Interview Tatsuki Tsujimoto 「fire punch」
Interviews with popular manga artists about the secret story behind their manga production, debut, and more. The popular 「This Manga is Awesome! WEB」
In a world covered in snow and starvation caused by the Ice Witch, a deformed man rises up. Agni is a man who continues to be burned by an unquenchable fire. Burning in his heart is the desire to kill those who murdered his beloved sister. What awaits him at the end of his journey of revenge? ……
The first episode of the shocking dark fantasy manga Fire Punch caused a huge sensation on the Internet. In this interview, we asked Mr. Fujimoto to tell us about the secret of this work that keeps betraying readers with unexpected developments! As expected, the story is full of surprises that betray our expectations! Read it with an open mind!
Click on the image to go to the youtube video. ↓
The Internet went crazy over Tatsuki Fujimoto ‘s Fire Punch Episode 1
-「Firepunch」 began weekly serialization (updated every Monday) on 「Shueisha」’s comic distribution site 「Shonen Jump+」 on April 18, 2016. Immediately after the first episode was published, it spread ickily on the Internet through social networking services, creating a so-called 「go viral」state
Author：Tatsuki Fujimoto Born in Akita Prefecture.
Fujimoto won an honorable mention at the 9th Crown Newcomer Manga Award for Love is Blindness. In 2014, his work was published in JUMP SQ. (Shueisha), and he made his debut. He is currently serializing Fire Punch in Shonen Jump +. The fourth volume of Fire Punch is scheduled for release on Friday, March 3.
Fujimoto: I didn’t expect that at all.
Fujimoto’s editor, Rin-san When the series first started, we didn’t advertise the manga very much. We were honestly surprised when it suddenly went viral.
–Why is that?
Rin-san: Since it was a new serial, we didn’t have much money for advertising at the time. …… It was an interesting work, so even if it didn’t get much attention at first, we thought it would slowly gain recognition.
-Why did Fire Punch become a serial in Shonen Jump+ in the first place?
Fujimoto: It was originally a manga that I was storyboarding for serialization in JUMP SQ.
Rin-san That didn’t go smoothly until it was serialized, but I really wanted to take it to serialization, so I took it to a different department, Shonen Jump+
Fujimoto: For some reason, I heard from various people that Rin-san had a lot of conflicts of opinion with his superiors in order to have Fire Punch serialized.
Rin-san: I simply insisted that a work that I thought was interesting be interesting, so I think that clashes of opinion within the editorial department are common (laugh).
-Isn’t that a good story (laugh) I have interviewed many manga artists, and the episodes in which people in upper and lower positions in the “workplace” get heated are overwhelmingly atShueisha. That is not exactly whatbakuman is about, but it is a good Episode .
Popular manga Bakuman. depicts the behind-the-scenes of manga production The fierce struggle of the editor in charge that appeared in the work was not fiction!
Fujimoto: For my part, I just felt sorry.
-When did you start to rework your manga for serialization in “Shonen Jump+”?
Fujimoto: Up to the second episode, I was working on the manga for serialization in JUMP SQ. (Fire Punch) The second episode was up to the point where Agni rescues San. That’s why I thought I had to rework it again.
Rin-san: But I thought it would be better to keep the first episode as it was, so I had Mr. Fujimoto drawing all the first episode as it was, and then I had him start over with the storyboards for the second episode.
Fujimoto: That’s right. The second episode, which was intended for monthly serialization, was divided into two episodes (episodes 2 and 3) for weekly serialization. Usually, in a work that appears in Weekly Shonen Jump, I think that the second episode often continues the first episode and becomes an episode about the main character again. However, Fire Punch was not created in that way because of the circumstances described above. Therefore, I think it would be easier to convey the story of Fire Punch if you read it in book form, rather than following it on Shonen Jump+.
-About that first episode, the way you inserted the manga title was exquisite.
Fujimoto: I like it when the title of a Tarantino movie comes out with a bang. But you don’t see that kind of thing too often in manga. I did see it in 「The Last Love Song on This Little Planet」 (Shin Takahashi) and 「Himeanoru」 (Minoru Furuya). In 「The Last Love Song on This Little Planet」 the title had been a completely different temporary title, but in the second or third episode, the real title 「The Last Love Song on This Little Planet」 appeared, and I thought it was cool.
The title insertion scene in the first episode, which was exquisite in terms of making a strong impression of the title “Fire Punch” on the reader.
-Fire Punch became a hot topic in the first episode, and when the first volume of the comic was released, it ranked first in the male category in the monthly ranking on this site. What was your response to that?
Fujimoto: As it is, I hoped that it would continue to rank in the top 10 in the book ranking of 「This Manga is Amazing」 (a famous Japanese magazine & website that showcases manga), and that even a small increase in the number of people reading it would be good.
-Then was Fire Punch’s third place in the annual ranking better than you had expected?
Fujimoto: If I had come this far, I would have liked to be No. 1 (laugh).
-I guess so (laugh). This year’s ranking was very close at the top.
Fujimoto: During the period when the rankings were being compiled, only the second volume of the manga was on sale. In terms of the story, volume 3 is the end of one section, so I thought that readers would not be satisfied unless they read that far. But if the manga reaches the third place in this ranking, it will be treated differently in bookstores. I would be happy if a lot of people read it.
Volume 3 was released on December 2, 2016, and was regrettably outside of the 「This Manga is Awesome!」 Readers who have only read the first two volumes, be sure to check ‘em out!
-I would like to ask you about the structure of the manga as a whole, since you mentioned just now that the third volume is a break in the story.
Fujimoto: I am concerned that if I talk too much about the content or the plan in an interview like this, readers will read the manga as if they are trying to confirm it. I intend to make it more interesting in the future.
-The work of Fire Punch is appealing because of its unpredictable development. However, because the future is unpredictable, I think there is anxiety as to whether the story will come together properly at the end.
Fujimoto: Ah, I see.
Rin-san:I understand. If this were a manga artist with a proven track record who had already sold well, I think readers would feel comfortable reading his work, no matter how many detours he took. In that sense, I think Mr. Fujimoto is an author who has not yet made a promise to his readers. I think he has gained a certain level of trust even up to the third volume, but I still think it is not enough.
Fujimoto: That is certainly true. Let’s see, the first three volumes of Fire Punch are Part 1, and the entire work is divided into three parts: 「Introduction,」 「Development,」 and 「Climax」.
Volume 3 of …… closed with the appearance of a new mystery. Where does the story go from here!
-Have you already decided on the last part of 「Fire Punch」?
Then, every week, even if unexpected developments become, the readers will be relieved (laugh).
Fujimoto: yes, that’s right (laugh).
If Fire Punch Volume 1 is a 「revenge drama」 Volume 2 is a 「〇〇」
The secret to Fujimoto’s style of manga creation lies in the ideas he comes up with for each comic!
-When you actually started the manga series, were there any changes from the storyline you had in mind?
Fujimoto: The framework of the story has not changed, but the choice of words and small actions of the characters have changed. I am working on the manga while discussing with the person in charge how it should fall into the story progression that I initially decided on myself.
-When you say that 「the character’s words and actions change,」 do you mean that 「the character moves on its own」?
Fujimoto: Hmm, the characters move on their own? ……. I’m not sure about that feeling.
Rin-san:When I make various suggestions to Mr. Fujimoto during our meetings, he often says to me, 「Agni doesn’t look like this,」 or 「Agni doesn’t do that」.
-Do you feel that the image of Agni in Mr. Fujimoto’s mind has been clearly shaped through such conversational exchanges?
Fujimoto: That is very true.
-When drawing manga, do you sometimes that the events of the story have already been decided in your mind, but when you actually go to the scene, you need more ideas to make the character take the decided action?
Fujimoto: Yes, yes.
Rin-san: Perhaps the term the characters move on their own is used because you do that work and create the story at the same time. Although Mr. Fujimoto draws his manga with the story decided in advance, I think that something similar to the so-called characters move on their own is happening.
Which of the characters you have drawn so far has “moved” the most, or changed the most from the initial setting?
Fujimoto : That would be Togata. Between the first and third volumes of the comic, I had two different ideas for Togata: to make him a companion of the main character or to make him an enemy. I was working on the manga with the idea of making him the enemy side, but then I decided to make him the companion of the main character because I thought that making him a companion would be a character that could be used in the story a little more.
Indeed, Togata, who cooperates with Agni, has a “crazy” and “unfathomable” side that would not be out of place in a character on the enemy side.
-From what you’re telling me now, you’re building a story for each volume of the comics, right?
Rin-san: Right now, we are basically discussing the story on a per-comics basis. There are a lot of comics group members, so Mr. Fujimoto and I have been talking about how to make the most interesting manga when read in comics.
Fujimoto: I wanted to change the genre of the manga for each volume.
Fujimoto: The first volume starts off like a revenge drama, but in the second volume, I wanted to negate that first volume and make it a gag manga.
–I see! There is a scene where 「Togata」 kills a Behemdorg soldier on the train, and the tip of the knife he stabs through the throat goes through the top of his head. That was done as a gag, right?
It is a shocking scene, but if you look closely at the head of the Behemdorg soldier who was knifed, you will see ……?
Fujimoto: Yes, that was a gag (laugh).
-The part where Agni and Togata are chasing each other down the beach with Judas’ head is a total gag, isn’t it?
Togata is having 100% fun cackling in the sea, Agni is caught up in it, and Judah’s fresh head is hanging from a hanged head.This scene is a model of 「serious comedy」.
Fujimoto: Yes, that’s right. The main storyline is as we decided, and we gave meaning to everything in each episode, but we decided to make scenes like that a gag.
-Why did you decide to make the second volume a gag?
Fujimoto: In the second volume, I wanted to make a mockery of the story in the first volume. I wanted to give Togata a lot of opportunities to take advantage of the main character.
-So, what is the theme of volume 3?
Fujimoto: I don’t mean to say negation of negation, but I wanted to negate volume 2 in volume 3.
-It’s true that in the third volume, you came back to the heroic manga-like place once again.
Fujimoto: Yes, I felt that the development of the story had to be broken once in order to achieve cathartic.
The very special move of a hero!
-Maybe you were resistant to drawing a direct hero manga?
Fujimoto Hmmm… ……. Heroes and justice, if you try to express them in the real world, you end up going to extreme extremes, don’t you?
―In this day and age, it might become an extremist organization.
Fujimoto: Yes, yes. I feared that if I went too far, it would become an ego thing. So I thought that if I were going to draw a hero manga, I would have to rethink the structure of the hero manga. I don’t know if I was able to do that successfully in my manga. However, I think that hero manga is one element, and I hope to follow other thematic elements more.
–I think it would be better not to ask you in the present situation, because that thematic part is related to the essence of comics. So you are saying that although you do apply heroes and battles in manga, that is not all that you wanted to do?
Fujimoto: In truth, it would be better if I had a part of myself that enjoys such battles. There are 「Blessed Ones」 in the manga with various abilities, but I don’t have a particular favorite ability.
The diverse abilities of the Blessed Ones are reminiscent of the American comic book 「X-Men,」 which features a variety of gifted individuals.
-Is that because you don’t want to depict battles of abilities?
Fujimoto: Well, the world is surrounded by snow, so I don’t think it is possible to survive with ordinary abilities. So, inevitably, there would be only people with regenerative abilities.
-In volume 2, there is a scene where Togata says, 「Why are there only people with the ability to regenerate」? That was a meta-gag against the work, but at the same time, it was a line that hinted at the world view, wasn’t it？
Fujimoto: Because it is a world where only such people (regenerators) can survive.
-I just thought the use of the regenerative ability concerning the main character, Agni, was excellent. There have certainly been characters whose entire body is on fire in the past, such as the Human Torch (a character in Fantastic Four) and Ghost Rider, but the rationale behind Agni’s birth in this manga is very interesting.
Fujimoto: I was thrilled when I came up with Agni’s ability. He can even die while continuing to burn, but he lives for a purpose. The Rin-san said, 「I want him to put on clothes somehow」(laugh).
Rin-san: I did say that in the beginning (laugh).
Fujimoto: Agni’s body actually begins to regenerate at the same time as it is destroyed.
-I wonder if this is also related to what you said earlier about Breaking the story once.
Fujimoto: In the scene in volume 3 where they fight in Behemdorg (volume 3, episode 21), the building is destroyed, but on the other hand Agni is regenerating, and so on.
In contrast to the crumbling building, Agni immediately regenerates. A powerful description that will awe even the reader!
-It seemed to me that you put a lot of effort into drawing that episode.
Fujimoto: I had already decided to draw that scene from the beginning, and I had already started drawing that episode (Vol. 3, No. 21) when I had finished drawing Vol. 2, No. 11.
Rin-san: The storyboard for that scene was completed a long time ago.
-Because 「Fire Punch」 is a weekly serial, that scene is about three months away, right? Did you want to draw it as soon as possible anyway?
Fujimoto: Yes, I did. I knew I had to draw that scene well because it was a scene in which I was releasing what I had been accumulating until now all at once. It was a lot of work.
Rin-san: Looking at the level of detail, it would have been difficult to depict that scene in a weekly serialization. For sure.
Fujimoto: That’s because the assistants worked hard on the backgrounds.
-What is your manga production system like now?
Fujimoto: I think we have six or seven assistants. There is a good person who is likely to debut soon, so I have more assistants on site, including those in training, so that that person can debut as a manga artist at any time.
-Is the background of this digital?
Fujimoto: I am the only one who is fully digital. When I asked people at the company to gather assistants who were good at drawing, they were all analog (hand-drawn). For the background of episode 21, I took the analog drawings made by the assistants and put them into my computer, and then I digitally burned the depictions.
It’s the background created by the fusion of analog and digital that makes Agni and his team’s actions come alive!
-I see that digital drawing can also be used in this way . Finally, what are the highlights of the fourth volume (Fire Punch) that you are interested in?
Fujimoto: A new chapter begins . Togata’s secret will be revealed, the purpose of the 「ice witch」-like person will be revealed, and so on. …… I think that when I get to around volume 6-8 of Fire Punch, fans will be able to see what I wanted to do.
Rin-san: I’d like to see Fujimoto-san somehow get to that episode by the end of this year. But even before you get to that point, you have to entertain the readers with every episode and the end scene of each episode.
Fujimoto: That is really what Rin-san says to me every time. ……
-I can say to the readers in this interview that they can be assured of being betrayed until the end.
Fujimoto: This is my first serial work , so I will do my best to somehow end the story nicely.
–Looking forward to future installments of this series! Thank you, Mr. Fujimoto!
See you soon.
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