Yesterday was the end of an era in Japanese manga as Masashi Kishimoto finally wrapped up his long-running ninja manga, Naruto. The manga legend recently sat down with Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun and talked about his recently concluded series, as well as a few things, like overseas fans, and his rival series, One Piece.
Naruto officially ended yesterday, November 10, 2014, however, plenty of spoilers were found all over the internet just before the final two volumes were officially released. The Asahi Shimbun interview was conducted just after Kishimoto has finished the manga and submitted it to Weekly Shounen Jump!’s editorial. Here is the interview, with some of the highlights in bold letters:
Q: What are you feeling now?
Kishimoto: Because I just completed the last episode less than 12 hours ago, I do not have any real feeling (that “Naruto” has ended). I have had to meet a deadline every week for 15 years, so I feel that there’s a deadline for next week. I thought of many things to do after (“Naruto”) ends, but I do not know where to begin. I want to do something other than manga. Don’t worry, I will continue creating manga.
Q: When did you decide how to end “Naruto”?
Kishimoto: Since the work was first serialized, I have been determined to end the manga series with the battle between protagonist Naruto and Sasuke, who has been his rival since the start of the story. I later decided on the details, little by little, such as whether they would fight each other as friends or enemies, their feelings and dialogues, while I was drawing the series. Around two years ago, I began to feel the story was approaching the finale.
When the series started, the editor responsible for my work told me, “Continue the series for at least five years.” The tough work of continuing to draw “Naruto” for the weekly magazine occasionally made me think that I would like to finish the series. I did not think “Naruto” would last for 15 years.
The story lasted for such a long period because the characters “stuck it out.” When I attempted to quickly offer an answer (to issues raised in the story), the characters did not allow me to do so. If I had made them act as I wished, the reality would have been lost.
Because manga artists are always working inside rooms, it is difficult for us to see firsthand if our works are really popular. It was not until I received many fan letters from overseas that I realized (“Naruto” is) popular outside Japan. Some of those letters are written in languages I do not know, so I understand that my work is read by people in various countries.
One fan mail contained a photograph of a small child dressed as Naruto striking a pose. Such attachments make me happy.
Q: Were you conscious of “One Piece”?
Kishimoto: It is impossible to be unconscious. (Both “Naruto” and “One Piece”) are serialized in the same magazine, and “One Piece” has always been running ahead of the pack. I have been able to work so hard writing “Naruto” thanks to “One Piece.”
Q: You will turn 40 years old on Nov. 8. How do you feel about that?
Kishimoto: I remain a child in terms of mentality. Nothing has changed from age 25, when the series started. I just worked at the desk to create high-quality, interesting manga, and 15 years passed before I knew it.
Q: What would you want to tell your old self?
Kishimoto: I hope to tell my 23- or 24-year-old self, who painted Naruto and other characters on copy paper just as I wanted on the veranda of my family’s home: “Cherish him. You will write a serial manga for 15 years using the character.”
Kishimoto has acknowledged his foreign fanbase and thanked them with all his heart in this interview. He also admitted that his “Rival Series”, One Piece, was one of his driving factors. Looks like he now finally has time to rest for a while, and that rest is truly much deserved. He also showed some of his original drawings from the manga’s penultimate chapter, 699.
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Source: Asahi Shimbun