The story of his childhood, what inspired him to become a manga artist, and the birth of his masterpieces.
We will explore the true nature of the manga artist, which is not often revealed, together with the editor in charge, who is closely involved with him.
Manga Artist – 「Makoto Yukimura」 whose manga works include 「Planetes」 and 「VINLAND SAGA」
Editor –「Satoru Kanai」 first editor in charge and current editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine 「Afternoon」
Interview Makoto Yukimura 「Platenes」 「VINLAND SAGA」
Makoto Yukimura ‘s student days
「Planetes」 is a manga that came about because of the loss of a manuscript
Makoto Yukimura I started drawing manga around the summer of 20 years ago, when I was 21. Until then, I had never drawn a single manga. Even so, I always wanted to be a 「manga artist」. When you are in the second grade of junior high school, the word 「career path」 suddenly comes up at school, doesn’t it?
That’s when 「I realized that the time had come for me to decide on a career that I would continue to pursue for the next several decades」. At the time, I was surprised to realize that I was not yet too prepared for my career path. The most natural thought that came to me at that time was I wish「 I could be a manga artist」.
After that, I went on to high school, and I realized that I really hated school. This triggered my desire to become a manga artist even more immediately.
I thought to myself, 「Why didn’t I become a manga artist right after graduating from junior high school?」 It was a mistake to go on to high school. ……I was rather thinking like that.
But when I talked to my parents about the kind of things I just mentioned, they were vehemently opposed. But there was nothing else I wanted to do.
As a result of repeated discussions within the family, it was decided that I should at least go to college. From there, I decided to aim for art school, thinking that it would be a good way to learn about drawing.
Once that happened, high school became a place where I just went to and came back home. I didn’t do much homework, didn’t study, didn’t participate in club activities, and didn’t do anything else.
I didn’t really do any of the activities that most high school students do, so I had a lot of time on my hands, which was good for me. I worked part-time at the Konjac sales floor of a department store, bought art supplies, and went to an art school (a painting school run by an artist) after school with a set of art supplies.
Makoto Yukimura I still remember how I used to say to customers at the Konjac sales floor, 「jyousyu- shimonita, how about Konjac! 」
Unlike high school, I enjoyed studying at art school because I felt that I was definitely advancing in drawing. I felt like I was learning the basics at the art college I entered after graduation.
However, I did not have any particular expression that I wanted to achieve through the oil paintings I was painting at the time. It was fun, but I thought of it as practice. So, I had no idea of what expression I wanted to achieve through my painting works.
So, when I asked myself what I was practicing for at art school or art college, it was of course for manga.
With this background, when I was 20 years old, I found out that Mr. Kaiji Kawaguchi-sensei was looking for an assistant in Morning (a weekly magazine) that I was reading, and I sent my resume to the Manga Editorial Department. However, Kawaguchi-sensei’s assistant had already been assigned to someone else.
From there, I was able to make a connection with the editorial department and was given the opportunity to work as an assistant to Mr. Shin Morimura-sensei.
The Silent Service 「Kaiji Kawaguchi」
Satoru Kanai (first editor/current editor-in-chief of 「Afternoon」) I was in the 「Morning」 editorial department at the time. I think I still have the resume and illustrations that Mr. Yukimura sent me saved in company locker. From that time on, he was good at drawing.
But he had a strange photo on his resume, ……. It was on top of a mountain somewhere, backlit, in a banzai pose (arms outstretched upward), with a big smile on his face. I could feel how happy he was, but I had the impression that he was probably a strange guy (laugh).
Some of the illustrations that Mr. Makoto Yukimura submitted to Mr. Kaiji Kawaguchi’s call for assistants. The detailed depiction and the way he draws people give the impression of a style that is connected to the present day.
Makoto Yukimura (laugh). I just cut and pasted a photo I found around the corner with scissors, so I didn’t even know that it was normal to put a serious photo on a resume.
When it was decided that I would be allowed to work as a manga assistant for Mr. Morimura-sensei, I took a leave of absence from the university and dropped out without going back to school ever again.
My father and others had already given up on me. I was always a child who did not listen to others when I had made up my mind, so I think my father was like, Okay, or Just do whatever you want.
School didn’t suit my nature. I thought I would be able to fit in at a school for drawing pictures, unlike high school, but when I went to art college, I knew I didn’t like the school after all.
Makoto Yukimura ‘s manga assistant days
Makoto Yukimura I had practiced painting at art school and art college, even if only for 3-4 years, so I thought I was ready to do a little assistant work when I went to Mr. Morimura-sensei workplace at the age of 20. …… was a reckless idea!
Mr. Dai Morimura…at that time, he was working on a series of 「Thinking Dog」. The tear-jerking and funny human drama about a successful editor-in-chief, his dog, and their families was well received.
Makoto Yukimura Morimura-sensei has a very traditional drawing style, which is the best model for studying manga in a comprehensive manner. Anyway, I couldn’t even draw lines properly on site. I was made aware that I had not even mastered the basics, or rather, I thought to myself, 「 Ah…, how long does basic practice last」
At the time, I thought, 「Aah…I haven’t done anything yet,」 and yet a month had passed since I came to work as an assistant.
When I said earlier what it felt like to not be able to draw a line well, …… no, this was a strange experience where even I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t draw a line well.
For example, let’s say you have a draft of a manga here, right? There is a very beautiful picture drawn by Morimura-sensei on it. I tried to draw a line there with the same tool that Morimura-sensei uses.
「Oh no, I can’t get the lines right!」「 That’s strange, I thought I was using the exact same tools, but ……!」
That’s how I get impatient. It is hard to explain in words, but even in something as relatively easy as drawing a line with a pen, I was reminded starkly of the difference in experience between me and Sensei.
I realized that the line of someone who had been drawing lines for decades at that time was clearly different from the line of someone who started drawing lines yesterday and today.
That’s why I really hate and felt sorry that my lines in Morimura-sensei’s manuscript in Morning (a weekly magazine). …… It is a line that you can definitely tell that a bad new manga assistant must have come in.
Morimura Sensei gave me a salary even though I couldn’t do anything like that, and I felt bad about that too. ……
Kanai: In many cases, when we are new, we have experiences like your talk. I have heard from Mr. Morimura that he had an experience similar to yours when he was a newcomer.
I heard When Mr. Morimura was young, he went to Katsuhiro Otomo‘s Workplace as a temporary assistant to help him . At that time, He was so depressed on the balcony because he couldn’t draw well at all.
What I heard from him was the word sulked like I just told you, but I imagine from Mr. Morimura’s character that maybe he was crying in frustration. Anyway, it seems that he was smoking all the time on the balcony at that time, and then Otomo-san came over.
I heard Mr. Otomo said, 「I was a terrible drawer when I was young, too,」 and apparently he consoled Mr. Morimura And look, I was this bad at it, he said, and it seems that Mr. Otomo even showed him drawing from his own rookie days.
I heard Mr. Morimura said that when he saw Mr. Otomo’s drawing, he was depressed again (laugh). That drawing was so skillful ! He said, 「What’s That bad about it?」He said that his drawings were so good that he thought they were a joke.
Katsuhiro Otomo…His representative works include 「Domu」 and 「AKIRA」. His overwhelming style, which is said to have 「changed the concept of manga,」 has influenced not only the manga world but also many other creators. The logo of Comic DAYS (web distribution site) was drawn by Otomo.
Makoto Yukimura When I saw Mr. Morimura-sensei‘s original manuscript for the first time, I was amazed at how good he was at drawing ……! Moreover, it takes Mr. Morimura-sensei only four days at most to draw one manga episode. ……
「Oh, no, is that a lie? How does he draw it? 」……, I thought at the time, and I still don’t know it (laugh).
Since I was in junior high school or high school, there was no other career I wanted to be in other than a manga artist. Still, I didn’t draw my own work because every time I thought it was about time I might be able to draw manga with my own skill, an event would occur that would knock me down.
Each time it makes me think, 「I may not be able to draw manga,」 or rather, a challenge comes along that I have to clear….
When I saw Morimura-sensei’s magically fast and beautiful raw manuscripts, and was shown his work by his right-hand assistant, who was a great talent, I was painfully aware that I was not yet good enough. I felt that I had to learn to draw better and be in a position to receive my salary with dignity. ……
Makoto Yukimura 「Painful Mistake Manga Manuscript Lost」.
Kanai: I was the one who asked Yukimura-san like that who was working as an assistant at Mr. Morimura’s place, if he would like to try drawing manga, and I still clearly remember how it all started.
At the time, Koichi Kiba’s work 「Kiliko」 was beginning to be serialized in Morning (a weekly magazine). Mr. Kiba was a attractive man, and he would come to me with all kinds of ideas, including some crazy manga ideas. I suggested to Mr. Yukimura that I might be able to assist him once as his assistant.
Koichi Kiba…created a devoted fan base with 「Kiliko,」 which depicted the blood- and love-stained world of detective Yusa and female assassin Kiliko.
Kanai: That’s where Mr.Yukimura almost lost the manuscript of Mr.Kiba manga.
Yukimura: Oh… You are easily revealing the past that I want to forget. …… (laugh).
Kanai (laugh). Haha. At that time, Mr. Kiba’s workplace did not yet have a copy machine. So, before handing the manuscript to the editor, he would make a photocopy of it at a convenience store in case he needed to check it later. It was the assistant’s job to make a copy of the manuscript, but Mr. Yukimura left the raw manuscript at the convenience store on that occasion.
Yukimura: I am sorry about that. ……
Kanai When I heard at my workplace that one of a manga manuscript was missing, I immediately called Mr. Kiba to apologize, as I had introduced Mr. Yukimura to Mr. Kiba.
At that time, Mr. Kiba cheerfully said to me, 「I found it, so it’s all right!」
He also told me 「that Mr. Yukimura, who came as an assistant, was drawing it for a long time a kind of cosmic timeline of events that will happen in the next 10, 50, and 100 years, which is very interesting.
Mr. Kiba said that to me, so I called Mr. Yukimura after the call and I told him, 「Mr. Kiba was tolerant and wasn’t mad at you」. And then, on that phone call, I asked him if you would like to draw a manga like the space history timeline that Mr. Kiba was so impressed with, as a trial for our magazine.
Makoto Yukimura ‘s first attempt at manga
Yukimura That was around this time 20 years ago. So, the first manga I drew in my life became the first episode of 「Planetes」 later on.
I was a little hesitant about what I should draw for test that Mr. Kanai told me, to try, but I liked science fiction, I decided to draw the problem of 「space debris,」 which was one of the topics of science fiction that interested me at the time. It was because I felt that humans continue to produce garbage even in space and that the root of evil is endlessly deep.
I showed Mr. Kanai the manuscript I had drawn in copying like a monkey, recalling that Mr. Morimura-sensei’ had drawn such a storyboard on such a piece of paper as ・・・・・・, and he agreed to publish my manga in magazine.
And then I thought, 「All right! 」 and started drawing manga. …… But by the time I finished drawing that one story, I thought, 「I’ve done enough,」 how can I say ……. No, I was surprised. I didn’t realize how hard it was to draw manga.
I thought, 「Since it’s so hard, it’s probably impossible for me to continue drawing more manga.」
Immediately after I drew my first manga, rather than feeling a sense of accomplishment that I had 「done it」 or 「made it,」 I felt more like, 「It’s too hard,」 or 「I don’t think I can make a living doing this as a job」. For my part, I thought I would continue to work as an assistant for a while. Then Mr. Kanai asked me to draw the second episode.
Kanai But it took you a year to finish drawing the first episode.
Yukimura It took an incredibly long time. Morimura-sensei took four days to draw one episode, but my manga took a year. …… (laugh)
Click here to see the first story that took me a year to draw! It is not translated, but you can see the pictures. ↓
Thank you for watching. See you soon!