I: D.Gray-Man is going to be published in SQ as of this month. Are there many differences between a weekly and monthly series?
H: It should be that way, but I draw very slowly... so it doesn't change much. (laugh)
I: Your back problem has gotten worse recently, hasn't it?
H: Yes, as of last spring. But I feel much better now! It's my wish to continue drawing during my rehabilitation. I was supposed to take two days of rest per week but... in the end, I only promised that I would take an hour of rest after every two hours of work.
I: Did you used to read a lot of manga when you were younger?
H: Not really... Only my little brother's (Dai no Daiboken) and other more adult mangas written by Soryo Fuyumi, Makimura Satoru... they were my mother's. More than manga, I prefer anime, especially Ghibli's films. I used to watch them often, to the point where the tapes didn't work anymore.
I: Which is your favorite?
H: Without a doubt: Nausicaa. I've never tired of it. When I first saw it in my 4th year (? sorry, I don't know the proper equivalent), I was immediately captivated. And after I had seen
"Laputa – Castle in the Sky", I wanted to become an anime animator (or director? not really certain how to properly translate it in english).
I: And when did you decide to become an animator?
H: Before enrolling in university, I hadn't done much. I just liked Hayao Miyazaki. (laugh)
I: Were you drawing at the time?
H: Yes, but it was only at a college level, and I only did little incomplete drawings in a notebook. I've drawn fantasy, but then I opted for the modern world genre. Perhaps I was influenced by Sailor Moon, which I really liked. And in the end, I ended up drawing everything I liked.
I: You were drawing when you were in college?
H: They weren't really manga. I did 4-box strips (sorry, I don't know a better term, but I guess she means the 4koma?) during classes and since I went to the same school as my older sister, I would show her what I'd drawn during breaks. One day, I went to see her 6 times! (laugh) When she would tell me "one more", I would draw during the following class and come back to see her right after... I realize that I was very stupid. (laugh) I would even draw on the backs of the sheets that the teacher handed out. As a matter of fact, during exams, when I couldn't solve a problem, I would turn the exam sheet over and draw, draw, draw... (laugh)
I: When you drew something nice on that kind of sheet and had to erase it, it must have been annoying, right?
H: When I would think "This one's great!" and would suddenly hear "Gather up all the sheets in the front!", I would panic and think "What should I do?!" (laugh)
I: What kind of manga did you draw in those strips?
H: Now that I think about it, they were manga that looked nothing like manga. I had made up a character in the shape of a monkey and I would draw episodes about him, it was a little like a drawing essay. However, I would transfer it to an A4 sheet as soon as I could, even though it would get a little changed. And when I would ask my sister if she found it funny, she'd go "yeah". (sort of a reluctant, dragged out "yeah", but I don't know the english equivalent)
I: Your sister is rather strict, isn't she? (laugh)
H: She's very strict. But when she would say "It's very funny!" while laughing wholeheartedly, it would make me very happy. You could say that I've devoted my entire youth trying to make my sister laugh. (laugh) It was the same as when I would get out of classes, I just had to do something fun, no matter what. My sister would look at me and say "You're really nuts". (laugh)
I: Even apart from manga, you seem to really enjoy making her laugh.
H: Indeed. I always had some way to make her laugh. The only reason I drew was for my sister.
I: But you quickly realized the importance of having readers, right? In the sense that you absolutely wanted to make somebody laugh.
H: Yes, you're probably right. But I was very shy and didn't want to show my drawings to others. As soon as I would finish a drawing, I would hide it. During drawing classes, I would make mine look like a child's. For a child, it's easy to draw their favorite manga character. However, in our class, everyone compared their drawings to see who drew the best: it would become a strange competition. And so, to stop a wall from forming between us, I would always say the same thing: "I don't want to draw manga." To be honest, I was once persecuted and afterwards, I couldn't draw anymore. (laugh)
I: You couldn't do it anymore?!
H: There was one child who thought "I'm the best!" and when he found my drawings, I didn't know what to do... At that time, the atmosphere given off by the students of my class had really scared me. And as of that day, I had sworn to myself that I would never draw again.
I: Doing that, you weren't able to participate in the competition anymore, but your sister must have reacted to it, right?