[Journal du Japon] Meeting with the incredible Boichi, a man of passion!

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Boichi interviewed by Journal du Japon at Japan Expo 2015

This interview was first published in french on Journal du Japon’s website on July 14th and collected by Paul Ozouf.

Journal du Japon is a french website about Japan’s culture. It covers everything related to the country of the rising sun’s culture and contain a great deal of interviews, news and quality reviews from which Boichi can be found (for the 2nd time)

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 Every french manga reader know Boichi, directly or indirectly, be it through his flagship title Sun-Ken Rock of thanks to one of his five other manga published in France. Those who know him a bit better know that he is a korean author who’s been working in Japan for years, that he draws gorgeous women, mainly seinen and that he loves Sci-Fi and Fantasy… But what else?

In July, this 42 years old author opened himself to his french editor Doki-Doki for Sun-Ken Rock’s artbook as well as for our record to celebrate his visit at the Japan Expo 2015. The perfect opportunity for us to rediscover him, his career, his passion for his work, his ideas and especially his unfailing humour. A most eccentric meeting, judge by yourself…

Boichi and women

Journal du Japon: Hello mister Boichi… If we look over your career, your first steps are quite surprising : you are a Sci-Fi fan who begins with story for young girls, what’s more for 10 years!

Boichi: Since very young I’ve always wanted to be mangaka (he started to draw at 2 years old and never stopped since then), especially for Sci-Fi (he even studied physics), and I’ve always worked hard to reach that goal. But one day, while I was in senior year, my sister brought me a magazine full of manwhas for young girls. Inside it was a manwha titled Lavy and Police that piqued my curiosity. I then trained myself to draw that kind of title for young girls. I regularly sent my drawing to that same magazine and faced several rejections but after 2 years, I was finally able to make my debut in that mag.

But at the time, my colleagues from that mag already knew that I would draw manga with some butts. (Laughs)

Oh, while we’re on the subject of women, how do you do to draw such gorgeous women? I was lead to believe that Sophie Marceau isn’t a stranger to it.

Thank you for the compliment, but I still have too many flaws, it’s far from perfect and I need to persevere in my efforts. I’ll do my utmost to draw the most beautiful women ever for the french fans! But you’re right, when I was in tenth grade, I didn’t have much opportunities to draw women and I needed a female model. That’s when I saw the movie L’étudianteand Sophie Marceau that I told to myself it was what I wanted to draw, that face and look.

Yumin, SKR’s female lead shows some bits of Sophie Marceau in volume 14! © BOICHI

That said, the young girls I draw today no longer really look like today’s Sophie Marceau. I believe that…

Boichi turns toward the female editor that accompanied us for the meeting.

If I had met this miss at the time, I might have not chosen Sophie Marceau. (Laughter of the whole audience, as for the editor, she turned bright red…)

I was able to witness the beauty of french women, and even more of my female fans, so I’ll try to live up to their gorgeousness! (Laughs)

Liberty, pantsu and irony…

Let’s go back to your career and more serious issues. In 1996 and 1997 you fought against the Juvenile Protection Act in South Korea that aimed to censor many works of literature and especially a most of adults manwha. And that turned against you, going as far as forcing you to leave your country to pursue your career in Japan in 2003. Over ten years later, what are your thoughts over that time, over your choices and the development of manwha in South Korea?

Korean manwha, I’m forced to love it, it’s an eternal love because it’s with it that I was born. Sadly the law you mentioned destroyed many liberties and if we remove those liberties, the manwha cease to exist. This lead to lots of unemployment, many magazines closed and most of the manwhaga I know – whom many are more talented than me – are actually without a work or live in poverty, most often from another work… Without doing what they really love.

An artist’s liberty is everything, it’s like an heartbeat. Without liberty we lose everything, it’s the core of manwha. That’s also why I express my encouragements to all those who fights for their liberty and I know that in France you lead many fights to preserve them. That might also be why your art is so beautiful. (Boichi also reacted with the following calligraphy to January’s terrorist act in Paris. More informations here)

And by the way, I also continue to fight for liberties in Japan…

Related to censoring?

Actually it’s related to my editor mister Sumi over here. He doesn’t like to see too many panties in my works!

Laughs of the audience, we turn to the editor to ask…

No pantsu?

Mister Sumi (harboring a stern false air of authority): NO PANTSU!

Boichi: Buuuuut!

Mister Sumi: No means no!

General laughter of the audience in front of this duo author-editor, then Boichi turns back to us…

Boichi: So, as you see, I have to fight for my liberty every day, it’s essential so I can draw more panties! (Laughs)

In another interview realized at a festival in Italy by our colleagues from Coyote Mag, you said that you aim to put three things in your works: force, emotion and irony. So force and emotion, we can easily understand by reading your manga, but what about irony?

I said this? Damn, I really don’t see why I’d have talked about irony! I really wonder what I meant to say…

Boichi unable to remember what he meant by this, we reworked our question…

In every works of action we aim to bring out force and emotion but, as for you, do you aim to add more to maybe distinguish yourself from others?

Humm… I’d say irony, I think it might be a good answer! (Laughs) I don’t know why but I have a hunch it might be a pretty good answer! (Laughs)


Lastly… You are 42, we can say you reached your mid-career. In your opinion, what do you still lack most to become the mangaka you wish to be?

In reality, it’s my readers who can best answer this question. When they imagine the perfect manga in their head: everything that a manga should have, all that he must bring to the reader… That’s where lies the answer.

As for me, I believe to still have much more to learn. My work as a mangaka is alike to the long spiritual road leading to the awakening in buddhism, or maybe to the Kung-Fu master training without rest to perfect his art, or again to the life of Miyamoto Musashi: a daily training to always aim higher.

That’s the spirit we can find in Japanese mangaka, that’s how they were able to reach their current level and that’s what I try to approach. If the french readers loves me I think it might not be only for my artwork, it’s also for all the efforts and that never ending might to always get better.

Unless it’s only for the gorgeous girls I draw! (Laughs)

Maybe a bit of both! (Laughs) Thanks mister Boichi!

Many thanks to Boichi for his time and cheerfulness. Thanks as well to his interpreter, his editor mister Sumi and the whole of Doki-Doki’s staff for making a reality of this interview. Photos D. Gueugnot © journaldujapon.com – All rights reserved

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