Manga Artist Interview: Seiichi Ikeuchi
This month, we are interviewing Seiichi Ikeuchi through Seijin Yamaguchiâs introduction. His has many golf manga serialized in various golf magazines.
Your home town is?
Toru-shi, Yamazakike, close to Fujigoko. There you can see the beautiful Mt. Fuji, and the air is delicious.
Have you been writing since you were small?
Iâve always loved manga and read a lot of different varieties of it. I doodled with a pencil when I was in elementary school, but didn't start to use a pen and get serious until I was in middle school.
What type of manga did you like?
I liked Shotaro Ishimori's, and read his manga a lot.
Around 6th grade, there was a manga style called "gekiga" coined by Takao Saito, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and so forth. I was hooked on the realistic drawing style. It was as if a fiery urge to create realistic manga took hold of my young heart. From then on, I actively copied Saitou-sensei's drawing style in stories such as "Typhoon Goro". Later I became even more hooked on "gekiga". It seemed like there was nothing for it but to become a mangaka.
And so you contributed to a magazine?
Yes, that's right.
I wrote something and sent it to a publisher. I was still inexperienced, but had already decided to become a mangaka. I thought rather than waiting, it would be faster to go directly to the publisher and get feedback. Because of that, I went to high school in Tokyo. Then I started entering contests, but I had a hard time winning a place. Because I had confidence that my stories were better than the others that won, I was worried and thought, "why can't I get in when I'm trying so hard?" Around high school graduation, I was told by one of the magazine's department editors that "it's better to start as an assistant and train rather than trying to become a mangaka right away." That was how I was introduced to Shirato Sanbei-sensei's workplace.
How was working as Shirato-sensei's assistant?
To me, Shirato Sanbei-sensei is a great mangaka, so I had no complaints. As soon as I contacted him, he said, "I did put out advertisement which has been filled, but come anyway," and he took care of me. I was extremely happy. Shirato-sensei was working on "Watari" at the time, and for our generation, "Ninja Bugeichou" was like our Bible. Just to be able to see his private manuscripts up close made me happy. My job was to do the finishing touches, but everyday was a learning experience for me. I was his assistant for only a year, and I wasn't of much use, but for me, seeing how manga is made, the stances and so on, it was extremely educational.
When was your debut?
Even after I became Shirato-sensei's assistant, I had a strong desire to soon become a mangaka, so I continued writing manuscripts. I won the Kodansha Shinjin Mangashou (Newcomer Manga Award), and debuted in Gekkan Shounen Magazine. My style was still rough, but it seems I was chosen for potential. I was able to continue trying because of the contact with Shirato-sensei's works, and I think it was my source of energy.
You have been creating golf manga for many years, when did you start?
I started creating golf manga when I was around 35, so it has been more than 20 years now...Until then, I was making animal stories and gag manga for school-aged magazines. Because of special circumstances with the publisher, I was asked: "Why don't you try writing a golf lesson manga?" Since I was also playing golf as a hobby back then, I craeted the manga as an extension of that hobby. Now there are many golf manga, but back then there were few people seriously writing about it, so it was difficult but interesting to create it.
What is the most difficult thing about drawing a golf manga?
I think it must be communicating the techniques to the readers through the manga...People who read golf magazines know the sport quite well. To put that into a manga, you have to include people's emotions and personalities, while also expressing the drama and techniques. Also, if the pictures don't show the true forms, it doesn't seem real. The reader can see when "the golf in this manga is done correctly," so you can't draw haphazardly.
What's important when you're creating a story?
I believe it's having already thought about golf. What is golf?...that kind of thing. It is a deep subject. Lies will not hold in the golf world.
So you can't be less devoted to it than your readers, you can't treat it as a part-time job. If a person that doesn't have dog writes a manga about dogs, someone who does own a dog will soon be able to tell that the story is false. As a golf mangaka, I think that searching deeply is important.
Is there a manga you'd like to write in the future?
I think it will naturally become a golf manga. When you hear Mizushima Shinji-sensei, you think of baseball manga right? Perhaps my true desire is for people to think of "Ikeuchi Seiichi" when they hear of golf manga. ...But I have something I'd somewhat like to write. Because I worked on animal manga a long time ago, I have some desire to write more of that. In bookstores, animal books catch my eye.
So, in closing, what message do you have for aspiring mangakas?
Get as much experience as possible through reading and trying out things. Please find your own "theme".
Thank you very much. Please introduce us to another mangaka.
I will introduce Uchiyama Mamoru-sensei, distinguished for his wonderful drawing and way of showing things.
1st Part translated by Koling