I: Which parts of your work did he compliment?
H: It wasn't like that, I wasn't being careful enough. Ah ~ I thought he was going to get irritated and fire me on the spot. He told me "Stop copying other people's styles, try to find your own!". It's true that at the time, I was in such a rush that I would copy the styles of manga series I had read.
I: Finding your own style? That must have been tough.
H: As an animator, you can't really have "your own style". All you do is copy. Therefore, one could say that I had never really drawn manga. It was when I realized that I could only draw shoujo manga that I decided to find my own style by practicing.
I: By practing... you mean that you drew in different styles before finding yours?
H: Indeed. I had decided to draw nonstop to find a manga style I liked. For instance, I wondered if I really liked the type of events I drew, or if I liked the story's development: I thought that by drawing a lot, it would come to me naturally. What I mean is, I wasn't concerned with the drawings themselves, but rather only drew tons of storyboards. It was fun to draw that many. To that day, I had never really thought about it.
I: You found what seemed to be a rather horrid experience fun!
H: It really was fun! While drawing, I was totally immersed in my world. I would imagine things that I could never have thought of and I had a perverted mind with a smirk (laugh). I felt like I was drunk. I think that all mangakas feel the same. And in addition, the person who was gonna read these storyboards wasn't my sister, but a complete stranger: I was a nervous wreak. And I still am.
I: What kind of stories did you draw? Zombie stories and then...
H: There were many about samurais, but I've also done a lot of science fiction, especially time travel stories.
I: Up until then, you seemed to do rather well for a beginning.
H: Not really. I would often hear "draw a new storyboard" on the phone. What's more, at the time, my younger brother had offered me a job as an animator in a video game company. It was a stable job, the contract terms were good and the company even gave me tons of explanations.
I: You must have hesitated.
H: Yes. Publishing manga was commonplace for my editorial manager, but as for myself, I knew nothing about it. When my manager stopped telling me which were the good points of my manga stories, it confused me a bit: I didn't know whether it meant that he trusted me or not, and would always ask him if he thought I was wasting his time. (laugh) I never could find out whether my manager was a strange person or he just did it on purpose. Then, when I was worried about my first work and was wondering if a similar story existed already, my manager firmly told me "Don't think about unnecessary things and do your best!" And so, the only feeling I had while drawing was to do my best for my manager. He was a really convincing person. (laugh)
I: And now, you're with your 3rd manager. (laugh)
I: You spoke of SF (science fiction) stories a bit earlier, you must have read a lot of science fiction novels to gather information, right?
H: I think that I've only read those that everyone else has... I myself didn't know what type of story I liked: stories about the universe, stories about particles or scientific stories could all excite me while I was reading them. Even though in the case of particles, they are normally invisible to the naked eye. But I really like the context of those stories: "you can't see it, but you know that it exists".
I: You're talking about things that exist but which we cannot touch?
H: Yes, that's exactly it. We tell ourselves that there are some here, surely some over there as well (points to various places) but we can't really confirm their existence as long as we don't see them for ourselves. And we probably won't ever be able to...
I: That's a bit philosophical.
H: Indeed. Hm, but I really like that kind of story.
I: You've always liked them since childhood?
H: I've always liked stories about the universe. I love looking at the stars. I would often go on the rooftop at night and reflect on anything and everything. To this day, I love looking at the sky. Even if I can only see it from my porch...
I: We would like to know more about your favorite stories. A while back, you mentioned liking historical stories.
H: And that is still the case! The TV is almost always on the "historical series channel". (laugh)
I: Which story do you like best?
H: Hm ~ I would say it's "Kozure Ookami" (see end of interview notes). In fact, it's recently been rebroadcasted. "Kozure Ookami" was never released on DVD so it's a valuable rerun. I think it's a really splendid piece!
I: "Kozure Ookami"! What do you like about it?
H: The action scenes are good. Kinya-san's acting performance as well, as he really remains true to the character's nature, is serious about his work and this makes his performance a really classy one. "Kozure Ookami" is a real piece of art!
I: Your adoration (for it) seems quite genuine.
H: I really like it. But it wasn't always this way. 20 years ago (she was 9 years old), I wasn't very interested with things relating to manga. I preferred architecture and everything European.
I: And this is where "D.Gray-Man" comes in, right?
H: I did in fact base "D.Gray" on European society, but gathering brochures on Europe had become a trivial matter. One day, I happened upon a magazine titled "Our house, Japan" and I thought "Japan is fabulous!". Up to that day, I think that I had never truly comprehended the splendour of Japan.
I: I see! You drew "D.Gray-Man" because you were more familiar with the European style... What's more, in your opinion, Japan gives off a fresh sensation.