In April 2023, India had the most popular Anime film director, Makoto Shinkai, for his brand new Anime film Suzume Grand premiere. At the same time, another popular celebrity behind this franchise visited Mumbai for the first time; Mangaka Denki Amashima. She is an award-winning manga artist (mangaka) who created Suzume manga. Its first serialization started in October 2022 in a Japanese manga magazine called Afternoon.
Amashima sensei visited India for the first time and appeared in the Manga talk session on 19th April 2023. Super Sugoii got the rare opportunity to participate in this session, held at the Rachana Sansad College of Applied Art and Crafts (CAAC) in Mumbai. During the session, Amashima sensei talked about her inspiring journey and showcased wonderful live drawings.
– Please tell us some of your background and how your journey started.
Initially, I was studying oil painting and contemporary art when I was studying at Tokyo University of the Arts. Though I was pursuing contemporary art, one day, my friend told me why didn’t I delve into something my artwork could reach everybody’s hand. And that is when I decided and dropped that idea to proceed into contemporary art and followed my heart in manga.
– How did you come into making manga?
Even for drawing with a crayon at the time, I was very interested in doing it in my childhood. But when I wanted to change my career path to manga, it was not that I had been loving manga for a long time. Because when I was a student in middle school, my parents strictly advised me not to watch anime and read manga. It was the kind of environment typically in India also faces I heard. After all, I started doing manga in the second year of my master’s.
– When your parents were not allowing you, did you hide and do your drawings?
Yes, I was interested in manga and used to hide and read them when there were restrictions.
– In terms of being a mangaka, were there any hesitations or people pushing back that believe this is not a great line?
Although my parents told me to refrain from manga, interestingly, my father used to hide and read himself AKIRA, Nausicaa, etc. I mean, my parents both loved manga, but they never used to tell me that they loved manga.
The school I went to was very famous as many students became a doctor. Therefore, the people around relatives and friends started asking why I did not become a doctor but was trying to become a mangaka. These kinds of challenges were there.
Eventually, my parents are happy that I am a mangaka. However, my grandparents don’t know I am a mangaka. Otherwise, they start worrying about how I am surviving without steady income revenue.
– Haven’t you thought about becoming an employee to join somewhere?
Yes, sometimes, because this career may not provide you with a steady income. But beyond that, the joy of drawing manga is so massive that it drives me to continue this journey. I don’t think that I wanted to do what you mentioned. I want to put my creativity into being alone and doing drawings.
– At the beginning of the journey, when you started to feel that you must become a mangaka during the second year of your master’s, what was the process to become a mangaka?
I had to go and take my creation to an editor who approved the work. After that, an editor told me that there is a magazine in which I could get a few pages published. So I got my first break in one of the places during that time. And then, somebody said that if I worked very hard, I could have a chance to become a mangaka.
It was almost five years from when I started drawing manga until my first manga was published. The first manga took around three months for me to create.
– What was your journey after your first manga to Suzume serialization?
It was quick. I got the opportunity for Suzume manga right after my first manga people started noticing me, and they requested this book. So it was only one year between my first manga publication and Suzume’s serialization.
– How were you able to transition from oil painting or contemporary art to mangaka?
I learned a lot of artistic styles through the drawing component at the art university. Then, I learned story-making and how to tell a story to become a mangaka. That is why the transition was not that tough for me.
– How do you motivate yourself to keep creating as a mangaka?
Coming to specifications of Suzume is a manga franchise of the movie Makoto Shinkai san produced. I realized that fans all across the globe were so enthusiastic about speaking of characters they like or how they associate with the characters they prefer. So, the fans’ passion becomes a very big force for me in creating the manga, and I must work for the fans. I must make them passionate again. I should give back to the drawing board to make drawings, and that is what drives me.
– When you draw a new character, how do you compose it in a new story?
If you start doing a character drawing, it will call you from the other side. When you take a photograph, it will come from the other side. Similarly, your manga would start talking to you, “Now I’m ready as a character, why don’t you move me,” you know. And that probably will seem when you should think of a story, build it across, and then take it to the next level.
– Lastly, can you advise the young students of artistic line, if anything, you would leave them with what would be that?
When I walked into this college, I felt that it was like the same atmosphere as mine where I studied. And when you have this journey in an artistic line like this, there will be a lot of times your dream will not get fulfilled immediately. You would be rejected from all quarters. You would have to stay a long time close to the place and still change your dream. And many people give up their dream, but those who do not quit come up in life.
So, I am giving you one piece of advice: “Please do not leave that dream. Keep on chasing it, come what may”