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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/03/2006 Archived Entry: "Interview with Izumi Kawachi, creator of "Enchanter""

Interview with Izumi Kawachi, creator of "Enchanter"

This interview was conducted in a noisy patio at Anime Expo July 2, 2006, present were Izumi Kawachi and her editor, Ken Nakagawa of Square Enix Co. Ltd. Translated by Amelia Cantlay, courtesy of DMP Books, and yours truly with her trusty tape recorder and some pushy questions.

Interview by Ginger Mayerson

Ginger Mayerson: What are you working on these days?

Izumi Kawachi: Volume 11 of "Enchanter" just came out (in Japan), so I'm working on volume 12.

GM: Are there any plans for an anime of "Enchanter"?

IK: No, no plans for an anime.

GM: That's too bad; it'd be a good one. I think I read that you're from Osaka?

IK: That's correct.

GM: As an artist, are you self-taught or did you go to art school?

IK: I never went to any sort of art specific school, I basically taught myself.

GM: What inspired you to pursue art? Was there some event in your life?

IK: I never felt that I wanted to be an artist. I never had any overwhelming urge for it. One of my earliest memories was of my father making me join the art club in kindergarten and I enjoyed drawing there. So that might be the beginning of my art career.

GM: That's very young. So, was the only practice of art in the Art Clubs at school?

IK: Yes, just classes at school. There was manga club in high school, but I didn't draw manga there, I just read and discussed it.

GM: Did she write manga in that club?

IK: No, mainly it was magna appreciation and discussion.

GM: I have a pretty good idea how people here become Marvel or DC artists, but I don't know how that happens in the manga world. How did you become so fabulous?

IK: Are you familiar with dojinshi, using characters from other manga and creating your own stories with it?

GM: Oh, yes, I know what that is, I've just never heard anyone pronounce it correctly.

IK: (laughs) Well, I was creating my own manga as an amateur. Are you familiar with Comic Kae? It's an event in Japan where two or three thousand amateur artists come and set up booths and sell our own homemade comics. There's an event similar to that in Osaka that's called Super Comics City, and I was there selling my dojinshi and Mr. Nakagawa saw it and liked it and I started working with him and Square Enix Co. He brought me into the industry.

GM: And how long have you two (Ms. Kawachi and Mr. Nakagawa) been working together?

Ken Nakagawa: This is our seventh year.

GM: Seven years? Eleven mangas in seven years?

IK: Actually, the eleven books were in the last three years.

GM: You must draw very fast.

IK: (laughs) It's three books per year.

KN: This is almost her fourth year with us.

GM: (to Mr. Nakagawa) Is Square Enix in Osaka or Tokyo?

KN: In Tokyo.

GM: (to Ms. Kawachi) Did you move to Tokyo?

IK: No, I'm still in Osaka.

GM: As a younger artist, before you started publishing, what were biggest influences on your development as an artist?

IK: One of the artists that influenced me was Takeshi Obata, the artist on "Death Note" and "Hikaru no Go." I really love his artwork. I'm not the kind of artist that takes other artists work and looks at it, but for Mr. Obata, I thought it was great artwork and it inspired me.

GM: Are there any manga you read for pleasure?

IK: I don't really read for pleasure.

GM: When do you have time?

IK: Exactly.

GM: What was the inspiration for the "Enchanter" story.

IK: There was no one thing that inspired me. I'm very into games, role-playing games, and I wanted the manga to have that kind of feel.

GM: I like the characters in "Enchanter" very much. Is Eukanaria based on or modeled after anyone?

IK: I can't remember the singer's name, but I saw a music video where the singer played two very different characters, with different personalities, and that gave me the idea for the dualities of Eukanaria and Yuka, and Fulcanelli and Haruhiko in "Enchanter."

GM: Was there a model for Fulcanelli and Haruhiko?

IK: Yes, an actor, his name is Haruhiko Kato.

GM: The Enchanter Paracelsus is my favorite character so far.

IK: He's very popular with a lot of people.

GM: Is Paracelsus based on Mr. Nakagawa?

IK: (laughs) No, maybe just how tall he is.

KN: (laughs) That's impossible.

GM: Was Paracelsus based on anyone? Was there a model for him?

IK: No, no particular model. I just like that sort of guy.

GM: Well, me, too. Is he in the other books that will be coming from DMP?

IK: Yes, he's still around and lately he's been the manga's main star. However, that's in volume 11, so it will be awhile before that comes out over here.

GM: How many more of this manga title do you think there'll be?

IK: I'm hoping it will be about 20 volumes.

GM: In your author note, you mention that "...this manga is accused of 'fan-service' and whatnot..." What does that mean?

IK: There's a lot of fans in Japan that dislike this sort of fan-service, with the boobs and the panty shots and stuff, but I'm not calculating those moments. I just like to draw pretty girls and boys.

GM: Everyone is pretty in this manga. There's nothing wrong with that.

IK: We'll get along fine together.

GM: Do you know what cheesecake art is?

IK: No, I've never heard of it.

GM: We have a whole genre here for that. Like, certain pictures of Marilyn Monroe would be considered cheesecake, and there's an artist named Antonio Vargas who has very beautiful work that's considered cheesecake. I like drawings of pretty people, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. There's no mecha in this manga, is there?

IK: (laughs) No, no mecha.

GM: This drawing of a workshop is lovely (page 34).

IK: I like it, too. I work with three assistants and one of them is very into fantasy, and Harry Potter stories so I lay out the panel and she puts in the details of the wizard/enchanter's room. It's fortunate for me that I have someone who knows what a wizard's workshop would look like and is really good at drawing that kind of interior.

GM: This line, "Hello! My breasts aren't doing the talking!" on page 38, where Eukanaria is trying to explain some magical thing to Haruhiko and all he can do is stare at her cleavage, is too funny.

IK: You have a good eye for this manga.

GM: This manga is funny, it's over the top in many ways, but it's usually funny, and the writing is good comedy, but has nice earthy touches. Are there writers that she's been influenced by to write this kind of thing?

IK: I never took any writing classes, but I'm from Osaka and Osaka is known for comedy. Those kind of exchanges, like the one you pointed out, are everyday occurrences.

GM: They are?

IK: Oh yes! And I have two younger brother and I feel I have an understand how young boys think. You know how the adolescent boy is focused on the female body most of the time and I think that's really cute. My youngest brother was the same age as Haruhiku when she started the series.

GM: But Haruhiku's not based on your little brother?

IK: No, no, but sometimes when Eukanaria bosses Haruhiku around, that might remind me, just a little, of me bossing my little brother around. How we used to interact sometimes.

GM: I have a younger brother, too, so I know what you mean. Haruhiku is a cute character. His mind might be on sex, but he saves Eukanaria and Yuka time after time. He's this goofy little guy, but he leans and adapts very quickly and the action is great, and that's what makes this a very enjoyable manga to read.

IK: Thank you.

GM: When you're working, what comes first: the story or the pictures?

IK: I usually think up lines of dialogue that I want to use, and go from there.

GM: Lines like "My breast aren't doing the talking"?

IK: That line wasn't exactly planned. Eukanaria is a character that sometimes moves on her own.

GM: What's the process of drawing this manga?

IK: I do the layouts, then I do the pencils and inks, and then my assistants do more inking, like hair and clothes, and backgrounds.

GM: Are you drawing with pen and ink?

IK: Pen and ink.

GM: What kind of pen and ink?

IK: Do you know what a G-pen is?

GM: Yes, it's a piece of metal you dip in ink. What brand do you use?

IK: Zebra.

GM: I think we have that here. No markers?

IK: Not for drawing the characters.

GM: So, just pencil, pen and ink.

IK: I've been using this brand of pen for so long, if the maker changed anything, I'd know right away. These pens (nibs) are sharpened by hand, and I can tell when it's a different sharpener.

GM: How much use do you usually get out of a pen?

IK: Depending on the pen, I can get three or four sheets, or if it's a really good pen, it might last about 20 pages, but no more than that.

GM: That's a lot of pens for eleven going on twelve volumes of "Enchanter."

IK: I just buy them by the box and use them.

GM: (to Mr. Nakagawa) What's the publisher's name?

KN: (hands over business card) Square Enix Co. Ltd. It's actually a game company, but we've been in the manga business for about fifteen years.

GM: Who at Square Enix Co. Ltd. discovered Ms. Kawachi?

KN: I did. I met her in 1999 at the Super Comics City. She's done a few one-shot stories for us, as a training period, and then we started "Enchanter" nearly four years ago.

GM: (to Ms. Kawachi) So, when you took your dojinshi to the Super Comics City, was making manga just a hobby for you?

IK: It was just a hobby.

GM: What a wonderful success story!

IK: It was a unique way for manga artists in Japan, they're not usually picked up by publishers this way.

GM: Has "Enchanter" been serialized?

IK and Ken Nakagawa: Yes.

GM: Which magazine?

KN: Gangan Wing.

GM: Is "Enchanter" always serialized and then becomes a book?

KN: Yes, four episodes equals one book, and this comes out three months later. The magazine is about three episodes ahead.

GM: What are your circulation numbers?

KN: With eleven volumes, about one million volumes have been sold.

GM: That's a lot. Is that one million volumes of the books?

KN: Yes.

GM: But what about the magazine, Gungun Wing?

KN: About fifty thousand an issue.

GM: What else is in this magazine?

KN: Mostly manga, about twenty separate stories, mostly fantasy and comedy...

GM: Are there articles and essays and interviews?

KN: Very little, it's mainly a manga anthology?

GM: (to Ms. Kawachi) Are you enjoying your visit to Los Angeles?

IK: Yes.

GM: Is this your first visit to LA?

IK: Yes.

GM: Is there anything you'd like America to know about you?

IK: I would like them to know I'm not a man. Even in Japan people think I'm a man due to the way I draw.

GM: I'll let people know that, as far as I can tell, you're one hundred percent female. Is there any question I didn't ask that you'd like to answer?

IK: I'd like fans to know that I'm not using scantily dressed girls to sell this manga, I just like drawing them that way. I like drawing pretty girls who are comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality.

GM: Cheesecake.

IK: Yes, cheesecake.

GM: Thank you, Ms. Kawachi and Mr. Nakagawa, very very much for this interview.


Replies: 1 Comment

Great interviewing.. the last couple of lines are very funny ^^

Thanks alot for this.. and i wish i could thank the mangaka for this great manga too ^^


Posted by Adoranarin @ 07/06/2006 01:56 AM PST

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