We love talking with creators especailly the creators that work in the mediums we love. So, when Ryo Katagiri a working mangaka that has been making a name for herself in the industry, with stories like Tutti!, Chuganji Clan’s Secret, and Iwao Jike which appeared in Shonen Sunday Comics in addition to creating manga drawing instruction books, and contributing to the The Manga Cook Book.
Interview with Ryo Katagiri
Did you always know that you wanted to be a mangaka?
Yes, when I was 4 or 5 years old, my dream was being a mangaka.
Did you always find drawing easy or did you have to train very hard?
Sometimes, I trained in art but I enjoyed my favorite art style. I really like to make my original character when I was kids, I made so many original characters. When I was a assistant, I studied how to draw background that was a kind of training.
You see some mangaka’s work and know it is their work by sight. You know if something is done by CLAMP, or Eiichiro Oda- sensei from One Piece. Do you have your own style? Is there a characteristic we can look for and tell that you drew something?
I can change my art style several way, like anime style, simple cute, dark and details. My favorite is Shonan manga art. Big eyes and young teenagers characters that are not so tall with small pupils. I think these points are my favorite original art style.
You must have drawn manga as a young artist, maybe in a school notebook. What kind of stories would you tell?
I made so many stories. For example,time travel story, romance and comedy, animal world, fantasy ,SCi-Fi, and so on. One of them I drew when I was in middle scholl was a bout school students who joined a brass band club. It’s about Slice of life. (I belonged to brass band club at that time). After I became a mangaka, I had a series of comics about a brass band club in weekly Shonen Sunday magazine.
What is your advice to young artists that might want to be mangaka?
You need to ask yourself what is your passion? What do you spend the most time doing? That was drawing manga for me. I have never been to art college or art school. I taught myself. I met so many people who want to be a mangaka, but actually they don’t draw. You should draw, 10 or 30 pages. No no, let’s try over 100 to 300 pages. (not sketching, finished version). If you drew over 2000 pages, I think you can be a manga artist soon!
You teach people how to draw manga. What do you like about teaching?
I graduated teaching course for high school at university. I like to see the people (customers, students) enjoy drawing their original character. They find out they can draw manga art and are surprised that their art was really good, even it was their first time drawing. I like to communicate with foreign people who loves manga and anime through manga class.
How do you approach the blank page? How do you decide what to draw?
Usually I image background first. What kind of situation? What does the character do in the world? After I decided to draw the background, I add character to it. I like to imagine ruined buildings a bit of a dark Fantasy world.
What do you find the hardest part of drawing to be? Faces? Bodies? Backgrounds?
I find it hard to draw a fighting pose, acrobatic, and dynamic poses. I find that moving muscles are hard for me. Oh and motorcycle.....is very hard...
Do you prefer drawing on a ipad or paper? why?
I prefer drawing iPad now. I can draw anytime anywhere. An iPad is easy to bring and easy to fix art. It’s so helpful, really convenient! 5 years ago I preferred paper and ink. I use still paper and ink sometimes though.
What is the “real mangaka life” like?
We always search hot topics, pieces of story, characters, references for manga. We buy books, magazines, comics for study, not for fun. We sometimes can’t sleep because of deadline. I would like to say one thing, almost mangaka are afraid of a deadline!
Do you find it hard to come up with stories?
Yes! But it is a fun part, actually.
Is there a character you created that you are very proud of?
I’m proud of each of my characters. If I have to choose only one character, Doi who is 16 years old student boy belongs to brass band club.
He plays French Horn in the club. It’s same as me. I played Horn over 10 years.
So he is a character that reflected me.
What is your favorite kind of scene to draw?
Umm... Seriously situations, for example, when a character realizes the cruel truth. I like to draw faces in trouble.
What is your favorite genre?
I like comedy, action, and, suspense. I like to read seinen manga.
What mangaka do you admire?
Osamu Tezuka. (Astro Boy, Princess Knight) He is a god of manga.
I’m a journalist, writer, photographer, video producer, social media manager and above all a storyteller. I’m located on the east coast of the United States but travel the world with the love of my life. I’ve been a nerd since birth with a love of history and science. I fell in love with anime, watching ROBOTECH and Venus Wars in the 80s when our only source was secondhand VHS dubs. A crazy new thing called the internet changed that, giving me access to new and amazing anime every day. I love to write for work and pleasure. I’m living the dream of every kid, getting paid to watch anime and loving every subtitled line.
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