Here’s a special bonus for MTV Geek readers: You already saw our preview of Attack on Titan, the new manga coming out on June 19 from Kodansha Comics, and now we have an interview with the creator, Hajime Isayama. This interview originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of Bessatsu Shōnen, the manga magazine that carries Attack on Titan, and this translated version is included as a bonus in Kodansha’s U.S. edition of the first volume. But you get to see it here first! Find out how Isayama-san gets his ideas, what his work space is like, and even what his fetish is! Read on for more, and be sure to check out our sneak preview as well.
This is what happens when Hajime Isayama, the creator of Attack on Titan, goes up against everyone’s questions!!
In the last issue, we asked you, the readers, to send in questions you want to ask Mr. Isayama, and many of you obliged. We pitched them one by one to Mr. Isayama and he came back with answers we never would’ve expected. This interview of a sort demands to be read and we’re using five pages to bring it to you. We weren’t able to print every single question and answer, but please enjoy the Q and A with as much space as we were able to provide!!
EDITOR: Thank you for being here today. We’ve received a lot of questions from the readers. Please just answer them as much as you’re able.
MR. ISAYAMA (hence referred to as ISA): I have a feeling all of my answers will be boring, but… fire away. Nothing is taboo.
EDITOR: Then let’s begin.
“Why did you decide on giants as the theme of this work?”
ISA: Well, giants are kind of gross, aren’t they? That’s why.
“Has anything in your life changed since the series has become the focus of so much attention?”
ISA: I got a weird phone call from my bank. They were wondering about the sudden increase of funds in my savings, so they probably thought I was running some bank transfer scam. (LOL)
“Do you have a way to clear out the cobwebs when you’re tired or when you need to decide some important story point?”
ISA: Shadowboxing with the hanging lamp cord in my house is very soothing.
“What made you decide to become a manga artist?”
ISA: I just decided one day, is all. I had a habit of doodling and daydreaming anyway, so I was fortunate that my interests were compatible with something that’s profitable.
“Mr. Isayama, what is your fetish?”
ISA: I have a body hair fetish.
“How do you get over those times when making manga gets tough?”
ISA: I don’t. (LOL) I think it’s always equal parts tough and fun.
“Where do you get your ideas for stories?”
ISA: This doesn’t have to do with creating stories, but when I’m half-awake, like just before I drift off to sleep, my mind gets flooded with information I’ve seen or heard unconsciously. I call it “Super Enlightenment Time.” And this is true, I’m not kidding.
“If a character from another manga series in Betsu Maga became a Titan, what would it look like?”
ISA: Maybe something like this.
EDITOR: I’m surprised! You actually drew a sketch here!
ISA: Yes. I said that nothing was taboo, so… (LOL) I’m worried that I’ll get blasted for overdoing it in the sketch…
EDITOR: Well, if you do ruffle some feathers with this, I’ll go over and apologize with you. But on to the next question…
“Is there a manga artist whom you respect?”
ISA: There are plenty of them. Of course, there are my fellow manga artists in Betsu Maga, but also Tsutomu Nihei, Ryōji Minagawa, Kentarō Miura, Hideki Arai, Tōru Mitsumine, and I could go on and on. I’m still a fledgling.
“Which is your favorite character in Attack on Titan?”
ISA: That would be Jean. Jean comes right out and says what he’s thinking, even if it’s something you normally wouldn’t be able to say. That’s what I like about him.
Jean: We can finally escape this shitty, suffocating front line of a town!!
Jean: A safe, comfortable life is waiting for us in the Interior, right?!
FX: BAM BAM
“Out of all the manga you’ve read, which has had the most influence on you?”
“How far ahead do you have Attack on Titan plotted out?”
ISA: In terms of broad strokes, I’ve got it pretty well thought out to way, way down the line. And I’ve got outlines that say like, such-and-such a truth will be revealed in volume 5 and around volume 10, this situation is going to happen. See, if I didn’t decide these things before it sees publication, I wouldn’t even be able to come up with ideas. Although I don’t flesh it out until I’m actually working on it…
“What do you think of Miyajima (Masanori Miyajima)?”
ISA: He’s got a permanent crease on his nose from his glasses.
“Aren’t you going to have female Titans?”
ISA: I wonder if I should say this… They’re rare.
“I always forget how the kanji for ’Isa’ in your last name goes. Is there a good way to remember how to write it?”
ISA: You can write it however. I’ll answer either way.
“Mr. Isayama, I want to see where you work!”
ISA: That’s the one thing I hope you’ll cut me some slack on! I really don’t want to show you, since it’s a mess…
“If you were on a desert island and could only have three things, what would you choose besides me and a guitar?”
ISA: Other than you and a guitar, I guess I would bring a U.S. armed forces fleet.
“No special question.”
“Mr. Isayama, what were you like as a child?”
ISA: I don’t really want to recall my childhood…
“Do you use a model for the Titans?”
ISA: For the Titan version of Eren, I use martial artist Yūshin Okami’s body as a model. My ideal is the physique of a middleweight mixed martial artist. I only use the shape of the body as a model.
“I’m guessing that drawing Titans after a long time would do things to your mind. Do you have nightmares about them?”
ISA: I think giants aren’t really scary in the first place, so no, never.
“What’s the scariest thing in the world?”
ISA: A bunch of middle school girls looking at me and going, “Ewwww” while laughing.
“Please tell me your basic one-month schedule.”
ISA: I take a week to storyboard and three weeks to draw.
“Mikasa is always wearing the scarf she got from Eren. Doesn’t she get hot?”
ISA: She doesn’t wear it when it’s hot outside.
“Mr. Isayama, at what age did you start drawing?”
ISA: I have a memory of being praised for a drawing I did of a dragon when I was in kindergarten.
“Are you sometimes mistaken for the manga artist who does the series GIANT KILLING (about soccer)?”
ISA: Just recently, my own editor made that mistake.
“What manga do you recommend right now?”
ISA: All-rounder Meguru and Iron Wind!!
“Mr. Isayama, which character in Attack on Titan most resembles you?”
ISA: Hmm… Mr. Hannes and the Garrison soldiers in volume 1 who sit around drinking booze.
“Is there a story that you want to do after finishing Attack on Titans?”
ISA: There’s a story I’ve had in my mind since high school. If I get lucky enough for it to be published someday, I hope everyone reads it!
“Please tell me if you have a favorite scene in Attack on Titans.”
ISA: The scene where the TV studio gets taken over and rock ‘n’ roll music is playing. Sorry…
“What’s your favorite food?”
ISA: I’m not really into food.
** Apparently, if he’s not careful, he’ll drop to 40 kilos [88 pounds] without realizing it…
“How do you spend your free time?”
ISA: Drooling as I surf the net.
“What would you look like if you were a Titan, Mr. Isayama?”
ISA: I’m sure I’d be something like this. (LOL)
EDITOR: Thank you very much! One last question. “From what page does the story really get going?”
ISA: Just wait for the 420th summary on! Please keep reading!