As anyone who is paying the least little bit of attention to the Yuri manga scene will know, right now one of the most prolific and popular Yuri manga artists is Morishima Akiko-sensei. Not only is she drawing for Yuri Hime (both magazines and the cell phone comics) she always has projects with other publishers and her own work as well.
Morishima-sensei has been a staple of the Yuri scene for many years, starting with her own circle, Girlish, and she’s also drawn (straight) shoujo manga for a number of publishers. She does design and art for her website and her blogs about her work and her life.
I had the pleasure of meeting Morishima-sensei at Yuricon 2005 in Tokyo, where she was one of our guests. She interviewed me briefly at the time, so I felt that it was more than fair I got her back on that. lol This summer, Morishima-sensei released the third and fourth collected volumes she’s done with Ichinjisha. She very graciously took time out of her schedule to talk a little bit with us here. Please give an enthusiastic Okazu welcome to Morishima Akiko-sensei!
Q1: Please Tell Us About Yourself
I am a Japanese woman who won’t stop loving Girls and Yuri.
Both my hobby and my work is manga.
Q2: How did you become a mangaka? Was it a childhood dream?
It all started when my 4-panel comics were adopted by lesbian magazine Anise.
Although, to my regret, Anise suspended publication, I continued with a public sequel on the Web, so it might become serialized in a 4-panel magazine.
My childhood dream was to become a company employee with a steady income and a steady life.
But, you need a plan, not a dream. Perhaps, one day I might possibly grow up. (smile)
Although I liked drawing, I didn’t think I had the talent to become a professional…
I am the most surprised at my current life. I’m very grateful for this happiness.
Q3: Which artists are your role models?
Japanese musician Yuki.
Her music and her self are both very cute, yet very tough, and her way of thinking is totally flexible.
I always think that I want to draw such an attractive heroine.
Q4: If you were not a mangaka, what kind of work would you be doing?
I went to school to study architectural design.
Even now, I love looking at buildings.
I also enjoy drawing doujinshi and working on my website.
Q5: What were your motivations for creating Yuri Manga?
While right now the number of Yuri manga is growing, just a little while ago there were hardly any stories of women in love to read.
So, thinking “If there’s nothing to read, then I’m going to have to draw if for myself,” was the primary motive.
Because it takes a lot of time to draw a manga, it is very difficult to do it as a hobby. Therefore I am very happy that I can draw as my work.
Q6.1: Please tell us a little bit about your process.
How long does a chapter take to draw?
In a busy month, working by myself and including dialogue, I can do about 30 pages. If an assistant is helping, 40-50 pages.
Q6.2: (Please tell us a little bit about your process.)
How many assistants work with you? What is the first step, what is the final step?
I have two assistants.
First the frame borders and the backgrounds are drawn, then small things are added.
First I do the panel layout, and last the screentones are added, both of which I do. I do most of the drawing myself during this time.
Q7: What has been the reaction in Japan to Hanjuku Joshi, Rakuen no Jouken and Ruri-iro Yume?
“I get the feeling that this is familiar and real, but also a dream, too,” is often the impression, I am told. To me, this feeling is a basic of shoujo manga, an especially likable quality, so that makes me happy. More than being popular, I want to feel my manga has continuous support from the people who like it.
The reaction to Hanjuku Joshi has come in three kinds:
People who feel that it’s a standard Yuri setting, with a flavor that is sweet and fluffy.
People who feel that it’s sympathetic to the romance within sex between women.
Or, people who enjoy both these.
I would like the reader to enjoy it freely, for their own reasons.
Q8: You got your start with doujinshi. How does it feel to be a leader in this new wave of Yuri manga popularity?
Nono, I’m no kind of leader!
I’m just a servant, a servant of Yuri Manga (smile)
I work with pleasure for the Yuri Manga of tomorrow!
Q10: What question do you have for overseas fans?
I am always impressed at the zeal of overseas fans, sometimes they have more information than Japanese fans. Everyone, how do you acquire all your information on Japanese books and DVDs?
Q11: What message do you have for overseas fans?
I would think that Yuri Manga is something that is strongly Japanese, a particular cultural convention of Japan. So, I am very glad and interested that overseas fans understand it. The word “Yuri” has reached people from far away countries, hasn’t it? Please continue your support and consideration of Japanese Yuri.
Thank you so much Morishima-sensei for your time and all your hard work creating beautiful Yuri for us to read.
Readers, let’s show our support for Morishima-sensei’s hard work by buying Hanjuku Joshi, Ruri-iro Yume and Rakuen no Jouken. Remember, it’s nice for you to read a scan, but that doesn’t help the artist at *all*. Without the artists, you wouldn’t have anything to read. So please, join the majority of readers here at Okazu by paying for your entertainment and supporting artists like Morishima-sensei for their creation of great Yuri!