INTERVIEW: The Creators of The Ancient Magus' Bride and The Girl From the Other Side

Read the English translation of the interview between the two famed creators!

The Ancient Magus' Bride

 

In coordination with the recent anime announcements of The Girl from the Other Side and The Ancient Magus' Bride, Comic Natalie recently held an interview with the manga authors of both series: Nagabe and Kore Yamazaki. Crunchyroll News was given the opportunity to officially translate the interview in English between the two, posted below. You can read the original Japanese interview here

 

Tetsuko Kumase held and composed the interview.

 


 

The Girl from the Other Side by Nagabe and The Ancient Magus’ Bride by Kore Yamazaki are the two stories that develop around the theme of "Beast x Girl," and probably have many fans in common. To celebrate the release of The Girl from the Other Side as a full-length anime OAD (news article embedded) and the development of a new OAD series for The Ancient Magus’ Bride (news article embedded), Comic Natalie has set up an interview with Nagabe and Yamazaki. In addition to discussing their commitment to their work and the concept of "Beast x Girl", they also shared their thoughts about the new anime productions. At the end of the interview, they asked questions to each other to learn more about one’s perspectives towards creating stories.

 

The Girl from the Other Side The Ancient Magus' Bride

 

Respect for each other and the appeal of "Beast x Girl"


── There have been several projects you collaborated on, such as a joint event for the two works (see: The Ancient Magus’ Bride and The Girl from the Other Side fair where visitors could get the “Beast x Girl” playing cards) and the book of The Ancient Magus’ Bride including a trivia manga booklet, The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Quiet Talk, written by Nagabe-san (see: The Ancient Magus’ Bride volume 10 includes an acrylic stand and a booklet written by Nagabe). I know that many readers are fans of both of your works, but could you tell us about your impressions of each other's creations and what you like about them?

    
Nagabe: The Ancient Magus’ Bride initially grabbed my attention because of the obi (belt) on the book that said "Beast x Girl." But when I started reading it, I found it to be a fantasy manga that’s really well thought out. Dragons, mythical creatures, folklore, and mythology are well integrated into the modern world, and each magical being is given its own meaning. The non-human characters also have their own meanings, backgrounds, and cultures, and interact with the protagonists. It's not just a fantasy, but the way the characters are connected to the world and make it feel so real is exquisite! Of course, the non-humans in the story are also wonderful. I love Elias.


Kore Yamazaki: Thank you very much. I'm often amazed at the range of stories and pictures you create. I sometimes even question if there are any non-human characters you can’t draw. I don't know if it's appropriate to say, but there's a hint of darkness or something in your work. I think it's a little sexy or maybe there’s secret eros? I love that I can feel a little bit of naughtiness in your work.


Nagabe: Thank you!


Yamazaki: The other thing is that I feel like I can almost smell the lines and shadows you draw if I trace them. Also, your story can be either very sweet or disturbing. I know you've been working very hard to achieve this, but honestly, I envy you. I wish I could create pictures and stories like you.


── I can really tell that you respect each other deeply. Now, please tell us what you like about particular scenes, episodes, or expressions in each of your works.


Nagabe: Personally, I think that The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a human drama in which you see Chise’s growth and changes as she confronts the environment around her. So, of course, there are impressive episodes that correspond to that. However, if I get to choose one based on my own preferences, I like the story of magic in Episode 2 and the Christmas story of Elias and Chise. The former shows magical instruments in a fantasy world, and the latter shows the integration of the real world customs in manga. I love portraits that showcase slice-of-life stories, so I thought those were great!


The Ancient Magus' Bride


Yamazaki: I really like the gradual development of the relationship between Shiva and Sensei in The Girl from the Other Side. I love the scenes where they are about to touch but hesitate and also the scene that portraits the cute fight that heats up through the door. There’s also a scene where they touch each other by accident, but that triggers them to touch each other intentionally after, and that made me go "Wow!” The distance between them is so... delicate and exquisite. The softness of the flesh and the temperature of Shiva and the lack of physical temperature of Sensei next to her, all give me the feeling of winter, which is amazing. I think it just fits my sense of winter perfectly. The coldness that mercilessly takes away life, the feel of the felt, floor, and walls chilled by snow and water, and the warmth of having someone by your side in front of the stove… they all exist together in the story.


Nagabe: I'm very happy to hear that.


Yamazaki: My favorite episode is episode 29 in volume 6. I really want them both to be happy! It made me feel the warm temperature of Shiva’s tears. The scene where they go see Mother gave me chills. The design of the children of darkness is also epic!

 

The Girl from the Other Side


── Now, can you talk about what you both find to be attractive about the “Beast x Girl," which is a common concept in both of your works?


Nagabe: It’s not just about girls but more so about humans, but I think I’m into cross-culturalism. Different races have different cultures, languages, and maybe even different body structures. The two characters have great differences and that brings out interesting gaps and interactions which creates a good drama. It’s also nice when they see each other’s similarities and go “oh, that’s the part we have in common”.  I especially like it when there are differences that are incompatible. For example, whether cannibalism is acceptable or not. The fact that taboos in the human world are practiced without hesitation in the non-human world creates clear divisions. Seeing how they deal with these negative differences is the best part and what makes this theme attractive to me.

 

Yamazaki: The concept of non-human exists because there are humans. I am personally attracted to things that are distant from humans in appearance and sensibility. I love non-humans who don’t speak human languages, but I also have to balance my work for consumer products. In The Ancient Magus’ Bride, I used fairytales from Britain and Ireland as references, so they all speak human languages fluently. Their sensibilities and appearance are quite human-like except for their rules. It’s probably because humans wouldn’t be able to understand them otherwise, and they can be very different from your ideas of non-humans. However, they are very rigid about certain rules they have, so I have to be careful drawing those concepts clearly. It’s quite difficult to decide how much of the original folktales and fairytales I include in my creation. If I put too much just because it’s interesting, the originality in my work will disappear. This is something I have to be careful not to overlook.

 

The Ancient Magus' Bride


── You've taken special care to balance these concepts.


Yamazaki: The other topic to consider is the reason why a girl is matched with a beast. Personally, I think it’s because girls have the most flexibility and softness. For better or worse, children are soft, malleable, and flexible to their environment. But they also have their own answers to questions, toughness, weakness, rigidness, and acceptance to their worlds, questions, hesitation, tolerance, anger, joy… all sorts of ideas and emotions, which makes them very attractive and easy to draw. I understand that adult characters are interesting as well. Also, it’s just exciting to see humans and non-humans together like with animals, monsters, and so on. In reality, people often don’t understand each other, but in creation, we can hope differently. I guess I like seeing everyone getting along as a bystander. But from a business point of view, I can’t just leave it like that, so I give them lots of challenges!


Nagabe: In The Ancient Magus’ Bride, I think that emotions are portrayed as something specific to humans. The contrast between Chise, who is always changing based on her experiences, and Elias, who is certainly changing but lacking in some crucial way, is brilliant. It seems that this kind of dissonance is there because we see Elias’ emotions in the same way we see that of Chise’s or humans. In the story, Chise said to Elias “I can’t understand you”, and I think it’s great that you are taking this difference between the characters seriously and depicting it in your work.


Yamazaki: Thank you. I think The Girl from the Other Side provides the perfect sense in terms of closeness among characters. Other works of yours also showcase this as well. Sometimes characters are all over each other, and other times they are trying to figure out the right distance. There’s rejection, and there’s also adorable connection. I love it. I think the struggle between a being and another being is wonderful. Also, it’s simply cool to have two different concepts exist together like big and small.
 

The Girl from the Other Side


── What kind of works have influenced the two of you in terms of drawing fantasy and the theme of "Beast x Girl"?


Yamazaki: It’s not that I’m only looking for the “Beast x Girl” theme, but it just triggers my sensors! Some of the books that caught my attention are the Darren Shan series, Rachel series, Koteki no Kanata, Dendera Ryu ga Detekitayo, Sukkuto Kitsune, and Hellsing. In terms of animation, I’d say the Monster Farm, PoPoLoCrois series, Brigadoon: Marin & Melan, and Blood: The Last Vampire series. Rather than finding the exact theme of “Beast x Girl," I find the subtle essence of that in these works. Also, I often use myths and folktales as references. I’d say the ones that influenced me the most are Ashiarai Yashiki no Juunintachi, J&J series, and Blood+.


Nagabe: I think Beauty and the Beast was influential for me! These are not about a beast and a girl, but Alice in Wonderland and Moomin also had a strong influence on my current manga creation. They are certainly fantasy, but not shiny and glamorous, and gives you a sense of antiquity, 


── Are there any works that you would like to recommend to each other?


Nagabe: In my case, I am more interested in art books and picture books than novels, so my tastes are a little different. But I would like to recommend Arthur Rackham and Saint-Exupery! Arthur Rackham is famous for Alice in Wonderland, and Saint-Exupery for The Little Prince. I also recommend Jon Klassen's picture book series. I like the airy atmosphere and you can see his energetic watercolor touch. I hope you will read them if you have a chance.


Yamazaki: I'd like to check them out. It's hard to make recommendations to Nagabe-san, but I'd like you to read Ashiarai Yashiki no Juunintachi. The characters are more human-like in appearance, but there is also great diversity. There are lots of characters so I'm sure you'll be able to find one, three, or even ten that you like.


Nagabe: I see. I’ll check it out.

 

The Ancient Magus' Bride


What they want to portray through their work


── Could you tell us about your own work? In a previous interview with Comic Natalie, Yamazaki-san, you said you wanted to create a story in The Ancient Magus’ Bride where "everyone is bad and everyone is good."

 

Yamazaki: Now that I think about it, “everyone is bad and everyone is good” is not exactly correct. If I could answer it again, I would say it’s about differences. It's like a sample of where various emotions and thoughts are. I hope that reading my manga will give the audience a chance to think about the differences in their lives. But they are free to dismiss it if they think it’s boring. I have my ideas of what I want to convey as a message in my work, but I try not to give clear answers so that people can think and feel what they want.


── Now, Nagabe-san, in a previous interview, you said that the most important theme for you was "gentleness."

 

Nagabe: After finishing The Girl from the Other Side, I felt once again that ‘gentleness’ is a difficult thing to express. I wondered to whom that ‘gentleness’ was meant for, what it meant, and what would happen if that feeling resulted in a bad situation. Is ‘gentleness’ shown in words, actions, or something else in the first place? Any of these can express ‘gentleness’ depending on the perspectives of each protagonist, so I was reminded of the ambiguity of emotions, the frustration that comes with interaction, and how difficult it is to depict those things. I’m glad I got to learn the difficulty of this theme, and I felt that I need to look at it from different aspects.


── I see. It's been a few years since any of the interviews I mentioned before, but has there been anything new you would like to emphasize in your works?


Nagabe: Since I’ve been thinking about the theme of emotions through "gentleness," I want to focus more on personality. In other words, I want to focus more on human dramas. In addition to that, I would like to depict a strange everyday life in a mysterious world. Of course, I want to include non-humans.


Yamazaki: I haven't really changed my main ideas. But if I had to say, I’d like to go back to the basics and draw non-humans again as I’ve been drawing only humans in stories lately. 

 

The Girl from the Other Side


The world of The Girl from the Other Side and

The Ancient Magus’ Bride in animation


── Both The Girl from the Other Side and The Ancient Magus’ Bride have been developed into anime projects in the past. How do you feel about your works being made into animation again?


Nagabe: My honest impression (after watching the animation) was "It's moving!” The artwork, visuals, and atmosphere of the manga are very important to me, so I was very impressed that the production team was able to recreate those of my manga with such care. In the previous short animation, the audience was able to enjoy the blank space created by the lack of words. It left room for interpretation. I was simply thrilled that they created such mature animation.


Yamazaki: In my case, I was looking at a hypothetical future where the project was in progress, but in the middle of the project, people would say, "It's not going to sell," and it would discontinue. I was thinking that I should at least be able to do enough work to feed myself, but it actually came true. Can you believe it? Now I can't quit so easily. Oops...


── Oh, no (laughs).


Yamazaki: I was just kidding and was actually very happy, and even though it was a lot of hard work, I had great fun working with many creators!


── What kind of messages and reactions did you receive from the readers of your manga who watched the anime?


Nagabe: The readers were also excited that The Girl from the Other Side was moving! That's how much they have enjoyed the world of The Girl from the Other Side in manga, and we’ve succeeded to meet their expectation in the anime.


Yamazaki: I've received a lot of feedback as well, but it's generally been positive and I’m relieved. I want to thank everyone for that!

 

The Girl from the Other Side


── I believe that there are qualities that people are drawn to and ways of expression that are each unique to manga and anime, but when you saw your own work turned into animation, was there anything that you felt was unique to animation?


Nagabe: I think that the subtle movements of people and objects are best expressed through animation. For example, in the scene at the dinner table with Sensei and Shiva, you can see both a movement of Shiva where she tries to climb up on a chair and a smooth movement of Sensei at the same time. This contrast allowed the audience to feel a sense of life in our daily routines, and I thought that was great. One more thing is that the scenes like Shiva’s dreams and the star scene, in the end, achieved a better sense of realism because of the colors, and I think the black-and-white representation of manga won’t be able to quite do the same.


Yamazaki: I may have the same opinion. The manga is quite plain as I prefer low saturation, but I also knew that could be a hindrance for a consumer product. So I was impressed with the bright colors in the anime. Also, the animation complimented the lack of explanation in the manga and it made it more theatrical. I hope people will see both works!


Nagabe: That's right! I want people to see both, too.


── Both manga and anime have their own strong points, and I hope people will enjoy them both. And now, the development of a full-length anime of The Girl from the Other Side and a new OAD series for The Ancient Magus’ Bride has been announced. Please tell us your honest opinions about these developments.


Nagabe: YEEEESSS! I'm so happy. I personally gave the last short-length anime a perfect score, so I have…really...high expectations!


── I can feel your joy. (laugh)


Nagabe: This is all happening thanks to the hard work put in by WIT STUDIO, Yutaro Kubo (director), and Satomi Yoneya (director), and my expectations are very high and I have no worries at all! How about you, Yamazaki-san?


Yamazaki: I'm glad to be working with various creators again! I'm also going to be doing more work that I don't normally do, so in a way I'll be able to change up my routine. It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.


── What are you looking forward to and what are your expectations for the new animation?


Nagabe: I’m wondering how they will tell the story now that it’s longer. Of course, I’m interested in the visual expressions and the production of animation as I was for the previous short-length anime, but more than that, I’m looking forward to seeing how they will incorporate the world of The Girl from the Other Side into animation and how they will depict it. Also, Sensei and Shiva are going to talk… with voices. I’m pretty pumped about it and can't contain my excitement!

 

The Ancient Magus' Bride


── As a fan, I'm really looking forward to it. What about you, Yamazaki-san?


Yamazaki: It's fun to have more opportunities to see the work of the animation staff. To tell the truth, I don't really have much expectation for my work. “New anime! Work is coming! I'll do my best!”, I don’t normally feel that way.  It almost feels like a collaboration between the supervising team and the animation team, so I have to do my best for our audience to enjoy it.


── How do you feel about the fact that both of your works are loved overseas as well?


Nagabe: Is that so? I'm glad to hear that! Since The Girl from the Other Side is more like a poem or a picture book than a manga, I’ve been wondering how it would be perceived even in Japan. But I'm frankly happy that it's been accepted so favorably. I'm also happy that TThe Girl from the Other Side has “flown” to a foreign country (the Other Side). That gave me a smile. Thank you very much.


Yamazaki: I'm really grateful that there are people overseas who are interested in my work since I basically published it for Japanese people. As the story is set in England, I tried to avoid using gestures and phrases that are unique to Japanese culture, but I guess you could say that worked in my favor. I've been getting a lot of positive feedback and art from fans!

 

The Girl from the Other Side


The influence of the pandemic


── I'd like to change the subject. In the past year, as I’ve had interactions with various manga artists, I've witnessed the impact of the pandemic in the writing process and the mental health of manga artists in general. Have there been any changes for you?


Nagabe: Due to the pandemic, of course, I thought about things like my daily life, how to go out, and how to enforce hygiene. But if I speak of The Girl from the Other Side, I feel that its world has gotten closer to our reality. In the story, there’s a curse, and one character would say “it’s safe to stay close to non-humans from the Outside as long as you take proper precautions” while another would say “we should eliminate the cause if nobody can take responsibility”, and they keep arguing. They are both right, and that is why there is friction. I think our feelings and societal reactions toward COVID-19 is very similar to that of The Girl from the Other Side.


Yamazaki: My assistant has been working from far away since before the pandemic, so our work itself hasn’t really been affected at all. But the fact that I can’t go out to gather information and materials for my work has put a damper on my mood. I can feel the significant influence on my work speed, physical condition, and mental health. I’ve always thought I was an indoor person, but in the situation where I am restricted to go out, it’s making me want to do so even more.


── I really understand. There are many people around me saying that they had thought they were indoor people but they got depressed when they couldn’t go outside for a long period of time. Along this topic, I have an impression that manga artists are more used to being at home than people with regular jobs, so you must have some useful tips on how to make it more enjoyable. Do you?


Nagabe: Leave it to me. After all, I am a professional at that.


── I’m counting on you (laughs).


Nagabe: In my case, I have three rooms: one is my workroom, one is my bedroom, and one is my living space, so I feel like I can make my home more comfortable just by not mixing up my personal and professional life. Also, it's exhausting to keep up 100% of my attention, so I think it's okay to cut corners where I can. I also wear pajamas except in my workspace. For me, it's important to keep my workspace clean and crisp and separate from my personal life. Otherwise, I think people should invest in hobbies. Yeah, I think so. Let's paint, everyone. Drawing is good. [To the reader] Why don't you draw pictures, too?


Yamazaki: Haha. I am an indoor person only when I have a lot of materials to read and work, so not being able to go out gives me a fair amount of stress. If I had to pick, I’d say looking at photo books, cooking, trying out musical instruments, or woodworking or something. Woodworking in particular is great because you can develop your concentration and you end up with a finished product in your hands. Just shaving the bark of a tree branch with a knife is fun, so I think it’s good to have a knife. It’s convenient.

 

The Ancient Magus' Bride

Questions to each other from their commitments to creation to the favorite features of non-humans


─ Since we are here to talk altogether, I would like to ask you to interview each other. First, Nagabe-san, could you please ask questions to Yamazaki-san?


Nagabe: I’d like to know your process of thinking out and what you are particular about in creating your stories. When I read The Ancient Magus’ Bride, the first thing that struck me was that Yamazaki-sensei uses motifs from Western mythology, fairies, and folklore, and then creates a human drama about how those characters confront each other and express their feelings. So I am wondering how you incorporate the elements that exist in fantasy into your own stories and characters.


Yamazaki: A human drama…… Can I call it a human drama? I'd be happy if I can!


Nagabe: I'm sure you can!


Yamazaki: To be honest, there are many parts where I’m not really sure how I’ve applied the concept of fantasy to the characters. When I'm thinking about a story, my brain starts going "This is it," "This person is that," or "That can be incorporated into this development,” and it often puts different pieces together like a puzzle.  On the other hand, when those things don't come out naturally, it's hard as hell to write a story (laughs). I usually read books on mythology and folklore, and I often have a stock of ideas that I can use in development. Perhaps it's because I don't think of fantasy as something that can't happen in reality, so I create a story where humans meet fantasy in an ordinary way. That's probably why I create the way I do. I feel that these things can happen right next to us, like the change of seasons.


Nagabe: Are there any techniques or theories that you consider in manga? For example, I'd like to know if there are any techniques that you use when drawing manga, such as creating a development every four pages or adjusting the number of frames.


Yamazaki: People have different opinions on this, but I try to include some funny parts here and there. I’ve had some people say they prefer for me to write seriously throughout weighty stories so that they won’t be distracted. But some say they enjoy those funny parts. Either way, I am enjoying drawing those scenes, so that’s the direction I’m going. Other than that, I only pay attention to the basics. Not too many frames, not too few, no more than three lines of dialogues because it’s hard to read, and wide horizontal lines for speech bubbles. When the bubbles are long in length, it's a problem when it’s translated into other languages.
 

The Ancient Magus' Bride


Nagabe: Oh, I see. I'm just curious, but you create manga, illustrations, and novels, and is there any new field you would like to work on?


Yamazaki: I'm mostly satisfied because I was able to get my hands on all three of those (laughs). I originally wanted to be a writer, but I found it overwhelmingly unsuitable, so I got serious about manga. If I don't have to think about what I’m suited for, writing picture books or game and anime scripts sound interesting.


Nagabe: Now, I'm going to assume that you like non-humans, but what are your favorite things about them? I want you to talk about it as much as you can.


Yamazaki: I don’t know if I’m qualified to talk about non-humans just because I like non-human characters, but personally, I think it’s their differences that attract me. Compared to humans, they look different, think differently, speak different languages, live in different ways, and have different cultures. But when you think about it, this all applies to humans, doesn’t it? If you are from different countries or even areas, all of the things I mentioned can be the differences among humans. I think I enjoy non-human characters because those differences are easier to see. The further away they are from humans and the more difficult it is to communicate with them, the more excited I get. But that also doesn’t mean that I like all non-humans just because. They need to have attractive inner qualities as well. I do love non-human characters, but the basic premise is that characters have to be attractive and stories have to be interesting!

 

Nagabe: Yeah, I agree.


Yamazaki: Going back to the question, if I had to pick the best feature of non-humans, I would say that it's the fact that they seem to be able to understand humans, but can’t. Even when they are next to us and looking at the same things, what we see are different and we never understand each other’s point of view. I love the fact that we continue to be individuals who don’t intersect, don’t mix, and can’t be fixed into something. But even then, the human character and the non-human character stick around together! I love that concept!I love the fact that they seem to be attracted to each other but are not, and that they will forever remain different creatures. After all, the existence of humans is essential for non-humans because the premise of non-humans is that there are humans. Therefore, I don't get too excited when I don't know much about the non-human characters. If possible, I want to know their thoughts, tastes, words, and deeds of the being before liking them. Although, in some cases, I get really excited about characters based on their appearance only…. So, I guess it’s like an accident to find non-human characters I like.


Nagabe: Is that right? By the way, what do you think of cat ears? Do you like them or not? Is it a beast, a demi-human, or a non-human? Please tell me your opinion.


Yamazaki: There are many factors that I would personally consider, such as how the cat ears are attached, the facial structure, whether it has human ears in addition to cat ears, its lifestyle, and whether it seems to think like a beast rather than a human. Whether there are any features other than the cat ears that differ from humans is probably the main question. Personally, I don't think that a human with only cat ears can be considered a non-human, but in some cases, it can be, so it really depends on the character.


Nagabe: I see.


Yamazaki: For example, if the lifestyle is that of a feral cat or feline, it is a beast, if the lifestyle is culturally different from that of humans, it is a demi-human, and if the lifestyle is clearly different from that of humans, it is non-human. I think it’s important to keep in mind that people will judge cat ears, or rather animal ears, differently depending on who they are. I believe in freedom of what people think, each individual is wonderful, and you can step away from things you disagree with.


Nagabe: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Lastly, I like non-humans so much that I draw them all the time, but I can’t find the appeal of human features. I don’t find it interesting to draw humans, so please help me.


Yamazaki: What? I'm not very good at drawing humans either! (laughs)


Nagabe: (laughs).


Yamazaki: To be honest, I feel that I’m not very good at drawing in general, but appeal… appeal…. I personally get motivated when I feel I’ve drawn something well, so I draw the features I like with my own fetishism in full swing. Eyes, hair, waistline, and facial expressions. That’s about it, I guess. So when I get into a slump, I am stuck there for a long time.
 

The Ancient Magus' Bride


── Now it’s time for Yamazaki-san to ask Nagabe-san questions.


Yamazaki: I've heard that you draw very quickly, but do you have any weaknesses or strengths in terms of creating a storyboard, plotting, drafting, or line drawing?


Nagabe: I don’t like creating a storyboard and plotting. I get bored easily so I don’t like to spend too much time creating one thing. If I think too much, I don’t make any progress, and as a result, my focus shifts to other things. Creating a storyboard requires an awareness of the direction and progression of the story as well as its intentions. I’m not accustomed to these very well and I can’t supplement these with just my drawing ability. 


Yamazaki: I also have a hard time with storyboards, so I understand. Are there any particular things that you can’t compromise in your work?


Nagabe: It's the composition of the picture. I like to deliberately draw blank spaces, and I think adding meaning to the empty spaces and adding emotion to the positions of the characters is an expression that is possible only in the framed world of manga, so I'm very particular about that.
 

The Girl from the Other Side


Yamazaki: Thank you very much. Now, do you have any activities or something that you do when you just can't bring yourself to work?


Nagabe: At first, I would draw the easy parts. For example, I start with tasks that I think will be easy, such as drawing only one frame, drawing only persons, or drawing only speech bubbles. I don't know if it makes sense, but I think motivation comes after I begin the work, so I try to start with easy tasks to get the engine going.


Yamazaki: I see. This is the same question you asked me earlier, but I would also like to know what Nagabe-san’s favorite features about non-humans are.


Nagabe:  Okay, you sure you have enough time to talk about it?


Yamazaki: (laughs).


Nagabe: First of all, I like the way they look. Sometimes they are human skeletons, sometimes they are four-legged, and they are just distorted and diverse. The visuals are beyond imagination, like a living creature or a sculpture, and I like the eeriness of it. Next is regarding common sense. For example, they may eat pet animals as food, and the pets just accept that they will be eaten. Is this similar to the Cambyses Lottery (Fujiko F. Fujio)? What is considered common sense in one country is considered heretical in another. I love the interaction created by these cultural differences.


Yamazaki: Yeah.


Nagabe: The other thing is their life expectancy. It doesn't matter if it's a long life or a short life. At the moment you are born, it’s decided that you will not live the same amount of time as others and I like the impermanence of it. I want to create a new feeling of discomfort that has never existed before through this concept. There's no end to what I want to say, but I think I put a lot of emphasis on appearance and external characteristics. It's like the characteristics of animal features, and I hope those shapes have meanings.


Yamazaki: I've always thought that you are so good at depicting the interaction between humans and non-humans who don't have control over human language.


Nagabe: Thank you!


Yamazaki: Regardless of whether you draw them or not, which do you prefer, the ones who can control human language or the ones who can't?


Nagabe: I think both are good. If they use words, they can at least communicate instantly, and if they don't, I can create drama through their trial and error process of interacting. But for a story, I think I like the ones that don't use words because it gives them a stronger sense of foreignness and makes it easier to depict the difference between humans and non-humans.


Yamazaki: So, do you have a favorite genre for a non-human with animal features?


Nagabe: All... of them?


Yamazaki: (laughs). Dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and amphibians, marine mammals, insects, etc. These are not animals, but robots and androids would be fine as well.


Nagabe: Anything is fine as long as it's not a human.


Yamazaki: (laughs).


── I can feel Nagabe-san’s love for non-humans (laughs). Lastly, please share a message to the readers who are supporting your work.


Nagabe: Thank you for reading. In my works, I try to eliminate or omit explanations and dialogues as much as possible, so there may be many places where you may wonder what's going on. I've tried to leave room for your imagination, so I hope you'll enjoy the intentional blanks!


Yamazaki: Thank you so much for your support. It's a story that has lots of twists, but there's always something beyond that. I hope you will enjoy it. Thank you for your continued support!

 

 

 

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