- Here's a translation (M = Murata, O = ONE):
- So ONE, what made you start writing web comics?
- O: Initially, I was uploading pictures of my manuscripts through my phone camera onto a free website. But writing the scripts for cellphone screens were way too small, and if my hand shook even a little bit while I was taking the picture, the words blurred. It was just as I was thinking that this was going to be too hard to continue when a friend of mine asked me, "Hey check out my comic on Nitosha (the website ONE currently posts Onepunch Man)."
- When I looked at it, this site had thousands of freely available web comics, it was made for a computer screen it was easy to read, and it was no different than comics being published in magazines. I decided that this was a great opportunity so I bought a PC, a tablet, Comic Studio (manga drawing program), and started working. It was a lot easier to read than when I was taking pictures with my phone, so I decided to start off with Onepunch Man. It was my first try so I had trouble understanding how to separate the panels haha.
- Even though you were in such a clumsy state, I heard that Onepunch Man was popular from when it first started.
- O: The biggest reason was that there were already thousands of people reading manga on Nitosha already at the time. As I continued with my updates, apparently there were a lot of comments about Onepunch Man. Until then, I haven't even shown my manga to my close friends so getting feedback from other people in general was a new experience for me. Not only that, people were telling me "I want to read more" and "When's the next update?" so I got excited and kept on drawing.
- And this is where Mr. Murata read these updates which eventually led to the currently publishing remade "Onepunch Man" correct? Were you regularly reading web comics before then?
- M: Nope, I knew their existence but I never actually read any. Around the time when Eyeshield 21 was ending, I saw a Tweet and blog post by Akiman (an illustrator) saying "Onepunch Man is really good." I got interested and took a look, which led me to pull an all-nighter reading the entire thing. I thought "Web comics are really great!" and started reading a whole bunch of them, but in the end Onepunch Man was the most enjoyable to read.
- O: I realized Mr. Murata was reading it when he Tweeted "Onepunch Man got updated." But that was also around the time where I got a job and had to take a hiatus....
- M: After about an year Mr. ONE tweeted "I'm thinking of quitting my job to become a manga artist, but my peers are stopping me."
- O: In my mind it was already decided, but because my peers were against it, I was starting to wonder what I should do. That was when Mr. Murata contacted me.
- M: When I first started reading Onepunch Man, I was already hoping I could one day work together. But I was already under a contract with Shonen Jump, so I thought it would sound too fishy if I just asked "Want to work together?" But then I saw the Tweet and thought "Crap, Mr. ONE is going to stop drawing manga!" and contacted him immediately.
- In the end, Mr. Murata chose to work with Mr. ONE regardless of his contract with Shonen Jump. What made you ultimately decide?
- M: Around that time, I was actually really sick. I broke out in a hive, my inner organs were infected, and I couldn't breathe well with my windpipes swelling. I was in the hospital when I thought, "Ah, I guess people die just like that." If I'm going to die, I want to do something I really love to do. I want to draw manga with Mr. ONE. That's what I thought. If I was going to do it, I wanted to create a manga that didn't change Mr. ONE's original manga. I just tried to contact as many publishers that would fulfill my wish, regardless of my contract. It was thanks to my editor who contacted "Tonari no Youngjump" (the publisher that Murata writes Onepunch Man right now) that my dream came true. The deciding point was that I had already previously contacted Mr. ONE about working together, and that we were going to write with published books already in mind.
- What was the charm that drove Mr. Murata to this extent?
- M: It was just simply how strong of an impact Saitama leaves on you. It's hard to relate when the setting is about "a main character who's too strong that he became bored." But Saitama is not only a super hero, but he also embodies the common man, so readers can relate to him. Plus, there's this slight cuteness to him. All the other characters are also appealing, and they're all placed efficiently to draw out Saitama's appeal. But they're not there only for that purpose, and each character has their own soul. Although the big reason for web comic readers to read these series is that they're free and easily accessible, but you can't get absorbed in every free comic. It's hard for even professional artists to write a comic that makes you read it all the way through in one sitting. When I pulled that all-nighter, I realized that this work has enough power to rival the best of the pros.
- Is there anything you try to keep in mind when you draw Saitama?
- O: Well.... what I think is cool is a hero that stands up against someone who seems stronger than you. If you knew you were strong, you can just show up regardless of how evil the enemy is , but what's important is if there was someone clearly stronger than you hurting a child, can you stand up against it? I feel that that mentality is what defines a hero, and I thought that zeal would draw readers including myself. Saitama himself wants this zeal as well, but because he's so strong he had this drive taken away from him. But instead, he understands people's feelings, and he can lend his hand to the weak. I'd like to treasure this part of his.
- When Saitama always finishes off enemies in one punch it's really exhilarating and feels good, but on the other hand, isn't it hard to make a new kind of development that still ends in the punch every time? Is there something that you keep in mind when you're creating these plots?
- O: To be honest, I never actually thought this was hard..... It was when someone else pointed this out to me when I realized for the first time, "Is this setting too hard for me to continue with?" But in the end, even to this day I hadn't thought that writing the plot was hard. Thinking of a plot that involved a lot of thinking and cleverness for the main character to get over any obstacle requires a lot of experience and knowledge, so I think it's a bit too hard for me. In Saitama's case, all I have to do is have him show up to punch the problem away so I don't have to think too much about it. In the world Saitama lives in, monsters show up frequently, so he gets to utilize his strength to the fullest, so I can feel comfortable making my plot. If anything happens, I can always count on Saitama. The story will be interesting as long as he's on the move. The difficulties Saitama encounters are for the most part really common problems like making it to the next supermarket sale, and since I solve these problems myself, it's easy to write about them. The only hard part is to make his allies seem not too weak.
- I agree that even if there are many different appealing heroes and villains appear, by having a stable character like Saitama in the middle, the story development gets more exciting. Is there anything that you Mr. Murata keep in mind when drawing the characters?
- M: Just trying not to lose any of the characters' appeal. I basically revamp the artwork of the original Onepunch Man, so the only thing I have to think about is emphasizing the characters' appeal. In reality, an artists job starts before he even starts drawing. It's important to know what the character's good parts. If you don't understand that to the core, there's no point in drawing the character in the first place. On the flip side, as long as you understand the character's appeal, there are so many scenes that come into your mind to draw that appeal out. So the only thing I care for is if I can accurately grasp Mr. ONE's characters' appeal.
- So that's why Saitama is drawn so exquisitely while capturing his original artwork.
- M: I actually started off drawing him really cool looking (lol). I was thinking that if was working as the artist, I should make everyone look as cool as possible. In that process I was making Saitama look handsome, or adding stars in his eyes, but I scrapped all of it. In the end, those things don't matter to Saitama's nature. His appeal isn't in his looks, so I thought that if I didn't take Mr. ONE's original design Saitama would end up a completely different character. I had a lot of fun working on this. I've been drawing manga for a quite a while now, but I realized that I hadn't fully grasped even the basics yet.
- O: By utilizing my original design, it added even more to the "gap" that I was drawing. I was trying to make Genos and Sonic look a lot cooler than Saitama to add a gap between them, but Mr. Murata's meticulous drawings multiplies this gap. For example, in volume 3, there's a scene where Sonic is blowing up the city with his shurikens, and Saitama goes behind him and knocks him out. The face Saitama makes has such a blank look that makes you doubt that it was actually Mr. Murata that drew it (lol).
- By adding dynamic action scenes, the gap becomes even wider doesn't it?
- O: I get mesmerized every time I see Mr. Murata's manuscript. The villain designs are just fabulous. When the Sea King changes form, you get that feeling of despair that no one can win against him just from the artwork. When the invader's huge spaceship came down, I thought it had as much of an inpact as a finale (lol). Every time there's a time where it seems like there's no chance, there's an even bigger impact from Saitama's fighting action, so I can't complain about anything. It's like watching a movie.
- The reason why this series has hit the top rankings of manga on the NYTimes is how close the characters feel, and how dynamic the action scenes are. Do you get to come in contact with foreign responses?
- O: I get English comments on my Twitter and my website and it makes me really happy. Usually they talk about how they're a huge fan, and then they end it with "Hurry up and write more." (lol) I think it's also huge that Onepunch Man is published on the English version of Weekly Shonen Jump. Although it's the same company, Shonen Jump and Tonari no Young Jump are two different branches so this move itself was pretty rare, so I'm very grateful for it.
- M: I get English replies on my Twitter as well, so I try to read it using Google Translate and I try my best to reply. After publishing on Tonari no Young Jump, the first person to cosplay Saitama was someone from abroad. It was a picture that went around on the web of two brothers in Laos who wore a handmade outfit and a cardboard cutout of Saitama's face. I started to really recognize the existence of foreign fans from there on out.
- I feel a strange connection to Mr. Murata coming back to Shonen Jump after English translations of his work coming out. I heard that comic sales in the US are affected by the anime adaptation, so wouldn't the anime that's airing right now start to affect sales?
- O: The quality of the anime is really great. It's absolutely amazing.
- M: I'm amazed every time. There are textures and scenes that are impossible in the manga. For an example, when Saitama is fighting the Underground beings. That's the only part where Saitama is using his full strength. Although it ends as a dream, it's because of it that allows the scene to become even more extravagant. In the anime, it was depicted a lot more extravagantly, so I was moved. It was a bit salty that I couldn't do the same too (lol).
- On a web comic that no one knew Mr. Murata's drawings were added, the anime is aired around the world, and there are more possibilities yet to come. It might not be too far off from a Hollywood film too.
- M: I wonder (lol). But as I said before, my job is to just take Mr. ONE's original Onepunch Man and think about how I can express its appeal. I'd like to only think about that and focus on my job.
- O: I also want to think about how I can make my work even better. I'd like to continue with what I've been working on over these years, rather than step up my pace because it got so much attention. Of course, I would be really happy if it increases in popularity, but it was a series that gained attention without trying to gain any in the first place, so I think it's important to maintain that.
- And that is the end of the interview.
a guest Nov 19th, 2015 712 Never
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