For the Empire!有名人 / Yuumeijin / Celebrity
- Oct 16, 2015
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Link.Tsukuda went on TBS radio for the TBS radio x Shonen Jump collaboration for the 50th anniversary
Some of the interesting points of the interview:
The interview continues next week.
- In the beginning, the hosts and Tsukuda joke that Soma is essentially an "ero-hon (エロ本)". At the beginning of serialization, if this cooking battle style didn't catch on, then it was decided that they'd ramp up the ecchi elements and completely focus on that. It was designed like that at the beginning so that both were possible depending on what caught on so Tsukuda says its possible that Soma could have been levels more ecchi than it currently is.
- Tsukuda debuted in University when he won an award but never followed up on it as as soon as he graduated he immediately began looking for a job. He become an employee of a design company for 2 years but had an editor through out that entire time who he was in touch with. In the beginning, he felt that he could not become a mangaka and thus went job searching. His editor would call from time to time but he'd basically say he was busy but the editor would keep on pressing him about manga. Despite all this he would still draw stuff in notebooks and the like. He was also supposedly physically frail as a child and since manga is such exhausting work, that was another reason why he didn't particularly feel like he could become a mangaka.
- The editor who would keep pressing him about manga told him to write a soccer manga one-shot. After the one-shot, his editor said that he can go for a serialization with this and then asked him when he'd quit his job.
- When asked if that was a sort of "switch" moment, Tsukuda says that at that time he was actually considering whether he should continue working at the company. It was fun, but he was feeling doubts about continuing and he was also falling behind at work and feeling like he was holding his company back. When his editor asked him this, he felt this might be a turning point and called his parents about becoming a mangaka. They had known about the award he won back in university and were fine with him becoming one. He then went to write "Shounen Shikku".
- He wrote the series but he says due to his lack of ability, he didn't know how to make a story about soccer flashy and stand out. He used Captain Tsubasa as reference but overall if didn't really help. Tsukuda apparently didn't even know much about soccer. The idea came from his editor when they went drinking back when he was working at the company. His editor proposed the idea about "soccer with elementary kids as leads where the rival wants to get to the champions' league and the MC decides he too will do that" and asked Tsukuda how it was but Tsukuda didn't even know what the champions' league was. He looked it up later and then found out what it was.
- Shikku was cancelled in 15 weeks but he was told a few weeks ahead. He apparently knew it wasn't doing well from the beginning as its questionnaire results were bad but his editor told him during a regular meeting that it was ending. During the whole experience Tsukuda didn't really understand everything since he was so new to everything and while he was regretful that he was being canceled, the whole experience was more of a whirlwind than anything. Since he only had 15 chapters, to get to the champions' league was incredibly difficult. He introduced a time-skip to high-school from elementary school in ch 14, which was pointed out by the hosts as a sign that the series is ending. The good thing out of this was that due to having released 15 chapters, he could release 2 volumes. Apparently not all publishers release volumes of series by newcomers.
- After Shikku, he analyzed why he failed as well. He would also continue drawing as well, writing names for 2 years while living off of royalties and help from Shueisha but they would keep being rejected. His editor would also propose ideas to write and Tsukuda would write names based on them but they were also rejected. Jump is apparently rather kind with new mangaka and mangaka in general, even those that only do art, as they have a contract that provide rather good sums so that they can continue to live and keep drawing. Tsukuda was able to live two years with this money, renting a small apartment.
- He also met lots mangaka his own age during these two years as he never met many mangaka before his first series. Usually mangaka enter the industry as assistants to other mangaka and those groups of assistants would bond, showing each other their names and the like. Tsukuda did this for those two years. He finally understood that " shounen manga is like this!". The hosts note that the order is reversed here.
- His editor also later told him that his art sucked. Before Shikku, the plan was to have someone else do the art but the timing was too close and so Tsukuda himself did the art. Tsukuda became aware that his art sucked after he began the series when he would flip through the magazine and see how his series stood out due to the bad art. During the two years, his editor would also introduce him to other newbies who had great art. He collaborated with them but it didn't go over well in the end.
- Saeki was his senpai in university. He was a year above him and had a good relationship as Saeki asked Tsukuda to show him his story after he won the award. In the end the two parted ways with Saeki debuting in a different magazine and Tsukuda becoming a salaryman. Tsukuda never thought, or even dreamed, they'd pair up and do manga.
- Tsukuda contacted Saeki after serialization was confirmed and Saeki told him he'd treat him to dinner in Shinjuku. Saeki was also drawing for another magazine an had just released his first tankoubon and gave it to Tsukuda who was incredibly happy to get it. Tsukuda showed it off proudly in his workplace and his editor noticed it one time when he came to pick up a manuscript noting the art was incredible. Tsukuda said it was a series by his senpai and his editor asked him to introduce Saeki to him. Due to this, Saeki released a work in a Special Issue doing both story and art. Tsukuda says that Saeki was essentially headhunted. Saeki however had been trying to get serialized in shounen magazines and is thankful to Tsukuda for introducing him to the editor. He often says that he's glad he treated Tsukuda to dinner back then.
- The idea for Soma came during drinking meeting with Saeki and his editor. Saeki proposed, "wouldn't it make for an interesting story if girls eat food, tremble and then climax?" to which the editor agreed with surprise. It was essentially a ero-hon/hentai manga idea. Saeki however didn't want to do the story as he wanted to stick to just art and talks of who to be the writer were done. The editor then said "there's one guy who's rather free", which turned out to be Tsukuda and thus Tsukuda joined the team.
- Tsukuda however didn't know much about cooking to which the hosts joke that Tsukuda is always writing about stuff he doesn't know about. Tsukuda says that when he told them this, he was told that " We're going to start learn about it from now on!". The hosts also joke that "isn't the "原作 (gensaku)" Saeki as he came up with the original idea.
- The meetings happen with all three of them, Saeki, Tsukuda and the editor. They throw around ideas and discuss the direction of the story. Tsukuda says that rather than "Story", his title should be "Name Writer". A ship analogy is brought up where Tsukuda essentially got on a big ship which Saeki is steering and Tsukuda is simply rowing in the corner. Tsukuda says there were many times when Saeki's ideas helped the series through and that had those ideas not been put forth, he doesn't know what might have happened in those chapters.
- In the name, Tsukuda does the composition, dialogue, the way the characters are facing and expressions. He draws the characters either as silhouettes or stick figures. There are also many times when he puts suggestions for how a character looks, or doesn't even draw any figures and only has words like "finishing pose" to show what the character is doing. Recently, he doesn't draw many silhouettes and only has words and Saeki is still able to draw the chapter due to their long partnership of 5 years. Saeki draws the chapter almost exactly like the name to which the hosts joke that Tsukuda does have some influence in this work.
- For the cooking, Morisaki Yuki comes up with the recipes. Essentially, the pair tell Morisaki what characters are fighting and what the theme is for the shokugeki and ask her what kinds of food they might make. She then comes up with the recipes and tells them "this character might make this, this one might make kind of strange food, what do you think?". The hosts stop him and ask, "isn't that everything?" to which everyone laughs. Tsukuda says that there are times when the pair come up with recipes but Morisaki is usually doing the heavy-lifting.
- The topic shifts to the names on the volume covers with "Story by Tsukuda, Art by Saeki and in collaboration with Morisaki". The hosts note that the "in collaboration with" is in smaller font and joke "shouldn't this be reversed?" and that "isn't it [in collaboration with Tsukuda] instead?" They joke that a ranking of who is working the hardest and who has the most power. Tsukuda laughingly says that in the beginning, that was the case but as more volumes are released, the font size has been getting bigger.
- When asked if he cooks, he says he did during university, to which the hosts retort, "this manga is beyond that level!" If asked if he can cook, he'll probably answer that he cannot. In regards to Morisaki actually making the food, she made it in the beginning and Tsukuda and the editor would go to her workplace and take pictures but now, as she's also become really busy, she sends over the recipes and tells them "please draw this kind of food". The pair them go through cookbooks as they might not fully understand the terms and see what it looks like.
- When asked whether they eat the food presented, Tsukuda says that lots of times they use food they've never eaten though they do eat like in the case of chinese food. If the theme is chinese food, a few weeks before they'll got with their editor to eat chinese food. This also works for research as sometimes they see something they can use in the story.
- When asked about other gourmet manga like Oishinbo, Cooking Papa, Mister Ajikko, etc, Tsukuda says that they use these to see how exactly food is presented and how to actually write gourmet manga. They sometimes also "steal/copy" from these manga, adding their own flavor of fanservice to the story. The hosts note how now, they'll strip almost every character.
- Towards the end, they joke again how whether Tsukuda really is doing a lot and to whether to actually call him "-sensei". Tsukuda also jokes about this.
Listening to this, I can't really blame Tsukuda alone for the direction of the series. It doesn't help that the team of the pair and editor don't really know too much about cooking themselves and so the "battle manga" aspects, like that sudden exhaustion, come into play.
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