Naoki Urasawa Talks about Manga and Professionalism
NHK's latest "Professional: Styles of Work" series featured Naoki Urasawa, mangaka of Monster and 20th Century Boys. In the article, Urasawa talks about what professionalism means to him: "Professional is...the fact that there is a deadline, and the people who do their best until that deadline."
Humans are Complicated
Naoki Urasawa is one of today's "superstar mangaka," his works have sold over a 100 million copies. One of the reason Urasawa's manga attracts so many fans is due to his manga character's expressions. Urasawa could express deep emotions with a simple touch of his pen:
Occasionally Urasawa even places his character in front of a mirror to inspect his own artworks.
My Own Mind is My Enemy
Urasawa has a tough schedule. He is creating two titles at the same time (20th Century Boys and Pluto), and deadlines come five times a month. When creating manga, Urasawa begins his routine with a discussion with Shoji Nagasaki, a manga editor and Urasawa's partner during his debut. Urasawa's unique stories come from his meetings with Nagasaki, during which they both come up with and discuss new ideas.
After the storyline has been decided, Urasawa would create the storyboard. Urasawa first places the frames on a paper, then he would draw the rough outlines and insert the texts. Making storyboards tests the ability of a manga creator, and Urasawa is usually exhausted after doing so. According to Urasawa, good work exhausts people. Urasawa's harshest reader is himself. By criticizing himself, he struggles to create the best work.
All is for Manga Creation
When the storyboard is completed, Urasawa sends it to Nagasaki and they have one final discussion. Afterwards Urasawa works to finish the script with his assistants. There won't be much time left, but Urasawa cares more about the details of his characters. Moreover, Urasawa would even rewrite the scripts if necessary.
One time, despite the deadline being within 30 hours, Nagasaki called Urasawa and suggested to him to redraw a page. Urasawa listened to Nagasaki's suggestion and redrew the finished page.
Despite his position as the one of the best manga creators, Urasawa respects the advice from others:
Doing as I Want
Urasawa has two heroes in his life. One is Osamu Tezuka, the other is Bob Dylan. When Urasawa was a middle school student, he read Tezuka's Hinotori (Phoenix), and was impressed by the infinite possibilities of manga. For Urasawa, Tezuka is the highest peak that he is climbing toward.
Urasawa was also a "rock kid" and adored Bob Dylan's way of life. Bob did not stop singing even when fans criticized his songs.
Now, Urasawa is facing the challenge of creating the final chapter of his hit title 20th Century Boys. Urasawa is considering how to meet the expectations from the readers and stay true to the arts that he himself wants to see completed. Urasawa is creating manga under the demands of his readers and himself.