When Shonen Jump Brought Takeshi Obata To New York Comic Con

Ale Bodden writes,

Weekly magazine, Shonen Jump, outdid itself during NYCC. Eric Eberhardt (Marketing director for Shonen Jump) was joined on stage by Koji Yoshida (Editor for Weekly Shonen Jump), Takeshi Obata (manga artist: Death Note, Bakuman), Tatsuhiko Katayama (Obata Sensei’s editor), Andy Nakatami (Editor), and Alexis Kirsch (Editor). They raffled and gave away a few tickets for Obata Sensei’s signing this past weekend over at the Tribecca Barnes and Noble and Kinokuniya.

They explained what Weekly Shonen Jump is: a digital magazine with 48 issues a year. They release chapters of selected series on the first day they come out in Japan. If you are an annual subscriber you get promo items like: Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards, special one-shots that they have throughout the year… For the month they will have special sales and if you want to sign up it will be cheaper as well. They also have a big Takeshi Obata sale going on, so you might want to check that out. They also have a sweepstake for the month to get exclusive posters and manga signed by him, too!

They also talked about the Jump Start initiative which started last month—they plan on giving subscribers a taste of what is going on in Japan: for every new series that launches in Japan they plan on giving us the first three chapters… of each! They encouraged everyone to fill the weekly surveys because it helps giving them an idea of what we want to see. Jump Back, which started this month, is to highlight all the classical mangas that Shonen Jump has to offer (one per month). This month’s manga is Death Note with free previews of it.

As we all know, the Naruto series is coming to an end within the next 5 weeks. In order to commemorate this event they are doing a call for fans to design a Naruto cover feauturing Naruto and other characters. It is pretty exciting that Mahashi Kishimoto will be picking the fanart himself, commenting on it, and they will publish the ones they pick on the magazine.

When asked what was his reaction when approached about doing a manga for GO, Takeshi Obata replied he thought it wasn’t possible—but he added that he was very intrigued by the characters and fascinated by the fantasy-like elements of it, which made him very excited. He said the challenges of making GO look exciting were the parts he was most excited about, like falling rocks and the transition of being able to do it better.

Death Note was his first global hit, the creation of the “Dream Team” composed by Obata and Tsugumi Ohba. Obata says that his first impression of Ohba sensei was that he seemed like a really cool adult: mysterious, cool, and the kind of person he thought he would be able to create a story with. Yoshida added that he knew Obata sensei and Ohba would be able to get along since he knew they would pull off that particular story. Katayama said that when he was first approached to be Obata’s editor he said he was so excited and nervous that his hands were shaking, but after thinking about the fact that he would be working with him on the next #1 hit he said he got really excited.

When asked if Ohba sensei had any specific character ideas for Bakuman or if it was all up to him, Obata replied he works on them mostly by himself—though, since it is a completely different genre than Death Note, he said he aimed to go for the complete opposite direction. All You Need Is Kill was Obata’s first Seinen manga, and first manga to be adapted from a novel. When asked how different the experience is of working on this series, Obata said it was very exciting to work on what he wanted to do, especially because it meant trying a new style for him.

He said that working on Death Note’s character design for L was fun because the character has so many eccentricities. Obata noted that explaining his art/illustrations is difficult, but he was trying to capture and convey weirdness and cuteness. Same with Ryuk (Death Note) because he has a weird face, yet he always acts so “kawaii” (cute), all with higher end clothing. For Ryuk, he said, the trick is to not make him too scary or too cute. He said that it is necessary to not add to many facial expressions.

After the questions Obata proceeded to do a live-demo of his artwork:

Obata (2)ObataObata (1)

He added that his heroes when growing up were all the characters in mangas he grew up reading, and Sherlock Holmes because of how he always solved the mysteries. He said he never has a free time, but his hobbies are sleeping and doing karate—even though he is the weakest one in the dojo. He said he preferred black drawing, for which he uses mostly sharpies.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpVjZjbIDsU[/youtube]
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6dhZtpuDuc[/youtube]

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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