MONSTER MANGA SALE! featuring Gleipnir + 40 series up to 50% off!

Grrr! Love monsters and all things terrifying? This week, we’re having a kaiju-size sale featuring 40 manga series including Gleipnir—a new, dark body-horror manga series from Kodansha Comics! All volumes of selected series are up to 50% off at our digital retail partners: BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, Kindle, and nook. But HURRY! Sale ends May 6!

Gleipnir by Sun Takeda

Click on the cover to read all of Chapter 1 for FREE! 

~ Monster Manga Sale  ~
April 30-May 6
Click on the link to read Chapter 1 for FREE!

A.I.C.O. Incarnation
Ajin: Demi-Human
Alicia’s Diet Quest
Devils’ Line
Drifting Dragons
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life
Fort of Apocalypse
Frau Faust
The Ghost and the Lady
Good Dog, Cerberus!
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness
I Want to Hold Aono-kun so Badly I Could Die
I’m Standing on A Million Lives
Interview with Monster Girls
Kokkoku: Moment by Moment
Knights of Sidonia
Princess Resurrection
Princess Resurrection: Nightmare
Pumpkin Scissors
PTSD Radio
Real Account
Red Riding Hood’s Wolf Apprentice
Starving Anonymous
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts
Witchcraft Works
That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!
Yagyu Ninja Scrolls
Yozakura Quartet

Bootsleg: Free Chapter 1 of the new manga from the creator of Yozakura Quartet!

Read this new manga from Suzuhito Yasuda, creator of Yozakura Quartet, the same day it comes out in Japan! 

Here’s something cool. Suzuhito Yasuda, the wildly imaginative creator of fan-fave Yozakura Quartet, just launched a brand-new manga series in Japan called Bootsleg—today! And because we’re a swell bunch of people, we’re super-excited to give you a sneak peek of it on the same day it debuts in Japan — in English! So here it is, the full Chapter 1 for the very first time! Read on … 

Well, that was crazy and beautiful, wasn’t it?  Stay tuned for more Bootsleg updates on! 

Hey! While we’re at it, you might want to check out Suzuhito Yasuda’s masterpiece Yozakura Quartet! So we’ve put Volume 1 on sale for ONLY $0.99  and additional volumes up to 50% off at our digital retail partners until until May 1!


BL and Yuri Sale! Featuring 10 Dance + more up to 50% off on digital!

It’s officially spring, and a new season of romance is here! Looking for a breath of fresh air? Because we may have what you are looking for. 😉 This week, we’re having a BL and Yuri Manga Sale, featuring BL and yuri series from Kodansha Comics and put them on discount up to 50% off at all of our digital retail partners: BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, and nook. (Sale ends April 29.) 

~ BL and Yuri Digital Sale  ~
April 23-29
Click on the cover to read Chapter 1 for FREE!


10 Dance
By Inouesatoh
Ages: 16+

Dip into your new obsession in this steamy gay ballroom romance! The beautifully detailed, lithe bodies of the two “kings of the ballroom” fly across the dance floor as rivals build a volatile bond in this red-hot romance!

Shinya Sugiki, the dashing lord of Standard Ballroom, and Shinya Suzuki, passionate king of Latin Dance: the two share more than just a first name and a love of the sport. They each want to become champion of the 10-Dance Competition, which means they’ll need to learn the other’s specialty dances, and who better to learn from than the best? But old rivalries die hard, and things get complicated even further when they realize there might be more between them than an uneasy partnership …






Yuri Is My Job!
By Miman
Ages: 13+

The new, hilarious yuri comedy! Hime gets roped into working at a weird café where the waitresses pretend to be students at an all-girl boarding school. She’s strangely taken with her partner Mitsuki, who’s so kind to her in front of the customers. There’s just one problem … Mitsuki really can’t stand her!

Hime is a picture-perfect high school princess—she’s admired by all and never trips up! So when she accidentally injures a café manager named Mai, she’s willing to cover some shifts to keep her facade intact. To Hime’s surprise, the café is themed after a private school where the all-female staff always puts on their best act for their loyal customers. However, under the guidance of the most graceful girl there, Hime can’t help but blush and blunder! Beneath all the frills and laughter, Hime feels tension brewing as she finds out more about her new job and her budding feelings …







Hitorijime My Hero
By Memeco Arii
Ages: 16+

A BL romance between a good boy who didn’t know he was waiting for a hero, and a bad boy who comes to his rescue! Now a hit streaming anime!

Masahiro Setagawa doesn’t believe in heroes, but wishes he could: he’s found himself trapped in a gang of small-time street bullies, and with no prospects for a real future. But when high school teacher (and scourge of the streets) Kousuke Ohshiba comes to his rescue, he finds he may start believing after all … in heroes, and in his budding feelings, too.







Stray Bullet Baby
By Kei Ichikawa
Ages: Mature

Chihiro Murakami works at a film advertising firm and looks up to Kiyoharu Honna, the stylish editor of the trendy magazine his company does business with. He’s cool, his smile is beautiful, and he’s good at his job. But Chihiro hasn’t had a chance yet to get close to him. However, one day he ends up looking after a dead-drunk Honna and goes home with him and … !? A selfish beauty and the man wrapped around his finger.







Intertwining Lives
Ages: Mature

Yoshiya thinks it’s fate when he’s reunited with his first love; however, he learns they can never be together … For middle-aged scriptwriter Makoto and beautiful actor-in-the-making Yuu, it’s a chance meeting in which admiration turns to love, and love turns to doubt …?! A young and heartrending adolescent love story and a bittersweet mature romance. The stories of a group of men who mingle, intertwine, and change.



Key Ring Lock
By ymz
Ages: Mature

Permanent part-timer Yui discovers a worn-out man fallen on the street. Unable to leave the strangely charming Toshiki alone, Yui helps him back home and then accepts Toshiki while being manipulated by him. However, when Yui gets up in the morning, he finds himself locked in and unable to leave. “Confinement is my hobby,” says a smiling Toshiki. Is this confinement, or is it … Their sensitive love flickers in the space between the normal and abnormal!




Keeping His Whim in Check
By Pi
Ages: Mature

Proclaimed handsome elite businessman, Yuto Shinonome, falls in love at first sight with Tamaki, a beauty who’s exactly his type. It hits him like a ton of bricks when he finds out Tamaki is actually a guy!! Nevertheless, Yuto still acts like a kid with a crush and teases Tamaki like there’s no tomorrow … How can perverse Yuto handle love!?






Read the essay: “Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men Power”—Volume 1 on sale now

The most talked-about and highly anticipated manga of recent years, Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men—is finally here in English. Volume 1 goes on sale as a digital edition on April 23 at all of Kodansha Comics’s partner digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, Kobo, MyAnimeList, and nook.

Nakamura’s sly comedy documents the everyday life of two not-so-ordinary young men sharing an apartment in modern-day Tokyo: Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha. Published in 16 volumes (and still ongoing) under the Japanese title Seinto oniisan in Japan, Saint Young Men Volume 1 goes on sale April 23, with subsequent volumes to be released once a month thereafter. Click on the cover—or scroll below—to read a free preview!

Volume 1 also features a specially-penned afterword by British Museum curator Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere. “Who would have thought that Buddha would have a passion for manga? What Nakamura has managed to do with Saint Young Men is to entertain, stimulate and keep us addicted to this wonderful friendship that never fails to make you see life around you slightly differently as a result,” writes Rousmaniere, who helped acquire pages from Saint Young Men for the British Museum’s genga collection.

To celebrate the occasion of Saint Young Men‘s English-publication debut, we’re presenting the entirety of Rousmaniere’s afterword, right here:

Afterword: Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men Power

By Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, IFAC Handa Curator of Japanese Arts, British Museum and Research Director of Sainsbury Institute, University of East Anglia

Perhaps it was Jesus and Buddha looking like tourists and wearing slogan T-shirts on the cover of the first volume of Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men that first compelled me to pick up the manga at Kyoto Station in 2008. But from that moment I was hooked. My love affair with this manga shows no sign of abating at Volume 16 and I can only rejoice that Nakamura sensei’s work is being translated into English and will become available to English-speaking audiences with this new Kodansha edition.

Shortly after purchasing the first volume in Japan we accessioned it into the British Museum Japan section library and then shortly afterward displayed it in the Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries in the manga section display (Room 94). Soon we were trending on Twitter, and happily in a very positive light.

Only Hikaru Nakamura could have created a manga that centers on the theme of Buddha and Jesus renting a flat together in Tachikawa, Tokyo. The premise is that they are taking a gap year on Earth in order to understand modern Japanese life. They attempt to hide their identities and share everyday adventures, resulting in often hilarious situations. The series started off as a short-run gag manga in 2006 in Kodansha’s magazine Morning 2 under the encouragement of chief editor Kôhei Furukawa, and is still going strong and gaining more and more followers with each tankôbon (graphic novel) release.

Hikaru Nakamura is a young and incredibly popular manga artist who specialises in comedy. She broke into the mainstream manga world with her work Arakawa Under the Bridge (started in 2005), which chronicles the adventures of a compelling tribe of homeless characters living under a bridge in Tokyo. Her work was formally recognised in 2009 when she was awarded the prestigious Tezuka Osamu prize for her short stories for Saint Young Men.

Such was the interest at the British Museum in manga in general and in Hikaru Nakamura’s work in particular, I was able to curate a compact Asahi Shimbun “Objects in Focus” display at the British Museum at the very front of the museum in 2015 titled Manga Now. We featured three generations of manga artists—Chiba Tetsuya (b. 1939), Hoshino Yukinobu (b. 1954) and Nakamura Hikaru (b. 1984)—and in a few months drew close to 100,000 visitors of all ages. Each artist had a bespoke work for the exhibition and we illustrated a representative story from each in translation. The designer wanted the exhibition to feel as if one was entering a manga itself and with the drawings on frames inside the space and not against the wall.

We reached out to Hikaru Nakamura sensei initially, as you may have guessed, on Twitter. Soon afterwards we were lucky to be able to meet her editor at Kodansha, Kôji Tabuchi, who then after a thorough interrogation as to our intentions introduced us to Nakamura sensei herself. I have to admit to being a bit star-struck after following her work for so long. Meeting her was also a revelation. She was refreshingly open in discussing her challenges and discoveries in creating a manga on such a potentially controversial theme. Nakamura sensei mentioned she was surprised by the positive reactions to her manga and that she received a number of letters from religious specialists, university professors, Buddhist priests and Christian clergy. The readership seems quite broad judging by the letters she noted, ranging from young adults to people in their sixties.

Happily she donated a story to the British Museum and chose episode 69, “The Loveable Rascal in a Red Suit,” when Jesus Christ experiences Christmas, his birthday, in Japan, where the immense popularity of Santa Claus takes him by surprise. To calm down, Jesus takes a walk and accidentally finds his way into a confessional booth in a Catholic church, and confesses to the priest his unexpected jealousy of Santa’s popularity. I will not give the rest of the story away, but believe me it will be worth the wait for the translation. Her donation of this story was our own Christmas present and became pivotal for the Museum’s nascent genga collection and most certainly paved the way for the large manga exhibition at the British Museum in the summer of 2019. When we were creating this display in 2015 Saint Young Men was not yet translated into English as we undertook the task ourselves. Until doing this I had no idea how challenging it would be to translate Nakamura sensei’s puns and word plays into English. She is a wordsmith keeping her references topical to contemporary interests. Even Jesus and Buddha’s T-shirt slogan messages are all carefully curated to give an added punch and smile to her readers.

Nakamura sensei also donated the cover artwork for Volume 10 where Buddha is learning how to draw manga, a newly found passion of his. It is early morning, they have stayed up all night and Buddha is still going strong but Jesus has fallen asleep, G-pen still in hand. Who would have thought that Buddha would have a passion for manga? What Nakamura has managed to do with Saint Young Men is to entertain, stimulate and keep us addicted to this wonderful friendship that never fails to make you see life around you slightly differently as a result.

Drift into this: Initial D Volumes 1-38 now on out on comiXology Originals

Relive the legend of how Tak Fujiwara went from tofu delivery boy to street-racing god

Yep, the rumors are true: Initial D is back—and it’s gone beyond! First published by Tokypop in the early 00s, the English translation was never completed. Now, not only are Kodansha Comics and our pals at comiXology Originals digitally reissuing all 33 volumes previously released by Tokyopop, we’re going beyond to complete the whole freakin’ 48-volume run for the very first time!

As of today Volumes 1-38 of Initial D, Shuichi’s Shigeno’s all-time classic of Japanese street racing, are available exclusively on Kindle and comiXology. Volumes 1-33 have been out of print for years, while Volumes 34-38 have never been translated into English before. Look for Volumes 39-48 later this year. 

Upon its release, Initial D perfectly captured the crazy world of Japanese street racing and went on to become a drifting global phenomenon: it spawned a legendary anime series, video games, and movies, not to mention an immortally beloved techno soundtrack! But it all starts here, with the Initial D manga:

Click on Volume 1, above, or just scroll down below for a free preview of all of Chapter 1!

Tak Fujiwara spends a lot of time behind the wheel. His tofu delivery job sends him racing down the treacherous roads of Mount Akina, and without even realizing it, Tak has mastered racing techniques that take most drivers a lifetime to learn. Of course, none of his friends realize this. They’re all too busy watching the Akina Speed Stars, the local street racing team. When the legendary Red Suns show up to challenge the Speed Stars, it looks as if the Trueno Eight Six that has been seen racing through the mountain roads will take them on. The question remains … who’s the driver of this phantom car?

About Shuichi Shigeno
Shuichi Shigeno is best-known for his long-running masterwork, Initial D, which ran from 1995 until 2013. He’s currently at work on the manga series MF Ghost, which is set in a near-future world of self-driving cars—and street racing.

Blast from the past! Resurrection Sale! Princess Resurrection + 20 digital series up to 50% off!


What’s your favorite manga from back in the day? The legends of manga are legion, but due to the ups-and-downs and unavoidable realities of print publishing, some all-time classic series have gone out of print or have been otherwise unavailable for years 😱

Enter Kodansha Comics digital editions: we’ve been resurrecting a slew of classic series as part of our digital-first lineup—and in some cases continuing series like BECK that never concluded in English translation—so that you and new generations of manga fans can dig deep into one of the richest manga catalogs around. And to showcase those titles this week, we’re hosting our Resurrection Sale, with 20+ “blast from the past” manga series discounted up to 50% off  at all of our digital retail partners: BookWalkercomiXology, Google Play, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, and nook. (Sale ends April 22.)

— Kodansha Comics Resurrection Sale! — 
April 15 – 22
Click on the link to read Chapter 1 for FREE!

Air Gear 
BECK–exclusively on comiXolgy and Kindle
Dragon Head
Gakuen Prince

Nodame Cantabile
Neo-Parasyte f
Neo-Parasyte m
Love Hina
Peach Girl
Peach Girl NEXT — a new sequel!
Princess Resurrection
Princess Resurrection Nightmare  — a new sequel!
Pumpkin Scissors
Rave Master
Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei
School Rumble

Yagyu Ninja Scrolls
Yozakura Quartet
Voices of A Distant Star


Kodansha Comics + Vertical Spring 2019 convention schedule! Grab your KC and VC manga and exclusive merch

Spring 2019 Kodansha Comics x Vertical / Animate convention schedule

Sakura Con (April 19-21) Booth #615

Anime Central (May 17-19) Booth #IND16

Fanime Con (May 24-27) Booth # TBD

Wowww, is it the start of convention season already? We here at Kodansha Comics and Vertical are excited to announce our Spring 2019 convention schedule! And this year we’re partnering with our friends at Animate, who’ll be selling our manga and merch at Spring conventions this year!

Here’s the deal. Look for Kodansha Comics-Vertical banner at the Animate booth where you’ll find KC and Vertical merchandise like Sailor Moon Store exclusive items, Pop Team Epic chara dice, poster sets (Attack on Titan, Devil’s Line, Monogatari Series, APOSIMZ), and more!

Attack on Titan Poster Set

Devils’ Line Manuscript Replica Set

Pop Team Epic Chara Dice
Pop Team Epic Selfie Sticks
Pop Team Epic Acrylic Stamps

…and more!

Also don’t forget to sign up for the Kodansha Comics newsletter at the booth—you’ll get an EDENS ZERO pin button set!

Sakura Con 2019 x Satoshi Shiki!

There’s more! To commemorate manga-ka Satoshi Shiki’s appearance at Sakura Con 2019, any Attack on Titan: Before the Fall manga purchase at the Kinokuniya booth (#905, 907, 909, 911) gets you an exclusive Attack on Titan: Before the Fall art card.

It will be a great souvenir to have signed by Shiki-sensei at his autograph sessions during the weekend! Plus a limited number of prestreet copies of Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Volume 16 will be available as well.

Exclusive Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Art Card (image not final)

Attack on Titan Before the Fall Volume 16 pre-streets at Sakura Con 2019!

Satoshi Shiki schedule at Sakura Con 2019
Friday April 19
11:30am-12:30pm Satoshi Shiki in “Questions for a Japanese Manga-ka” (Panels 4C-3)
3:30pm-4:30pm Autograph 1 (4B) 

Saturday April 20

12:30pm-1:30pm Satoshi Shiki Live Drawing (Panels 4C-2)
2pm-3pm Autograph 2 (4B)
9:45pm-11:30pm “Satoshi Shiki Showcase: Daphne in the Brilliant Blue” 1-4 sub (Theater 4 620) 

*Please note that the above schedule can change at anytime during the event.
For the most up to date info go to:



Spring 2019 Manga to Anime Sale! Featuring Attack on Titan & MORE series up to 50% off on digital!

Get ready for some action, because the Spring 2019 anime season is about to kick off, and that means Kodansha Comics powerhouse series will be back on the air, along with up-and-coming series debuting as new anime!

To showcase those manga-series-turned-anime-premieres this spring, this week we’re having another Manga to Anime Sale, with all digital volumes of this season’s must-read manga-to-anime titles up to 50% off at all of our digital retail partners: BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, and nook. (Sale ends April 15.) 

~ Spring 2019 Manga to Anime Sale  ~
April 9-15
Click on the link to read Chapter 1 for FREE!


Ace of the Diamond by Yuji Terajima

Eijun Sawamura had his heart set on the middle-school national baseball championships. But his team is eliminated thanks to a wild pitch thrown by Eijun himself. He’s planning to go to high school with his teammates and try again next year when he’s scouted by the famous Seido High School baseball team. When he goes for a campus visit, he finds himself on the receiving end of a baptism by fire! His experience forming a battery with up-and-coming catcher Miyuki rekindles his passion for baseball!!

The new season of the Ace of the Diamond Act II anime is now streaming on Crunchyroll










Ao-chan Can’t Study! by Ren Kawahara

When Ao was in kindergarten, she smiled ear-to-ear as she told her classmates how her father (a bestselling erotic author) chose her name: “A as in apple and O as in orgy!” That day still haunts her ten years later as she studies with a single goal in mind: get into an elite university and achieve independence from her father once and for all. She has no youth to misspend and no time to think about boys … until her classmate, “King Normie” Kijima, approaches her with a shocking confession of love. She tries to lose Kijima, but he just can’t take a hint … and as her mind runs wild with impure thoughts, she realizes her father has totally influenced her!

This brand-new anime series is now available on HIDIVE!








Fairy Tail  by Hiro Mashima

Prepared to do what they need to or die trying, Fairy Tail faces off against the vast hordes of the Alvarez Empire. They’ve retaken the port town of Hargeon, but the battles are hard, and every victory is costly. Fairy Tail’s prisoner, Brandish, makes an offer to act as a go-between in a negotiation with August, a man known as the strongest of the Spriggan 12. Fairy Tail is desperate, but can Brandish be trusted? Meanwhile, Gajeel’s group has fought a fierce battle to rescue the members of Saber Tooth and regain lost ground, but powerful enemies are close, which could mean more despair for the embattled members of Fairy Tail …

The high drama of Fairy Tail continues in the 9th season of the anime on Crunchyroll and Funimation!









Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

The Survey Corps has overthrown the Royal Government and swept away the tyranny of the king. The next step: move to retake Wall Maria, with the helpf of a newly discovered metallic ore and Eren’s miraculous Titan hardening powers. But as humanity pulls together, its enemies also unite beyond the Walls … now that the Beast Titan has joined Reiner and Bertolt, what havoc will they wreak?

Attack on Titan anime Season 3 Part 2 will start on April 28 on Crunchyroll and Funimation








Digital-first announcement: Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men debuts April 23

“Digital-first” debuts are back—and this April will see the debut of one of the most talked-about and highly anticipated manga of recent years, Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men. Nakamura’s sly comedy documents the everyday life of two not-so-ordinary young men sharing an apartment in modern-day Tokyo: Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha. Long rumored for an official English-language release, the wait is now over: Saint Young Men is finally here in English.

Click on the cover—or scroll below—to read a free preview!

Published in 16 volumes (and still ongoing) under the Japanese title Seinto oniisan in Japan, Saint Young Men goes on sale April 23, starting with Volume 1, and with subsequent volumes to be released monthly thereafter. Saint Young Men will be available on all of Kodansha Comics’s partner digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, Kobo, MyAnimeList, and nook.

Volume 1 also features a specially-penned afterword by British Museum curator Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere. “Who would have thought that Buddha would have a passion for manga? What Nakamura has managed to do with Saint Young Men is to entertain, stimulate and keep us addicted to this wonderful friendship that never fails to make you see life around you slightly differently as a result,” writes Rousmaniere, who helped acquire pages from Saint Young Men for the British Museum’s nascent genga collection.


For an advance review copy of Saint Young Men, visit the Kodansha Comics page at NetGalley or contact

Download a press kit containing supporting artwork here.


10 Years of Kodansha Comics—April Spotlight: A Silent Voice

10 years of Kodansha Comics!

The year 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the first Kodansha Comics manga published in English. Please join us in celebration as we select
one classic Kodansha Comics series each month for exclusive content, promotions, and other surprises!

A Silent Voice Volumes 1-7 are available now from Kodansha Comics in a beautiful complete collector’s-edition box set for old and new fans alike!

April Spotlight: A Silent Voice

Our April Spotlight title is Yoshitoki Oima’s moving coming-of-age manga A Silent Voice, and with the release of the A Silent Voice movie now out on Bluray and DVD, it couldn’t be better timing to celebrate this Eisner-nominated series! So what kind of “special surprises” do we have waiting for you this month? Check these out …

Surprise 1: Exclusive A Silent Voice pin!
As a part of the 10 Years of Kodansha Comics project, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Rightstuf to bring you these awesome exclusive A Silent Voice pins!

Visit Rightstuf and order any volume of A Silent Voice or the A Silent Voice Complete Series Box Set and you’ll receive an exclusive A Silent Voice pin for FREE! Available this month (April 2019) only or while supplies last.

Surprise 2: A Silent Voice Survey Sweepstakes!

Here’s your chance to do all of the following: (a) check out the original A Silent Voice manga, (b) complete your collection with the brand new A Silent Voice Complete Series Box Set, and (c) check out more manga from creator Yoshitoki Oima! For the month of April only, ONE lucky winner will win a copy of the A Silent Voice Complete Series Box Set, one copy of the A Silent Voice Bluray/DVD from our friends at Eleven Arts / Shout Factory,!, AND a complete collection of Yoshitoki Oima’s previous manga series: Mardock Scramble and Volumes 1-9 of To Your Eternity!

All you have to do is take this survey by April 30 to enter for a chance to win.

Surprise 3: Yoshitoki Oima long interview excerpt

Kodansha Comics is also proud to present a special interview with Yoshitoki Oima! First appearing in the A Silent Voice Fanbook (Japan only), this interview with A Silent Voice creator Yoshitoki Oima has never before been translated into English … until now!

About Yoshitoki Oima

Yoshitoki Oima won the 80th Weekly Shonen Magazine Rookie Manga Prize, and debuted in 2009 with Mardock Scramble. Following A Silent Voice, her new series, To Your Eternity, began serializing inWeekly Shonen Magazine at the end of 2016.

Really See, Really Hear: A Silent Voice Yoshitoki Oima Long Interview

An excerpt from the interview first published in the A Silent Voice Fanbook (September 2016)


A Theme of Communication

Q. A Silent Voice deals with a lot of very serious themes, including bullying and hearing impairment. The series comes across as a very brave act. Do you feel that way?

Yoshitoki Oima (YO): I’m a little uncomfortable reducing the work to simplistic statements like “It’s about bullying.” Personally, I never saw the series as being “about” bullying or hearing impairment; instead, I was attempting to illustrate, literally, how difficult it can be for people to communicate their feelings to each other. So while the title may be A Silent Voice, I very much intended to depict communication as a whole. Shoko can’t hear, that’s true, but that’s really just one of the things that makes her who she is; and in the same way, the bullying in this series is one result of a particular kind of communication.

Q. Is there something specific that motivated you to take on communication, and the difficulty of communicating feelings, as your theme?

YO: A Silent Voice actually draws a lot from my own experience: the regret over my failure to take notice of and listen to the voice of one girl in particular; it deeply influenced Shoya’s commitment to “really see, really listen.” It’s not that my friend couldn’t hear, but in this story, Shoko’s inability to hear is partially a nudge to help readers key in to the main theme. It wasn’t intended to be the core of the series, per se.

Q. It’s true that Shoya never once uses the word “bullying” to describe his own actions.

YO: Shoya is all too aware how it would sound if he described his past behavior toward Shoko as “bullying,” so he strongly resists using that word and labeling it that way.

In contrast, the people around him, including Miki, Naoka, and Mr. Takeuchi, are perfectly happy calling it “bullying”. That compartmentalizes the bullying, and sort of lets them feel that they weren’t involved. That’s a relief for them, and they find “bullying” a very convenient term as they create their own narratives of themselves.

Q. Miki and Naoka sometimes use the word “karma” to describe the events of the series. Is this something else they say simply because it’s convenient for them, like “bullying”?

YO: “Karma” is a word the characters use as an easy dodge. They’re trying to live their own lives, and “karma” is a box they can compartmentalize things in to help make sense of them. For me personally, “karma” is not a significant factor in the series.

It’s possible one reason people focus so much on the word “karma” is that it gives readers a certain sense of relief, too. Words like “karma,” or phrases like “crime and punishment” and “good is rewarded; evil is punished,” are frameworks that lend themselves very well to stories. Some readers might expect characters who do something wrong to be punished, but I wasn’t specifically thinking about that during the writing.

I do want to be clear about one thing, though: I didn’t write Miki, or even Mr. Takeuchi or Shoko’s paternal family, to be “villains.”

Q. Do you mean they’re each right in their own way – or at least have their own feelings about all this?

YO: I drew each scene with empathy for the character in question—like how Mr. Takeuchi acts in the elementary school, and when Shoko’s paternal grandfather says, “We don’t want anyone like that in our family” (vol 4, ch. 32: Gum Syrup). These characters all realize that “If I say something like this, I might come off as a bad person.” But they all say these things convinced that “raising a child with disabilities isn’t as simple as you think.”

While each character says these things in their own way, the words they speak and the attitudes they exhibit spring from brutally honest feelings they can’t deny. These are things I might have even said myself if I were ignorant of people with disabilities. For example, when faced with serious issues and cornered to make a decision, maybe I would’ve also said something like, “This may be taboo, but I’m going to speak my mind.”

Of course, it’s up to each individual to think about what’s good and bad, and that is what Shoko’s mother found troubling.

Shoko’s Feelings, Conveyed in the Communication Notebook

Q. The communication notebook plays a crucial role in the meeting, conflict, and finally reunion between Shoya and Shoko.

YO: With her grandmother, Shoko practiced speaking aloud; she was making an effort to use her voice to talk. But when she stopped speaking, that notebook became her one line of communication with hearing people.

Q. Why does Shoko stop talking?

YO: It has a lot to do with her mother and Yuzuru. It made Shoko unbearably sad to see Yuzuru getting bullied because Shoko couldn’t speak like everyone else; that’s the first reason. The second reason was that her mother wanted Shoko to be able to speak well, but when things don’t go as smoothly as planned, her mother becomes frustrated—Shoko picks up on that. So she slowly stops using her voice.

The message Shoko displays in the notebook when she transfers to Suimon Elementary School—“I would like to get to know everyone through this notebook”—really says it all. For her, the communication notebook isn’t just the one tool that allows her to communicate; it’s a symbol of Shoko’s hope that she can be friends with her classmates.

Q. But some pretty cruel things end up written in that notebook.

YO: Shoko starts out being able to converse normally with everyone through the notebook, but gradually all the notes turn to complaints, and then to outright meanness. Shoko sees all this as her own fault, so—as a means of self-defense and to smooth things over with everyone else—she hides how she really feels and just starts to apologize all the time. It culminates in Shoya throwing the notebook into the pond, and even though she immediately rushes to fish it out again, Shoko herself decides to throw the notebook away immediately afterward. It was her only haven, and now she’s abandoning it: she’s given up on communicating. This encounter with Shoya is the last straw; Shoko can no longer hold back all the feelings she’s been keeping inside, and confesses to Yuzuru that she wants to die. The notebook was just that important to her.

How can everyone write such awful things in this precious notebook of hers? It’s because nobody can see how important it is—not even her mother. That’s why her mother can throw it off the bridge like she does. I gave that chapter the title “I Gave Up Once Before” because it answers the question “What did Shoko give up in elementary school?” When, in high school, Shoya suddenly shows up with the notebook Shoko thought she’d abandoned, to her it’s much more than just an old notebook. It’s as if Shoya has brought back with him the whole hope of being friends with everyone that Shoko had thrown away in elementary school—friends she was going to make with that notebook.

When Shoya asks, “Is that notebook really that important?”, Shoko responds, “It matters because you brought it back to me.” She clasps it to her chest with one hand over the other, letting him know how precious it is.

Q. Shoya pulled the communication notebook out of the pond and kept it all that time. Does that show that, on some level, he had a sense of how much it meant to Shoko?

YO: Having experienced bullying himself, Shoya can look at the notebook and realize what awful things everyone wrote there. But at the same time, he sees how Shoko never wrote anything but “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He starts to ask himself, why would she throw away something that mattered so much to her? And he starts to wonder: was there more she wanted to say? That’s why he held onto it for so long.

Q. So when Shoya hits Shoko, that’s because he thinks she ought to be more open about herself, right?

YO: The way Shoko only ever wrote “I’m sorry” in the notebook gnaws at Shoya. He wanted to bring out—maybe you could call it—Shoko’s true self. He wanted to know how she really felt.


Wanna read more interview like this?

Then check out Kodansha Comics’ exclusive interview with Yoshitoki Oima from 2016! 

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