The next climax in the Detective Conan manga will be a showdown between ** and **? More Kaitou Kid soon? The answers to these questions are found in a recent interview with Detective Conan’s author Aoyama Gosho, conducted by the Japanese magazine Otona Fami and published in its June 2011 issue.
After 25 years as a manga artist, Aoyama talks about how he started this job and his various works Yaiba, Magic Kaitoand Detective Conan. He names the five episodes that he likes most in the Detective Conan anime and talks about the latest movie, Quarter of Silence. In addition, he reveals some spoilers about how the story in the Detective Conan manga will progress in the near future.
The following is a translation of the interview that Aoyama Gosho did with the bimonthly Japanese magazine, Otona Fami, in 2011.
- Publication: Otona Fami, June 2011 issue
- Translated on: May 10, 2011
- Original text ©Otona Fami, Enterbrain Inc.; Translation ©detectiveconanfanclub.com; No reproduction without explicit written permission. If you want to tell others about this translated interview, please link them to this page.
Source: dcfc | detectiveconanfanclub
Interview with Aoyama GoshoAoyama Gosho, a man who has devoted himself to drawing shonen manga (manga targeted at young boys) for a quarter of a century. He talks about his life, from his debut as a manga artist in 1986, to Magic Kaito, Yaiba, and finally to Detective Conan, and also what holds in the future.
Born in Tottori Prefecture in 1963; Debuted in 1986 with Chotto Mattete; Yaiba and Detective Conan received the Shogakukan Manga Award for the Children's and Shonen categories respectively.
It feels like it's only been 4 years since I started drawing Conan
Not popular among young boys: Kaito; Only popular among young boys: Yaiba
♦ What were you like as a child?I was like the kids in the Detective Boys, and often went around exploring different places with my friends. Rather than being like Conan, I was more of a Mitsuhiko-type. I played the role of looking for supplies and places, and set a junkyard of a body shop in my hometown as our secret base.
♦ Did you already like manga back then?Yes, I did. I kept drawing nyarome* back then. The first manga that I bought was Ore wa Teppei/I Am Teppei by Chiba Tetsuya-sensei, whom I liked a lot. Because I liked Teppei, I even joined the Kendo Club. However, my parents were strict and thought that “Nothing good can come out of reading manga,” so in my junior high and high school days, I had to read manga secretly.
♦ How did you become a manga artist?As my parents were against it, I almost gave up on my dream of becoming a manga artist when I was in high school. Instead, I decided to become an art teacher and enrolled in Nihon University College of Art. There, I joined the Manga Studies Club that high schools in the countryside didn't have (laughs). There, I met the club's alumnus, manga artist Abe Yutaka-san (Kuma-chan no Christmas, Detective Conan Special Edition). When I was working for Abe-san as an assistant, he asked “Do you want to try drawing manga for real?” That was how it all started.
♦ On a side note, what was your major in college?I took the course for painting in the department of fine arts. At the end of each Conan volume, the Great Detectives Pictorial Guide's image has a different touch (from the manga), right? I can still draw such pictures. I've even worked part-time as an artist before. I drew backgrounds for Fuji TV's Pon Kikki and Tokyo Disneyland's Pirates of the Carribean; I had to draw the bricks of a scene where the pirates wreaked havoc on the town. They gave me a lifeline and a photograph and asked me to draw according to it. Because the pay was good, I really tried my best to draw it (laughs). Sadly, the drawing is now gone. I have a teaching certificate too. I worked as a trainee arts teacher at a high school in my hometown. My parents thought I've become a teacher, so when I suddenly said I wanted to be a manga artist, they were against the idea, as expected. My father said, “Among my friends, there's a guy who can draw a crab that looks like it'll start moving at any time. But that guy can't make a living at all. Even when you know that, are you still gonna be a manga artist?” (laughs). But I declared that “I'm already a grown-up and I'd do things my way,” and brought my work to a publisher.
♦ It seems that you first brought your work to Weekly Shonen Magazine.Yes, and Sarigenaku Lupan/The Casual Lupin (the prototype of Magic Kaito) received an honorable mention at Magazine. However, later on the new editor-in-chief Nouchi-san told me that “your drawing style doesn't suit Magazine,” so this time I brought my work to Weekly Shonen Sunday. There, the third piece of work that I submitted, Chotto Mattete (science-fiction romantic comedy), was selected for the Shogakukan Newcomers Award in 1986. That's when I finally managed to debut.
♦ The following year, your first serialized work Magic Kaito started. Things seemed to have gone very well.My friends and juniors at college helped me out as assistants, and we all went to a sushi restaurant for a celebration when I received my pay for the first chapter. But it was only when the first volume was published that I really felt like I had become a professional manga artist. I was so happy that I added bonus pages and so on, and I really spent a lot of effort on it. And this very first series is still ongoing (laughs). I can almost call it my lifework. In summer, I'd draw a new story. It's about Kaito's mother, Phantom Lady…that's the plan. However, my editor really criticized it rather harshly at first, saying that the mechanisms and romantic-comedy elements will be popular among adults and young girls but not among young boys. I thought “bastard!!”, and went on to draw Yaiba. But this time, it was only popular among young boys (laughs).
♦ Please share with us your memories of Yaiba.As it was my first weekly serialization, I was so completely absorbed in work that I didn't even bother about my personal appearance. The idea of Yaiba's Thunder God Sword becoming stronger when various balls are added to it was based on RPG games where collecting various items makes a player stronger, and I'm glad that it was well-received. But it turned out to be too childish, so in that sense I think I failed. I liked the final Yamato no Orochi arc. I thought I drew it quite well, but the Orochi arc wasn't included in the anime (laughs). It would be nice to have it animated in today's animation quality.
The temporary name before serialization was "Detective Boy Conan"?!
♦ After Yaiba, it's finally Detective Conan. What kind of image did you have in mind when you created the series?It was Mikeneko Holmes/Calico Cat Holmes. A cat can't possibly understand the cases, yet it solves them by touching (and thus pointing out) the key pieces of evidence. That's just like Conan. A kid can't possibly understand anything, yet he goes “Ah-re-re~?” Conan was created based on an image of a speaking Mikeneko Holmes.
♦ When you first started, how long did you plan for Conan to last?I really didn't expect it to last this long. I thought it might end after the first volume. Also, about the name "Conan," initially the editor-in-chief told me to change it to Detective Doyle because there was already an anime called Conan, The Boy in Future (directed by Miyazaki Hayao), but I said “I'd overtake The Boy in Future!” and it finally got through. But the new serialization's announcement said Tantei Shonen Conan/Detective Boy Conan, and I thought no way, this is pretty bad (laughs). However, about 10 years ago, someone from Ghibli* said to me, “when you talk about Conan now you'd be referring to the detective,” and I thought “Yes, I did it!”
♦ Please tell us the five episodes that you like best in Conan.My favorite is The Shaking Metropolitan Police Headquarters: 12 Million Hostages (episode #304). It seems like this is also the most popular episode among readers. What else? The two-and-a-half-hour special in the anime, The Showdown With The Black Organization: Two Mysteries of the Night of the Full Moon (#345), I guess. The episode where Heiji first appeared, The Murder of the Diplomat (#48, #49)—the scene where Shinichi said “That's wrong…” was quite well-directed in my opinion. I also like the line “There is always… just one and only one truth…” The anime's catchphrase is “There is always only one truth!”, right? That line was written by the anime's scriptwriter, who wrote it at the same time I drew the scene. I was really surprised at the coincidence. I like The Mysterious Passenger (#230, #231) too. Conan's words “Don't run away Haibara… Don't run away… from your own destiny…” left a deep impression on me. Shinichi really chooses his words very carefully. Also, the recentHolmes' Revelation (#616-). Since it's the place Conan has always dreamed of going to, I put a lot of effort into this one. I also personally went to the scene to gather materials.
♦ It seems that you said you would be drawing a London arc soon in an interview in 2003.Really? It took a really long time then. As I was drawing it, using English turned out to be the most difficult part after all. Setting the stage as Wimbledon was decided right from the start, while Minerva Glass was based on the tennis player Steffi Graf. There's a scene where Conan shouted out to Glass from the audience, saying “I'll help you!”, and that was based on what happened in the 1996 Wimbledon championships. In the semifinals between Graf and Date Kimiko, probably to change the way things were going in the competition, a fan shouted “Steffi, will you marry me?” And Steffi replied jokingly, “How much money do you have?” (Laughs)
♦ How was the trip to London?Most of the places which appeared in the series are the ones that I went to and took pictures of. The telephone booth where Conan turned back to Shinichi is at the end of the bridge after crossing over from the Big Ben. The drain with the words “The Valley of Fear” in the manga was also really there. Same with the hotel. For the places I didn't go to, I used Google Maps to check them. Ah, does that mean I could have drawn it without going to gather materials in the first place? (Laughs)
♦ It seems that the last chapter of the London arc (included in Volume 72 that is set to be released in June) includes a scene of Shinichi and Ran that you have wanted to draw for a long time.That scene received a really large response. Linking it to Holmes, who is bad at relationships, and the line “a tough and troublesome case” were all decided beforehand, and it all turned out just as planned.
♦ When alternating between the romantic comedy parts and parts about the battle with the Black Organization, are there any rules or periodic patterns?I knew this question was coming (laughs). I guess fan letters play a big role. “I wish to read about what happened between Shinichi and Ran when they were young!” or “Please draw a Black Organization arc soon!” Many readers are really looking forward to the Black Organization's story. However, drawing that will be entering a different field and I have to draw it in a hardboiled manner, which is not very easy. But I like the hardboiled parts.
The next climax will be a showdown between Sera and Haibara
♦ Which character do you like drawing?Haibara, I guess. It seems like she was popular among readers right from her first appearance. She is a character that does what I want to do, and says what I want to say for me. That is also why I use Haibara as the character that says out my comments on the “Conan News Agency”* website.
♦ Which character is popular among readers?Right now, it's the new character Sera Masumi. It seems like she's way in the lead. And her name… well, those who know it will know it. I wonder if it's okay to be so Gundam (laughs).* She might be the sister of some important character… (Laughs) I'm already looking forward to seeing who will be voicing her in the anime.
♦ We are also interested in how the love between Takagi and Satou will go.I'm planning to draw the wedding between Takagi and Satou. Actually, I wanted to put their wedding into last year's movie, with Kaitou Kid involved, but if I do it in the movies, I can't have it in the manga, so I gave up on the idea.
♦ Conan has ventured into a variety of media—school manga, anime, movies and live-action dramas. How do you participate in each of these?I mainly participate in the movies' scripts and some drawings. For the other media, I basically leave it to those in charge.
♦ How were you involved in the latest movie, Detective Conan: Quarter of Silence?The decision to use the number 15 as the movie's theme (a quarter = 15 minutes) was a consensus between the movie's staff and me. To use snowy mountains as the setting was my suggestion. After being buried by an avalanche, the time limit for one to survive is 15 minutes—I thought this was a good way to fit the theme.
♦ What are the highlights of this year's movie?The skateboard scene at the tunnel in the first part. That was cool, right? Also, the scene that I drew, where Conan said “Words are like cutlery; if you use them in the wrong way, they can become weapons.” I've also used the line before in the manga*, and it's a line that I'm fond of. After being swallowed by the avalanche, in the scene where Ran and Conan pass each other and Shinichi appears, Shinichi's face was also drawn by me.
♦ Among all the Conan movies, which one do you recommend?The fifth movie, Countdown to Heaven. Various things were nicely put together; it's a piece of work that I'm proud of. My younger brother also said that it was his favorite. My brother's a doctor and an anime otaku (laughs). I often ask him for his opinion, with regards to things like the time of death, the main causes of death and so on. He's like a walking medical dictionary, and it's really convenient! He's also familiar with voice actors and actresses, and he'll call to say things like "Hayashibara-san will be perfect as Haibara's voice actress!" He'll also find fault with me sometimes, saying "You're just resting on your laurels because the series is popular."
♦ It has been 17 years since Conan started serialization and 71 volumes have been published to date. Are there any tricks to maintaining such a long serialization?No, I'm afraid. On the contrary, every time I draw a case, I get the feeling that it will be the last one. But before I know it, I've already started the next case.
♦ During your long serialization, what were the most difficult parts?Forgetting about plot developments that I foreshadowed previously (laughs). It was a lot of work to reveal the foreshadowed plot about Vermouth (episode #345). It felt like I had to add in this, that and everything. I had passed the pieces of papers on which I wrote the plot developments to the anime staff, but now I want it back (laughs). If you read those, you might even know who the Boss is.
♦ In an interview with our magazine back in 2008, you mentioned that the next climax will be the Bourbon arc.The Bourbon arc will still continue. I'm planning a different climax with a showdown between Sera and Haibara. It will be really exciting, since they are both "wolves" (laughs).
♦ We're looking forward to it! We heard that you have already decided the plot for the final chapter, but when will that be?I'm afraid I don't know. But I don't think I'd surpass Kochi Kame's number of volumes (laughs).* I've already decided the lines. The final chapter will be a happy ending. It's by me, after all.
I want to retire at Professor Agasa's age.
♦ You have been drawing weekly serialized manga for 20 years, so how is a weekly cycle like for you?The storyboard takes about 2.5–3 days, the drawing about 4–4.5 days. I use up the whole week (laughs). There's no time for me to come up with the tricks/mechanisms. That is why it is becoming a little off. Sometimes I get a break from serialization, but I don't get to rest at all. Because besides the manga, I even have to join in movie discussions and provide some drawings (laughs). That is why nobody complains even if I hand up my manuscript just on time. I have never missed a single deadline, because it feels like if I miss one, I'd just keep missing the rest.
♦ If you get to take a break, what would you like to do?Sleep. Get one long, good sleep. Get up for a little while, watch a movie, and go back to sleep again (laughs). That's my dream life. And I want to try living in a hotel too…
♦ How often do you return to your hometown?I go back every year during the New Year (celebrated in January in Japan), because many fans will come with shikishi (special cardboards used for autographs) asking for my autograph. Moreover, my parents will bring me the shikishi that they have received over the past year (laughs). About 200 pieces of the photocopied type, and about 20 pieces of the normal shikishi. But well, once I go back to the countryside I have nothing much to do, so I'd feel like drawing again.
♦ It seems like you really love your job.Really? Come to think of it, the dramas I watch are all police dramas. Recently, I'd record all the new television programs and delete anything that is not a police or mystery drama. I'd play them while I draw up my drafts, because if it's a drama with dialogue, I can follow the story even when I'm doing work. Recently, I watched SPEC. Even though people with supernatural powers appear in the show, the mystery element is retained. In the last episode, in the battle of wits between Touma (played by Toda Erika) and Ninomae (played by Kamiki Ryunosuke), the part where Touma won and said “I win!” was really cool! If Toda-san was still a teenager, I would have liked to have her play Ran in the live-action Conan.
♦ On New Year's Day this year, you played the role of a forensic investigator in Aibou.Getting the chance to chat with Mizutani Yutaka-san really fulfilled a long-time wish of mine. He's really nice, and is exactly like Ukyou (the character that Mizutani Yutaka plays in Aibou).
♦ Would you be interested in writing scripts for dramas?After I retire, I don't mind trying it. But hasn't it been said that I can't make it if I don't draw? (Laughs)
♦ What do you view as important when drawing manga?Guys have to be cool, while girls have to be cute and pretty. But lately, I have drawn many cool girls like Ran and Sera (laughs).
♦ This will be the 25th year in your career as a manga artist. How was this past quarter of a century?Half of it was used for Conan. I feel like I want my life back (laughs). When I started, I was only 29. Time really flies. In my head, it feels like only about 4 years has passed.
♦ Until what age would you like to continue this job?As long as I can, I guess. I thought about retiring at Professor Agasa's age (53 years old), but when I retire, I'd probably feel like drawing manga again. It's also a problem that my assistants who have been with me from the start are getting old too. But I'd be like Chaplin and say “My masterpiece will be my next piece of work.”
♦ For your next series, how about Saiyuki, which you mentioned in the interview with us in 2008?I really want to draw Saiyuki! I've already completed Son Goku's character design, and the one-shot was set to be published in Shonen Sunday, but it is too much work to draw the background images of ancient China, so it's probably not going to be done. Since I probably won't draw it, I'd say this—it's really interesting (laughs).
♦ Please draw it! Lastly, please leave a message for our readers.Thank you for following Aoyama Gosho's world over this long period of time, and please continue to stay with me in the days to come. “Now, it's time for the next case.” (Laughs)
The next climax will be a showdown between Sera and Haibara