[Weaper] Boichi answers our questions!
Hi Boichi-sensei, I’ve been a big fan of yours since I read Hotel in 2010. Your manga creations hooked me at first glance and continue to evoke many strong emotions to this day. Thank you so much for everything! Thank you for answering my questions for your English fanbase.
Your art style and intended audience changed dramatically since you came to Japan. What made you decide to switch from Shoujo to Seinen?
Boichi: First, I’m very grateful for everything that sunkenrock.com has done for me and my works! I’m also grateful to all of the fans around the world who visit sunkenrock.com looking for my works. I thank you whole-heartedly with all of my love! Thank you very much!
When I was a kid, I grew up with Science Fiction. I had been living as a total Sci-Fi geek. But then, when I was 18 years old, I read Shoujo manga for the first time. It was an absolutely amazing, creative world! I became totally absorbed by it! So I started to study Shoujo manga for the meantime, and when I hit 20 years old I debuted in a Korean young girls manga magazine. After that, I lived as a Shoujo mangaka for a while. That continued from 1993 to 2003.
Back in 1997, the prime time during which I worked as a Shoujo mangaka, the Korean government announced the “Juvenile Protection Act 1997”!
Many Korean mangaka and editors were being prosecuted. The Korean PAT (Parent-Teacher Association) and prosecutors claimed that our manga were harmful for children and teens. They treated us like criminals. At times, they even called us to court.
Before that all started, the Korean manga market had four major adult manga magazines (not like hentai or ero-manga, more like Seinen), all of which were selling pretty well. After the Juvenile Protection Act, however, those four adult magazines were forced to cease publication by law!
While the law doesn’t directly apply to publications in magazines and the like, many adult mangaka can’t express themselves under the rules of the Juvenile Protection Act, and bookstores no longer welcome or display adult and young adult manga magazine and titles. They even look down on kids manga. The Juvenile Protection Act 1997 has had a considerable impact on the whole Korean manga industry.
The dark age of Korean manga had just begun!
I thought this was completely unfair to mangaka and the Korean manga industry. I had started to draw manga, write articles, and protest on the street about the freedom of speech and expression offered through manga. I wanted to prove to them that nobody, no amount of power, could win against a mangaka’s right hand and passion for creation..
Time passed, and in 2003 I reconsidered my situation. I posted announcements to my beloved Korean fans, telling them “I’ll never again draw Shoujo manga in Korea, and I’m not going to protest on the street anymore.” I started to concentrate on debuting in Japan, meanwhile deciding to study Film Direction in a Korean film arts school in an attempt to try and organize my manga theory work. As a result, I decided outright to enjoy the freedom of the Japanese manga industry, freedom which I never experienced in Korea. And so, I started my new career in Japan as an ero-mangaka.
So I went to film school in 2004, announced some ero-manga titles in Japan, and ultimately became a mangaka there. The Japanese manga industry is so great, it truly is amazing. There were very talented mangaka working hard on their own manga, and I was fortunate enough to meet great Japanese mangaka and editors. Moreover, I was blessed with the freedom of speech and expression that I never had before. I think those aspects are what helped me to keep growing.
Wallman has many connections with Sun-Ken Rock. Do you plan to have it act as “Sun-Ken Rock’s sequel”, or is it completely different?
Boichi: Before I can answer that question, I think I first need to explain one of my other manga, H.E. The Hunt For Energy, to you.
Back in 2011, Japan underwent a horrible natural disaster known as the Tohoku Earthquake. After that happened, I needed time to think deeply about what I could do for the shocked fans of mine in Japan and all around the world.
I was a Sci-Fi manic and geek, and I had studied Physics as my major course in university largely so I could draw SF manga. I had also been very interested in Eco energy since I was a boy, so I was planning on drawing a manga about introducing and discovering the truth behind Eco Energy. I believed my new work could prove to provide valuable education for my fans in Japan and elsewhere around the world.
One Japanese publisher, called Shueisha, understood my project and granted me a chance to announce it in their manga magazine. As a result, I started work on H.E, which I later finished in early 2013.
After that, I decided that my next work had to be far more entertaining, and once again, Shueisha gave me a chance.
Around that time I watched the Korean action movie called “The Thieves, 2012”. This movie’s action style stayed with me, quickly becoming one of my favorite action movie genres.
“The Thieves” reminded me of the Hong Kong action movie “Time and Tide, 2000”, as well as a Thai action movie called “Chocolate, 2008”, both of which were sitting in my movie collections. Those movies provided me with a lot of inspiration. In particular, the way that the killers used wire action techniques to fight and assassinate people through the walls of towering buildings. I thought immediately that such action styles might be interesting to see in manga.
One day, the editor of Shueisha’s young adult manga magazine Grand Jump asked me for something fun to read for young adults, so I offered them the concept of killers who used wire and fought along the sides of buildings. This notion evolved into the serie Wallman that I work on today.
At that time, Wallman and Sun-Ken Rock didn’t have any connection. When I started preparing to write Wallman, however, I thought that the two might actually relate to one another after all.
At this point in the interview, I would like to spoil Wallman for the first time for fans all around the world!
With Sun-Ken Rock now in its final arc, are there any plans for another manga?
Boichi: Well, my biggest concern right now is to keep working on Wallman, though I am planing some new titles as well. If I’m lucky, I might be able to announce them soon.
The Origin, which I mentioned in the spoiler, is not yet involved in the planning.
You have a collection of artworks in the Studioboni Deviantart gallery. Do you plan to publish an artbook in the future?
Boichi: My manager and I are starting to submit my works on Deviantart, mostly for two big reasons:
• First, I want to show off my newest works to, and share studio news with, my fans around the world as quickly as possible.
• The second reason is for my Japanese fans. I want to show them my oldest works, those I started before I began working in Japan.
Sun-Ken Rock has recently been licensed digitally in English. What is your opinion about digital manga?
Boichi: Back in 1998, one of the publishers whom I worked for mutilated my work terribly. They said it was all accidental, but it drove me to the conclusion that I never wanted to work with a publisher who refused to take care of my works like that! Effective immediately, I vowed to stop sending my original works to publishers, and I stopped working on manga in the traditional manner. For example, in regards to screen tones in works, I started using Photoshop to add the finishing touches digitally.
I made my earlier conclusion before I began working with Photohsop for digital manga planning. Now, that is how I work; I knew my manner of work needed to be applicable to digital manga in the future, and I needed to ready myself for various future digital manga systems.
Move forward to 1999, 2 years after the Korean manga market crashed under the Juvenile Protection Act 1997. The Korean manga system began trying to create a new market known as digital webzines, as well as other digital manga services. Needless to say that, as a result, lots of arguments and experiments ensued. I was involved in the Korean manga/webzine plans back then, and in 2001 I announced an ongoing manga series in one of the Korean manga webzines. I’d been preparing for digital manga and participating in the Korean digital manga movement.
Digital manga is an immensely valuable part of manga. It was then, and it is now.
I love everything about manga! I love the past, the present, and the future of manga! I believe manga will some day be loved by those in diverse classes and positions. It’s just so much fun to read! I think it encompasses a harmony of images and text, one which makes it the most complete media format in the history of mankind.
There is no other media that can combine imagery and text like manga can. The way in which manga communicates text and images into a form of storytelling, and in such a dramatic way, makes it truly peerless! And manga still possesses the potential to develop, due to the fact that it is still a relatively young form of media. That’s what I believe.
I dream of various types of manga giving tons of joy to equally varying types of audiences in many different situations. Smartphones have introduced many opportunities for a greater audience to read manga, allowing people to enjoy manga as much as they desire. Manga will become the best content available on tablets and smartphones. There is simply no media that can give more joy through a tablet or smartphone than manga.
I think tablets were actually created for manga from the very beginning. Please, close your eyes and just imagine it for a moment.
1-2 inches (2,5cm/5cm), a tiny amount of space, is enough to read manga. And that tiny fraction of space can bring you tons of joy.
In the last 100 years of the history of manga, it has offered immense entertainment through a tiny amount of space, in 2D form, on flat surfaces like paper. In fact, any flat surface can be used to display manga. Even the walls of buildings and the sides of buses are great places for manga.
Next, the smartwatch will be a great playground for cute chibi manga characters!
In this digital period, smart items will be the greatest flat surfaces available for manga. As many people as there are looking for some other form of entertainment on their ipad or iphone, there will aways be an audience, and the readers’ love for and desire to read manga will fuel their search for manga.
It’s cheap, yet it’s the most fun and joyous form of reading material ever made! The digital age will give manga wings!
If digital content service companies seek to offer 5 minutes of joy to their customers, workers in which form of media will pull it off for as low as $500?
Animations and games? Creators couldn’t even subside the flames of anger of their customers for that much; animators and game creators can’t afford to even begin working for a measly $500.
My crew and I? For that price, we can offer 3-5 pages of manga to an audience (though to be honest, I’d have to discount my usual page rate ^^).
What’s more, there are many fresh-blooded mangaka who can draw a whole 10 to 20 pages for only $500!
In that light, I think the future of digital manga is positive.
Before manga can surge in the digital era, however, alongside persistent efforts, there are two things that modern mangaka must keep in mind.
• First, no matter what kind digital media or flat-form medium is being used to convey the manga, it must still be manga! No matter what!
Digital manga on a smartwatch doesn’t have to use motion or have added sound effects on each cut.
The greatest mangaka from 100 years ago already gave us the answer so clearly!
Manga must be shown in the manga way! That is what makes manga so much fun to read!
• Second, manga must adapt to digital circumstances! There are digital manga techniques born in Korea, such as the webtoon system. Koreans call them “Scrolling Toons”. It is a great example of how manga can find the right form in digital circumstances.
One of greatest and most respectable Japanese mangaka, Murata Yusuke-sensei, shows us the way of the future of digital manga through his web manga called Onepunch Man.
He has proven that the answer to manga surviving in the new digital environment is through traditional manga techniques!
I think these two things are what are most important!
Last question. You have fans all over the world. What would you like to say to them? Thank you very much for your time, and for all of the awesome manga you have brought us over all these years!
Boichi: What causes you agony in your current daily life? For me, it’s the depression I feel over having to draw nothing but stinky male characters! Just mens’ muscles, you know?! Every morning I rise from bed, and on my desk are hundreds and hundreds of mens’ deltoids! Their levator scapulae! All of these mens’ rectus abdominis are waiting for me… It’s a tragedy!
Thank you very much for all of your support. It’s the reason I’m able to keep living as a mangaka. I hope you continue to enjoy my manga, and I’ll keep studying and working hard to try to find the way of manga.
I want to live for the sake of drawing manga. I’ll keep working harder and harder! I still need to study more, but I really want to show you better works in the near future!