Ask Boichi about Manga 8 – Anatomy and Characters

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Anatomy and Characters

Greetings Boichi-sensei,

I’m a big fan of your art style. Whenever I’m reading one of your manga or find any of your artworks it almost feels like I’m looking at a photograph. I would like to know the method behind such level of realism in your depiction of human anatomy.

This also leads to my second question: I’ve noticed a pattern in the depiction of male and female characters that usually ends up with the buff looking male hero / frail sexy girl combo. I have nothing against that because I love your designs but I’ve always wondered if there is any chance we might see some variety added into that mix.

For example: A slimmer looking male hero (a la Death Note’s Yagami Light, Evangelion’s Ikari Shinji or Rurouni Kenshin’s Himura Kenshin) or a still sexy but physically strong looking female lead (a la Shadow Skill’s Elle Ragu, Street Fighter’s Cammy or Jormungand’s Valmet).
Would be really nice to know your perspective about this. Congrats once again for your awesome work and thanks in advance. Alonso Sáenz Sialer

Dear Diego,
Hello and thank you very much for such a good question and your advice.

First of all, to answer you about how to draw a human body…
Hmm… I wonder, I really want to know how to draw them well for manga.
I never thought that I would be drawing a good human body in my life.
There are lots of great mangakas who can draw more amazing human body than me in the Japanese manga cycle.
Therefore, I can’t give you any advice on how to draw good human body for manga but I will answer your question by sharing how I studied human anatomy.

I had never read Japanese manga until I was 16 so I could not find a clear way.
So I had to find my own way of studying how to draw characters and human bodies.

I bought some books about human anatomy in a bookstore and read, studied and copied the pictures from the books.
And I collected photos.
The first pictures I collected were images of Sophie Marceau.
They were to be used as practice for drawing female characters.

I collected and drew images of men only way later. (XD)

At the age of 17, I started to study human anatomy more seriously.
And when I was 20 years old, I took pictures from magazines and classified them in my personal file folders. I called it “X-box”.

I used to take pictures of models and then started to draw, but when I began to work on Sun-Ken Rock, I only took pictures once I was done with my thumbnail drawings.

Photography is very useful to drawing but it can also be a dangerous way to increase your drawing sense for manga.

I received this advice from my respectable mentor, the mangaka King Gonta-sensei (the creator of Sōten Kōro, also known as Beyond the Heavens).
When I first heard his advice, I didn’t follow it right away.
But I waited for the day when I’d stop shooting pictures.
After 4 years, I stopped taking pictures from models and began to draw the human body more freely minded.

So these are the steps of how I studied human body, coming from my experience:

  1. Study and copy from books about how to draw human body.
  2. Collect images from actress I love and draw them.
  3. Study human anatomy.
  4. Create my personal pose collection and classified them.
  5. Learn photography and take pictures of human poses (and draw them).
  6. Draw human bodies and poses freely.

I don’t know if this is good for you, but I hope that will be useful as reference.

Thank you very much for your advice on the uses and roles of female characters in my works.
If you feel there is a problem or are upset about this in my works, I’m really sorry.
In fact, I’m still a humble mangaka and I know that I still have a lot of improvements to make. I’ll try harder to meet the expectations of my fans.
I promise to create my works more carefully.

With this promise, I’d like to tell you two things about my creative career.

First, I started my career as a shoujo mangaka and have worked in Korea’s Shoujo manga cycle for 10 years.
I’ve always respected and loved female creators as I do their works.

When I ended my career as a shoujo mangaka, I promised to myself that I’ll forever keep the precious values I learnt from the shoujo manga cycle.
And I will apply what I didn’t do from their cycle to the next step.

The works I’m working on today are mostly men’s “fantasy”.
It’s a world of fantasy and desire like any other fantasy world, and I draw this fantasy world for male readers.
It’s a fantasy and dream world for men to have.
Boys always want to be strong, meet and date with beautiful and sexy girls, and want to look great for them.
They want to defeat their strong enemies and become a defender of great value.
It’s the world where men want to feel and enjoy their desires.

And now we’re living in a period where I can fully express my freedom of speech.

I love the Japanese manga cycle that allows me to express my freedom freely, and I’m also very sad to see it slowly disappearing.

The merit of manga is that we can stick to specific desires.
For example, girls’ fantasy world called BL(Boys’ Love) and Yaoi manga.
Of course, manga or films makes things more complicated when they go commercial.

Next, I have the belief that a world that recognizes (respect) differences between female’s and male’s preference is better than the world that ignores in contempt those differences between genders.

Now, I am creating within the world of men’s desires after ten years of experience drawing women’s desires.

However, I always encourage women’s desires to explode in the creative world, especially in manga.

I don’t want female readers to consider men’s view when they are enjoying BL or whatever they love to enjoy.

“Don’t worry about us(men) when you read BL and Yaoi manga. I know that it is your fantasy. Enjoy it as you want!”
I believe this respect is what we need today.

Once my assistant who loves reading BL and Yaoi manga wanted to buy a gay porno video and I helped her to purchase it, and we watched it together…(…)…
Cool, uh?

And I need to tell you that I have been involved in creating a BL work once.
I was working in Shoujo manga in Korea and I was so excited to draw about the world of BL!!!
The best way for a mangaka to defend something is to draw it.

I believe that is always good for everyone to explore their desires in manga.

Obviously when I look at the role of female characters in my works, it’s definitely the male characters who lead the story nowadays.

However, in my works, the final winner (the last man standing) or the strongest character is often a female character.

Yumin is the person who eventually win over all the others in Sun-Ken Rock.
And in the Story of H.E the Hunt for Energy, Hirosue Miyuki establishes the AEE company and saves the world from the energy crisis.

She is also appearing in Origin‘s story on which I’m working right now and she became the most influential person on the planet.

It’s a normal thing.
Since I started working as a shoujo mangaka in Korea in my 20s and 30s, the mangakas I followed and admired were all female artists.

I know how they became great artist and how they stand in that position.
For that reason, the strongest characters in my creative world is often the female characters.
Although, it doesn’t mean that my works aren’t currently for boys’ fantasy.
Once again I promise I will carefully draw about the role the female characters in my works.
I promise!

– Boichi

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