Sorry, my english is bad... But someone said it's better then nothing so... Here it comes!
Manga Nou no Kitae Kata
Mangaka: Yuusei Matsui
the amount of the pens nibs in the bottle = a chronicle of hard work!
Yuusei Matsui's workplace has an unique and tasteful atmosphere because of his second-hand desk he got at the beginning of the series and his well-used tools, like the penholder he's used since high school.
On the desk a bottle full of pen nibs attracts my attention. What is this for?
"I throw used up nibs in this bottle. I've done this since the year I started the series and it makes me feel like I've made progress."
At a single glance this shows you how far you've come. An idea to imitate!
"It twinkles a bit, so I think it's kind of cute (laughs)."
Find what's only yours
This month the theme is "originality". Matsui sensei is the master of scenes full of imaginations like blustering waves! What does sensei himself think about originality?
"I think people who have a solid technique should draw popular styles, but people like me, who have no real talent need other weapons. Many people are good at drawing humans or real life things, but I wasn't so good at it, so I didn't try to make up for this and instead worked at drawing other things. I think someone can do somehow well, if he has a self-confidence in something only he can draw, even if he has different ideas than others."
To find his originality and not losing his self-confidence... this sounds really difficult, but were you able to find yours immediately?
"No, I couldn't find it and I was really going to lose my self-confidence completely. I thought 'Okay, this is my last chance!' and threw things in at random, but I think I eventually got it together at last."
Mix existing things
Next I want to ask about moldings with originality. How do you imagine things as pictures and how do you bring them to life?
"I often use collage, as in mixing real things together to make something else. Often, something great comes out. Sure, I don't use this in this form but I mix many things in it to make my own original image. For example, I take things I always thought were funny or beautiful."
The pictures you draw have more an artistic atmosphere then an illustrative one.
Were you interested in art before?
"To tell the truth, I never thought about it before. But I thought it was necessary for the atmosphere of 'Neuro', so I startet to look at paintings. Then it became more and more interesting for me."
Is there an artist that you've come to like recently?
"Recently, it's an artist named Rei Kamoi. I saw something about him on TV, and it looked like he was someone, who has an obsession with faces. Furthermore I like Goujin Ishihara. He draw the illustrations in the book 'Shounen Tantei Dan' from Ranpo Edogawa. I've never used parts of his pictures directly in my works, but I have nearly exact the same policy aw him."
What is your policy?
"At first draw erotic (laughs), grotesque and leave at the same time humorous and cute parts (laughs)."
Beautiful things are in everyday life
There are a lot of illustrated encyclopedias next to art books in your bookshelf. Are these references?
"I love encyclopedias with pictures. Especially the one of condiments (laughs). It containes all sorts of condiments... how to prepare, the origin, everything and it's interesting just to look at. I want to illustrate for encyclopedias someday. Even if the illustrator draws the pictures realistically, he can't hide his style and policy, which I also fond interesting."
For sensei, encyclopedias are objects that are to be admired, too. His thoughts on beauty are everywhere in his work. For example, Yako discribes the form of fried oysters as "beautifully bullet-shaped" (see Volume 7).
"Fried Oysters are great. They look so beautiful! And they taste so fantastic."
It's very unique to interpret fried oysters as beautiful. Do you see beautiful things in your everyday life this way?
"I always try to see things in different perspectives. But lately I have rounded my thoughts and started to sense normal things as beautiful (laughs)."
Just normal persons become characters
Your characters are varied and unique. Not only the culprits and Neuro, but also Yako is cute and at the same time remarkably tough... she is very different from the typical image of heroines in manga, isn't she?
"I try to avoid men's ideal image of a heroine and women's ideal image of heroes, because they come across as fake. I want to make them like normal existing people... I mean I want to aspire to make the acts and reactions of the characters realistic."
You say you don't try to make 'manga-like characters' but 'people you think normal'.
And this makes original characters? Wow! Is there any other was you make characters?
"It mostly applies to the culprits, but I try to avoid completly terrifying characters by making them sort of cute. My concept is to make them 'funny-terrifying' or 'terrifying-cute'."
What's the secret to making detailed pictures quickly?
Now we want to ask you about your drawing techniques too. It does take really long to draw such detailed pages, right?
"I draw many weird things (laughs). I have to draw many things which don't really exist, and so it does take long, because these are things my assistant(s?) can't draw."
Do you have a trick to be faster?
"I curtail the work time of my assistant(s?) as well as I can. I think there are mangaka who let their assistants draw every background, but I think it's okay if there are only 1 or 2 panels per page with detailed backgrounds. To tell the truth, I mix many panels, which have simple screentoned backgrounds, with other pannels."
I wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't said it!
"I'm trying to mix them in so that it doesn't look like that... like sloppy work (laughs)."
A technique to draw as close as your imagination as possible in a limited amount of time.
"Neuro" is no detective's reasoning manga!?
Lastly, I want to ask you one more thing. Is it right that "Neuro" is no detective's reasoning manga? (see Volume 1, back cover)
"It shouldn't be one. I don't like to read or draw this genre very much (laughs). Before I started the series, I wasn't even sure if I should draw an detective manga or a romantic manga, with Neuro as the cupid (laughs). I decided to draw this, just because I needed tricks so that Neuro could eat mysteries... Don't you think reasoning scenes are superfluous? So in reasoning scenes, I let the characters do in the background gags or put as many parodies in there as I can. It's my great dream to make it to a manga that you can enjoy, even if you don't read these parts."
The more the series goes on, the more it shows the inside of the characters and diverges more from the detective genre.
"I changed how I wrote the story by 'Sicks' and the 'New Bloodline' arc, so it's like a 2nd season. Before that I draw the humans growing by challenging Neuro, but now I try to draw how the humans grow by using them in the battle of Neuro and 'Sicks'. However I draw this story, the growth of the humans is the central theme of it. 'Sicks' is my counter-answer to the recent trend of villains the reader can sympathize with and is an existance that sould only be hated by the reader. There is no episode where the reader can empathize with him or his past (laughs). I think it's his gratification the more he get hated, because I've imagined an demon like in the old myths."
"Once, my editor said regarding Neuro, 'It's rare to meet characters like in this series'. I think to myself he is somehow right. Anyway, I want to walk on without stopping."
Mangashot 01: tools brimming with functions and obsessions
<- Long used pen holders (picture above). "There are some that I used in high school". The G-pen and Maru-pen were separated in "long used and flabby" and in "new and tough". The flabby one "moved smoothly and is easier to use". The toothbrush is for splashing effects.
the artist who inspired him: Goujin Ishihara
A picture that captivated Matsui sensei in his childhood, and has a weird charm, even if it's terrifying. Indeed there is a similar feeling like in Matsui sensei's work!
(Cover of "Kaiki Meisaku Tokushuu", "Shougaku 4 nensei", August 1970)
Matsui sensei's weekly work schedule
Thuesday: sketch -> begin the outline
the assistant comes
Wednesday: the assistant helps finalize ("in 48 hours!" by Matsui sensei)
-> pages done
Thursday: talk with the editor about the next chapter
Friday: plot story
Saturday: plot story
Sunday: plot story
Matsui sensei episode: Akane is a cute character!?
"When the editor said I need a mascot character, she appeared in my mind." And so Akane was born, a character made entirely of hair. The editor said "she isn't cute (laughs)", but Matsui said "she is a handy character". "She only comes out when she wants to and can arbitrarily assault others. It's good that I can draw her emotions only by drawing hearts, musical notes and other marks (laughs)".
<- it was sold as "Akane-chan strap". She hangs on Matsui sensei's cell phone too! (Volume 4)
Manga Shot 02: Secret technique!? Ink white!
<- What's the technique he "personally likes (to use)" to draw white lines on black backgrounds? "I put a white color ink aside and let the color sink down. When I pour the liquid on top away, the viscous (white) liquid at the bottom is left. When I put this on the pen tip (photo right) I can draw with it in the nearly same quality like with ink".
By the way, the black areas aren't colored by ink but by permanent marker.
Manga Shot 03: the story plot between speed and efficiency
<- In plotting the story, there are hardly any pictures, only the dialog. The editor says "In my thoughts, I always add my imagination in the missing bits, but often when I see the completed pages, it surprises/scars me, because I haven't anticipated pictures like that (laughs)".
Manga Shot 04: various screentones are necessary for the mysteries!?
<- The screentones that are necessary to make the unique and mysterious world of "Neuro" up. In the panel right (Volume 6) are many screentones used. Behind the screentones you can see references like encyclopedias and artbooks.
Corrections are welcome. If I get some, I will edit this interview.
Edit1: Done corrections.
Edit2: Done more corretions. Thank you judetwee!