would be the color that would look best with her pink hair and jersey. So I searched for the words 「black」 and 「guitar,」 and Les Paul Custom came up at the top of the list, so I decided to go with it.
-So you had that kind of background (laugh)! In Kirara (magazine) works, there are many girl characters who use Les Paul as their favourite Instrument. For example,「Yui」from 「K-ON! 」is a Les Paul Standard in Cherry Sunburst.
Aki Hamaji :Bocchi-chan is a character who feels cool about bands and guitarists. In that sense, the cool black Les Paul Custom is the existence that projects her admiration. I chose this guitar because it came up at the top of the search results, but now that I think about it, I think it was an appropriate choice for the image of her character. Among all the black guitars out there, the balance of the color scheme and the design is one-of-a-kind and unique, and the shape of that guitar tickles my drawing fancy.
The manga is a parade of excellent lines and facial expressions. The phrase, 「I’m sorry for being so show off …,」 has become a common expression among internet users beyond the boundaries of the fan community.
【Bocchi the Rock】 What is Aki Hamaji ‘s method of expression?
-Hamaji-Sensei’s unique manga expressions are also not to be missed. One of the highlights of your manga is Bocchi-chan ‘s variety of funny faces, and her fukuwarai-like collapsed faces are so excellent that I laugh no matter how many times I see them.
Aki Hamaji :I created a face like that when I drew the character without thinking, just as my hand was moving. I thought I had created an interesting picture in my own way, but when I showed it to Mr. Sekoguchi (editor in charge), he objected at first.
-What! I see.
Aki Hamaji :I wanted that to be included in my manga, so I made a normal face in the storyboarding stage, but in the manuscript, I drew it with a firmly funny face and handed in the data, which was adopted (laugh). My work is also a gag manga, so I want to make people laugh with facial expressions.
Her funny and broken faces are one of the highlights of this manga.
The latest issue of 「Kirara MAX」 came with an appendix of Fukuwarai that you can play with Bocchi-chan ‘s faces.
Bocchi-chan takes an ice bath for the purpose of taking a day off from her part-time job.
-Hamaji-sensei used to draw shoujo manga for Chao (a monthly magazine), and there are some expressions in her works that are typical of shoujo manga artists.
Aki Hamaji :In my mind, I don’t really feel that way. I thought I was more out of place when I belonged to Chao (magazine). After all, I was drawing moe-type work for a shoujo manga magazine (laugh).The way I apply tones in my current manga may have been influenced by shoujo manga, though.
Her first live performance scene. hamaji says, 「I didn’t dare to include onomatopoeia in my work so that readers could see how hard Bocchi-chan was working.」
There are many scenes, such as the use of soft tones, that show the character of Aki Hamaji , who used to be a shoujo manga artist.
Aki Hamaji ‘s real-life experiences live on in Bocchi the Rock.
–Before you started drawing your work, did you cover Shimokitazawa and live houses?
Aki Hamaji :I knew that my favorite band members such as 「ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION」 grew up in Shimokitazawa. However, it was completely unfamiliar to me, and I had never even been there before I started planning this manga. I visited Shimokitazawa before drawing the manga, and the clerk at the store I wandered into at that time was kind of scary …… (laugh). That experience is reflected in the second story of the manga.
-I think the store in Shimokitazawa has an atmosphere that is difficult for first-time visitors to enter until they become accustomed to it.
Aki Hamaji :I didn’t know the basics of live-hire and the culture. The first time I went to a live house in Shimokitazawa by myself, I was asked, 「Which band did you come to see?」 When I told the staff that I had no particular purpose, they gave me a dubious look (laugh).
-I think this experience of Ms. Hamaji is utilized in the trivia sections that are interspersed throughout the manga.
Aki Hamaji :I started this manga project as a beginner in a band, so I have learned many things while working on the series. The trivia section of the manga is based on what I have learned and interviewed.
Guitar Man’s explanation corner. Aki Hamaji says, I apologize for being too maniacal in the beginning because I was a beginner in the band, and I think that makes it easier for readers who are not familiar with live performances and music instruments to read through the manga.
Bocchi the Rock ‘s future prospects and a final message from Aki Hamaji
-At first, Bocchi had a hard time stepping forward, but through school festival events and band competitions, she her developed a strong bond with her band members. She is growing as a guitarist with each episode.
Aki Hamaji :When I started drawing the manga, it was mainly gags about shy character stories, but fortunately, the readers supported the story and the story continued. Through trial and error, my manga became a growth story in the form of a story manga. I myself enjoy drawing the manga as I look forward to the growth of the kessoku band and its characters.
-Do you have any ideas for the future development of your work?
Aki Hamaji :Well, ……i would like to continue to draw Bocchi-chan ‘s shy character and funny faces as before, but I would also like to draw music industry stories and the changes and growth of the characters’ relationships as they go on to higher education to keep readers excited.
-Finally, do you have a message for your fans?
Aki Hamaji The anime of Bocchi the Rock has ended, but we will continue to make the manga as exciting as the power of the anime. The anime is portrayed in a fairly mild manner, but if you want to see some sharp-edged tsukkomi and bleak gags, please read the manga as well (laugh). Please continue to support us!
Thank you for watching. See you soon.
Bocchi the Rock ! interviews Page