【Interview】Makoto Yukimura VinlandSaga x Hajime Isayama AttackonTitan

Attack on Titan

【Interview】Makoto Yukimura VinlandSaga x Hajime Isayama AttackonTitan

Quotes コミックナタリー

Set in northern Europe in the early 11th century, the manga 「VinlandSaga」 depicts the lives of passionate Vikings. A young boy, Thorfinn, becomes a warrior to avenge his father who was killed in front of him. He meets his avenger, Askeladd , the giant warrior Thorkell , and the young prince Canute, but he lives his life as a warrior. However, Torfin is deranged by Askeladd’s execution.Thorfinn becomes like a cripple and takes on the status of a slave. In 2019, the prologue, Thorfinn’s boy version, will air as TV anime SEASON 1, and the long-awaited SEASON 2, the slave version, is scheduled to air in January 2023.

To commemorate the decision to air SEASON 2, Comic Natalie held a conversation between the original author, Makoto Yukimura, and Hajime Isayama, known for his work on 「AttackonTitan」. We will dig deep” into how 「VinlandSaga,」 a grand epic manga, was drawn not only from the author’s point of view, but also from the point of view of Isayama, who drew up the masterpiece. The thoughts of each of them about 「VinlandSaga」 are also a must-see.

Click on the image to go to youtube. ↓

The theme he wants to depict in 「VINLANDSAGA」 is violence.

I understand that this is the first time that Yukimura-san and Isayama-san have met.

Makoto Yukimura Yes, it is. It’s nice to meet you. I first came to know of Mr. Isayama when the first volume of 「AttackonTitan」 was released, so it was about 11 years ago. What is this manga!? From the first page, I was surprised and read it.

Hajime Isayama Nice to meet you, I’m Isayama. I first came to know about Mr. Yukimura when I was in high school or vocational school. I saw the anime 「Planetes」 and thought it was great, so I read the original. I started reading 「VINLANDSAGA」 around the time when the slave chapter started.

When the beginning of the reading is suddenly a slave edition, it is very hard.

Isayama: If I started from the slave chapter, I wouldn’t know about Thorfinn’s past, so I started reading the book with Einar’s feelings. Of course, I read it again from the beginning after that, and I was surprised at the wonderful structure of the story. The whole story is structured in three acts, and I realized that I was reading the middle of a work of tremendous perfection. Only a smart and learned person could have created such a story.

Yukimura I am in awe that Mr. Isayama would say so.

To begin with, my previous work 「Planetes」 was a science fiction work set in space, but 「VINLANDSAGA」 is a work about Vikings in the 11th century, which is quite different in color. How did you decide to take on this subject matter?

Yukimura:「Planetes」 was a serial that I started without much preparation, so it was difficult to gather material for each installment. So I had thought I would start the next serialization after deciding on a theme and flow. The theme that came to mind was violence. I wanted to deepen my thoughts on violence by drawing what I thought about it in my own way. And I chose the Vikings as the subject matter. I decided to depict whether it is possible to deny violence and whether mankind can abandon violence through the Vikings, who are not charged with any crime even though they slay and kill people. That was the starting point for 「VinlandSaga」.

Isayama:  Although it is set in the Viking age, 「VinlandSaga」 depicts something very modern, doesn’t it? They are fighting thinking that they can go to Valhalla if they die. You do a good job of making a natural connection to readers living in the present day by including the perspective of the victim, Torfin, at that point in time. The picture conveys the horror that men in the past were probably closer to animals than they are now.

Yukimura: Before the Christian Penetration, it seems that there was no resistance to violence among people. Christianity spread throughout Europe just after the period that 「VinlandSaga 」is depicting. So they were that much more barbaric before broad ethics were given to them.

So, for those reasons, there was violence on a daily basis?

Yukimura  For example, there is a novel called 「Röde Orm,」 and in the story, there is a Viking of high rank who keeps a young man on his farm as his personal property. The young man is his protégé and a force to be reckoned with. But when the young people are fighting each other, the boss gets angry and slays them both.

So this is a time when two lives can be easily taken?

Yukimura Yes. He kills two people he cherished, but he laugh and says, 「I am happy to prove that I am still as strong as the young ones」. His family is also happy to know that his father is strong. Because of the low value placed on life, domestic violence and other forms of violence are rampant. I believe that there are things that can be depicted in 「VinlandSaga」 about violence because of that time period.

The growth of characters that are born in the process of depicting the work.

What is having a hard time while drawing 「VINLANDSAGA」?

Yukimura:  Most of the time, it’s when I can’t get the pen to run (laugh). I want the story to go the way I want it to go, but none of the characters (in the manga) seem to follow my lead. Doesn’t that happen to you?

Isayama:  There were times when I couldn’t control the actions of the main character (of the manga) because they were already decided. I sometimes drew the manga while thinking, 「Was he originally like this」?

Yukimura I knew that this character would not do such a thing, but he would inevitably go in a different direction. I think this is a common phenomenon among manga artists.

Mr Yukimura, who is your favorite character to draw?

Yukimura:  I like all the characters. I like Thorfinn and Askeladd , of course, but I also really like Thorkell and the old man Leif. It is difficult to find someone I don’t like. Floki has a human side to him, as he loves his grandchildren, and I can’t dislike King Sven either, considering the many things that have happened to him that have led him to this point. King Sven must have originally had a face like Canute, but he must have turned into such a that kind of feeling when he was in charge of the fate of his country.

What is Mr isayama’s favorite character?

Isayama: It is Thorfinn, after all. I don’t often say that I like the main character the best in manga, but Thorfinn is exceptional. He moves forward while repeating destruction and construction. Thorfinn, who bears always sin after the slave edition, is full of humanity, which makes him attractive.

Yukimura I am relieved. in the beginning and the recent Thorfinn have changed so much that I am not even sure if they are the same person or not, so I was worried about how they would be received.

Thorfinn’s physiognomy, or rather, design has changed quite a bit.

Yukimura: The only thing that is the same is their height.

Isayama But when he meets Canute, the old Thorfinn appears, doesn’t it? I wonder if the old personality still comes out.

Yukimura Thorfinn is a yankee to begin with, so I guess his tone changes when he is not careful.

Isayama If he had grown up normally, he would have become a boy with the personality he has now, which is somewhat sad.

Depictions unique to the anime that even the original author would have groaned at.

The tremendous change of Such Thorfinn is after the slave edition, which depicts after his revenge against Askeladd is regrettably crushed. I would like to ask you about the TV anime SEASON 1, which depicts the prologue in which Thorfinn strives for revenge as his purpose. How did mr yukimura feel after watching SEASON 1?

Yukimura: First of all, I was concerned about whether the animator’s health was okay. That’s how great it was from the very beginning of the first episode. However, if I say the drawings are wonderful in this way, the serious staff people will work even harder. So I restrain myself from saying Is it alright if I don’t say so much (laugh).

Isayama: The backgrounds were Drawing in an unbelievable way, and it was wonderful. What was also impressive was the scene where Asherad died and the knife was left behind. I really liked that scene in the original story as well, but the way the knife’s surface reflects memories like a running lantern is something that is unique to the anime, and it remains in my memory. The knife was a perfect representation of what it symbolized.

Yukimura: Animation has special effects like that, music, and the voice actors’ acting is added, so it is a different kind of fun than manga.

There are also original anime scenes here and there, which is one of the charms of 「VinlandSaga,」 isn’t it

Yukimura: I have said almost nothing about the production of the anime. Based on that, while I was drawing the manga, where I was thinking 「Maybe this part was too weak」 or I rushed the deployment of the story, but director Shuhei Yabuta and series composition/screenplay writer Koji Seko brought it back to the way it should be. That was a surprise to me. It is no exaggeration to say that you two are more familiar with 「VinlandSaga」 than I am. I was saying, 「I see…」 as I watched the anime.

─ ─ That is to say, that means that it is also useful in complementing the original work, isn’t it?

Yukimura That’s exactly right. That’s why I want everyone to see the anime before the original work!

─ ─ (laugh). So much so, were there any memorable events in your interactions with director Yabuta who deciphered the original work?

Yukimura: It wasn’t about the animation work, but we once went to a fishing pond together. There, I received a question from Director Yubuta. He said, 「I, like Thorfinn , feed on anger and live off it, but wasn’t Yukimura-san also like that to begin with? 」 But how did you come to laugh so much? He asked me curiously.

─ It is true that Mr. Yukimura always has an impressive smile (laugh).

Yukimura Maybe somewhere the adrenaline faucet broke. I told him at the time that I was constantly pumped up with serotonin and adrenaline. Mr. Yabuta will work as a director for SEASON 2 as well , but the tension in the slave version of TOLFIN is low. I am looking forward to seeing how the energetic Mr. Yuda, with his internal combustion engine whirring away, I’m looking forward to it now seeing how he draw Tolfin.

Isayama When I heard what you just said, I also remembered talking with director Araki (Tetsuro Araki, who directed the first three seasons of 「AttackonTitan」). It would be presumptuous of me to say that we are making a work together, but I think that the author and the director talk to each other somewhere in their own minds through their works. There were times when we talked about the mutual darkness that came to light there.

Did the response from overseas increase with the anime adaptation?

Since 「VINLANDSAGA」 is set in Scandinavia, has After all, the reaction from overseas been great?

Yukimura: Since the anime was distributed, the recognition of 「VinlandSaga」 has probably tripled overseas, and there have been many comments on Twitter and YouTube. Anime has a tremendous power of penetration. In Iceland, where the anime is set, it has been particularly well received and welcomed favorably.

What do you think that the anime’s international distribution will increase the response from regions and countries that were not able to reach you before?

Yukimura How was it when The 「AttackonTitan」?

Isayama: I am very fond of Western movies and foreign dramas, so their influence oozes into my works quite a bit. One of the things that made me happy when I saw the response to 「AttackonTitan,」 which is filled with such things, was that it reached people overseas as well. I am simply happy that people are enjoying the anime. I became a sense as if we share the feeling of watching and enjoying a movie together.

Yukimura:  There was a video on YouTube showing the reactions of foreigners watching 「AttackonTitan」. I couldn’t help but think that when I saw him watching the anime and yelling 「Oh My God!」I couldn’t help but agree with that’s true! I agree with them.

Isayama  When I’m drawing manga, I don’t know the real-time reactions, so I’m happy to see ……. To be honest, I watch a lot of those videos.

Yukimura I think one of the reasons why anime is spreading to people outside of Japan is the power of distribution sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. DVD and Blu-ray alone would not have spread like this. I have been checking distribution sites for a long time myself.

By the way, what kind of movies have you seen recently?

Yukimura: My Dress-Up Darling. That was very erotic (laugh). I don’t know if this is a good first impression, but I like it so much that I watch it over and over again.

Isayama: Yesterday I finally watched the latest season of Stranger Things all the way through. I’ve been in a traffic jam of foreign dramas lately, and I haven’t finished watching The Boys” and “Obi-Wan, so I can’t wait to check them out.

What do Makoto Yukimura and Hajime Isayama respect about each other?

Is there anything that you both respect in each other as manga artists?

Isayama: Mr. Yukimura is high in all parameters. For example, there are people who are very good at drawing, but you can’t tell what is going on. But that is not the case with 「VinlandSaga」. It has everything you need in a manga, including drawing and composition skills. I think one of its Individuality is that it is too seamless.

Yukimura: Thank you! I must make sure my sons read this article when it is uploaded (laugh). What I felt for Isayama-sensei when I read 「AttackonTitan,」 was that you was able to draw out that volume of work at that speed. How many times did you take a break while you were drawing that spectacle?

Isayama: I took a break once when the magazine took a break due to Corona.

Yukimura I seriously respect your artist’s spirit to draw a manga to the end with only that one break. The content of the work is of course important, but I think the most important quality for a manga artist is the ability to continue to draw without taking a break. I took a lot of time off from manga serialization.

Isayama But you can’t maintain the quality of 「VinlandSaga」 without taking a break.

Yukimura No, no. The 「AttackonTitan,」 was a serialization of about 40 pages each time, and there were at least three books published a year. I repeat, I know how much courage it takes to draw continuously without taking a break until the end, because I am not able to do it myself. Even among people who are able to do it, Mr. Isayama was executing it at a high level. It is so much that I want to drink from your fingernails.

Isayama But I think it is much easier compared to weekly serialization. A weekly series has 70 to 80 pages a month.

Yukimura I drew only 16 pages last month.(wry smile)

Isayama You draw such great manga, so it can’t be helped.

The drawings in 「VINLANDSAGA」 are all so delicate and beautiful.

Yukimura The reason why the manga is so beautiful is because of the hard work of our staff. They work hard all the time without cutting corners, even in the finishing touches. Also, we benefit from the digital environment.

You write your manga in a digital environment?

Yukimura: Yes. After the epidemic of corona infection, we changed to a fully digital environment. To be more specific, it was around episodes 168 to 169. Until then, I used to do everything up to the pen strokes in analog, and then I scanned them in and did the finishing work. Now, everything is drawn on a computer, from the penmanship. After all, we couldn’t have our staff commuting to work during the Corona disaster.

Isayama: I was also shifting to digital at the end of 「AttackonTitan」 because there was an epidemic of corona infection. But I couldn’t do it completely, so I had my assistant take a cab back and forth. I would like to make the complete transition the next time I have the chance.

Is the manga 「VinlandSaga」 nearing completion?

It has already been 17 years since the serialization of 「VinlandSaga」 began. Looking back on your life as a manga artist so far, what is your current state of mind, Mr. Yukimura?

Yukimura: It has been about 25 years since I became a manga artist, and my current wish is to make children become adults safely and to draw 「VinlandSaga」 properly until the final episode. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have acquired a completely digital environment, and I hope to make the most of it by drawing manga. I think I can do full-color if I can change the time and effort of applying screen tones to coloring. I would also like to try my hand at such a work.

I think fans are especially interested in the future story of 「VinlandSaga,」 but do you have a roadmap for its completion?

Yukimura: To tell the truth, there is not much left on the roadmap for the my manga. We are not that far away from the final installment. The roadmap was drawn up before the serialization started, but the details have changed. There are many characters who didn’t appear in the original plan. But the details I’ve been drawing flexibly depending on the situation. Recently, I’ve come to understand that it is better to leave a playful part apart from the solid framework.

Isayama Every time you draw a roadmap, the roadmap gets bigger and the characters go on increasing, don’t they? The number of characters in 「AttackonTitan」 has increased considerably from what I had originally envisioned. When I think about it now, I wonder if I didn’t have enough.

Yukimura I guess there are never enough characters

Isayama I think it would have been nice to have a clear friend of Jean and his friends on the Mare side. I think we could have depicted a stir by having those people get trampled.

Yukimura: But the scene where the refugee children were trampled was shocking. I was horrified to think that these children were born to be crushed. It shows the sinfulness of what Ellen did in a nutshell, doesn’t it?

IsayamaThat is exactly right. But as far as the description of how hard it was to atone for his sins, if you read up to the latest volume of 「VinlandSaga,」 I think there was a different ending. I felt the importance of overlapping the story in depicting Torfin’s suffering as a moving scene. Readers who have been following Tolphin’s journey will surely be able to sympathize with the weight of his redemption.

Yukimura Thank you. I spent years drawing the story, thinking that I would definitely move people, so I was deeply moved by that scene.

I am looking forward to the day when that scene will be depicted in an anime. Next January, the second season, the slave version, will finally begin airing, and I would like to ask both of you what you are looking forward to in the anime.

Isayama: The slave version depicts the process of Tolfin finding a firm self. I would like to focus on that. Also, I am looking forward to seeing the details that can only be seen in the anime. The forest is turned into a field without heavy machinery. I am looking forward to seeing how the difficulty of this process will be expressed.

Yukimura: What I am looking forward to in SEASON 2 is Also the characters. There will be a man named Snake, and he is a really nice guy character. There will also be Einar, Ormal, and Arneiz, people we worked very hard to portray. I would be happy if you could watch the entire series from SEASON 1, which is currently airing, including not only Tolfin, but also their changes of heart and their growth.

Thank you for watching. See you soon.


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Hi everyone, nice to meet you. I'm a translator of my favorite manga and anime in my spare time while doing FX trading as my main job. I am also on Twitter, so please follow me if you like.

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