Meet authors of best-selling manga ‘One Punch-Man’
Nationwide online voting has begun in the SUGOI JAPAN Award 2016 poll. The award goes to those works in the manga, anime, ranobe (light novel) or entame shosetsu (entertaining novel) genres that voters would like to share with the rest of the world. “Sugoi” means amazing, great or wonderful.
Nearly 80,000 online ballots were cast for the SUGOI JAPAN Award 2005, the inaugural edition of the award, organized by the SUGOI JAPAN Committee and The Yomiuri Shimbun. Voting for the 2016 edition will close on Jan. 3, 2016, and the award-winning works will be announced in March.
One of the hottest of those works nominated for the 2016 award is “One Punch-Man” that features a hero who needs only one punch to beat any enemy. It is written by ONE and illustrated by Yusuke Murata.
In October, broadcasts of the television version of “One Punch-Man” began in Japan, while the English version of the manga series has been ranked high in the New York Times Best Sellers list in the manga genre.
The following are excerpts of remarks by ONE and Murata during an interview to mark the start of voting:
When “One Punch-Man” made its debut, Mr. Yusuke Murata was fascinated by the website version of the work uploaded by ONE.
Murata A friend of mine recommended that I take a look at the work. It was so interesting I spent all night reading it in one sitting. Even for professionals, I thought, it would be difficult to draw works as full of momentum as this one. In fact, ONE’s work was so intensely powerful few professionals would be able to compete with it. That’s why I became interested in working with him.
ONE When Murata-sensei contacted me for the first time, I was struggling to make up my mind whether to continue or quit the job I had at the time. I wanted to become a professional manga artist, but people around me disagreed.
Murata I noticed what he was going through in one of his tweets. I was heartsick, thinking: “ONE-sensei is being forced to stop drawing manga.” At the time, I was suffering a life-threatening disease and thinking that humans die too soon. If I had to die anyway, I would like to do what I really wanted to do without question. Then I decided to draw manga with ONE-sensei.
ONE Those days, Murata-sensei was under an exclusive contract with the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. He canceled the contract and began marketing “One Punch-Man” to various publishing houses. I became really motivated thanks to his support.
Murata I wanted everything ONE-sensei drew kept as it was. I eventually chose Shueisha Inc.’s “Tonari no Young Jump” (Young Jump Web Comics) site to run “One Punch-Man” because it allows ONE-sensei and me alone to determine the content.
Ordinary man as superhero
Murata When I read “One Punch-Man” for the first time, I found it extremely interesting because the hero, Saitama, really impressed me. The hero is unique in that he feels bored being a superhero because he is too strong. This may lead readers to think he is not a sympathetic figure. Nonetheless, readers sympathize with Saitama because he is drawn as a superhero but retains his persona as an ordinary person.
ONE I think what is really important for a hero is not physical strength but courage. When someone who is obviously much stronger than you are is going to hurt a child, you need courage to confront the villain and protect the child without question. I think readers feel fanatical about a hero who has such courage — a selfless passion. Saitama, too, wants to be such a hero, but he is too powerful. Still, he is considerate of other people and ready to stand up for the weak. I would like to keep his inner character intact.
Murata I think other characters, too, are uniquely depicted. They are drawn to help Saitama maximize his appeal but they don’t exist for that purpose alone. I believe my goal as an illustrator is to enhance the appeal of each of the characters in line with the original stories. Therefore, I’m always mindful of correctly understanding their positive sides — without having any misconception about them — from the originals.
Saitama as new world hero
Murata I remember two brothers in Laos were the first cosplayers in the world to wear costumes to make them resemble Saitama. They painted their faces like that of the superhero and dressed in hand-sewn Saitama costumes. When I saw them in a photograph on the Internet, I became aware of readers abroad for the first time.
ONE As the Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine that is available in the United States carries “One Punch-Man” series, I often receive messages from overseas readers.
Murata English messages are sent to my Twitter account, too. I’m pleased to see the readership expand to foreign countries. But I believe I have to keep concentrating on expressing the attraction of the originals through my illustrations. As in the past, I will continue to think of and focus on such a mission.
ONE Considering that “One Punch-Man” became popular when I presented it without aiming for anything in particular, I think it is of utmost importance to keep drawing the series as an extension of what it has become.
One Punch-Man, Vols. 1-9
When ONE’s “One Punch-Man” first appeared on a manga website in 2009, his page attracted more than 10 million views over a relatively short period. He keeps updating the content of “Honke [original] One Punch-Man” on his own website.
Illustrator Yusuke Murata
“Eyeshield 21,” a manga series illustrated by Yusuke Murata has sold more than 20 million copies with an anime version of the series added later. He has also illustrated “Donten (cloudy) Prism Solar Car,” among other manga works.