Doubutsu no Kuni Special : Makoto Raiku X Hajime Isayama Special Interview
Only for use by HWMN
Ok. I did this whole friggin' thing today, and now I'm totally wiped out. But with this, my translating of Doubutsu no Kuni comes to a close. I'm all done. And I'm totally happy with that. Uh, they discuss... some stuff about Isayama's theories and such. It's a fun little interview with a little insight. I thought it would be good to include in our scanlation of the final volume, since this ran with the final chapter of DnK in Bessatsu Shounen Magazine. Ok, well that's in the typesetting phase right now so I hope we get done soon.
[Doubutsu no Kuni Extra - Makoto Raiku X Hajime Isayama Special Interview]
[The first box has everything in English on it already.]
Top Left: In commemoration of the end of "Doubutsu no Kuni", we finally bring you a super-big interview between the two representative authors of Betsumaga! How has Isayama Hajime read "Doubusu no Kuni"? Raiku Makoto talks about the charm of "Shingeki no Kyojin: (Attack on Saturn's Moon). And both authors describe what it's been like being serialized in Betsumaga since its first issue. We bring this high-volume worthwhile read in this permanent file!
Left Author: Hajime Isayama
Born in 1986 in Ooita Prefecture. His series "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Assault of the Big Guys) began in the first issue of Bessatsu Shounen Magazine. He also won the 35th Koudansha Manga Award for the Shonen Category. And that work has now over 30 total million copies in print.
Right Author: Makoto Raiku
Both in 1974 in Gifu Prefecture. His series "Doubutsu no Kuni" has been serialized in Bessatsu Shounen Magazine since its first issue. He won the 37th Koudansha Manga Award for the Shonen Category. He also has the representative work of "Konjiki no Gash!!".
Giant Text: Hajime Isayama X Makoto Raiku
White Bubble: Interview
Big Red Text: ~Talk about "Doubutsu no Kuni", "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Charge of the Giants), and the "History of Betsumaga"~
Bottom Right Red Text: Desired Endings
Isayama-sense (Hereafter Isa): I got a chance to read the last chapter earlier and it really was a magnificent work. While it was really grand, it all came together at the end and turned into one story with 14 volumes. I had a shock when I read the end like when I read "The World Is Mine".
Raiku-sensei (Hereafter Rai): Thank you very much.
Isa: In those final color pages, Tarouza's eyes change, don't they? Those eyes that had been dead all along seemed to have gained a light. For the story to end with the protagonist changing really struck a chord with me.
Rai: Yes, I'm delighted you noticed that. You see, I was purposefully drawing Tarouza's eyes a little bit oddly. I wanted to express in his eyes the idea that as result of hearing all those screams he didn't have to hear, he couldn't just be normal.
Isa: Even with just the direction on those eyes, it was great how you beautifully seemed to bring this story together like it was one movie. I want to have a manga ending like that, too, but I'm not sure I can end it this cleanly...
Rai: Thank you. You're great at giving compliments, aren't you? (Laugh)
Isa: The final episode started with a flower, and the last cut was also of a flower, right? I thought that was really nice and movie-like, too. Did that have some sort of deep meaning to it?
Rai: I was thinking that animals alone could not make the would flourish, so I wanted to have animals that could also talk to plants start to appear. The world isn't only made up of animals, so the final flower was a symbol of coexistence.
Red Text: The number of themes and the scale was incredible
Isa: Personally speaking, it really amazed me. I think that the 5 humans that appeared in "Doubutsu no Kuni" each symbolized a different ideology. I'm not sure how to say it, but in the manga I'm writing, "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Advancing Big Zombies), I would only be carrying the one character of "Jyu". I was overwhelmed by the scale of your story.
Rai: I think the way you have your story focused to that narrowed subject is amazing. Being able to focus so thoroughly on that and making it something that's enjoyable to read is a major factor of the current popularity of "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Shingeki's Giant Adventure).
Right Side: I want to use words, rather than violence, to achieve peace
Left Side: I thought of it like the relationship between gods and humans
Isa: Thank you very much. But honestly, the scale and number of themes in "Doubutsu no Kuni" is incredible. There are themes that you could do one entire work about that appear one after another. Like the parent-child relationship talked about in the Lions episode, or the episode about Luke and the Chimeras where they ask the deep question of "What makes a human?". When I read that episode, it made me think that Robin and Salad Udon actually seemed very human-like. Even if they didn't say anything particularly wise, it seemed like it turned into a sort of role reversal.
Rai: I see. I guess you could read it that way... I didn't write everything with a clear intention in mind, but I'm delighted that you could read into it that way.
Isa: I was also really startled when Luke talked about animals that weren't necessary in the cycle of the food chain. It actually made me anxious when I thought about how for the Earth, all animals besides bugs might be unnecessary. But when you got to the part of the story where you said animals are necessary even for plants, I was saved.
Rai: It's amazing that those giant mammoths lived in a world of ice, isn't it? That's also actually part of a cycle. The mammoths blow the icy ground with their feet, so grassy fields could form even in cold places. Then they would only eat the leaves of the grasslands that form, but not the roots, so the grasslands spread. That's how Mammoths were able to live as well. I read things like that for research and started thinking about how animals and plants coexist.
Isa: It really made me think about a whole lot. Reading all the themes that were dealt with in "Doubutsu no Kuni" made me think of a whole bunch of other works. Like "Life of Pi" for example. Though there were plenty of others... There were parts where you ventured into the subject of religious studies, and that really made me think that the world you were describing was complex and multi-layered. And I just thought, wow, this manga's amazing. So you learned that information and came up with those ideas from reading books?
Rai: I did tons of research. After that, I drew what I felt or thought. Regarding religion, rather than use something in the real world as a base, I thought about things with the idea of the character Giller in the background and moved forward from there. So I didn't just reproduce what I'd researched as-is for that.
Red Text: The unprecedented villain of Giller
Isa: Giller was an incredible character, too. There are lots of stories where the villain has the ultimate goal of "destroying the world" or "destroying the universe", but a lot of them seem kind of hard to swallow. Like, you think "Uh, but won't you die, too, then?" But Giller was unusually persuasive on that aspect.
Rai: I had an episode where Giller killed his own father, and that was an important moment for him.
Isa: When I read that story with the father, I thought "Ah, this really is convincing." You'd think living a long time, having tons of riches and living in a big house would make him happy, but it didn't. He's definitely gonna die someday, so those things don't have any meaning. So then you question what happiness is and you get this Giller-style answer. Even though I know he's the villain, I started thinking "Ah, maybe he's right. Maybe you could think of it that way."
Rai: Thanks. I'm really glad to hear you say that. I thought that if the readers didn't understand that part, then they wouldn't understand Giller's thinking at all. Then Giller's story would end with him being this mindless villain. But that chapter had quite a good response, and that really gave me a boost going into the final chapters.
Red Text: Gods, humans and animals
Isa: I mentioned earlier how the Chimeras seemed more human-like earlier, but that was actually something I thought all the way through "Doubutsu no Kuni".
Rai: What do you mean by that exactly?
Isa: The humans that appear in "Doubutsu no Kuni" kinda seemed like they were more like gods than humans. The humans were the ones that wouldn't budge from their ideology and it was the animals that moved based on the humans' thoughts. It kinda seemed like the relationship between gods and humans.
Rai: I see. That's a clever way of reading it. Comparing that relationship to gods and humans, huh? I never thought of it that way.
Isa: I really felt it in the episode where Jyu appeared. There were a bunch of animals that went with Jyu, right? It was like a god had come down to earth and conveyed a new way of thinking to the populace. And the animals that were affected by that were toyed with. That's the way it came off to me.
Rai: But it's not like the humans' philosophies didn't change at all. And I think you can include Tarouza in that.
Isa: When I read it, I thought of Tarouza as a transcendental "protagonist" sort of human. But near the end of the story he made that shocking confession of "always wanted to die". That, I thought made him a very realistic protagonist, and that changed my opinion of him. It was because of that that he was able to reach that end point. Man, how long have I been looking at that ending?
Red Text: This is a story about seeking "heaven".
Rai: I thought about details every month, but since I was drawing volume 5, I've been heading towards the ending. At the point I decided Monoko would die, I started thinking about the final chapter and started making the story develop to reach it.
Isa: So you had this plot from a fairly early stage, eh?
Rai: In the early stages I'd intended on drawing a much more carefree series. I wasn't planning on making it sci-fi so I wasn't really going to try to come up with an answer for how the strong feed on the weak. I just thought I'd come up with something as I drew. But at some point, I decided I was okay in making it sci-fi so at that point I started to think that I should set up a clear ending. And from there, I headed in a straight line towards it. I put in my own personal message of seeking peace with words rather than violence and I was able to make an ending I was satisfied with.
Red Box: In the endgame of the series, there is a scene where Giller's past is revealed. Giller killed his own father to see what he would look like dying. Just before he died, his father that was enveloped by greed expressed his love for Giller, causing Giller to cry and confirm for himself that his thinking was correct.
Right box: I was frantic to be able to make a living drawing manga.
Left Box: "Betsumaga" is a strange magazine, isn't it?
Isa: In the opening, Tarouza was abandoned by his biological mother, right? That was because Tarouza had special abilities, right?
Rai: Exactly. She felt that as things were, both she and Tarouza would become unhappy, so she set him adrift in the river. So if Tarouza hadn't been transferred by Kuou, he would've died.
Isa: And it was the same with the other four?
Rai: Yes. As Giller wrote, Jyu, Capri, and Riemu all met the same thing.
Isa: Thinking about how the series starts with a child considered not needed by the world, a world that is harsh and cruel to humans, and then looking at that last scene again, it really makes me think that "Doubtsu no Kuni" is a series about seeking heaven. Everyone thought intensely about "what is heaven" and then they reached that ending.
Rai: Giller was the only one that used the word "Heaven", but I think you're right. Because having a world where all animals living together in harmony is a fantastical utopia. I think that world that Tarouza created is very close to what we might call heaven.
Isa: By the way, there's also the issue of who is whose child...
Raiku: That's a secret you're not gonna hear from me. But based on how they look, you can pretty much figure it out, I think. (Laugh)
Red Text: The Titans were born from the Mona Lisa
Isa: This is ever since your time doing "Konjiki no Gash!!", but you really have a great sense for character design. I thought Monoko's warm, friendly design was really good. "Doubutsu no Kuni" is finished, but I hope Monoko continues forever as the symbol of Betsumaga. And personally, I really like Capri's design, too.
Raiku: Thank you very much. In this story there were only 5 humans, so I was very deliberate about each of their designs. Though at first, I wasn't even going to have 5 of them... Anyhow, I've felt that the Titans you draw, Isayama-sensei, are very unique. I don't think I could imitate them.
Isa: I just remembered this last year, but part of the idea for the Titans was affected by a character that appeared in "Jigoku Sensei Nube" called "Cannibal Mona Lisa".
[I'm just gonna skip these little blurbs on the sides. They're just talking about various unrelated manga and things like that.]
Rai: As in how it had that sympathetic face, but then it would gobble people up?
Isa: Yes. It had a very large face, so it could eat people with human teeth rather than fangs. It was totally different from the other characters in the series. That Mona Lisa-like touch to the drawing also really stood out. That really scared me when I was in elementary school. I had to go to the bathroom after I read it, I was so scared. I think that trauma might've been a model for the Titans.
Rai: I see. So the various works you've read and seen have become your flesh and blood, huh?
Big Text: "Arashi no Densetsu" "Aku no Hana" "Mardock Scramble"
Rai: Looking back after drawing the final chapter, "Betsumaga" sure is a strange magazine, isn't it? Magazines naturally have a characteristic flavor to them, but Betsumaga really didn't have that. It's been oddly disordered. So around the time of the first issue, it was kind of hard to find what it was the readers wanted, right?
Isa: It's because of that that I was defiant and decided to just draw what I wanted to. I just assumed that this was magazine where a mangaka could write whatever he wanted.
Rai: That's clever! And that was a big success, wasn't it? I gave it my all to survive in Betsumaga, too. I always felt a lot of pressure working alongside new manga and young mangaka. Though you might've not had that problem, Isayama-sensei...
Isa: I was really frantic to somehow make a living off of manga. I knew how incredibly hard it was going to be to do that. And I think I'm a lot more aware of that know than I was back then. But anyhow, I just didn't look at what was around me and set my eyes on what was ahead.
Rai: Are there any series from Betsumaga that you have any strong memories of?
Isa: "Arashi no Densetsu". I think Satou-sensei is a genius.
Rai: That was a good one, wasn't it?!
Isa: Satou-sensei won the newcomer award at the same time as me. From the time of the awards ceremony, he gave off this unconventional, distinctiveness. Right now he's serialized in Mangabox, right? What about you, Raiku-sensei?
Rai: Well, "Shingeki no Kyojin" (The Eotena Advance), but I also thought of "Aku no Hana" as a mighty rival. It's a completely different kind of work, but I just had to read it every month. I was really interested in what was going to happen next. I still do. Because it's such a different style of drawing manga than mine, it's been very intriguing to me.
Isa: Yes, that was definitely a manga I found myself reading. "Mardock Scramble" was astounding as well.
Rai: Yes. Mardock! That was definitely a great one, too.
Isa: Ooima-sensei has drawn startling pictures for a very long time, hasn't she? Even in her recent "Koe no Katachi", there was a scene where someone buys a ticket and gets 200 yen as change that I couldn't take my eyes off of for some reason. I have no idea what the reason is, but I've always felt a strong power I can't put into words from her drawings.
Rai: Yeah, I know what you mean. Also her artwork is genuinely good. She always draws difficult vehicles like cars and motorcycles really well. I couldn't tell she was a new artist at all.
Big Text: In the Name Room
Isa: Speaking of Ooima-sensei, we met with her in the Name Room (A small room at the Weekly Shounen Magazine editorial department for drawing names, manga starboards.) a lot, didn't we? Ooima-sensei would always have some candy with her and she'd sometimes give me some. (Laugh)
Rai: I got some too, sometimes. (Laugh) Before I fractured my leg and couldn't go anymore, I'd meet you there a lot, too, Isayama-sensei.
Isa: You were always friendly to me. Talking about changes of pace and such.
Rai: Yeah, I remember. Around when "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Assaulting Titans) started booming, you looked like you might be having a hard time and I wanted to know if you were okay. I said to you "Getting a change of pace is important. You should get in touch with nature." to you. And you answered "Nature is nice, isn't it? I touch the ground and the weeds at the local park a lot." ...I felt like I was gonna cry (Laugh). But at the same time, I also felt that I knew that you were fine.
Isa: I really have to thank you for being so considerate. We talked a lot about movies and other manga in the Name Room a lot, didn't we? That was fun.
Rai: That was studying for me. It's important for me to get impressions from the younger generation. You had a very unique and sharp perspective, so you taught me about a lot of points of view I didn't have. I have a strong recollection of talking about "Wolf Children" with you.
Black Box: The scene that left the biggest impression on Isayama-sensei was the rematch of Jyu VS Giller near the end of the series. "It was as exciting as the match of Mashiba VS. Sawaura in Hajime no Ippo. It was amazing all the way to the end when Jyu won."
Red Box: Isayama-sensei's Favorite Animals
The sloth that, despite being a sloth, exerted a great effort due to the anger of his parents and lover being eaten and eventually gained an incredible power. A deat-god-like power strong enough to fight on-par with the Chimeras. Isa: "I liked Zalas. When he first appeared, I was like "What the heck's this guy?!" I never expected him to be a sloth." Rai: "Zalas survived to the end, so he does appear on the double page spread color page. Try to find him."
Red Box Below Line: The weasel boss. With his techniques of swallowing poisonous snakes and using his special fur, he was able to fight in a ninja-like manner. He was one of the main forces of Tarouza's group, but he was killed by the Chimera Clover. Isa: "Kiritobi was cool, too. Zalas was the same way, but I personally really liked how he was so incredible strong despite being small."
Top Black Box: Zalas
Bottom Black Box: Kiritobi
[Just leave the box on the bottom left. It's not important really.]
Isa: The fundamental ideas were different, but I couldn't help but think of "Doubutsu no Kuni" when I saw that movie. Not about which was better or worse, but how the "god" the people who produced them believed in was different.
Rai: You explained "I saw it this way" and I remember thinking "Oh, I see". We had a lot of talks like that.
Red Text: How to end "Shingeki no Kyojin" (March of the Giant Zombies)
Rai: That reminds me, the recent developments in "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Atop the Titanic) gave me the impression that we were close to the core of the story. It got a notch more interesting to me. I really laughed at the exchange between Hanji and Mikasa in the February issue. I'll bet that was fun to draw, was it, Isayama-sensei?
Isa: Yes, it was. But I also get the feeling that in the overall flow of the manga, those sorts of scenes make it lose consistency. So in some ways, I can't completely enjoy them.
Rai: Ah, I see. It's true that right now, I'm sure all of your readers want to learn new information or learn about characters or just whatever, they just want to learn about something, so you need to be careful.
Isa: Thank you very much. The truth is, I'm in a state a lot like how Tarouza was at the end. By brain feels like it's splitting apart. (Laugh) It makes it feels like everything up to this point was so easy-going.
Rai: Eh? It didn't look that way.
Isa: Pretty soon, "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Zombie Vampire Onslaught) is in a converging phase, so I have to use my brain a lot as I draw. And that's turning out to be a lot more difficult than I thought.
Rai: Ah, I can absolutely understand. A lot of people are inquiring thought to a whole lot of things, so every last detail is getting checked.
Isa: That's right. That discussing is both interesting, and sort of worrying. (Laugh)
Rai: So on the other sides of things, there are some scary parts, huh? But I'm really enjoying reading it, so do your best. I'll be taking a break a bit ahead of you. (Laugh)
Isa: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Letting me ask questions about "Doubutsu no Kuni" like this makes me feel deep down like I've really "finished reading it" now. Thank you so much for everything today.
Rai: Same here. I'm very appreciative that you read it so conscientiously. That was a real delight. Thank you very much.
(2014/1/9 Koudansha Meeting Room)
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