Interview: Your Lie in April Mangaka Naoshi Arakawa
Anime Expo 2016 was notable for having not just one, but several noted manga creators from Japan featured as their special guests. One such guest was
is an 11-volume shonen manga series published in English by
. It has also been adapted into an anime series, and an upcoming live action feature film.
is the story of two young musicians who compete in the world of classical music. Kosei Arima is a shy high schooler who was once an award-winning piano prodigy as a child, but has since given up playing music partly because of the death of his demanding mother. His life changes once he meets Kaori Miyazono, an outgoing, free-spirited violinist who encourages Kosei to start making music again – this time performing on stage as her accompanist.
has been adapted into an anime series, which was produced by
block. The complete 22-episode series is currently streaming online, has been licensed for DVD/Blu-Ray release in North America by
manga series has won several awards, including Best Shonen Manga from the 37th
Manga Awards in 2013, and a nomination for the Manga Taisho Award in 2012. The anime adaptation for
Sugoi Japan Awards in 2016 as a series selected by Japanese fans as outstanding content for overseas fans.
, Arakawa has created several other manga series, including sports manga such as
, with new chapters being simul-pubbed digitally in English by
met with Arakawa after his spotlight panel at Anime Expo in Los Angeles, along with his editors from
, one of his assistant manga artists, Mayu Kitajima, and interpreter Yae Sahashi from
. Arakawa talked about meeting his overseas fans for the first time, making the change from sports to music manga, and how he almost considered writing a different ending for
So first of all, welcome to Anime Expo. Is this your first time in Los Angeles?
Interpreter: It\'s his first time in the United States, his first time to be abroad outside of Japan, and even his first time to be in an airplane!
Oh my gosh! (laughs) Wow. That must be pretty exciting for you! What was your reaction when you heard that you were invited to be a guest at Anime Expo?
?” I was kind of afraid of being on the plane, but my editors and my assistant really wanted to go, so they were kind of pushing me… (laughs)
Well, it\'s great to see you here. So when you heard you were coming to Los Angeles, was there anything special you wanted to do while you\'re here?
Arakawa: I wanted to see a Major League Baseball game, because I love sports, like soccer and baseball. I really want to see pro soccer and baseball games, while I\'m in the States. I also wanted to see NBA basketball and NFL football matches, but it\'s the off season now, so that\'s not possible.
Arakawa: On the fifth. (a day after the last day of Anime Expo weekend) We are going to go around to enjoy America. We\'re going to go see the Dodgers game tonight, and then we\'re also going to go to the LA Galaxy soccer game. We\'ll be going to Sequoia National Park too.
Ah, that sounds like fun. Now that you\'ve got a taste of being in N. America, do you think you\'d like to come back?
Your spotlight panel was today, you had autograph sessions this weekend, and got to meet a bunch of your fans. What did you think? Can you share your impressions of this weekend so far?
Arakawa: It was really fun, because the fans there were so excited. It made me feel excited too! With the fans out in the audience and us up on stage, it felt like we created the panel together to make it a fun experience.
Before you came to Los Angeles, did you have any idea that you had fans overseas that were that enthusiastic about your manga?
Arakawa: I didn\'t expect that there are so many fans of
here. I also didn\'t expect to see people wearing costumes to
. It was surprising, in a good way. It was exciting to see that too!
Did you have any interesting conversations with your fans at your autograph session?
Arakawa: Yes, of course! But especially yesterday, when we took a walk around the artist\'s alley in Kentia Hall. There are some artists who were actually drawing
! That was a good moment for me when I met these artists. When I told them who I am, they were surprised and shocked.
Arakawa: I didn\'t really say much more than ‘I\'m the creator of
As a published pro, would you want to give these up-and-coming artists any advice?
Arakawa: No, no, no. (laughs) I\'m already happy with the fact that they drew my manga. It made me really happy to see this. I liked seeing how fans of
were so excited to see me. I was also really impressed to see the artists were drawing
That\'s nice to hear that kind of sentiments from you. In the North American comics scene, this situation has been a bit controversial lately. Some professional comic artists have had mixed feelings about fan artists drawing their characters and selling them at the same show where they are appearing as guests.
written by a lawyer who specializes in Intellectual Property law)
artists is because they\'re drawing really beautiful art. Their art depicted the beauty of the world of
; they kept the same atmosphere as what I had originally created.
Interpreter: When we were doing autograph sessions, some of the fans brought their
to him. They wanted him to sign their artwork —he was a little shocked.
Wow. That\'s bizarre. You\'ve never experienced that kind of thing in Japan?
Interpreter: No, no. That kind of thing doesn\'t happen in Japan. In Japan, bringing
that you drew to the artist who created the original work… it\'s kind of… well, it\'s considered rude, or rather impolite. That\'s why such things don\'t happen in Japan.
Did you think it was rude of them to do that, to ask you to sign their
Arakawa: No, I didn\'t feel offended by it. I told them I wouldn\'t sign
, and they were fine about it. They just said, ‘Oh, okay,’ and didn\'t make a fuss.
Interpreter: Just to clarify, there was only one person who was really pushy about to get him to sign the
Yeah, I can see how that would be a kind of uncomfortable situation…
was a very different type of manga story for you. In the past, you\'ve typically drawn sports manga stories, yes?
, two series focused on soccer, are both currently available on
Arakawa: Sometimes you get bored if you just stick creating just one genre of stories. At times like that, you just want to try different genres to challenge yourself to see things in a new way, take a fresh approach to storytelling. That\'s why I decided to explore the world of music instead of sports with
So what made you decide to write about music?
Well, it wasn\'t as if I dislike music, to begin with. The second thing is that I was inspired by seeing a picture of a person playing the violin. It was really beautiful.
Arakawa: I think I saw it on TV, but I don\'t remember the exact program. Also, another thing was that I thought that not many people drew this sort of music manga, that focuses on the violins and stuff.
I also decided to focus on classical music because, at that time, it didn\'t make sense for me to draw a story about rock music or a rock band, because we had
). We didn\'t want the same genre of music manga being serialized in that magazine at the same time.
So we thought, ‘Okay, we can do a manga series about music, but we have
, which is a story about a rock band, so maybe we should focus on classical music instead.’
, were you a fan of classical music already? Or do you play music yourself?
Arakawa: I\'m not a big fan of classical music. I\'m not a huge, huge fan of rock bands either, but if I had a choice of what I like to listen to, I\'d probably pick rock music. But if that\'s not an option, then my next choice would be classical music.
Did you have to do a lot of research about classical music to create this story?
Arakawa: Yes, we did some research. But even after reading some books and doing some research, I felt like I didn\'t have the depth of knowledge necessary to really tell this aspect of the story. So I decided to ask my editor, who knows more music than I do to help me out. So we decided that he\'d do the music research, which would free me up to focus on the storytelling.
So Yamano-san, how did Arakawa-sensei pitch this story to you?
Shiro Yamano: A while ago, Arakawa tried to pitch another music manga series, but we turned it down. Classical music is fine, but at the time, we had
magazine. So with that in mind, we thought it would be kind of hard to find a unique way to go into depth with this subject.
, Arakawa-sensei wanted to give it another second try. He drew the rough sketches and page layouts, then presented it to the editors. We thought, ‘Well, as long as it\'s fun to read and it\'s a good story, then we can go with this classical music theme.’ So that\'s how it all started.
Ah, wow. It\'s interesting to hear about what went into the decision-making process behind selecting music as the main theme for this series.
is a manga about music, but inherently, manga is a silent medium. That said, though, you\'ve drawn very beautiful and dynamic depictions of the sound of music in this comic. Is it challenging to draw what music sounds like in manga?
Arakawa: I didn\'t specifically think about how to depict the music itself. I was more concerned with the rhythm, as far as how the manga would be read. I focused on developing the panels and using the spread pages, keeping in mind how the reader can see and feel the rhythm of the story.
Did it surprise you when you heard the actual music accompanying your story when it was depicted in the anime version?
So for example, when you read the manga, the manga describes Kosei or Kaori playing a song, the description simply says that they\'re playing the name of a certain song or composition. But when you watch the anime, you can see, hear and feel Kosei playing that actual song.
Arakawa: We can\'t simply compare manga and anime because they\'re different media. Anime has different strengths than manga. However, when I saw the anime version of
, I thought, ‘Wow, they really tried very hard to make the anime adaptation look and sound terrific.’
I thought it was fascinating how the anime captured a lot of your visual storytelling tics from your manga, like how your characters look when they look surprised or when the characters make a “che-che-che-che-che-che” face when they\'re nervous.
Arakawa: Yes, you\'re right. They tried to respect the manga when adapting it into anime. But when it comes to the music, I felt like the producer really got into it. For example, I saw the storyboards for a two-minute scene, and it was like this huge stack of story boards.
Arakawa: Yes, it looked like a dictionary! (laughs) Then that made all the staff of animation cry.
Well, maybe the animation studio staff were crying because it was a lot of work to animate it – but also,
is a very emotional story. It\'s really very moving – full of emotions and drama. In your own words, what are the main themes of
Arakawa: The theme is death and rebirth. I\'m not sure, but I hope that message is carried to the audience somehow.
Arakawa: There is a contrast between Kosei, the pianist and Kaori, the violinist. Throughout the story—at the beginning, he couldn\'t listen, he couldn\'t hear the music. Then over the course of the story, Kosei was kind of reborn as a pianist.
But at the same time, while Kosei is regaining his strength and confidence as a musician, Kaori is weakening, weakening, weakening. So there\'s that contrast; in that way, the story talks about rebirth and also death.
I also wanted to depict the feelings of a person who envies someone else, or is jealous of what they have. I hope that comes through in this story, but I\'m not sure if I succeeded…
I could definitely feel that while reading this story. Those ideas and themes you\'ve just described definitely come through.
Arakawa: That was a bit controversial. On one hand, I want to make characters that are charming, that leave a good impression with readers. However, on the other hand, I\'m telling a story about the dark side of human feelings. Meanwhile, I want readers to love these characters.
Speaking of dark sides, I was shocked at how strict Kosei\'s mother was to him, how harsh she could be to this young boy at such a young age.
Arakawa: Well, in Japan, in the real world, in the real classical music world, Kosei\'s mom is not that strict, relatively speaking.
Arakawa: Yes, there are people in that world who are way more strict and demanding.
So what inspired you to create a character like Kosei\'s mother?
Arakawa: As I was doing research to prepare for creating this series, I read interviews and did some research about real professional classical musicians and pianists. While doing this, I saw many parents and teachers who are like that, who were very strict and demanding.
You might also notice that in the story, there aren\'t any pictures of Kosei\'s father. It was really hard to get a feeling for Kosei\'s father. Of course, Kosei had a dad, but his mother has a very strong presence in his life. She\'s always pushing, pushing, pushing him.
While I was surprised at how cruel and strict Kosei\'s mother was in the story, I also thought it was interesting that you tried to portray her as a multi-dimensional adult, not just a pure villain. She wasn\'t strict and abusive to Kosei just for the sake of being strict, but she had reasons for her behavior. Different people saw her differently, and experienced different sides of her personality than Kosei did.
Arakawa: I want to make all the characters I create to be loved by readers. Of course that might be my artist\'s ego, but that\'s what I was trying to do.
As a matter of fact, most of your manga series have very strong, outgoing female lead characters.
feature female protagonists front and center. While Kosei in
is a male main character, Kaori is definitely a main character, main focus of the story as well.
Do you prefer to tell stories from a male or female point of view?
Arakawa: When I draw male characters, they tend to be… well, their personality tends to be kind of like me, personality-wise. I\'m pretty shy and I\'m not very aggressive. But you need somebody who can pull the story, lead the story, right? So that\'s why, often times, the surrounding characters in my manga become aggressive and pushy. Also, I like aggressive girls who can take the lead too. So that combination of factors contributes to the strong female characters in my manga.
… well, let\'s just say that there\'s a very definite end to the story. Did you always know that would be Kaori\'s fate? Or in the process of drawing this story, did you ever waver from that decision and think ‘Well, maybe I\'ll do… this instead?’
Arakawa: Of course I wavered. But when volume three of
was published in Japan, we received an offer for the anime adaptation. At that point, I told the anime producer about the ending I had in mind, and the anime producer really liked that ending. That\'s why I felt that after that happened, I really couldn\'t change my mind about the ending because that would affect the animation production. At one point or another, almost everyone involved with this series felt like ‘Maybe we should change the ending…’ But at the end, we decided to stick with my initial idea for the ending of this series.
It\'s a very moving, emotional ending. It\'s pretty obvious that you put a lot into creating these wonderful characters -- was it hard to say goodbye to them?
Arakawa: Sometimes, once the characters are created and the story is set in motion, it kind of goes out of the hands of the artist who created them. There are times when I felt like I\'m not sure how the characters will act; the characters are kind of leading the story themselves. For Kaori and Kosei, by the end of the series, I felt like, ‘Okay, I\'m done working with them,’ but maybe I did feel a bit sad to say goodbye to the side characters.
Have you considered telling new stories about side characters from
Arakawa: Actually, I just drew a collection of short stories to focus on those side characters as the bonus to the
anime DVD release in Japan. After finishing that work, I\'m kind of now feeling pretty satisfied with it all.
So let\'s bring us up to your current projects. Can you tell me about the new series you\'re working on now,
Farewell My Dear Cramer (Sayonara Watashi no Cramer)
in Japan. New chapters are being released in English the same time as Japan via ComiXology.
Arakawa: It\'s a sports manga about women\'s soccer.
Arakawa: It\'s a manga where girls are putting in a lot of effort to play soccer.
To go from high school to pro? Or to compete while in high school?
Arakawa: Within the high school. I\'m working really hard to make all the scenes really cool and fantastic looking, to make the players look like they\'re trying hard.
I know you\'re a fan, but do you play soccer yourself?
Arakawa: Never. (laughs) I only watch soccer, I\'m not a soccer player.
So what makes soccer an interesting subject for a manga?
Arakawa: I enjoy watching soccer, but also I want to support soccer in Japan, so that it becomes more popular.
manga made basketball really popular in Japan…
Arakawa: Yeah, it\'s like that. After
came out, everyone bought the basketball shoes—Air Jordans. (laughs)
Arakawa: I have so many. Messi. Bailey. There are too many.
What qualities makes these athletes your favorites? What do you admire about them?
Arakawa: They\'re all funny. In a way, it\'s funny that sometimes these pro players are jerks, but they have some amazing moves…. Some other players, maybe they are not that good athletically speaking, but they are popular because they\'re adorable, or have loveable personalities. It\'s a combination of how they play and their personalities that make them compelling to follow.
REFLECTING ON HIS FIRST, BUT NOT LAST OVERSEAS COMICS CONVENTION
Obviously, since this is your first trip outside of Japan, this is also the first time overseas fans have had a chance to meet and talk with you. But, that said, not all of them could come to Anime Expo this weekend. Do you have any message for your fans around the world that you\'d like to share with us?
Arakawa: I hope you enjoy reading my manga, although I\'m not entirely convinced yet that my work is really popular here… When we went to visit artist\'s alley downstairs, I saw a lot of
, and a lot of shonen manga type art. I\'m not all that confident that my manga has been very well-accepted here.
Really? Even after all that has happened this weekend? Wow, you really ARE a shy guy, aren\'t you? (laughs) Well, maybe if you get a chance to see more of your overseas fans, maybe you might change your mind. Now that you\'ve gotten over your initial hesitation about traveling outside of Japan, and you have a passport and all, maybe you should go to Europe and see some pro soccer games there! Did you thought about where you\'d like to visit next?
Arakawa: I think I\'d like to go to New York City. New York sounds like a really fun place to visit. A lot of films have New York scenery, so I\'m interested in visiting New York to see it for myself.
Well, that\'s definitely all possible now, right? I hope you can come back again sometime soon. In the meantime, congratulations on your new series. I\'m looking forward to reading it.
is available in print in English from Kodansha Comics, and in digital format via ComiXology, Amazon Kindle, nook, Kobo, and iBooks.
anime at http://www.yourlieinapril.com/ to see trailers, learn more about the story and learn about the cast and characters of this series.
Zac and Jacob didn\'t intend to sound like a pack of haters when discussing Mob Psycho 100, but here we are. PLUS: Sweetness & Lightning, Love Live! Sunshine!!, Suicide Squad and much more! ― ANNCast Episode 268: Hater Patrol Zac and Jacob didn\'t intend to sound like a pack of haters when discussing Mob Psycho 100, but here we are. PLUS: Sweetness & Lightning, Love Live Sunshine, Suicide Squad and mu...
For some, anime convention badges seem like they\'re going up in price, and ticketed events - an extra expense after you\'ve paid for your badge - are on the rise. Justin gets into the rising costs of conventions. ― Kasra asks: I want to ask why in the world of cons is so expensive. I went to my first con on Friday and the cost of the ticket was so much that it was unbelievable -- 57 dollars to get in...
The award-winning creator of the smash hit tearjerker Your Lie in April discusses his biggest hit, sudden success, his first trip to the US (or even on an airplane) and his brand-new manga series. ― Anime Expo 2016 was notable for having not just one, but several noted manga creators from Japan featured as their special guests. One such guest was Naoshi Arakawa, the award-winning creator of the drama...
This Week in Games - Metroid\'s Saddest Birthday Ever
ANN\'s new weekly gaming feature launches with this week\'s big news - including a remake of Metroid II that Nintendo doesn\'t want anyone to play - and next week\'s biggest new releases! ― Greetings and welcome to This Week in Games, our new weekly gaming feature here on Anime News Network that probably reminds you a whole lot of our previous column, The X Button. But where the X Button was a roundup of...
This yuri series of yesteryear can often be too weird for words, but its artistic ambition and thought-provoking ideas must be seen to be bear-lieved. Jacob Chapman explores this unusual gem. ― Yurikuma Arashi is a show about lesbians, written and directed by a man. For some people, this might not mean anything one way or the other. Countless other yuri anime have been written or directed by men, alo...
Answerman - Are Anime Companies Cutting Back On Convention Appearances?
A recent interview with one manga company prompts a reader to ask if anime and manga companies are cutting back on costly convention appearances. Justin gets into it. ― Jake asks: One of the things that I enjoy about going to conventions is meeting people from the industry and getting a more personal experience. But recently I was listening to an interview with Seven Seas and they stated that it was...
Six brand-new school idols appeared at Anime Expo 2016 to introduce the world to Love Live! Sunshine!! We sat down with the group to find out what their visit to America was like and what inspires their music. ― It\'s been a big year for the girls from Love Live Sunshine. It\'s the first voice role for many of the girls; they\'re the new "school idols" from the Love Live project, an all-media project th...
Despite a slightly uncomfortable premise, Ten Count\'s first volume treats its characters well in a slow but enjoyable first volume. ― Upon simply hearing the premise of Rihito Takarai\'s Ten Count, you could be forgiven for worrying that it would be just another exploitative yaoi series driven by an unequal relationship. That, however, would be allowing yourself to miss out on at least a first volume ...
The Best and Worst of the Season So Far: Week of Jul 29-Aug 4
Alderamin on the Sky shoots up the rankings in an unprecedented bid for the top spot - but Re:Zero remains king of the hill. See how all your favorite shows fared in our weekly rankings! ― Our team of reviewers are following 30 anime series of the Summer 2016 season and readers are rating each episode as the reviews go up. So let\'s have a look at what ANN readers consider the best (and worst) of the...
It\'s anime night at Vice & Luna\'s office, and it\'s never a simple task deciding what to watch! ―
Lucky Star took the otaku world by storm and became a sensation nearly a decade ago - now that the entire series is out on bluray, how does it hold up? Nick Creamer takes it on. ― It\'s difficult to conceive of a show that better exemplifies “a product of its time” than Lucky Star. Airing just one year after the mega-hit The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, it was the first dedicated slice-of-life serie...