This is an interview from 2013 and is found in the "Kuroko no Basket Character Bible".
I did not translate this interview, all credit for this translation goes to mittens_220.
"mittens_220: This is translated from the Taiwanese Publication, so being a second level translation from the Japanese text, it might not be as accurate, so don’t take this translation as absolute official material but as a reference for a general idea."
Togashi Yoshihiro X Fujimaki Tadatoshi
In commemoration of the release of the manga fanbook
A miraculous conversation!
The miraculous interview brought to you by the author of “Hunter x Hunter” Togashi Yoshihiro and the author of “Kuroko no Basket” Fujimaki Tadatoshi! Filled with the beliefs the two mangakas have towards manga, methods of story creation and other important topics!
Fujimaki-sensei asks about the secret behind the series written by Togashi-sensei
Fujimaki: Nice to meet you. I hope you can guide me today.
Togashi: Don’t be so formal, it’s the same for me as well.
---I hope both of you can guide me today as well. This time, it is Fujimaki-sensei who wished to have a talk with Togashi-sensei…
Fujimaki: When Togashi-sensei serialized Yu Yu Hakusho in Weekly Shonen JUMP, I have become a loyal reader ! Because I wanted to use this chance to chat with Togashi-sensei, even if I know that the chances are slim, I still put out my request. I’ve never expected that Sensei would agree… to me, Sensei is like a really great person, so I have not processed the reality that he is now in front of me (laugh).
Togashi: My responsibility now is as the first editor for Kuroko no Basket, right?
Fujimaki: That’s right. From the time when I first handed in my manuscript for you to read, until my serialization and a little after that, you have been my editor for a while.
Togashi: Because of that, I read “Kuroko no Basket” quite happily every week.
Fujimaki: Thank you very much, Sensei!
---To Fujimaki-sensei, what is the appeal in Togashi-sensei’s series?
Fujimaki: After reading Sensei’s works, I feel that they are really amazing. For example, in the first page of “Level E” where they introduce the members of the baseball team and things like that. Even though the panels were small, but the personalities of all the characters were clear, and very realistic. How did you create that sort of atmosphere?
Togashi: That was mostly from personal experience. That’s because I wanted to use my hometown as a stage, and use that reality in my manga. If anyone when to the actual stadium, they would find that the washing machine that was in the manga actually existed. Even if it was only one person who did that, it will still be interesting, that is the attitude I adopt when I create. Hasn’t Fujimaki-sensei done research on basketball as well?
Fujimaki: Actually, during the second year of my serialization, I have gone to America to collect information about the NBA. It was a reward for achieving one year of serialization (laugh). In addition, I have also gone to schools to collect information on their basketball clubs. Regretfully, I have not been able to find to find the time to do so recently. That’s right. I also like Togashi-sensei’s gags. Like in “Level E”, which was mentioned earlier, the captain of the baseball team, who does not seem to have any luck with girls no matter how you think about it, actually has a very beautiful girlfriend who loves him a lot (laugh).
Togashi: For the gags, I was influenced greatly by “Gaki Deka” (A gag manga serialized in Shonen Weekly Champion. The author is Yamagami Tatsuhiko. Was popular for a long time with gags like “Death Penalty”.), which I like a lot.
---Has Fujimaki-sensei been influenced by Togashi-sensei in some way as well?
Fujimaki: During the editorial meetings, Togashi-sensei’s manga are a frequent topic, so my works may have been subconsciously influenced by this. Like how the interaction between the characters sometimes feel like the ones in “Yu Yu Hakusho”.
Togashi: Even though Fujimaki-sensei has carefully read many series, but I think that he has absorbed many of the good points, and has digested them properly in his mind. Because he has made those his own, so he has not been specifically influenced by a particular mangka, this is what is so appealing about him.
Fujimaki: Thank you for your compliments!
Togashi: When talking about basketball manga in WSJ, “Slam Dunk” has a very strong influence, so it must have been hard to be compared to it. But you like “Slam Dunk” a lot, don’t you?
Fujimaki: That’s right! For “Slam Dunk” and “Hunter x Hunter”, I have read them until I can recite all the lines properly.
Togashi: I love “Slam Dunk” a lot as well. I have written a list of “Interesting Books This Year” and pasted it in my studio, and after re-reading “Slam Dunk” a few days ago, it was added into my list without question (laugh). Especially during the second half of the series, the drawing style really improved a lot…
---The art for “Kuroko no Basket” also improved a lot halfway as well.
Fujimaki: How should I say this? It’s because the art at the beginning was too bad. Even during the serialization meeting, the editor seemed to be worried and gave off the feeling “Would the art style be okay?”
Togashi: Is that true?
Fujimaki: Even though my skill was bad, I still survived! This is the only thing I am proud of (laugh). When drawing, are there any areas where Togashi-sensei put in extra effort or insist on doing a certain way?
Togashi: Hmm--- there are no special areas. However, if I must list something, it should be “not to maintain your style”. This way, you would be able to come as close to the design of the series you are drawing. With different series, the drawing style will change as well. Another thing would be “restriction”. When “Hunter x Hunter” first started
Fujimaki: Why set “restrictions”?
Togashi: If there are no restrictions, you would waver. Something like because this television show or manga was interesting this week, you want to try it in your own manga. So it is something like stepping on a brake.
Fujimaki: After seeing the expressions of the characters that Togashi-sensei has drawn, the area that surprises me the most is the corner of the mouth. Kurapika for example would always have this kind of expression, where the corner of his mouth is always slanted upwards or downwards, but because the shift is very slight, it looks like he is smiling, but also expressionless at the same time. Is this intentional?
Togashi: It should be intentional. That is called an Archaic smile. I am insistent on drawing mysterious expressions that are a mix of different feelings. Also, when drawing these expressions, the corner of the mouth is the easiest area to handle.
Fujimaki: I am also working on the expressions now. In order not to show the feelings of happiness, anger or sadness in crucial moments, or to not feel that this is the second time I am drawing this face even if I am drawing the same face. However, if I pay too much attention to it, the face will turn out strangely, or the facial expression will become too obvious, it’s really difficult.
Drawing the antagonist
---Togashi-sensei, what are your thoughts after reading “Kuroko no Basket”?
Togashi: When I was reading the first chapter, I thought “This is intetesting!” The character distinctions and the development are great. And there are also good opposing characters like Murasakibara, and I really wanted to read the continuations quickly. To tell the truth, I actually want Kuroko and the rest to lose, and I am reading this manga with a bias towards the opponents (laugh). The amazing thing about “Kuroko no Basket” is that it doesn’t rely on one powerful super move to dominate the match, or letting the protagonist win the match by using a more powerful move than the opponent. Because it doesn’t use such a direct path, even if the team that the readers like loses, they will still feel comfortable about it.
Fujimaki: Hearing Sensei say this, I really feel happy.
Togashi: And because it is a weekly serialization, being able to do so is much more amazing. I am more concerned about the plot after the WC arc. Have you thought about it beforehand already?
Fujimaki: I have not thought about the detailed development yet… because after drawing such amazing basketball techniques, I am always racking my brains on what should I do to make the protagonists win. Take for example when Midorima threw the ball from under the basket to score a big 3 pointer. (T/N: Referring to his full court shot) After drawing that scene, I felt really satisfied, like “Finally done!” I wanted to say that this was probably never shown in other basketball manga (laugh). But in the end, I was scolded by my editor, who said “This is too much!”
Togashi: It’s really important to try out new things.
Fujimaki: And because we had no idea how to defeat Midorima, my editor and I were really racking our brains in the family restaurant (laugh). In short, I wanted to draw amazing scenes in the matches without ignoring the largest allowable limits of the laws of physics.
Togashi: When Murasakibara broke the hoop, and said that basketball was a shitty sport, I thought it was really fierce. I hope that the “Generation of Miracles” will reunite in the end and compete in an American competition as representatives of Japan. And then, the opponents are people who look down on the Japanese, and are very bad people… That’s the plot that I have formed (laugh).
Fujimaki: The antagonists that Togashi-sensei drew have made very strong impacts. What do you look out for when you draw the antagonists?
Togashi: Using the Phantom Troupe in “Hunter x Hunter” as an example, allowing the leader to appear last in the chapter when they first appeared, then saying some impactful lines. But in terms of drawing, I did not think too deeply about what happens afterwards. Even for the other members, at the beginning it was “first add the girl who would not be forgotten visually”, I followed that train of thought when designing characters. Then I let the characters converse in my mind, and expand on the areas that make me think “This is it!” If I need to say something, the secret is in the things that you cannot draw in the manuscript.
Fujimaki: Has your style been like this since the beginning?
Togashi: I was unable to do that at all in “Yu Yu Hakusho”. After that, I tried using this method intentionally, and the feel I got was really good such that drawing it was really interesting. And the antagonist character doesn’t necessarily have to be drawn to stand out from the beginning. It is actually easier to handle if you strengthen it slowly later. With regards to the main protagonist, the personality must be clearly defined from the beginning before the comrades could be added, so it is more difficult. In addition, I like antagonistic characters, so the creation process is very unusual (laugh).
---Are you happy when you draw the antagonistic characters?
Togashi: It’s not that good when phrased in such an extreme manner, but if the antagonistic characters were killed, they don’t have to appear anymore, right? (laugh) And if their period of appearance is very short, it is easier to pay more attention to the details of what they wear.
Fujimaki: Because we need to build a long standing rapport with the protagonist.
Togashi: After getting “Hunter x Hunter” serialized, one of my goals was to aim for a “long term serialization”. When I thought about this, it meant I would need to create an extremely simplified protagonist. If I created a detailed character, when constructing the plot, it will become very troublesome. That is why I shifted my attention onto the antagonists. In the end, let the leader speak, and ignore the characters around him first. Then I would be able to decide on things like his ability, or who he should fight with. Then I develop it into an ability that no one has drawn before, or think about a new victory method.
Fujimaki: So it’s like staying a step ahead of the readers…or something to that effect.
Togashi: If I implement it, it’s as if I am casting away my readers. However, I do not wish to just create a beautiful story out of the existing things. Even though I am already over 40 years old, I do not wish to abandon my will to do crazy things (laugh). So I request that Fujimaki-sensei do some crazy things together with me as well, I’m looking forward to it!
Fujimaki: That’s true, even though I have already broken the boundaries with Midorima’s shot (laugh).
Reaction of the readers and the author’s feel
(T/N: not feelings exactly, more like the sense when you draw?)
Togashi: Even though it is hard to tell from the questionnaires, readers who prefer the free flowing writing style and support it do exist. Does Fujimaki-sensei ask about the results of the questionnaires?
Fujimaki: Yes. Also when I am drawing my manuscript, I will ask the opinions of my editors and assistants. However the comments for the chapters I am confident in are only average, but those chapters where I feel confused will get good comments, it’s a really common occurrence. Can Togashi-sensei predict the reactions of the readers?
Togashi: If the experiences that Fujimaki-sensei face accumulates, you will grasp the mechanics one day. I really like reports which say “how many votes would this kind of story get?” When your own opinion clashes with the surroundings, the reason is whether you are able to look at your own work objectively. Put away the stuff that you drew for half a day, then go back and look at it again, you will find that your opinion on it will change greatly. If you can maintain this, it might change into “even though I do not think so, but other people might find it interesting” that sort of thought.
Fujimaki: It sounds difficult…
Togashi: Because everyone’s situation is different, so I cannot recommend such a method. Fujimaki-sensei is able to discuss with the people around you, that’s the correct way. Previously, with my first editor, he actually graded a manuscript I thought to be 120 points as 55 points. But after I listened to his reasons, I was able to accept it immediately. To look at your own work objectively, it might take 2 to 3 days, so it’s really harsh for a weekly publication. However, if you are able to learn how to correct things on your own, your ability as an author will go up.
Fujimaki: Many manuscript drafts of mine were corrected by my first editor as well. There were times when my whole manuscript was rejected. However, my second draft will always be obviously better. Even though some authors do not like having their manuscripts rejected, but when my editor said that my manuscript was rubbish, I felt more thankful instead (laugh).
Togashi: You really had your whole manuscript rejected before?
Fujimaki: Such as when starting a new story arc, or the matches. Because it is expected, so it’s not interesting, reasons like that. But I do have manuscripts that were OK-ed after one try. At that time, we would toast to celebrate (laugh).
---Does Togashi-sensei have any questions for Fujimaki-sensei?
Togashi: The plot development after this, how much have you decided already?
Fujimaki: I have already decided the wins and losses, but how to reach that point, I have not thought about it at all…
Togashi: Judging from the earlier parts of the conversation, the way you create stories is really similar to mine. The main content will not be changed, but the changes that will lead to that point in the story have many different variations, and those that cannot be used will be deleted. I just wanted to know if using that sort of instinct is correct. Also, how many vacation days do you have?
Fujimaki: About one day per week.
Togashi: What do you do during your break?
Fujimaki: Mostly tying up any loose ends for any tasks I have, but when I do have free time, I will keep playing golf.
Togashi: Golf! I really want to see Fujimaki-sensei draw a manga about golf!
Fujimaki: I am also planning to draw one someday!
---For the both of you, what are your beliefs as mangaka?
Togashi: For me, it will only appear when I draw battle manga, which is the determination “to kill off the protagonist anytime” (laugh).
Fujimaki: Is that even a belief?
Togashi: “Even though it’s the protagonist, but I cannot relax.” I will always think that way. Even though it’s an important character, but because I want to kill the character here, I will kill the character (laugh). This is what my first editor told me as well, “If it has impact, and the readers can accept it, then it is fine.” The important thing is not abiding by the rules, but to break the current sense of security, that’s how it is.
---How about Fujimaki-sensei?
Fujimaki: Whether it is the art or the plot, it must be better than last weeks, even if it is only a small improvement. Because I always felt, if I keep doing the same thing, then I have lost. In the end, it’s because I have too many topics at the beginning… another reason is because I want to do things that no one have done before. Although I might just be digging my own grave in the end (laugh).
To both Sensei, having an anime adaptation means
--“Hunter x Hunter” and “Kuroko no Basket” both have anime adaptations, how do both of you feel about this development?
Togashi: As this is the second time that “Hunter x Hunter” has been adapted into an anime, it’s actually quite a special case (laugh). I used to think that it was embarrassing to have my own work done by another person’s hands, but as I grew older, the thought that “I wish to participate in a very special way” will come to me.
Fujimaki: Didn’t you participate during “Yu Yu Hakusho”?
Togashi: I did “nothing” at all (laugh). I really didn’t involve myself in it. The biggest reason is because I was already so busy with my own matters. However, the acting skills of the voice actor of Kuwabara Kazuma, Chiba Shigeru motivated me greatly. He understood the character of Kuwabara even better than me. Therefore, when I watch the anime, I also had something to take away from it. That is the best result. However, when I see my own series made into an anime, I still get the feeling of “Oh God”.
---“Kuroko no Basket” is Fujimaki-sensei’s first anime adaptation, what are your thoughts about it?
Fujimaki: Just as Togashi-sensei said, the level of embarrassment is nothing to joke about. It’s like reading out your own work in front of everyone, these times when they were writing out the lines is really…(laugh). But because it was changed to be so much cooler, I am really thankful!
Togashi: Do you think the voices for your own characters? I didn’t think about it at all… but because I have so many anime adaptations already, so I was warned to at least think about it (laugh).
Fujimaki: For Kagami, it would probably be a high spirited voice, that’s the general idea, but specifically…
Togashi: Is there anyone who can be the model for the important characters? (T/N: Referring to the voice actors)
Fujimaki: There isn’t any. Even if there is, even after I set it into the character design, it will slowly change into something totally different.
Togashi: The more I ask, the more I feel that you are similar to me…
---When you hear the voices in the anime, does it affect the character design or development for the characters in the manga?
Togashi: It will. The person who can act out the right voice, not only merges with the original work, but also investigates the character in their own way, just like Chiba Shigeru whom I mentioned earlier, he understands the character better than I do. “So you can interpret the character that way too”, I was surprised that way before. Because I know this is a good learning point for me, I would consciously avoid the sound.
Fujimaki: Because the anime has just started, so I only watched it with excited feelings. But after listening to Sensei’s response, I think I just might be influenced.
---Have you talked to the voice actors?
Togashi: It’s not the current “Hunter x Hunter”, I had talked to the voice actor of “Yu Yu Hakusho’s” Urameshi Yusuke, Sasaki Nozomu. Because they can only use their voice to express the character, so the way they research and understand the characters is totally different from the mangaka. After I understood this, I found it quite interesting.
Fujimaki: Because I did not have any time to go to the recording studio at all, so I really want to take a look.
Togashi: If you go, they will tell you to voice a character, you know. In the 1999 “Hunter x Hunter” anime, I voiced the person who fell from the Trick Tower and got eaten by monster birds. Though I was OK-ed after one try that is (strained laugh).
Fujimaki: After hearing this, I feel like backing out (strained laugh).
In the situation where the story can be predicted, in order to draw a more interesting story…
---Does Fujimaki-sensei have any questions for Togashi-sensei?
Fujimaki: “This team is going to win anyway”, even if the readers are able to guess the future developments, in order to come up with something more interesting, are there any tips to do so?
Togashi: In order to win, the protagonist loses something important, using this sort of method to create contradictions in the reader’s heart is one of the ways. For example, it’s something like this, the team member is going out with someone. However, after the main protagonist wins, the girlfriend dies, things like that. But don’t ask me why she dies! (laugh).
Fujimaki: The antagonist is the girlfriend’s brother…that sort of thing?
Togashi: Yep, but death is a little extreme (laugh). However, even if it’s just a small thing, the protagonist wins but loses that something, it will become very sad… but this is only suited for people who can appreciate this sort of thing.
Fujimaki: The female readers will become especially sad, I think.
Togashi: Another thing that I want to do is that even though it is very obvious which side would win, I will intentionally create a manuscript in which they lose. If doing so actually makes things more interesting, even if I have to argue with my editor, I will strongly promote the plot where they lose. Even if it doesn’t pass, the fact that you have drawn the manuscript in which they lost must be recorded in the series. Even if the protagonist is obviously making a difficult decision about a second and third choice, if it can be seen that the author has decided and is progressing the plot based on that, then the excitement felt while reading the manga will be gone. Another way would be to disagree with your editor, even though this is not a normal thing to do, you might come up with an idea that would make the readers feel “This might just happen…” That is the amazing thing about mangaka.
Fujimaki: Making the readers feel that the protagonist must win no matter what happens, yet they don’t want the opponent to lose at the same time… something like that?
Togashi: For “Kuroko no Basket”, you should be leaning towards the supporting of the protagonist team. If that’s the case, you need to design the opposing team as the bad people. However, not wanting the opponent team to lose, it’s not as if this sort of method is totally unfeasible. In addition, this is something I wish to ask, after the WC ends, it will be the last chapter… do you have plans like that?
Fujimaki: Currently it’s half half. Because I really do want to draw the story where the “Generation of Miracles” become one team and compete.
Togashi: I think that a lot of readers would want the “Generation of Miracles” to play in the same team as well. However, even if you can draw about this in the flashbacks, but intentionally avoid drawing it, you would give people the space to imagine that “there will be an All Japan Representative story later”. Personally, I really want to see the “Generation of Miracles” compete against a foreign team!
Fujimaki: Thank you for the good expectations Sensei has of me! As for the suggestions that Togashi-sensei have given me, I will keep it as a reference!
---Then to wrap things up, can I ask Togashi-sensei to give Fujimaki-sensei some encouraging words?
Togashi: As long as it is in your ability to do so, I like to continue seeing more of your serializations. If it is possible, after the “Generation of Miracles” are done competing against one another, I would like to see them team up and fight against a stronger opponent.
Fujimaki: Thank you Sensei! This chat with Sensei has been very enlightening, and I have learnt much from it. I still have many things I would like to ask Sensei, if there are any chances in the future, I hope you can continue guiding me!
Togashi: It is the same for me. Thank you very much for today.