Spy Family Interviews How the Spy Family Became a anime



reference million tag team

Author Tatsuya Endo. Editor in charge Shihei Hayashi

He started drawing manga as a child and met his current editor, Hayashi, about 13 years ago; his third serialisation, SPY x FAMILY, became a hugely popular work, selling more than eight million copies in six volumes (it has now sold a total of 21 million copies).
In this issue, we spoke to the two members of this million-selling tag-team.

Endo-sensei’s debut as a serialiser was in JUMP SQ. How did you two first meet?

Tatsuya Endo (Endo): ‘I met Hayashi-san at the start of TISTA (debut serialisation, 2007-). I submitted my first story to JUMP when I was in my first year of high school, and my first contact person was the first person to call me when I was in my second year of high school, so Hayashi-san was the third person I met counting from there. When I first met him, I thought he was a bit of a lightweight (laugh). Since TISTA was set in New York, we suddenly made a trip to NYC for interviews. Mr Hayashi had just started working, so it was like a trip between university students. It was fun.”

Shihei Hayashi (hereafter/Hayashi): ‘I was put in charge of Endo-sensei because he was young, but we were together all the time on the research trips and we felt like we got to know each other. We went to places Endo wanted to go and took photos. My company is rather generous in allowing me to go on research trips, so I also went to Kumano Kodo with Endo-san for the second serial, Gekka Biba. It was called an interview, but I was a bit tired, so I also went there to refresh myself (laugh).”

What did you talk about when you started up SPY x FAMILY, which is the third serialisation of the two of you?

Hayashi: “A lot happened in the seven years or so after ‘Gekka Biba’. There were reading pieces and projects that didn’t take shape. Among them, the reading piece ‘I SPY’ was well received, so I thought the next serialisation should go in the direction of a spy theme.”

Endo: “I was thinking of ‘I SPY’ as a read-out, so I didn’t have the idea of making it a serial. But I like military and I don’t dislike spy stories, so we talked about coming up with another project on spy. Mr Hayashi’s stance was that I could draw whatever I wanted.”

T: “In the meetings that followed, did the content of the manga change according to Hayashi-san’s opinions?

Hayashi: “Basically, I didn’t say ‘I want you to draw this’ at all. It was more like, ‘This is good’ in response to what Endo-san thought up. But now it’s a bit different. We talk about what we’re going to do next, just before the plot, in the café until we get tired. Now we talk about what the next seven volumes will be about, who we’re going to put on the cover, and so on.”

Endo: “We discuss and decide on that. After the setting and plot have been decided, it’s the naming that worries me the most, but I can’t talk to him about it myself. Hayashi-san tells me to talk to him about everything, but I feel like I have to hold it in, or think about it myself.”

Hayashi: “When I feel that the project is stuck, I give them a line. If the name is not ready by the time limit, I say, ‘It’s about time, isn’t it? But if I don’t get it done by the time limit, I say, ‘It’s about time’. It’s only a day or two late. Also, there are quite a few times when there are too many scenes I want to draw and we have to discuss them. I tell them that it would be interesting if I could draw them, but that it would be difficult to write them in the time available.”

Endo: “Yes, it is.”

Hayashi: “The production period is two weeks, so it’s tough if there are more than 30 pages. The time available for drawing is six to seven days, so if you draw four pages a day, the limit is 20-odd pages. If we decide to publish a story because it’s still interesting, we make adjustments, such as putting in an extra chapter and publishing 31 pages in the next episode.”

Endo: “If I have to cut something here, I need to use a lot of brain power to do so. In that respect, the number of pages in JUMP+ is free, unlike in print media, so it helps a lot.”

Tëm, do you have any other episodes that you found a bit of a challenge?

Hayashi: “Compared to your previous serials, you’ve never been so cornered, have you?”

Endo: “Mentally I’m always cornered, but I’ve never been cornered by my work. That’s what comedy is for. I tend to think too quickly, so I don’t have to think too seriously about it because it’s a comedy. But I’m a perfectionist by nature, so if I’m not careful I can easily slip back into it. Even when it comes to a tennis racket, I wonder about the design of tennis rackets in this era. If I was a real spy, I wouldn’t behave in this way, and so on. I keep thinking about all these details that I don’t have to worry about in the course of the story.”

Hayashi: ‘What was interesting about a similar story is that I wonder how long cardboard has been in use. I’m a loose type of person, but I’ll look into it where Endo-san notices it. It’s an escape route for me not to set a strict date in the work, but a worldview where mobile phones suddenly appear is out of the question.”

Endo: “That’s right. That’s the route we’re taking.”

the first episode of SPY x FAMILY was a great success. I think there is a process where the manga artist draws something interesting and the editor sells it, but what do you do in terms of publicity?

Hayashi: “Well… there is a charity project called “Anya Buddy Project” that I was working on until recently, in which the proceeds from the sales of LINE stamps are donated, and for me personally, I think it was good because it reaches people who don’t usually read manga. It was not just a charity project, but it was also a project that involved Endo-sensei’s fans. The stamps were drawn by Endo-sensei and fan art selected by Endo-sensei himself.”

Endo: “As far as publicity goes, I’m basically a no-show, but I had fun choosing the fan art for the Anya Buddy Project.

Mr. Endo, I heard that you started Twitter at the request of Mr. Hayashi at the time of the launch of “SPY x FAMILY”.

Endo: “Well, I was forced to (laugh). I’m not familiar with SNS itself to begin with, so I have no idea what to write.”

Hayashi: “I guess that’s just like you, Endo-san.”

Endo: “Once I started posting with pictures when the latest episode was updated, I couldn’t stop… I also pay some attention to the number of retweets.”

Hayashi: “I think the publicity effect of SNS is great. Readers are also busy, so they forget when the manga is updated. I always announce the update date at (midnight) 12:00. The rule of the “JUMP+” day ranking is that if there are a lot of hits after the update, the banner appears in the best place. I think all the other editors do the same.

What do successful manga have in common?

Hayashi: “I don’t know, that’s the honest answer. I can only say in broad terms, “If it’s interesting, there’s a good chance it will sell. It is difficult. If you enjoy drawing, it doesn’t mean it will sell, but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer. This may be a matter of personal feeling, but I think that people who continue to draw while changing are more likely to sell. Of course, this is not necessarily true. Endo-san, “SPY x FAMILY” is your third in the series, isn’t it?

Endo: “In my case, I am not trying to draw something that will sell well.

What do you look for when you see new writers?

Hayashi: “It depends on the person. Even if the pictures are catastrophically bad, if the scenario is good, there may be a way to become an original author, and the pictures may change later. Even if the pictures and scenario are bad, there may be cases where it becomes interesting.

I guess you mean if there is even one thing that shines through.

Hayashi: “That’s right. Manga artists have a wide range of entertainment qualities. If I sense even a slight aptitude, I will try to create something together with them. The hurdle is quite low. On the other hand, there are many cases where I talk with a writer for an hour or two and tell him or her that I am waiting for a plot, but nothing comes back, or the writer refuses to contact me.

Endo: “They must be lost. It’s the same for me.”

Hayashi: “When I’m too depressed because my work doesn’t go through the serialization meeting, if the artist is good at drawing, I may try handing them a draft of another artist’s name. Hayashi: “Sometimes, when I am too depressed because I can’t get through the serialization meeting, if the artist is good, I will give them a draft of the text. Sometimes that leads to a new work.”

So, if you had to pick one thing you wish comic book artists had, what would it be?

Hayashi: “”Fun” is what lasts the longest…

Endo: “In my case, I don’t think drawing manga is fun. ……”

Hayashi: “I think the busyness outweighs the fun right now, but I’m sure Endo-san has his fun moments too.” Untangle.

Endo: “Yes, I do. When I started drawing manga, I had a lot of fun drawing. If I didn’t have complete fun, I wouldn’t be able to draw anything, and I don’t want to do that.”

Hayashi: “Endo-san, before the serialization of “SPY x FAMILY” started, when you thought you couldn’t draw manga, you posted your drawings on pixiv as a rehabilitation.

Endo: “People around me said it was fun to draw what I liked, so I thought it would be fun for me too and tried my best, but it didn’t go very well. But I enjoyed it when I went to work as an assistant in between serials. I learn a lot from good writers, and just talking with them is stimulating. There were quite a few moments when I felt the enthusiasm of the people around me and felt like I had to draw too.”

It seems to me that keeping the motivation to paint will keep you going for a long time.

Hayashi: “It is true that the younger you are, the longer you can continue drawing, but I think it is okay to start drawing when you are 40 or 50 years old. I went to see Mr. Tokkasosuke of “King’s Ranking” when his work became popular, and he started drawing in his 40s after leaving his job as a salaried artist, and now he is making animation. It is a wonderful story and a dream come true. I think it’s okay to start drawing if you want to, and if you find it a little too hard, you can leave.

Endo: “I have never wanted to stop drawing manga. I wasted a lot of my life because I didn’t know what to draw, but I think I am able to draw the manga I draw now because I have gotten older. Surely there are mangas that can only be drawn when you are 70, right?”

Hayashi: “If there were manga drawn by a 70-year-old who said, ‘This is how I want to spend the rest of my life,’ it would give me courage. You may have the impression that JUMP+ favors young artists, but we live in an aging society, and I think that from now on there will be manga artists who are good even if they are 60 or 70 years old.”

So, what does an editor mean to you? What do you find good about working with them?

Endo: “There are times when I just can’t be objective on my own, so I think I need the editor’s point of view in those situations. Every time, I think about it without knowing what is interesting, and somehow I manage to draw it, but when it is interesting, Hayashi-san tells me it is interesting. If it weren’t for Mr. Hayashi, I don’t think I would be able to complete the project.”

Hayashi: “When it’s interesting, it’s interesting, and when I don’t understand, we join together and say we don’t understand. We often talk about how to make it more interesting.

Endo: “When I couldn’t draw manga, there were times when he would take me out to dinner and we would just talk. That alone supported me and I was grateful for that.

TM: “It’s reassuring to know that you have support outside of the serialization process. Please tell us about the appeal of “JUMP+” for you.

Endo: “In my case, my first contribution was to “JUMP” and I also experienced the print media, but I followed Mr. Hayashi and before I knew it, I ended up at “JUMP+”. I started my career in print media, but in the end I think “JUMP+” is the best. The number of pages and the intervals between serials are flexible, and it’s easy to draw.”

Hayashi: “Maybe it’s a place where artists can prioritize what they draw.”

Endo: “Besides, it is easy to understand that the number of views is clearly shown in numbers. I am happy to know that people are reading my serials, and I look at all the comments from one side to the other (laugh).”

This year’s Million Tag is a new type of manga award in which we are teaming up with editors who are actually active on the popular “Jump+” website.

Endo: “It is an advantage to be able to work with an editor rather than an individual. If I have a temporary inability to draw or get depressed, it’s reassuring to know that they care about me and will work with me to find a way to get out of it, and they can do things for me that I would never be able to do on my own, like advertising.”

Hayashi: “I would like to tell them that if you ever have a difficult time, I will suffer with you. I think the prize money is more than a typical manga award, and I would be happy if manga artists who want to make an animated manga could apply.”

Endo: “If there is more prize money, we can invest in equipment, which would be appreciated.”

Hayashi: “It’s hard for buzz in Japan to reach the world, but we are creating a channel to the world, so people from all over the world can read our work and comment on the latest stories from all over the world. The works that come out of “Million Tag” may be read by people all over the world. That would be fun.”


Thanks for reading. I will translate the interview again when I have time.


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