Author Topic: Masami Kurumada's Interview in Kamipro magazine 2010  (Read 1829 times)


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Masami Kurumada's Interview in Kamipro magazine 2010
« on: July 05, 2013, 05:43:39 PM »
Thanks to Kaori-chan to translate it.
Thanks to ~QDD~ from ALL4SEIYA for taking good pictures of the magazine
I just find them to make this happen.


Page 1
An interview with the master of bloody fighting manga
A little space (or universe) of conversation

Page 2

Manga production makes you tired physically and mentally, but as a pro, I'm still fighting until now (laugh). With this in mind, I have walked this path for more than 35 years, and I'll continue walking on it.

The author of [Saint Seiya] KURUMADA MASAMI
He's been continually releasing a number of popular manga such as [Ring ni Kakero] and [Fuuma no Kojirou]. Especially his work [Saint Seiya] has moved the world. There has been no one shounen manga that can compete with it. And now, the author will share with us everything he knows about manga philosophy. Well, everyone too, let's ignite the fire of this little cosmos in our heart!

Page 3

Kurumada-sensei and various fighters. In the past, they had a gathering with 7 other people to discuss [Ring ni Kakero REAL Kurumada Masami hot blood legend].

Interviewer (I): Ah, what an honor it is to be able to meet you today!

Kurumada (K): No, it's going to get even better (grin)

I: Today, our main topic is of course, to discuss about [fighting manga] and your big hit, such as [Ring ni Kakero] and [Saint Seiya], but before that, I would also like to hear about your heroic story, Kurumada-sensei.

K: Stop it (laugh). I'm just an ordinary person, you know.  But compared to old times, there has barely a legend about heroic pro wrestlers lately, hasn't it? On the contrary, there are a lot of heavy drinkers, even heavier than me.

I: In short, Kurumada-sensei looks more like a wrestler, right? (laugh)

K: Hahahaha. But think about it, in the past, they liked to mix something in their drink before they drank it, right? But these days, everyone has been very obedient. It might be hard to come back to the era of that legend.
I: By wrestler and fighter, you mean today's athletes, right?

K: Right. They do their best, and the way they introduce themselves is proper. That's just how an athlete should be, isn't it? Anytime I see an old time wrestler, I feel like I see a beast instead. Today's pro wrestlers look strong in appearance for sure, but the old time's ones attacked and killed like real heroes. I can truly see the battle between good and evil in them.

I: We're talking about the world of rewarding the good and punishing the evil, aren't we?

K: Yes. The world of old times. When the evil presents, a hero shows up. And anytime the hero overcomes the evil, he will shout, "Waaa". You don't see this only when you watch wrestling. There are a lot of dramas, movies, and mangas that depict the same theme too, don't you think? The same goes to my work, [Ring Kake]. There was a moment where Takane Ryuuji was not popular yet, but when Kenzaki Jun showed up, he started to be known. In the case of [Ashita no Jo], you can probably think of Yabuki Jo and his rival, Rikiishi Toru.

I: The existence of a mighty opponent, right?

K: Right, right. There are some like those in the world of wrestling too, right? For example, Makabe-kun, a new Japan pro wrestler.

I: Sensei, you have a connection with Makabe-san, don't you?

K: Yes. Recently too, I got an email from him, "I've earned the pin on IWGP". And I immediately thought, "Thank goodness (in a sense that he deserved it), because he's a wise man."

I: By the way, when I met him the last time, he told me, "I got this treasure from Kurumada-sensei (based on his manga [Fuuma no Kojirou])." Is that true?

K: Aa, it's true. He said that he was a fan of [Fuuma no Kojirou], so I gave him the wooden sword [Kazamura Kazan].

I: Oh~ Kazamura Kazan - the legendary sword Kojirou used in the manga, right!?

K: Right, right (laugh). It was when Makabe-kun was going to challenge a foreign warrior in the Young Lion Cup. In return, he gave me this, his office decoration and said, "Here, take it."

I: What a chubby stomach he has, don't you think? But this must really remind you of Makabe-san, musn't it?

K: But come to think of it now, instead of wooden wood, Makabe-kun is better known with his iron trade mark, isn't he? (laugh)

I: Ahahaha! But sensei, apart from Makabe-san, I heard you also have some connection with other fighters?

K: Yes, you mean Nagata-kun, right? Previously, he purchased one of my character goodies.

I: From the [Seiya Club], isn't it?

K: Yes, yes. Nagata-kun's younger sister visited the store once. From then on, I heard from my manager that Nagata-kun was a fan of [Ring ni Kakero], and then I told him that I met Nagata-kun's sister. He was quite surprised as he asked me, "The Nagata-kun's sister?" After that, he asked me, "In that case, why don't we ask him to give a testimony of the manga?" So we went to his place and talked about this matter. Over there, he introduced me to his younger brother, Katsuhiko-kun. I was so thankful when they told me that all the three siblings are fans of my manga.

I: Sensei, what kind of person Nagata-san is in your eyes?

K: Well, he's really earnest. I thought that since both of his parents are teacher, he would be somewhat serious or straightforward, but he's a well-informed man for sure. If he wasn't, he wouldn't have been this strong, right? However, the thing with a pro wrestler is this - you have to be strong, indeed, but on the other hand, you need to be splendor too. In short, he's very easy going. But then, you need to have that kind of attitude in show business. Except for Makabe-kun. He has a unique characteristic.
I: He struggled so much before he obtained the championship, right?

K: Yes. There was a time when we planned to have a conversation with the young Makabe-kun and the others, right? At that time, I wondered who among them would be first, and turned out, Tanahashi-kun was the first to be famous. His senpai, Makabe-kun came out a little late, but thanks to that, his character was developed well, don't you think?
I: It would be perfect if he could use the Kazamura Kazan as his weapon next time, wouldn't it? (laugh)

K: Hahahaha, for sure (laugh).

I: Sensei, do you go drink with wrestlers a lot?

K: Pretty much.

I: By the way, sensei, do you like to watch live wrestling?

K: I go once in a while. For example, I was invited to the [DREAM] one. But I don't have the desire to go that much anymore lately, because I'm tired (bitter laugh). I still watch it on TV sometimes, though.
I: Do you have favorite fighter(s) now?

K: Probably Shinoda. (continued to the next page)

Page 4

[Fuuma no Kojirou] released by [Shounen Jump] from 1982-1983. After that, in 2007, it became TV dorama.

K: (cont'd) Because he's cute!

I: Cute, eh? (laugh)

K: Let's say he's naturally cute. There's no other intention.

I: You don't want to sound awkward, right?

K: Right, right. It's cute in the eyes of men (laugh)

I: Sensei, in your manga, there are a lot of male characters with chivalrous spirit, is this the kind of fighter you (personally) like?

K: Now that you mention it, you're right. But it can't be helped. I spend a lot of time with wrestlers, so like it or not, I've got to be influenced by them.  But that's how most boys think, right? It's like a wrestler who was planning to quit but changed his mind. For me, man who can say, "I will still go even if I have to see a devil," is the one who can protect his family.

I: To protect his family, eh?

K: Yes. Don't you think it's the true man's trait? Of course, there are guys who prefer to walk on their own path, but it's because they don't have family, isn't it? (laugh)

I: Indeed (laugh)

K: These two types of guy are absolutely different, but they're still a true man. They're both cool in their own way. That's why I wanted to give both the same spotlight.
The big bold sentence on the right: Nobody has guessed that [Ring ni Kakero] is about boxing, right? (laugh)

I: Well, I'd like to hear about all manga you have produced, sensei, but to keep up with our theme today - "fighting manga," why don't we start with [Ring ni Kakero]?

K: Well, speaking of "fighting manga," when I made [Ring ni Kakero], I didn't actually go to gym that much or was attracted to the boxing itself. Especially in the case of [Ring Kake], it's not good if we were too bound by the rules.

I: Hooo~ You were not absorbed, but you could keep up with the manga. In a sense, you have pioneered a new genre "SF boxing manga," don't you think? (SF= Sci-Fi)

K: Right, right... eh? SF, you say? (laugh) When we talk about true boxing manga, there were [Ashita no Jo] and [Ganbare Genki]. But it can't be helped if I made the same kind of manga, right? The publisher "Shounen Jump' said that it'd be great if I could make a manga that I enjoy, but since the beginning, I had drawn the manga seriously.

I: But boxing itself is a strict world, right?

K: Yes. I read a lot of books about Mohammad Ali, a former American boxer. He really developed his popularity. From that, I started to separate "manga" from "pleasure." If I didn't do it, the Galactica Magnum would not have been created now, would it? (laugh)

I: You just screamed the movement, did you plan on throwing me to the air? (laugh)

K: That's why, if I made a real boxing manga, [Ring Kake] wouldn't have been created, right?

I: Well, I'd like to congratulate you first for making [Ring Kake] into a big hit, but I wonder, how did you come up with the naming for the manga?
K: A lot of brainstorming for sure. Even in my sleep, I was thinking and I was thinking about it, and frankly, boxing movements kept popping out in my head. But nobody has guessed that this manga is about boxing, right? (laugh)

I: Probably not (laugh). Anyway, sensei, was it easy for you to decide which combat scene you wanted to draw for the manga?

K: Well, I was thinking of a good number of themes, such as sumo or pro wrestling, but in the end, boxing was the smartest choice. However, there was time when I wanted to make a manga about pro wrestling, just like the women pro wresling in [Ashita no Jo].

I: Women pro wrestling in [Ashita no Jo]!?

K: Why not? I think we can make a popular manga with the women pro wrestling theme, as long as we make it fashionable and attractive. For example, there is a pro female wrestler who gets killed by her opponent in the ring. (to be continued)

Page 5

 Kurumada Masami / Shueisha.
The line underneath the photograph: Look! One of Takane Ryuuji's attacks, "Winning the Rainbow". He slightly disappeared into Japan flag. You can enjoy this kind of fantasy in the manga created by Kurumada.

K: (cont'd) Then, her earnest nerdy younger sister determines to be a pro wrestler to revenge her sister's opponent.  What do you think? Isn't it interesting? Don't you want to publish it, Kamipro? At the same time, I can imagine the face of the person in charge at the Shounen Champion publisher, saying "Ah, don't read this" (laugh)

I: Ahahaha! Uhm, Kurumada-sensei, when you made [Ring Kake], at the same time, [Saint Seiya] had become a big hit, right? Were you really busy at that time?

K: I was really really busy once I started making [Seiya]! As a mangaka, when your manga has become popular, you will have to make all-color pages for the magazine publication. Once, Shounen Jump asked me to make a cover page for "Seiya", so I had to draw about 20 colored pages. At the same time, I also had to make about 30-40 pages long chapter.

I: Uwaaa~ What gave you a motivation to do it at that time?

K: My senior told me, "Once you reach the top, manga will become your body and soul." That's what have kept me going until now. On top of it, anytime I remember "Ring Kake," "Kojirou," and "Seiya," I always say to myself, "I have reached that point." For that reason, I have never felt cold toward my job. Instead, it has always burned my motivation. Well, I wish I could say that now. After all, I'm not young anymore, so when I'm tired, I'm tired (laugh). Anyhow, I certainly don't want to stress out over my job just because of my age, but I have to admit that it's difficult.

I: Today, [Seiya] is not just a manga, but it has become an anime and stage performance as well. How do you feel about that, Kurumada-sensei?

K: On the positive side, I was happy, but there was a negative part too. First thing first, what made me happy was publicity. Because thanks to that, even those who had not read my manga until then would eventually know about it once it became an anime and a movie. Regarding this, my senior once said, "When your manga becomes an anime, your daughter will then be a bride and leave your house."
The big bold sentence on the left: He said that when [Saint Seiya] was published, it had become my body and soul

I: He incorporated a bride in his manga

K: Yes. I also ask myself, "Have I made this important?", "Was it weird?" or something like that. Sometimes, we don't like to say it, but you say it a lot anyway (laugh)

I: It's complicated, isn't it? (laugh) Anyway, Kurumada-sensei, in your manga, you draw a lot of strong and earnest male characters, but you also draw beautiful ones. Thanks to that, you've gotten yourself a lot of support from female fans too, right?

K: No, actually, it was not my intention to always draw a strong and earnest male character. It just happened. Well, I like Motomiya Hiroshi-sensei's work, so I often thought, "I want to make that kind of manga too." Actually, I had never thought to be a manga artist until I read Motomiya-sensei's work and I certainly never thought that it would really happen.  But speaking of manga artist, I once thought that it would be nice if I could be like Tezuka Osamu-sensei, a manga artist who also earned a doctor's degree, who read a lot of difficult books and became smart.

I: Kurumada-sensei, do you like sports? It looks like you have some experience in judo.

K: Not at all. It's true that I like judo, but it doesn't mean I love it. In short, I only did it half-way (laugh). Then, I found Motomiya-sensei's work [Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daishou] and it changed my life. Before this manga, there had been none like this. The main character was not a hero, but one who loves to fight.

I: Up 'til then, boy manga were pretty much the same, right?

K: The martial art manga also gave us a significant meaning, don't you think? "Power is everything," or something like that.

I: By the way, Kurumada-sensei, were you naughty when you were young?

K: Well, I can't say that I was a good student, but I don't think I was that naughty. At least I never gave problem to other people, and instead of fighting, I had always been a supporter. Though I didn't always become a supporter (laugh).

I: I never thought of that (laugh)

K: Anyway, a biker-gang had started to come out in the generation after ours, right? I have to say that I do ride a motorcycle, but I don't ride it with a "gang". Come to think of it, I always rode my bike to school, stopped at the school gate, and went directly to mahjong club (laugh).

I: And you skipped class, didn't you? (laugh)

K: I always went to the club with my friend. When I turned 15, I always reminded myself, "Ah, it's club time," and eventually came back to school. I don't know why, but I could only be serious with the club activity. I could only be earnest during that period.

I: What about your study?

K: About that, there was a moment when I got a higher than average grade, but there was also a moment  (to be continued)

Page 6

Currently published work [Saint Seiya NEXT DIMENSION], released by [Weekly Shounen Jump]. [Saint Seiya] has been around for more than 20 years and has gotten itself various readers from all around the world and has become very popular.

K: (cont'd) when the teacher told me, "Aa, thank goodness you showed up today, Kurumada. If you didn't, you would have to repeat the same class." Somehow, I managed to graduate, but in summer of my 3rd year of high school, I found out that the manga I submitted to "Jump" won a prize. After that, I was told by the editorial department, "If you're still learning how to draw manga, you can be an assistant first." So I became an assistant for Inoue Koo-san, who at the moment drew a manga called [Samurai Giants] for about 1-2 years. During that time, I also made a manga of my own and it became my debut.

I: It was [Sukeban Arashi], wasn't it?

K: Yes, yes. There was a week when this work was able to earn the first rank on the reader's poll. I felt like I was KOed, but winning at the same time. But it doesn't mean that everything went smooth. After that, I was defeated again and again. There was a year blank between the time when my debut work was over and [Ring Kake] was published. During that time, I read a lot of uncanny books that I had never read before (laugh).
I: What kind of books were those?

K: History books, such as Yoshimochi Eiji or Kaionji Chougorou. Everything I read was useful for the development of my characters, so I was grateful. They really helped me as a manga artist. Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, Ieyasu, Masamune... In my work [Ring Kake] too, there were a lot of historical names, right? I used Kawai Bushi and Kawai Tsuginosuke as the model after all.

I: In [Seiya] case, it's based on mythology, isn't it?

K: Uhm, now that I think about it, I had 2 transition periods. The first one was between [Sukeban Arashi] and [Ring Kake], 1 year. After that, I drew another manga, [Fuuma no Kojirou] that had become a hit too. When it was over, I drew [Otokozaka], but that one was not pretty. After that, I was thinking, "What should I draw next?" I was troubled. It was that time before [Seiya] was published a year later that I took another break. That was my second transition period. During that time, I didn't read history books. Instead, I read essays about constellation. I never thought that it would be my specialty, but I kept reading them. No matter how you want to say it, it sounds so elegant, doesn't it? (laugh).

I: Indeed.

K: In the beginning, I had no interest in constellation whatsoever. I also hated horoscopes. "It was just a pack of lies" (laugh).

I: Ahahahaha!

K: At that time, I read books about 12 constellations, 88 constellations, and Greek mythology. And I thought, "Why don't I use this idea for the next manga?"

I: I learned a lot about constellations and mythology when I read [Seiya] too (laugh).

K: A lot of people said the same thing (laugh). That's why for me, that transition time meant a lot. I really do think that it is when we fall down the most that we can jump the highest. And I'm not just talking about us, manga artists. I think the same point of view works for fighters and salary men too. As a living thing, we have to face difficulties for sure, but it's during this time that we should be encouraged and think the way out, right? (laugh).

I: Sensei sure has the power to persuade people (laugh). But seriously, being a manga artist is not easy, right? You're always followed by hardships like a mother who gives birth to a child.

K: Manga production makes you tired physically and mentally, but as a pro, I'm still fighting until now (laugh). If you can't produce at least one famous title, you will hear people saying, "that guy is done for." This is the kind of world we're living in (as a manga artist). And I am able to walk on this path for more than 35 years. This is what makes us different from the salary man. Every day and every moment, we are fighting a battle. But if we did a good job, we'll get a job from everywhere. For example, I was asked to do a poster for the Hollywood movie [The Fight of the Titan] recently.

I: In every station, anytime you are surrounded by a big poster, it will become your main topic, right?

K: The supervisor, a French named Louis Lutterie was actually a big fan of [Seiya], I got the request from the distributor company, Warner.

I: Sensei's works are not only popular in Japan. People from around the world love them too. How do you feel about it?

K: Honestly, nothing comes to mind. Because a manga artist is not a job where you can rely on your fans' support alone. For example, a week after [Shounen Champion] was published, you can find the translated pirated edition on [YouTube]. Seeing that, you can't help but thinking, "So there's a fan everywhere who will do this far."

I: Have you ever received a present from those crazy fans?

K: Well, once, when I stopped writing for [Otokozaka], I received a letter written in blood, "Why did you stop writing this?" Looking at it, I couldn't help but thinking, "It's not me who wanted to stop writing, but I was forced to stop it." (laugh)

I: What a fan, wasn't he? (laugh) But sensei, you wrote a hot message with the topic [Kurumada sayings] on [Don't talk about life] too, didn't you?

K: Is that so? (laugh) Ah, that line... it often became a topic of people from old times. Anyway, I was raised in downtown Tsukishima, and there were a lot of heroic type of people over there. That's why they often bursted out such heroic lines too. For example, a wife might ask her husband, (to be continued)

Page 7

Kurumada Masami. Born on December 6, 1953 in Tokyo. In 1973, he started his debut in [Weekly Shounen Jump]. He keeps producing hit after hit, [Ring ni Kakero], [Fuuma no Kojirou], and [Saint Seiya] are just to name a few. Currently, he's working on the all color series of the sequel of [Saint Seiya], [Saint Seiya NEXT DIMENSION], published by [Weekly Shounen Champion].

K: (cont'd) "Papa, will you come home late or early today?" and the husband would response, "How do I know? Once a man steps out the door, he will face 7 foes," or something like that (laugh).

I: Ahaha! It's like a scene from a movie, isn't it? (laugh).

K: For those who live in downtown Tsukishima and still have a feeling left, they will use this kind of line regularly. But today's salary man will never talk that way, will they? (laugh). Anyway, even the editors, anytime they leave Kurumada Pro and return to their office, they way they speak has changed. They will speak as if they're acting, it's really weird. Some people will comment, "That guy, he just came back from Kurumada-sensei's place and got influenced," (laugh).

I: The power of influence, isn't it? (laugh)

K: Hahahaha. That's why I plan to use this power of influence in my manga too. For example, once upon a time, those who watched a movie about yakuza and got influenced would walk with their shoulder straight like they were going to cut through the wind (laugh). Movies sure have that kind of power to influence others, don't they? It would be best if we could do the same with the manga we draw.

I: Kurumada-sensei, you often incorporate fighting scenes in your manga. Do you want to comment on that?

K: That's right... My pleasure from when I was little until now, I don't think it's changed that much. Back then, I really liked to go to a rental library. At that time, the price for the newest publication was just 5 yen. When I was going to rent something, I found a comic strip written by Tezuka Osamu-sensei. Up 'til then, I had read a number of Tezuka Osamu-sensei's manga, but I still couldn't help but thinking that the comic strip he made was adult-like and it was cool. An artist who could make such a cool manga must have been cool too. That's why by making fighting scenes, I'm trying to make sure that the author stands out along with the picture he draws.

The big bold sentence on the left: These days, manga has become digital. But it doesn't change what we can do

I: The reality is important, you say?

K: Yes, yes. Of course, in terms of composition, it's not easy to draw fighting scenes. You need to decide what kind of pose you want to draw when your character is about to hit someone. Think about it, in action movies, if the guy who kills someone is cool, the murder scene itself has become cool too, right? Well, I can say this kind of thing, but in reality... I don't read too many manga, so I don't really understand either (laugh).

I: Haven't you read fighting manga lately?

K: No, I haven't. In the past, I read manga by Motomiya-sensei and Kashihara Ikki-sensei. But I was just in my 20s then. I was worried if I read the same genre of manga, I would have copied them instead. That's why I'd rather read novels or essays. But it can't be helped if we take manga from a manga.

I: What do you mean?

K: Once, there was a young manga artist who read another manga artist's work and took the content of the manga. In the end a manga that is taken from another manga is like a joke. Because it feels like you listen to someone else's lie and then you lie to other people. But if for example, you take a real history as the content. History is real, but manga is fake. That's why it's important if you can make it cool. But speaking of reality, it's not that useful either. No matter how many books I read, in the end, I didn't use much of them.

I: Indeed. Well, sensei, regarding manga tradition, what do you think the future of manga will be?

K: Well, for sure, the shape of manga will gradually change. Because for the past 10 years, it has already changed so much. Considering what an iPad can do, I wonder if the era of paper will change. But this is an era when a manga artist has to distribute their own work.

I: Sato Shuho-sensei, the author of [Black Jack ni Yoroshiku] too, said that he would announce his new publication via Internet.

K: That's right. The manga world has changed so much, I wonder what will become of me in the future, I'd like to know (laugh).

I: The master himself would like to know, eh? (laugh)

K: Well, because all I can do is primitive thing, such as drawing on a paper with a pen. Even though they have introduced the system of digital manga, for me, the basic will never change. Therefore, even though publishers, bookstores, and the world change, as a manga artist,  the only thing we can do is grab a pencil, get an idea, and execute it on the paper.

I: The basic will never change, won't it?

K: Of course, the number of manga artist who use digital has increased. But in the end, as a human being, the idea that we come up with is the most important thing. As for me, I'm an old school manga artist, so from now on too, I don't think I'll be using those digital machines. I'm just going to keep drawing interesting manga... What do you think about this? (laugh)

I: I've learned a lot today, thank you so much for this precious interview!

Interview done on May 24th at the Yokohama landmark studio.

I hope you like it.


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Re: Masami Kurumada's Interview in Kamipro magazine 2010
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2013, 07:29:35 PM »
 "Well, once, when I stopped writing for [Otokozaka], I received a letter written in blood, "Why did you stop writing this?" Looking at it, I couldn't help but thinking, "It's not me who wanted to stop writing, but I was forced to stop it." (laugh)"



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Re: Masami Kurumada's Interview in Kamipro magazine 2010
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2013, 10:03:03 PM »
"Well, once, when I stopped writing for [Otokozaka], I received a letter written in blood, "Why did you stop writing this?" Looking at it, I couldn't help but thinking, "It's not me who wanted to stop writing, but I was forced to stop it." (laugh)"


He got my letter!! LOL


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Re: Masami Kurumada's Interview in Kamipro magazine 2010
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2013, 04:52:28 PM »
I love some manga, but I don't think I'd ever send the mangaka a letter in blood...