This interview is from 2008.
SJ: Shonen Jump
T: Togashi Yoshihiro
SJ: What were you like when you were younger (say, in middle school and high school)?
T: when I was in middle school, I was a bright and optimistic kid, and when I was in high school, I was a dark and pessimistic young man.
SJ: how old were you when you first started drawing? What sort of things did you draw?
T: I started drawing around the 1st to 2nd year of elementary school. I was already drawing manga at that time.
SJ: can you tell us about some of your artistic influences?
T: I was introduced to H.R. Giger’s work through the movie Alien, and was greatly influenced by him.
SJ: how did you become a professional manga artist?
T: I submitted a piece to a Weekly Shonen Jump contest, and was contacted by one fo the editors.
Hoobies & Interests:
SJ: what are your hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
T: Bowling, which I consider exercise. I spend my spare time with my family.
SJ: I have heard that you are a fan of horror movies. Which onese are your favourite, whether from Japan, America or other countries?
T: Among Japanese movies, Joyu-rei (Ghost Actress, 1996). Among foreign movies, Dawn of the Dead (1978).
SJ: I have heard that you are a fan of video games. What kinds of games do you like? Are you playing any video games right now?
T: I like board-type video games. Right now, I am playing Culdcept (a Japanese strategic multiplayer card-battle board game with magic and monsters)
SJ: if you had to rate your interest in these three genres – sci-fic, fantasy and horror – how would you rate them in order of preference? In your own work, do you think of these as separate genres or all part of the same thing?
T: it changes from moment to moment, but right now, 1) fantasy 2) sci-fic 3)horror. But I don’t really put meaning into any of these classifications.
SJ: do you read a lot of fiction (books, not manga)?
T: I don’t know how I would compare to other people, but I do read quite a few novels. Mysteries, sci-fic, non fiction, etc.
SJ: what parts of the world have you visited? What are some of your favourite places, and why?
T: Turkey, Egypt, Spain, among other places. I enjoy seeing landscapes that I can’t see in Japan.
SJ: what kind of drawing materials do you use today on Hunter x Hunter, compared to the past with Yu Yu Hakusho?
T: it basically hasn’t changed: drafting ink and Kabura pens (a large-nibbed pen “Kabura=tyrnip which produces relatively even lines). However, which HxH, I started using th eMac for some of the colouring.
SJ: have you ever considered doing a non-shonen mana? Something for older readers, such as a seinen (young man) manga, for instance?
T: I have. I’d like to challenge myself to anything at least once.
SJ: you hare excellent at drawing realistic portraits of people. Do you ever draw from life, or base your characters on actual people?
T: almost all of it is from my imagination, but I also often take the images of actual people and embellish them in my own way.
SJ: you have a great talent for drawing monsters and weird creatures, from scary ones in YuYu Hakusho and Level E, to whimsical ones in Hunter x Hunter. How do you do it?
T: Actually, I kind of draw them on a whim, without thinking too deeply about it.
SJ: in fighting manga, it’s necessary to come up with mangy visual effects for showing motion and power. How do you do it?
T: no matter what, I try to make it easy for th ereader to understand what’s happening.
SJ: YYH changes a lot after Yusuke comes back to life. Can you tell us why you decided to turn the series into a fighting manga?
T: I had already planned to do so from the beginning. The rest was just figuring out the timing.
SJ: when you first introduced Hiei and Kurama in Volume 3, did you plan for them to become major characters?
T: I intended Kurama to be a major character from the very beginning, but I wasn’t sure about Hiei at first.
SJ: who is your favourite villain in the series, and why?
T: The Togruo brothers, because they are fundamentally unrestrained.
SJ: who is your favourite female character in the series, and why?
T: Shizuru (Kuwabara’s sister), because she keep her cool.
SJ: some fans have debated this, so… how do the Reikai (spirited world), Ningenkai (human world), and Makai (demon world) in YYH relate to one another? Is the Makai “Hell”, or some place else entirely?
T: as far as it goes, I’ve interpreted them as being on parallel planes of existence. Places that it would be difficult to travel to with current scientific technology.. .something like that. It’s much easier to go there as a ghost, without material body, so most people end up going there when they die. Heaven and hell are ultimately just a tiny portion of the Reikai and Makai which people accidentally wandered into, saw and came back to tell about. You can think about it as being just one face of a die. But anyways, the explanation is that it all exists somewhere in reality.
Back to Real Life:
SJ: recently, you had a son. Do you feel that becoming a father has changed your work, or will change your work, particularly relating to the “young boy looking for his father” theme in Hunter x Hunter?
T: I feel that it will be a great influence on me from this point on.
SJ: in closing, what advice would you give to fans who are interested in becoming artists themselves?
T: 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, think of everything in your life in terms of manga. Then it will be easy to become a manga artist.