Interview with Yuri Manga Artist Morinaga Milk

June 17th, 2012

I am so very delighted today to offer you an interview I’ve wanted to do for a really long time.

Many of you have heard of Morinaga Milk, and quite a lot of you have enjoyed her work over the years. From her doujinshi work until 2003 when she sprang onto the pro Yuri scene with Yuri Shimai magazine; from her collection Kuchibiru Tameike Sakurairo (which has now been re-released by Hobunsha in a two-volume set, with some additional material: Volume 1 and Volume 2), through her mega-hit GIRLFRIENDS (which is available in English from  from Seven Seas), Morinaga-sensei has been a staple of the Yuri scene.

It is my great pleasure to offer you this interview with Morinaga Milk-sensei today!

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Q1: Will you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
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Born in Tokyo, live in Tokyo.
Gender is female.
I love to draw Yuri manga.

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Q2: How did you become a mangaka? Was it a childhood dream?
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It was a childhood dream to become a manga artist.

When I was about 20 years old, my submission was chosen for a an award, so I made my debut illustrating a Light Novel.
When I was 21, I was scouted by an editor who had read my doujinshi, so I became a manga artist.

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Q3: Which artists are your role models?
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When I was a child, I read Hagiiwa Mutusmi‘s shoujo manga, and started to draw manga.

If I couldn’t be a writer, I wanted to create anime, like Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, which I saw.
I wanted to be able to write stories of women in love.

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Q4: If you were not a mangaka, what kind of work would you be doing?
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I wanted to work in a bookstore or a manga cafe.

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Q5: What were your motivations for creating Yuri Manga?
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I don’t know if this can be called a motivation but,  when I saw the female characters in my beloved Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, it seemed natural that they were Yuri couples. Since then, I’ve been been drawing only Yuri manga.

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Q6.1: Please tell us a little bit about your process.
How long does a chapter take to draw?
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Each chapter takes about one week to write the dialogue and one week to draw, for a total of about two weeks.

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Q6.2: How many assistants work with you?
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I have two assistants.

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Q7: What has been the reaction in Japan to GIRL FRIENDS? What do you think about GIRL FRIENDS being translated into English?
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I don’t think it’s very popular in Japan. I don’t see it for sale in bookstores near me.
Only maniac Yuri fans seem to be reading it.

I was very happy when I learned that it would be translated into English. But since I don’t read English, I don’t know if the translation will capture the right nuance at all.

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Q8: You’re recent work has been very realistic in tone. Can you tell us what  you’re thinking when you draw? What message are you trying to convey?

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Falling in love is painful, and there are many things to worry about, or that will make you cry but, falling in love is not pointless, despite all that. That is what I am trying to convey, I think.

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Q10: What question do you have for overseas fans?
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I like High School girls, so I draw manga set in schools. Do overseas fans feel that its strange to read manga set in Japanese schools?

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Q11: What message do you have for overseas fans?
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Thank you so very much for reading my manic manga.

When I think that there are people overseas, where I cannot go, reading my manga, it feels very mysterious and happy.

It would be wonderful to one day meet my overseas readers, I think.

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Thank you very much for your time, Morinaga-sensei! Your overseas maniac fans are thrilled to be able to read your work in English. ^_^

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小松さんによる日本語の翻訳: http://willowick.seesaa.net/article/276194964.html

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14 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    im glad to read this interview. i think morinaga-sensei is cool. i liked her draw and the feelings she gave in each dialogue. it captured my heart. i would love to answer her question. i dont find it weird. i love to learn about japanese culture and school’s system. plus, it brings back a feeling of nostalgia. reminds of my teenage years. arigatoh for the sharing!

  2. Mara says:

    Morinaga Milk comes off as adorable as her characters in this interview.

    “I like High School girls, so I draw manga set in schools.”

    “I have two assistants.”

    This might be due to the translation or how the interview had to be conducted but I love how blunt she sounds.

  3. Anonymous says:

    wow, an interview with Morinaga sensei. If I were there I would tell her that she’s quite popular among Yuri fan here in America and I would love to read more of her works.

  4. firebanex says:

    Thank you for the interview! I for one loved both Girlfriends and Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo that even after I read the scanlations, I went and purchased the Japanese volumes of Girlfriends even tho my Japanese reading level is close to nonexistent anymore.. They are sitting on my manga shelf looking great and I can not wait till the english versions are released. It is a little sad to hear from Morinaga sensei that she doesn’t think her manga is very popular in japan..

    For her question about what do we think of stories set in Japanese schools.. I love them, the school life is so different and new to me compared to what I experienced in my own schooling in the US. I think that’s why I love most all anime and manga that are set in Japanese highschools.

    I look forward to more stories from her in the future, thank you for the interview again.

  5. Atarun says:

    I was introduced to the world of Yuri and shoujo-ai by Maria-sama ga Miteru, but I became a full-fledged Yuri fangirl when I read Even If We’re Not Friends. It’s still one of my all-time favs.
    I’m ever so grateful to Morinaga-sensei. ^^

  6. I TOTALLY agree about Sailor Moon! That anime/manga got me through a really tough, questioning period in my life and ultimately helped me find my identity as a lesbian. I will forever love Sailor Moon for giving that joy to me!

  7. Lyn Jensen says:

    Persistence pays off! Was this an e-mail interview? Since Ms. Milk says she doesn’t read English (and I assume that applies to speaking it, too)how did you arrange for an interpreter? And yes, we overseas fans do love stories set in Japanese schools. However, I’d like to suggest one story set in an American school. Then we can see how the Japanese see our schools.

  8. @Lyn- I write the artists in Japanese and send the questions in Japanese, then I translate the interviews.

  9. Cryssoberyl says:

    Another child of Sailor Moon here. It started coming on my 1st year in high school, and I’d get up early every school day to watch it, and my head would be filled with it for the whole morning.

    Anyway, please thank Ms. Morinaga for us, even though this interview was in the usual vein of manga-ka interviews. I know it’s not in character for the industry or the culture, but I’d really love to see some actual in-depth discussions where they actually have things to say about their lives and works. I was always pleased that your Morishima Akiko interview didn’t disappoint in that regard.

  10. @Cryssoberyl – Re: Sailor Moon – me too. ^_^ Although I was well into adulthood when I saw it.

    I ask roughly the same questions of each manga artist and leave it up to them to answer…

    I more or less do these interviews so you, the readers, get to know them as actual humans, rather than just names on books. We can see what they say on their blogs and on Twitter and to some extent, I already know what they are like “in public” before I send them a question. But it’s interesting to me to piece out bits of their true selves by way of knowing other, more open artists.

    Morishima-sensei is definitely one of a kind for her (my) generation. Nakamura-sensei seems rather more representative of a newer, bolder generation, but the older artists are very clear about separating personal and professional. And, honestly, due to my small experiences with crazy fans and haters, I totally understand and respect that clear divide. ^_^

  11. Yi says:

    “I like High School girls, so I draw manga set in schools. Do overseas fans feel that its strange to read manga set in Japanese schools?”

    Not particularly. Manic Yuri fans love it!

  12. rmcmahan says:

    Oh my god! I can’t believe you got an interview with Ms. Morninaga! I absolutely adore her work. Thank you for giving us a tiny glimpse into her world and perspective.

  13. There is also a German translation that just got it’s first edition out. The translation reads a bit confusing sometimes (compared to the English), but it’s nice to see it at all in a so-far Yuri-scare country as this!

  14. Eri says:

    Morinaga-sensei! My friend and I both love GirlFriends, it’s at the top of our list in Yuri manga!

    Also, as an american woman who reads school manga I want you to know that for me personally, it is not weird at all. It’s like getting to experience what I never had when I was actually in high school. It’s also something we don’t have here. Stories about high school students in our country are usually very vapid or pointless, not true to life. So thank you, very much! For your stories and your cute drawings! Good luck!! ˆ-ˆ

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