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 Kishimoto Masashi

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PostSubject: Kishimoto Masashi   Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:09 am

Masashi Kishimoto (born November 8, 1974) is the author of the famous manga Naruto. He debuted as a mangaka with his work Karakuri, which was submitted to Shueisha in 1996. Beginning with 1999, his next work Naruto was serialized in the Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine. Kishimoto had received the Hop Step Award, which was an award given to new artists once a month by Shonen Jump.

Chapter 1
I was born in Okayama Prefecture in Showa Year 49 (1974) as the older twin brother. I was born prematurely and was immediately put into an incubator. Without it I would have died. It was a victory of science.

In my small village there was a weird ceremony where on a child's first birthday they wear a rice cake on their back and have three objects placed in front of them. It is said that based on what objects they choose, their future career can be learned. My parents placed in front of my brother and me, an abacus, paint brush, and money. It seems my brother took a moment and then took the brush. And I went straight for the money. I was an evil child... Though I may have started out interested in money, I soon began to show interest in drawing, as did my brother.

At my parent's home, there are two brown stains on one of the walls. One time I became interested and asked what it was. 'Oh that? When you two were babies, one day you used your poop and started drawing on the wall. We tried over and over to wash it off but it left a stain....'

.... At that moment I thought that I was interested in drawing since the time I was born.

Chapter 2
When I attended Pre-school I began gaining interest in many things. Insects, the flow of the river water, if I started looking at these I had the habit of freezing and just staring at them for a long time. I hear that my Pre-school teacher and mom would often have trouble finding me.

And that habit was the same at home. I had incredible concentration when watching TV and when my Dad wanted to talk to me he would spin me away from the TV and say "Hey!! Maabo!! (my nickname)." But even though my head wasn't facing the TV anymore my eyes still would be. My father, who was jealous of the TV, said my face would look quite scary when this would happen.

During these years I loved watching TV shows. One of my favorite was 'Doraemon.' For some reason I was really into that show and I was always drawing pictures of it. All my pre-school friends were also into "Doraemon" and would draw it too but there was one thing I just could not forgive. That had to do with Doraemon's eye area (check the lower pictures). Everyone would incorrectly draw it like Picture #2 and I would say "No!! The eye area is like this!!!" and draw it like Picture #1 to them, but they rarely understood and I got into many fights over this. Now that I think about it, I sure was an annoying kid.... I was also an idiot who went around saying the Doraemon drawing song was wrong.

Chapter 3
In elementary school I filled my notebooks with doodles. Even when I was outside playing hide and seek I would start drawing Doraemon on the ground as I waited to be found.

But one day I was watching TV and saw an incredible show. "What's this?!!! So cool... and the art rules!!!." That show was Mobile Suit Gundam. After that I used my notebooks to draw the mobile suit robots. Zaku, Gifu, Domi, Jimu, Dozuruzabi, I was always drawing many of the Gundam characters.

But one day I once again saw an incredible show. "W..Wow!! The art is super duper good!!!!" That show was "Dr. Slump, Arale-chan." After that I would always draw pictures of Arale-chan. I even submitted a crayon drawing of Arale for the elementary school contest. One time my mom said "Arale-chan is a girl so she should have lipstick." and suddenly drew red around Arale-chan's lips, I still remember this well. I also remember that it was the first time in my life that I got really pissed.

Chapter 4
During my Elementary School days, because of Dragon Ball becoming an anime I really got into Manga and Shonen Jump. A little earlier my brother and I were crazy over another Jump anime, Kinnikuman. We often played around trying to think up our own Chyo-Jins. My brother thought up a Bug Chyo-Jin named Beetleman. I thought up ones like Wasabiman, Mustardman and ones based on condiments. With the introduction of a character called Curry Cook, I saw that it was alright to create ones based on a food products so I just opened the refrigerator and thought up a bunch of names. And condiments have some pretty cool sounding names. Not that I think about it, I was an idiot. (But I was serious about it at the time.)

Around that time I learned about The Hokuto No Ken Anime (Fist of the North Star) and got really into that. At school we would have to clean our own classrooms and taking out the steel trash cans was really tiring. So I would poke one of my friends and say "I have hit one of your pressure points. You will now pick up the trash and take it out." But my friend would say he poked the same pressure point on me and it would go back and forth as we both took out the trash. Jump Anime was really great.

Chapter 5
So in late Elementary School, I was a strictly Dragonball Boy. I was so obsessed with it that Toriyama Akira Sensei was like a god to me. I was constantly drawing characters that appear in Dragonball. At that time I had a friend who would show me Shonen Jump so I could read Dragonball. I received no allowance, and didn't even have the money to buy the 190 Yen Jumps.

At first I only read Dragonball in Jump but I started noticing the other great Manga series like Jojo, Saint Seiya, Kimengumi. I started reading all of them and got obsessed with Jump itself.

At this point I started thinking "Manga sure is great." and I also started wanting to become a Mangaka. I soon had the impossible dream of "I want to be in Jump." Around this time the young dreamer Kishimoto began creating manga. I still remember that my first creation was a manga called "Hiatari-Kun"; about a shadow ninja boy.

Chapter 6
So many things happened during my last year in Elementary School. I was so into Toriyama Akira Sensei's art that soon my drawings looked exactly like his. Then I was looking at the video game info section in Jump and I spotted a picture that looked exactly like Toriyama Sensei's.

"What's this game!? Awesome!" is what I was thinking, and when I found out that it was actually done by Toriyama Sensei, I got even more excited. That was was "Dragon Quest!" I really wanted to play, but that was just a dream for me because at the time I did not own a Famicon, which every other kid in my class seemed to own.

I couldn't ask my parents for one. My dad didn't like things like that, and when he'd hear the word "Video Game," he'd just tell me to go study.

My twin then came up with the brilliant plan of getting one from someone else. So we went through all our friends that owned one. We thought that a person willing to give away something worth 10,000 Yen couldn't exist... but he did!!! At that time I was so happy that I view this friend as a god.

Chapter 7
After begging my dad over and over I finally got Dragon Quest. It was the first game I ever owned. It was also the first time I ever played the RPG genre and I was clueless even after reading the booklet.

After I defeated a slime, a window popped up saying "You learned Hoimi!" but I had no idea how to use it. When I looked it up in the book, it said "Magic: The Hoimi spell will recover your HP." I still didn't understand.

My brother, as if he had a stroke of genius, grabbed the second controller, turned the microphone on and with an unbelievably weird voice, said, "Hoimi!!" Yes.. he said the spell into the second controller microphone!!

It's now obvious that the window system was based off the commands, but at the time, since it was the first time I had seen Dragon Quest, I didn't understand well. However, by the time we have become able to use "Hoimi" and had already perfectly understood the system and had satisfied ourselves with about 4 hours of Dragon Quest, our father appeared in front of us two stupid brothers, who were going to turn the game off without learning the revival spell, and said something I remember well, "Let me do it too."

After that, father and children stayed up all night playing Dragon Quest, which is now a good memory. Our father, who had no interest in games at all, had shown a considerable reaction to Dragon Quest. At that time it was mysterious, but now I can approve of that.

Dragon Quest become an incredibly popular game, and now Dragon Quest 7 is out already. Recently, after calling my real home for the first time in awhile, my father picked up and we talked. He had apparently beaten Dragon Quest 7.

Chapter 8
In Junior High School, I focused on baseball and didn't draw very much, I played the games on Saturday and practiced in the early morning everyday. I also studied a lot and was much busier then in Elementary School, I had no time for drawing anymore.

As I passed each day thinking "Am I too old to draw now?" an unbelievable turning point occurred. I still haven't forgotten how the intensity of that day. This was when I saw a poster to a certain movie, as I walked home from school, I happened to see the poster for Ootomo Katsuhiro's movie "Akira." I don't know why but seeing this poster had an intense emotional effect on me, for some reason I spent about an hour just staring at it.

The poster has the main character Kaneda walking towards his bike, the angle was from above, it was a very difficult composition. "How can this person draw such a difficult composition? I've never seen a person who could do that."

I thought it was so cool, how the character was, his bike, how he stood on the ground, everything just seemed so real. The bike was so cool too, how the cracked ground had a few stones scattered about. The are was so great and something I had never seen before, it lit the fire to draw in me once again. Since then I have drawn continuously in hopes of getting close to that picture.

Chapter 9
After I learned of "Akira" my approach of drawing changed dramatically. I studied to understand the style of drawings of the creator of "Akira", Ootomo Sensei but couldn't. At that point I thought that this was a totally original style with nothing else like it. I hadn't been this blown away by art since Toriyama Sensei.

I couldn't understand what was so attractive about the art of Toriyama Sensei and Ootomo Sensei. But there was two things that I could understand. That to me both were original and both had great style. The effects, designs, every small detail was different from other artists. So basically I began thinking that an attractive picture is one that is original, and learning how to copy other artists was pointless.

I then tried creating something original but I would always end up copying someone. It wasn't working so I decided to look at as much art by different people as possible. I looked to see if there was amazing art from people besides those two.

I then realized that while many people used similar styles as those two, finding a completely original style was very rare. So with my belief that Ootomo's style was unbeatable, I started copying him.

As I entered my third year of Junior High I would buy up all the "Akira" art books and anime comics and copy them all as much as possible. As I did this I also did my best to come up with original drawings. During Junior High I was simple and this was the best I could do. I would soon encounter drawings from two other artists with great style and originality.

Chapter 10
I was able to make a 31 page manga in the 11th Grade, but I couldn't tell if it was any good. So I showed it to my brother. "Great, isn't it?!!" is what I was thinking as I waited for the answer but he said "This Sucks!!." But since he's my brother and I can't trust him, I showed it to my dad, "This is no good" the same thing. I had been really excited about submitting my first ever 31 page mange for a Jump Magazine Award but after that I lose the nerve and that crappy manga will sit in the bottom of my desk drawer forever.

Anyway, I was a simple, blind, and stupid young man who thought "I want to win the contest so I just need to keep creating mangas." While my thinking was stupid, now that I think about it, it was good practice, plus I was young, it couldn't be helped.

After a few more manga projects and being told over and over that they were no good, I snapped, "Why aren't my mangas any good!! Damn it!! What's different about my and other mangakas, idiot!!"

I revealed all the stupidity I had and graduated High School without figuring out anything. Due to always drawing manga, my class rank was 38th out of 39. It became obvious that I wasn't going to get into any college. No good at manga, no good at school. And love, much much much much worse! This was my High School life.

Anyway, this is a time when everyone has trouble. You can face many tough situations, I'm sure the students will understand what I mean. Life isn't easy, well that's obvious. But I didn't give up!! Actually I was the type that didn't think about things too deeply. "Well, things will work out!!" is about the limit of my thoughts. Thank god for being stupid!!
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PostSubject: Re: Kishimoto Masashi   Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:10 am

interveiw:

Below is the full transcript of an interview conducted by the American Shonen Jump magazine on Naruto's creator himself, Masashi Kishimoto!

What were you like when you were younger (say in middle school or high school)?
I had manga on the brain, and I was constantly drawing, hardly ever doing my homework. In short, a bit of a brat.

How did growing up in a rural environment influence your manga, or your personality in general?
This is a story set in a slow-paced, relaxed setting, far away from capitalist society. My personality is very slow-paced, too, so that's why I often just barely meet my deadlines for the manga.

I've heard that you were a huge fan of Akira Toriyama's Dragonball and Dr. Slump. What was your favorite storyline in Dragonball? Or, if you prefer, who was your favorite character?
I love all the stories up until the first appearance of Freeza. My favorite character is Kuririn, because he has the most "human" feel, and I really associate myself with him.

When you were young, you were attacked by monkeys. Can you tell us about the experience?
I accidentally stepped on a young monkey, and the alpha male of the group and the mother of the monkey attacked me. Ever since then, I have been afraid of monkeys. But these days, I look back on the incident and realize that the protective, nurturing aspect of the monkey is just the same as what a human would feel.

You grew up next to a military base, and the ninja in Naruto behave something like a military force, with discipline and training. Are you a military enthusiast, and did you ever consider joining the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF)?
I don't really consider myself a military enthusiast. Where I grew up didn't actually have a military base, as Japanese doesn't have a military, just a Self-Defense Force. What I did was use the training ground for the SDF as reference, in addition to books on the Mossad and the SAS. I never wanted to join the JSDF, as I wanted to draw manga.

I've heard that you were most inspired by Akira -- the anime, and the manga by Katsuhiro Otomo. Why is this, and what inspired you?
I consider Akira (1988) to be the first Japanese anime to use the "fresco" style of art. Unlike the other works during that time, the character designs, lines, and sense were very realistic, as was the manga itself. Even the buildings were very detailed, and the sheer amount of information that the art conveyed was incredible. It was a very cool science fiction manga. I think it's also the reason anime became so popular in the U.S. I got a bunch of storyboards for Akira when I was 14, and remember constantly copying them.

What was it like going to art school? What was the most useful thing you learned there?
I trained in plaster mediums and the drawing of the human body to increase my skills as a design artist. I also learned graphic design, coloring, and perspectives. Manga is still an art form that you pick up by yourself -- that's the current reality of the Japanese manga industry. Although the drawing skills that I learned in art school were quite useful, I had the abilities of drawing and perspective prior to entering art school. Thus, going to art school was more of a step backward for me.

What was it like being "trained" to be a professional manga artist fro Weekly Shonen Jump? What kinds of things did you learn?
Of course, art is a big part of being a manga artist, but equally important is being able to write a story well. I do pretty much everything by myself, from the characters to the story to the backgrounds. Also, receiving advice from the editor is important, but I think getting a good editor who is supportive of you is key.

You played baseball as a kid, and at one point you considered making a baseball manga. Do you still follow baseball? If so, what is your favorite team?
I love playing baseball, but I don't really like watching it. I don't have a favorite team in Japan. If Japan had major league teams as impressive as the Americans, I might have a team I would root for.

I've heard that you are a fan of traditional Japanese adventure stories. Do you like chanbara eiga [sword fighting movies set in Japan's feudal period] or historical fiction?
I like chanbara, but the recent chanbara films don't have the feel that the older movies have, and I'm not a big fan of the recent ones. I'm hoping a much cooler director comes out and creates an awesome chanbara film. (In Japan, chanbara films are typically produced by aging directors who are completely behind the times. It's difficult for new directors with fresh ideas to be accepted by the old-school Japanese film industry.)

Especially since the early 1980s, ninja have been very popular in American movies and comics. Have you been inspired by any American ninja stories?
I know a little bit about the popularity of Sho Kosugi [star of many action movies] during that period, as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm happy, from the perspective of someone from Japan, to see the new way ninjas are perceived in America. Although I hear there are some people who are upset about how the entire "ninja mythology" has been screwed up because of it.

This may be an American misconception, but when I think of "ninja" I think of figures wearing completely black outfits, usually with masks. But the ninjas in Naruto look completely unlinke this old stereotype. How did you come up with the interesting "Konoha Style" of the ninjas in Naruto?
If I created a world that recycles the traditional concept of a ninja it would have ended up just like all the other ninja manga. I wanted to create a ninja world with a twist, something fresh, so I completely threw out the preconceived notions of what a ninja should be like. Besides, Naruto is a blond-haired ninja wearing yellow clothing, who is supposed to be part of a secret intelligence gathering organization. There's no way that a ninja who stands out that much would really exist. (laughs)

Samurai are of almost equal fame to ninja, and in pop culture, in some ways, they seem like the opposite of ninja -- forthright instead of sneaky. Are there any powerful samurai in the world of Naruto, or are ninja the overwhelmingly dominate power in this world?
I do have a few samurai characters: Zouri and Waraji (although they're kind of "lame" samurai). But there are way too many samurai manga out there, so to stay original I'll continue the ninja stories.

The character Jiraiya, who appears in Naruto, is based on a legendary ninja. Is Naruto inspired by any other particular legends?
Jiraiya is about the only character who is like that; the others are all original.

Your work seems to have a science fiction influence. Approximately speaking, what is the level of technology in the world of Naruto?
Actually, the world of Naruto doesn't differ very much from our present time. Television, refrigerators and air conditioners exist in the world. The only exceptions are weapons and explosives, which I've decided to set in a much earlier era. That's why you don't see firearms in the world of Naruto.

Many Shonen Jump manga have puns for character names, so can you explain some puns in the name of Naruto characters? I know that Naruto is a world for the spiral fishcakes in ramen... But I've also heard of a place off the sea of Japanese called the Naruto Uzumaki (the Naruto whirlpools), like Naruto's first and last name.
Uzumaki (spirals) are a very cool Japanese pattern. Weekly Shonen Jump's philosophy for naming characters is to create a name that the readers can easily associate with the character, by combining it with puns and gags.

How did you develop the chakra power system in Naruto? Are you interested in East Indian mysticism?
I actually have no interest in East Indian mysticism. I need a hook to tie in those points in the story when the characters would use powers that were beyond normal human capabilities. The term is chakra, which is used as an explanation for readers to better understand the powers. It's similar to "the Force" in Star Wars, or chi (aka ki) in Dragonball, or "magic points" in RPGs.

How did you develop the mystic hand gestures used by the ninja in Naruto?
As an alternative to the standard verbal method of casting spells, like in RPGs, the ninja use hand gestures instead.

In Naruto, the frog seems to be associated with the character Naruto. Also, in an early drawing you associate the snake with Sasuke, and the snail with Sakura. What about these animals caused you to connect them with these characters? Are ninja associated with frogs in Japan?
When you talk about ninjas, you invariably talk about frogs. There is a ninja manga whose main character is "Hattori-kun," who (as a joke in the story) does not like frogs, so this connection between ninjas are frogs is a close one [in Japanese Folklore, frogs are considered magical animals, and the oil from a frog's skin is a traditional ointment for wounds and other ailments]. The triad of snake, snail and frog is from Japanese mythology. The snake is more powerful than the frog, the snail is more powerful than the snake, and the frog is more powerful than the snail, making a "paper, rock, scissors" sort of situation. These three are collectively called the Sansukumi.

What inspired you to do a story about a demon fox? What interests you about kitsune (foxes)?
Because the kitsune (fox), in particular the kyubi no yko (Nine-Tailed Fox), is considered to be one of the most powerful supernatural beasts.

What is the relationship of Naruto and the demon fox? Was the demon fox killed and reincarnated inside of Naruto's body, or was it sealed inside the baby Naruto without dying? Are there two souls within Naruto's body, in the mystical sense, or is it more like two personalities, in the psychological sense?
The demon fox has been sealed inside of Naruto without having been killed. It's because the Nine-Tailed Fox couldn't be killed, so they had no choice but to seal it away... probably... which is why there are two personalities inside of Naruto.

Do you get more fan letters from boys or girls? Do boys and girls like different things about the series?
Fan letters are typically written by girls, as it seems that "boys don't write letters." About 90% of the fan letters seem to be from girls, even though the majority of reader are supposed to be boys. It was like that when I used to read Weekly Shonen Jump as a kid, and apparently it's the same today.

Naruto and Sasuke kiss (accidentally) in the first chapter where they appear together. Does this add a special dimension to their rivalry?
I didn't have any particular reason for it, other than to surprise the readers. I mainly did it because I don't think there has ever been a manga where two rivals have kissed. Also, by having this encounter, it was easier to set up the love triangle: Sakura, who had intended to be the first one to kiss Sasuke, has it stolen by her rival Naruto. Sasuke and Naruto are rivals, so there's added tension there. And so on and so fourth.

Is there ever going to be a manga adaptation of Ichalcha Paradise [Make-Out Paradise]?
NEVER.

In closing, what advice would you give to fans who are interested in becoming artists themselves?
Creating manga isn't just about drawing well, but writing a good story. Keep the art and story real, and you can't lose. Also, watch a lot of good Hollywood movies. Those who rail against the entertainment industry are just being close-minded.
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