In “Ushio-Tora” and “Karakuri Circus
and “Karakuri Circus,” all the boys were excited.
The Girl Who Sold Matches” is the core of my work.
I hated “The Girl Who Sold Matches. I thought it was not good entertainment to have a poor girl end up feeling sorry for herself. So, about three years after I started drawing “Ushio-Tora,” I drew a story in a work called “Moonlight Ordinance,” in which I revised a fairy tale …… to help the match-selling girl. Then I felt empty and couldn’t come up with a story for the piece. I had never experienced anything like that before. In other words, for me, “The Girl Selling Matches” was the catalyst for my creative process. To draw something I dislike in a different way, that is my “core.
Manga artist Kazuhiro Fujita, 58, celebrated the 35th anniversary of his career this year since his debut in 1988 with “Liaison Ship Kitan. His best-known work, “Ushio-Tora,” which tells the story of the main character, a boy named Ushio, and the monster “Tora,” who defeats the great monster “The White-Faced One,” has sold a total of more than 30 million copies. For Mr. Fujita, the 35 years have gone by “in the blink of an eye.
As Ryotaro Shiba said in one of his books, you can’t draw a good work unless you have the body of the world you want to depict. The “Black Museum Series” currently serialized in “Morning” is set in 19th century London. So in order to enter the world of the 19th century, I read books, watched movies depicting that period, visited historical sites, etc. …… There is so much to do that time flies by.
His carefully researched worldview of yokai, occultism, and horror, which is detached from everyday life, has attracted many readers.
People say that my themes are original, but I simply draw what I want to draw. For example, in “Karakuri Circus,” a small boy is learning how to manipulate a puppet from a glamorous woman. As I draw, the story of human relationships develops, and sometimes it dominates the story as if there were a theme I had in mind from the beginning.
The reason I have been able to keep running for 35 years is simple. I want readers to see what I was happy with. When I study for exams, when I am scolded by my parents, or when I am at a critical point in my life, I am often saved by manga, not just by …… pretty words. I want to draw such interesting works. The hurdle in that process is the person I was when I was a child. I want to draw something that is interesting, and in doing so, the hurdle is my childhood self. I have been drawing while saying to myself, ‘This is the kind of picture I want to see,’ and I enjoy the process of doing that.”
He has been drawing mostly boys’ manga for 35 years. He has drawn a girls’ manga once in the past.
I’m from the generation of Yumiko Igarashi’s “Candy Candy,” so I had a longing to be in the male artist’s bracket for shoujo manga. At the time, I felt that I could freely draw a wider range of genres in shōjo manga, such as suspense, action, and romance. However, looking back at the works I have drawn so far, I feel that I was able to realize the ideals I had at the time. There are still things I want to draw. I guess my goal is still a long way off.”
The “me when I was little” must be insatiable about manga.
From the March 31/April 7, 2011 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Takehiko Kohiyama