[Honey's Anime Interview] Hiranishi Mieri - Mangaka of The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of reviewing the autobiographical romantic drama, Kanojo ga Dekinai Onna (The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend), written by Hiranishi Mieri and published by VIZ Media.

With a heart-warming, and heart-breaking, blend of self-deprecation and brutally honest recollection, Hiranishi explores her sexual orientation, rocky relationships, and the path out of depression. We called The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend “beautiful, painful, and a must-read”—and now, thanks to VIZ Media, we’ve had the opportunity to sit down with Hiranishi and ask her all our burning questions!

Hiranishi Mieri

Interview with Hiranishi Mieri

Dear Hiranishi-san, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions today! We absolutely loved The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend, and have friends already pre-ordering the VIZ Media release. We’d love to ask you some questions about your manga!

Great to hear and thanks so much for reading my manga! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

Let’s get started! In the author’s note of The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend, you mentioned that you adapted the story from a diary you wrote. How much of the manga is fictional, and how much is real?

I did change settings and small details here and there to fictionalise the story, but I made sure to accurately depict the emotions I was feeling at the time because otherwise none of the story would be genuine. You will not be able to identify the people/settings from the manga, but the essence of the story is definitely real!

Why did you choose to write something as raw and honest as an autobiography, instead of using your experience to write a completely fictional story?

I didn’t think so many people would read it when I initially posted it online - it was just meant to be quick, thoughtless, word-vomit to get out my pent up feelings 😂. Since I got some positive reception online, I decided to continue the series but I would have preferred to become well-known for a fictional story if I’m being honest! I’m still very grateful and happy that people liked it though!

What was the hardest part about bringing The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend to life?

Balancing deadlines with my day job. I remember screaming into a pillow one weekend because I just wanted to rest after a long week but my editors submitted a few hundred edits that needed to be done. It can definitely be hard to keep working when you know everybody else involved with the production of the book is happily enjoying their weekends and resting (and probably making more money than me as well 😂). I brought it upon myself by agreeing to publish this book while having a day job but there were moments where I questioned if this was a feasible lifestyle for me and I did lose my sanity for a bit haha! I’m glad that’s over!

And what was the most difficult part of transitioning from the online version of The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend to a full, VIZ-published manga?

The never-ending edits! I probably had about 500+ edits total for a 208 page book and I was bashing my head into a brick wall near the end! I’m proud that I got through it and I hope it’s worth it for the readers and my bank account!

Did you ever worry that your story wouldn’t be relatable to readers? And if so, how did you quash those doubts?

I already see bad reviews pouring in for my manga and I’ve stopped worrying about it. There will never be a story that resonates with everyone - for example, even for an amazing manga like Fullmetal Alchemist, there will still be people who do not relate to it/enjoy it. I just make sure to write something that resonates with me because that increases the likelihood of someone else liking it. However, I do make sure that the story is still entertaining in a generic sense and is commercially viable - otherwise it just becomes a hobby. If people don’t relate to the story, it probably isn’t for them and that’s okay - to be honest, your money is probably better spent on a volume of Kimetsu no Yaiba anyways!

The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend is a really honest exploration of your sexuality. LGBT+ narratives are so important in society, for both children and adults too! What type of queer stories do you want to see more of in manga and anime?

I personally don’t read much LGBT media anymore other than gay fanfiction if I’m being 100% honest 😂. But anything with hot short-haired girls would be fun to read, especially if the love interest isn’t a guy! It also would be nice if a LGBT story wasn’t just about the romance/relationship and had other interesting aspects to it (action, suspense, etc.).

Let’s talk a bit about the relationships and emotions that inspired your work. Do you ever regret your relationship with Ash?

No! I think that all experiences can be used to grow. I’m definitely a different person because of it and I’m pretty content with who I am today so that’s good! It will also help me write realistic feelings in a relationship when writing manga so that’s good. The only downside is that she has left me with kind-of-high expectations for future relationships now, which has been very bad 😂.

If you could go back in time and tell your middle-school self one thing about your future relationships and experiences, what would it be?

I wouldn’t tell her anything about future relationships, it would just depress her because there are none. I would tell her to keep writing manga though because although you can’t control how other people act in a relationship, you can control your career and build your own skills and no one can take that away from you.

Speaking of your younger self, you mentioned getting obsessed with anime lesbians in your middle-school years! If you had to pick one, who’s your favorite?!

Haruka Tenoh from Sailor Moon, always!!

Haruka…Ash, we’re seeing a pattern! Anime characters are obviously the best, but sadly they’re not very tangible. Celebrities are even less accessible, but there’s always a chance, right? Who’s your number-one celebrity crush?

I don’t crush on celebrities because although they seem perfect, a lot of them can be completely different people behind the scenes. For example, I once saw a Japanese female “celebrity” in a Japanese lesbian club event and the way they were treating other girls was really disappointing. Celebrities are average humans too and putting them on a pedestal or having any expectations for them doesn’t make sense to me. Also there is no chance to end up with a celebrity haha, they are pretty much fictional characters but worse in my opinion!

I do admire the work ethic of certain celebrities though - I really like watching Jeon Soyeon from (G)-IDLE work tirelessly and create music. I strive to have that kind of work ethic/creativity as well - I love hard workers!

You’re quite honest about being an otaku, so we’re going to put you on the spot! What are your top three manga or anime?

HUNTER X HUNTER, Fullmetal Alchemist, Banana Fish, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Monster (Naoki Urasawa) (in no particular order, couldn’t choose just three!)

Those are some excellent choices! Which mangaka or series have been the biggest inspirations for you as an artist?

D.Gray-man by Katsura Hoshino is the reason why I started writing manga and I emulated her style a lot when I initially started writing manga around middle school! Naruto was also the first anime I watched and I absolutely fell in love with the characters and the explosive action scenes. Kishimoto-sensei is extremely skilled in the use of perspective when drawing characters so I remember mimicking his style a lot to get better at drawing.

I also traced a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh! anime screenshots because the hands in that anime are really well animated. I also read Monster by Naoki Urasawa in college and was shocked because I had never read much seinen manga before that and I was blown away by the depth of the characters and the “gray” morality that was prevalent throughout the story and have been inspired to write something like that for a while now.

You’ve lived and worked in both Japan and the United States. Do you prefer one country over the other?

I prefer working in the U.S. because the pay is better (wages in Japan have been stagnating for decades now) but if money wasn’t an issue, I’d prefer Japan! I’d probably be able to make more friends and go on more dates if I lived in Japan - I just find it very difficult to connect to people in the U.S. because I’m not that into things that lots of lesbians over here are into (polyamory, weed, etc.).

Would you ever write a sequel, perhaps “The Girl That Got a Girlfriend”? Or is this the end of our journey with “Mieri”?

I wouldn’t write about ongoing relationships because I would like to keep things private between the theoretical girlfriend and I haha! The thing is, I haven’t had a girlfriend in about 8 years (Ash, who’s written in the manga) so the chances of something like this happening would be unlikely either way. If I write a manga about my life next it would be about my daily life and my family, and it would have a more comedic tone!

And our last question for you! If your publisher gave you a blank check, what type of manga would you like to write next?

Definitely something fictional! I also don’t want to just write a romance-centric story - something with more action, fantasy, or science fiction would be cool! I would still like to write about relationships between people (non-romantic too) though because I love conflict between people!

Final Thoughts

Thank you Hiranishi-san for answering all of our questions, and VIZ Media for arranging this interview! The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend is available now in all good bookstores, and you can read our review below.

As always, thanks for reading!

The-Girl-That-Cant-Get-a-Girlfriend-manga-wallpaper-700x280 [Honey's Anime Interview] Hiranishi Mieri - Mangaka of The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend


Author: Brett Michael Orr

I'm a writer, gamer, and reviewer of manga & light novels, from Melbourne, Australia. When I'm not creating a new world, I'll be absorbed in a good JRPG, watching some anime, or reading up a storm!

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