‘Chihayafuru’ author Suetsugu was keenly aware of the ‘potential of manga’ in the digital age.

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“Chihayafuru” is a manga about the youth of high school students over competitive karuta. The story has reached the stage of the final battle of the master and queen battle. Meanwhile, Yuki Suetsugu, the author, said that the drawing was shifted to full digital due to the coronavirus. It is said that connecting with readers has changed as the number of channels such as SNS has increased. We talked about establishing the Chihayafuru Fund, which supports the operation of Karuta tournaments and the changing expressions of manga.

Twitter Japan and with news will commemorate the release of the voice chat Spaces by Yuki Suetsugu, the creator of the manga “Chihayafuru.” We invited and held a public interview. We asked about the future of the work and the power and charm of manga and answered the questions from readers sent to the hashtag “#Question to Dr. Suetsugu.”

Manga suitable for “sports.”

Chihayafuru, a manga developed in other media such as anime and movies. It was broadcast overseas, and the karuta boom spread to the world. On the other hand, what do you think is the “expression unique to manga,” Mr. Suetsugu? It’s a manga that can be expressed in various ways, but I think it’s a specialty. Music does not play like anime and movies, but there is no “time constraint” that allows time to flow freely. I think this is a characteristic unique to manga. Therefore, I don’t believe any expression is more suitable than manga for drawing sports. Whether it’s soccer or basketball, it’s permissible to show only the ball and do something like “stop the time.” It is true that other sports manga also incorporate expressions such as drawing 3 seconds before the end of the game over many pages. There is a lot of freedom in time, and you can even do something like “draw this one second in 10 pages.” I think it’s only in the manga that people are allowed to show that way, which enables them to take the means of manipulating time. It’s difficult to establish “speed,” but it’s also a challenging scene. Draw it with the expression “stopped.” There are some things that you can’t understand even if you watch the game.

The moment I aim at one point on the edge of the karuta, I think, “Now, again, frame by frame.” (laughs). I can stop it in manga and show it, so I think it’s very suitable for “Chihayafuru.” You can have a flashback scene or draw a place where you want the reader to embrace your emotions. It is also an advantage that you can cover the voice of your heart together.

The psychology of the character, but also the psychology of other people, or the psychology of the singer. When you want to draw various things, you can incorporate them depending on your ingenuity. I think it’s a fun genre of art to do such a composition as a puzzle.

“Wet” digital manga

I feel that manga is changing due to digitalization. Mr. Suetsugu was also unable to come to his assistant due to the corona sickness, so he switched from hand-drawn analog to full digital. I used to draw on paper about a year ago, but it changed completely. The day will come when I will not be able to hold a mechanical pencil. Have you changed your expression? The phrase “drawing a human” remains the same. But when I print it out, the black is so beautiful that it looks like it’s been wet all the time, so I think it’s different. After printing analog, it seems a bit faint. I was used to it because it was expected, but digital looks darker black than that. It feels “wet.” It can’t be helped, but it feels like the lines have changed. I’m sorry if everyone reading it feels strange.

Vertical reading where full color is commonplace

The devices for reading manga are changing from paper to tablets and smartphones. A vertical reading manga called “Webtoon” is also increasing on smartphones. Do you want to challenge Mr. Suetsugu? I want to try it, but I don’t know how to draw it. Webtoon on smartphones is a world where color is the basis. When I asked a detailed person, he said that if it was black and white, he would ask, “Why is this manga on the way?” Just as we feel that “full color is the norm for anime,” when Webtoon is black and white, it feels like “color will be painted from now on.”

There may come a time when you don’t read the black and white manga. Some people say that you don’t know the order of the frames in the paper manga. I agree. It is also said to be challenging to read. In the future, “spread” manga will no longer be the norm. If you are aiming for a new channel, I would like to try “vertical reading.” However, not to mention “Chihayafuru, “Kimetsu no Yaiba, “I think that paper manga such as the big hit of” is still being read. How does Suetsugu feel about the future of manga? New channels have already been created, including Webtoon, so I think there should be many people trying to do that as well. Spreads are difficult to divide into frames, so it’s technical. Vertical reading that flows from top to bottom is easier because it has fewer elements, so I think that new talents will bloom here. Vertical is vertical. Isn’t it a new expression? I think there will be expressions that can only be made vertically. It seems that you sometimes take the space between frames to express that time has passed. You can also take intervals between frames. That’s exactly what you can’t physically do with long vertical expressions on paper. I think that “deep expression” is suitable. But what do you think about “rising expression”? I think, “I want to raise it by reading vertically.”

New channel for cartoonists and readers

Manga artists are increasingly using new SNS to express things other than manga, such as clubhouses on voice SNS and chatting in the space of Twitter. Do you think the relationship between writers and fans will change? If you want to do SNS, you can have as many contacts as you like with your fans. So make Instagram, clubhouse, note, and Voice. I feel that the number of channels has increased as the options for contacting each other have expanded. –Mr. Suetsugu is updating the magazine on the note as well as SNS such as Twitter. Did Suetsugu think about increasing the number of channels with his fans? To pass on the culture of competitive karuta to the next generation, we have started the Chihayafuru Fund to support the tournament’s management. I decided not only to draw manga but to make efforts in different parts. Even after the serialization of “Chihayafuru” was over, I wanted to have a place where I could quickly tell what I was doing. The only talent I have is to “keep doing what I have decided to do without getting tired of it.” If you make it a routine, you will do it persistently. I decided to create such a mechanism. If you choose to “increase contact with fans,” you can do your best. I think I should make an appointment with the viewer.

The increasing number of tournament participants and management difficulties

What kind of crisis did Mr. Suetsugu have when creating the fund? Looking back, when I first covered Karuta’s high school championships, there were about 400 individual participants. Even so, I thought that “many people will get together and play a match.” Still, as I have been serializing for more than ten years, the number of participants has gradually increased, and 2500 in the previous year when the corona became popular. I became a person. Thankfully, I learned that the operation is getting complicated. When I heard that some people read manga and started playing karuta, I felt responsible. I wanted to create a system that encourages volunteers working on the tournament management so that everyone who started playing karuta can continue to be happy.

It’s a waste to “draw and finish.”

It is also essential to pass on the culture of “competitive karuta” to the next generation. “I want you to pay attention to the younger generation” is also a big problem of traditional culture. In that respect, drawing a competitive karuta manga and having many people come to the high school championship seems to be a little success in attracting the attention of young people. Some people said, “I’ve come to understand how to play karuta by reading manga,” and with the power of manga, I was able to create one channel in the world. I want to cherish the essential points of contact that I have made. If I start drawing a new manga, I’ll concentrate on it. It’s a waste to say “draw and finish,” and I thought there was a responsibility. I also wanted to protect such a world, so I am working hard to create a fund and continue to do so.

Also, as a place to announce spin-offs.

Chihayafuru goods of the fund in popularity, echo to this fund that “The Power possessed by the cartoon” appeared to take over the culture. The other day, a collaboration event was held between the “Chihayafuru Fund” and the “Serika Fund” to support research on finding treatments for the intractable disease ALS ( Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ) in the manga “Space Brothers.” right. I also love the manga “Space Brothers,” and I would like to call the “Serika Fund” a senior fund or use it as a model. I think that the power of manga and the worldview and way of communicating that characters have helped to open up complex parts. I believe there is a synergistic effect between real and manga. 

On Twitter, there was also a comment saying, “I want to read another story of Chihaya and his friends.” For example, what about the future story of Hisashi Suo and Akihito Sudo, who was the ace of Hokuo Gakuen? Mr. Suo and Mr. Sudo are good. The character exists as a human being even within me, and I am thinking about what kind of adult I will be. I hope I can draw it even after “Chihayafuru” is over. After removing the spin-off, we will announce it at the “Chihayafuru Fund,” so I hope everyone will think that the character is alive all the time.

Manga “Chihayafuru”

Chihayafuru: A manga work depicting the youth of high school students who are passionate about competitive karuta. I started serializing in “BE LOVE” in 2007. The main character, Chihaya Ayase, created a “competitive karuta” club in high school and participated in high school championships. A story that aims to be a queen in individual battles. 

The 46th and 47th volumes already published will be released in August. “This manga is amazing! 2010” (Takarajimasha) won 1st place in the female edition and the 2011 35th Kodansha Manga Award for Girls. Has been animated “Chihayafuru” is delivered in more than 50 countries, convey the “competitive karuta” to the world

Yuki Suetsugu: cartoonist. She was born in Fukuoka prefecture. In 1992, he won the 14th Nakayoshi Rookie Manga Award Honorable Mention for “Romance of the Sun,” and this work was published in “Nakayoshi Special Edition” (Kodansha) and made his debut. Started serializing “Chihayafuru” in “BE LOVE” (Kodansha) in 2007

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