Manga Artist Interview: Hikaru Sato
An interview with Hikaru Sato, whose manga Edomae no Shun is currently serialized in Weekly Manga Goraku:
This month, through writer Yoshihiro Takahashi's introduction, we interviewed Hikaru Sato. He is currently writing a long series called "Edomae no Shun", the theme of which is based on heart-warming sushi and humanity. It is currently published in Weekly Manga Goraku.
Where did you grow up?
Matsuzen, Hokkaido. I grew up in a fishing village.
How did you start drawing manga?
When I was in middle school I used to read "Circuit of Wolf" by Satoshi Ikesawa and Akio Chiba's "Captain". I was so touched by "Captain" one time that I started to cry. I was thinking, "One can be so moved by manga", and wanted to write manga myself. I started to draw manga until late at night.
I really liked Tokuhaka Nakashima's "Shoutaroden" in 'Shonen Jump' at that time and used it a lot as a reference. I also sent him a lot of fan letters and my manga. Of course, my manga wasn't any good so I didn't get any responses. However, a few years later when I became his assistant, he remembered me. I was touched.
How did you become an assistant?
I wanted to become a mangaka as soon as I graduated from high school, but I didn't know how. I was supposed to work for a publishing company in Tokyo after graduation. Mr. Nakashima's editor noticed the manga I had sent to Mr. Nakashima in the past, and he put a few words in for me. I cancelled the job at the publisher's and interned at Mr. Nakashima's. I was very grateful to be able to work under Mr. Nakashima.
Was Mr. Nakashima tough?
As soon as I joined him, he told me to draw in colors. I was surprised because I didn't know anything about how to draw manga. I thought they used both sides of the papers. When I started, he even told me to start from very beginning, but I didn't know how. I studied really hard. He let me draw pretty freely on my own. I think that he was trying to teach me self-discipline and self-improvement.
"Finish the draft fast, the deadline is a high priority" is one of the lessons I learned from Mr. Nakashima.
When was your debut?
I went to Mr. Nakashima when I was 18 and debuted when I was 20 through Shonen Jump mazagine.
When I went into the manga industry I had a goal, which was, "Instead of entering a bunch of publishers' competitions, learn solid techniques from my favorite author and debut in 2 years." So, as I finished with my assistant work, I worked on my own materials and submitted them to the editors. Then, I was announced in my debut as "The new star who will shake everyone's soul this year!" It was publicized elaborately, but only lasted for 6 months. I wasn't good enough.
Was that the hardest period you had?
Looking back, I think it might have been. I was afraid that I would no longer write. In fact, I didn't have any work after that.
I was wondering what to do next and then I had a chance meeting with a colleague from "Shonen Magazine". He invited me to "a get-together", so I took a draft I was working on. The editor asked me if Iâd be interested in writing about golfing with a different angle from "Ashita tenki ni naare" by Tetsuya Chiba. I was able to get a series. I was lucky because it was on weekly "Shonen Mazagine".
But it was a short series and finished after 6 month with 2 volumes.
As you work on your manga, what do you keep in mind?
Fortunately, "Edomae no shun" is doing so well. This is the 8th year. I didnât think itâd last so long.
Each work I do, I try not to stray away from the original. This magazine is geared toward adults, so I try to convey some sort of warmth to my readers. Sometimes I feel like doing comedic work, but I don't because my readers might not get it.
The theme is "sushi", so I want readers to feel that purpose. How can I make them want to eat sushi? Can they imagine the taste? If the readers get the urge to eat sushi after they read my work, that will be awesome.
My work is a short story style, so I try to put together themes that readers want to read every week.
Also, this may be just professional pride, but I trained myself to "just keep working." You lose your skill if you don't work. You need to keep going in this line of work.
You let down your readers if you stop, and you need to put in your heart and continue working. I feel that manga is really for kids and it is something you continue to enjoy from your childhood. So, I don't want to fake it or be mediocre.
That's the way professionals should be.
What will be your future theme?
I grew up in a fishing village and love fishing, so I want to try a fishing manga like "Tsurikichi sanpei". A theme like "Maguro no iponzuri"'s. Fishing has a lot of romance.
Message to aspiring Mangaka?
It may be tough now, but hang in there and you'll be smiling in the future.
Please introduce our next mangaka to be interviewed.
Shoujin Yamaguchi. His new series, "Shura ga yuku", is well-anticipated.
Translated by Kohling