Hiro Mashima's visit to New York Comic Con brought Fairy Tail fans out in droves, and the room where he gave his panel (and sketched Natsu for one lucky attendee) was filled to overflowing. But we were able to snatch a few quiet moments with him to talk about his inspiration and his work ethic. Our colleague from Anime News Network, Crystal Hodgkins, was there as well, and I let her go first.
Crystal: Our company interviewed you three years ago. Since then, Fairy Tail has been made into an anime. What do you think of the anime adaptation?
Hiro Mashima: I have been having fun, I have just been having a great time just going along with the ride. I wanted to tell you then, but I couldn’t.
Crystal: What is your favorite part about having your manga turned into an anime?
Hiro Mashima: Just watching Natsu and Happy move around. There’s a limit to the effects that I can draw, the depiction of magic in manga so in anime it’s so much fun. I realize how much fun my characters are when I see them move around.
Brigid: Did you read manga or watch anime as a child? And if so, what were your favorites?
Hiro Mashima: Dragon Ball, of course, and a lot of the works by Miyazake Hayao.
Brigid: At that time, did you ever think you would become a manga-ka?
Hiro Mashima: It all started with me copying and tracing their works but before I knew, it and gradually, I knew I would become a professional. It wasn't so much what I wanted to be—I knew what I was going to be.
Crystal: Loyalty to family and loyalty to friends is a theme that runs deep in Fairy Tail. Is that something you also feel passionate about?
Hiro Mashima: Absolutely. My friends have helped me a lot in the past and that’s something that I directly want to depict in this manga, and that was the beginning of Fairy Tail, actually. But I have been so busy lately that I know my list of friends in my cell phone has been quickly being edited out.
Brigid: I wanted to ask about Monster Hunter Orage. I know this is based on a game, yet it’s a manga that people who don’t know the game very well can read and enjoy. But for you, how is it different to create a manga about a world you didn’t create, as opposed to Fairy Tail, where it’s all yours. What are the challenges?
Hiro Mashima: Of course the first thing was that I couldn't destroy the world of the original author, so I had to respect that. But there were a lot of similarities. The vision of the world of Monster Hunter is very similar to the world that I often depict, so it wasn't too difficult.
Crystal: Back to themes in Fairy Tail: Often the villain characters get redeemed in the series in one way or another. Do you believe in giving people second chances and that anybody can be redeemed?
Hiro Mashima: Absolutely. But, however, I value life heavily, so that's something to keep in mind. Sometimes I depict … where a character passes on and it turns out that they actually weren't [dead], but I never depict … somebody that was already actually dead coming back to life. That’s not something that I depict, resurrections.
Brigid: Fairy Tail is a very imaginative manga; it has a lot of surprises in it, and it’s also very funny. How do you come up with ideas for characters and for stories, and—here’s the hard part—what do you do when you run out of ideas, when you have no inspiration?
Hiro Mashima: At the actual moment of the idea being born, I am actually not aware of it. It is the most spontaneous moment. But I am constantly thinking about ideas, and even as I was walking here from the staff room I was thinking about it, and even now, in the corner of my mind, I am thinking of ideas… But when I can't think of an idea, when my idea runs dry, I just sleep if off. I just have to change my emotion and my feelings.
Crystal: What message would you like to give to your English speaking fans?
Hiro Mashima: There are 15 volumes now, but a lot more different and interesting and surprising stories await you, so I hope you read on. There will be so many more characters, and the plot is thickening, and I am ever more passionate. And I am well aware that I have readers all over the world, so I hope that you will look forward to my work.
This interview was conducted alongside Crystal Hodgkins at Anime News Network.