Featured “Attack on Titan” Author, isayama hajime Interview
Is the first character that was born in your mind the main character, Eren?
Isayama: I think so. My memory of that area is already a little fuzzy. We decided on his role and thought about what kind of character would be appropriate for that role. If there is a pattern in which a story is created from a character and a character is created from a story, “Shinkoku no Kyojin” is 100% the latter.
How long did you have to prepare for the serialization?
Isayama: It must have been about six months. I think I should have practiced drawing there, but all I did was make stories, and when I was given the opportunity to work on a serial, I was impatient and thought, “My drawings are not up to the level of commercial drawings! I got impatient.
How far did you plan to develop the series when you started it?
Isayama: I had a rather firm idea up to the first story in the fourth volume. I thought it would be good if I could draw a past chapter from there. However, that was only if I could continue the story up to that point. I knew that there was a big possibility that the project would be terminated soon, so I decided to put off delving into the characters and just showcase them.
To begin with, I heard that “The Progressive Titan” is a template for a work that was brought to the editorial office.
Isayama Yes, it was a short story that I brought in when I was 19 years old and had it looked at.The title was the same, “The Marching Giants.
How did you come up with the idea for the story?
Isayama: I have three theories. The first is that there is a movie called “Frankenstein’s Monster: Thunder vs. Secondly, when I was chased by a big thing in a dream, my legs always got tangled up and I could not run properly, which was very scary. The third is a game called “Muv-Luv.
Regarding the first theory, it was such an impressive film.
Isayama: In the movie, I caught a glimpse of two hairy giants fighting with each other. That was the only part I saw, but it really scared me as a child. Maybe it was their faces that scared me. It was so intense that it came back to me in my dreams.
Why did you decide to draw a story with Titans as a piece to bring in?
Isayama: Compared to vampires and zombies, I wondered why there are not many works that depict the appeal of the monster called “giant. I wondered why there are so few works that depict the fascination of giants compared to vampires, zombies, etc. There are no famous ones as far as I know, and they are so fascinating and interesting. So I decided to draw them myself. I wanted to draw a story in which I am hunted down by a fascinating monster called a giant.
Did you always want to paint giants after that?
Isayama No, it was not like that. After I brought in my work, I drew several stories and submitted them to a rookie award, but I forgot about the Titans during that time. At that time, my editor suggested that I consider the story I had previously drawn about the Titans as a name for the series. That’s how I started working on the current “The Progressing Giants” story.
What was different from your original plan after you started the series?
Isayama: I guess it was the fact that it took more pages than I expected when I printed out the story that I had in my head. Before the serialization, I thought I would be able to get to the beginning of volume 4 in about 2 volumes of comics, but that was only because I thought it was getting stretched out and I was able to draw what I needed to draw. I didn’t mind, but I really wanted to include the first episode of volume 4 in volume 3. But when I was drawing the last episode in volume 3, I realized that it was absolutely impossible…. That was a great disappointment.
Is there anything you pay attention to when drawing “Attack on Titans”?
Isayama: The idea is to make the hiki look strong and interesting. Also, I am conscious of portraying the Titans in a scary way. When I rethought the existence of the Titans from the model, I thought that a smiling Titan would be scary no matter what, so I try to keep it that way.
There are several species of Titans in that world, including the Colossal Titan, aren’t there?
Isayama: The Super Colossal Giant has an Ultraman-like position in my mind, or a hero, or something like that. I draw them because I think they are cool. The other Titans are like Shocker from “Kamen Rider” (laugh).
The Super Colossal Titan is characterized by its bare muscles, where did you get the idea for that?
Isayama: There is a website called “30 Second Drawing” that helps people practice drawing, where you draw a model doll that changes its pose every 30 seconds, but the model doll is bare muscles without skin.When I saw the doll, which was probably for studying how muscles are built and how they move, I thought, “Cool…! Then I thought, “This is it.
The fact that the Titans are all humanoid makes their inability to communicate even more disconcerting and frightening.
Isayama: I used to work late at night at an Internet cafe near a bar area. Because of the location, drunken customers would come in, but they usually could not communicate. I was more scared than dogs, monkeys, or other animals that cannot communicate, because even if they disappeared, they might reappear with an iron pipe or something, and I didn’t know what they would do to me. I was afraid of what they might do to me. I didn’t like it very much because they were human beings. I thought that the familiar fear was not of violent animals, but of other people who are closest to us, and I hope to show that kind of fear in this manga.
Were the Titans in the work that served as a template that differed much from the Titans in the current serialization of “The Marching Titans”?
Isayama: In the work that we brought in, we were set up to do whatever we wanted, such as disguising ourselves as humans (laugh). Also, there were special trees planted around the town, and the Titans were not allowed to approach those trees. There were no walls in the town, but it was like an RPG, and for some reason the giants could not enter the town (laugh).
It is also frightening that giants prey on humans….
Isayama: The reason I eat people is not so much to make them scary, but because I thought it would be more interesting to have that kind of setting. I think everyone has an inherent fear of being eaten by something. But if you are constantly aware of it, it becomes stressful. It’s not like being afraid of something scary, but it’s like being afraid of heights but wanting to look down. I think there is a conversion system that turns fear into fun and curiosity. I thought it would work by setting the scene where the giants eat humans. I think you can enjoy the fear of predators. I thought it would be possible to enjoy it in that way. So, although the size of the Titans is such that they cannot swallow a human in one gulp, I wanted to create a sense of predation, so I drew a picture of a human protruding from the Titan’s mouth.
What scenes have you particularly enjoyed drawing or left a lasting impression on you so far?
Isayama: This is the first episode of the fourth volume. I wanted to draw this episode so much that I could say that I had worked hard to draw it. There were a series of scenes with little movement leading up to it, but it was like a calm, and it was like a preliminary period for drawing the storm that awaited us after that. Without that commitment, I would have forced the story into the last episode of volume 3.
Do you already have an idea of what you want to see in the final version?
Isayama: Yes. However, the path to get there is vague. I think we can manage as long as we have a fixed landing point, but I am not sure how to walk toward that point now.
What do you think is the main reason for your hesitation?
Isayama: Maybe it’s because we can see the landing point. Until now, I think I was more conscious of advancing the story rather than the landing point, but when I crossed that point, the development became limited because the landing point was fixed, and I think it might be because my choices are now limited. I think that after the series has progressed this far, there should not be any discrepancies between the development and the setting, and it is no longer possible to think freely.
The work depicts the drama of humans fighting against the Titans.
Who among the characters moves well?
Isayama That is Mikasa. On the contrary, it is the main character, Eren, who does not move. I think that if the main character and I, the artist, lose any commonality in our inner lives, the characters become flimsy, but Eren and I don’t have much in common. Ellen wants to go out, but I want to stay indoors and stay away from dangerous places (laugh). I think I should have made Eren a little more approachable. But, well, I have come to know Eren a little better after drawing this far.
Eren and the others who fight the Titans are desperately fighting against their fear of the Titans and death. I think one of the charms of this work is that it depicts their way of fighting and their way of life, which is more than just being cool.
Isayama: When you are in a situation where if you don’t fight, you are sure to die, I think there is an attitude of sitting back and waiting for death, but I think there is also an action of confronting the situation regardless of whether you are wounded or not if you are going to die anyway. I am depicting people who do not want to fight, but are forced into such a situation and have no choice but to do so, so they fight. I also think it is natural that there are people who are so afraid that they cannot move and that there are people who want to die. If I were in the same situation, I think I would want to die as soon as possible.
Would you be as foolhardy as Ellen?
Isayama: I don’t think so. I think I would run away first (laugh). Because of my own personality, I can’t really sympathize with Eren and the other people who are fighting hard in the story, so I just imagine what they must be like and draw their inner lives.
Perhaps I have more feelings for the Titans than for the human characters.
Isayama I think so. The tension is obviously higher when I am drawing a Titan vs. Titan fight scene (laugh). But I also want to see a story in which humans fight the Titans with their own strength and wisdom, without ever becoming too human. But I don’t think I can draw a work that is as good or better than that, so I think this work is the best and strongest story of Titans and humans that I can draw in my own way.
Please leave a message!
Isayama: The “Shinkage no Kyojin” anime is very interesting. I think the manga is a little interesting as well. Please take care of both of them.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for watching.