A Sign of Affection is now available same-day-as-Japan! Print edition coming spring 2021!
A Sign of Affection is the beautiful story by suu Morita about the blooming relationship between Yuki, a typical college student who loves her friends and cute things, is Deaf, but can communicates to the world via sign language and technology, and Itsuomi a handsome, world-curious and jet-setting student at the same school. After a chance encounter both Yuki and Itsuomi’s lives become intertwined, expanding, not only their world, and but also their hearts.
Kodansha Comics announced that starting Tuesday, 7/21, A Sign of Affection will debut chapters same-day-as-Japan via Amazon Kindle, BookWalker, comiXology & Crunchyroll, with chapters released monthly, and priced at $1.99 each. And to celebrate we interviewed the creative team about themselves and the inspirations for this very pure and heartfelt manga series.
Now, check-out our interview with manga creators suu Morita (Makiro-san & Nachiyan-san) below:
KC: I’ve heard that you are two-person team making a manga together. Could you tell us how you two met? How do you work together when you make a manga?
sM: We went to the same high school and were classmates. Makiro creates our storyboard/layouts and Nachiyan illustrates the story. Along with our editor, the three of us discuss the series and check rough sketches together.
KC: Why do you draw yourselves as grains of rice in your self-portrait?
sM: The rice gain is a character called “Soboku-kun,” that Nachiyan created when we were in high school. There’s no specific reason why it’s a rice grain, though (laugh).
We both liked that character, so when we debuted as manga artists and thought about our self portrait, we decided to go with that. We also use it on our Twitter.
KC: What inspired you to draw a manga focused on sign language, centered around a person with a hearing disability?
sM: When we were thinking about our next manga, Nachiyan suggested a story that involved sign language, and coincidentally that was a subject I wanted to personally try and figure out as a manga artist.
Sign language is difficult to express visually, and it’s rare to see a Deaf protagonist in shojo manga. That’s why we wanted to take up this challenge. Also, we felt that there were a lot of important elements that crossed over between both sign language and the shojo manga genre – both are full of expressions and emotions that aren’t entirely stated, and exist beyond just the dialog. There’s a feeling that in order to fully understand the emotions of the characters in shoujo manga you need to pay attention the entirety of the story, the expressions, the scenery, the reactions and yes, including the dialog. And so, sign language is the same in that you also have to pay attention to the signing, expressions and more to fully understand what’s being communicated.
KC: Do you have a first-hand experience with using sign language before working on this manga? Or did you do a lot of research about the subject?
Makiro-san: I learned a little bit of sign language when I was in elementary school, but it was just singing a children song in sign language. So we made sure to do some interviews before starting the series.
sM: We also read books, interviewed teachers at a school for the Deaf, and then, most importantly we met Yuki Miyazaki, who supervised our use of sign language for this work. She also shares with us her world as a Deaf person and tells us about her daily life.
KC: When you started actually creating A Sign of Affection, did you encounter any challenges? Or anything that went more smoothly than expected?
Nachiyan-san: In shojo manga, it’s important to show the faces and expressions of the characters in the story. But in this story it’s hard to keep panel composition from feeling stale, or rather all looking the same. Because because if you try to draw only the facial expressions, you won’t get to include the characters’ hands doing sign language in the panel, or if you try to focus on the sign language, you won’t get the facial expressions.
KC: What makes Yuki a unique person? What makes Itsuomi a unique person? (If the two creators have different opinions on this, I would like to hear both of their opinions.)
sM: In terms of personality, Yuki is more earnest and pure than previous heroines. Also, I think her personality is more relatable and typical of a college girl. Itsuomi is someone who goes at his own pace and is not afraid of anything. But, he’s also he is very patient and empathetic.
KC: The color illustrations for A Sign of Affection is very beautiful! Could you tell us a little bit about the mediums that you use? I particularly love the use of warm color for the outline instead of solid black. Was this a stylistic choice for this series?
sM: I use Copic Multiliner brown for the outline, and use Dr. Ph. Martin’s color ink for coloring. In this manga, I’m trying to keep a soft and delicate art style.
KC: Do you guys have a personal hobby? Do you think those hobbies help you to work on manga? Or not really?
Nachiyan-san: My hobby is collecting German toy PLAYMOBIL. It helps me to relax on a daily basis. Also, since I can’t go out much these days, I’ve been playing Animal Crossing.
Makiro-san: I’ve also been playing Animal Crossing lately.
sM: Other than that, we like beauty blogs, beauty materials and what’s popular in beauty. Sometimes, we even use these beauty topics in our manga.
KC: What are some of the audience reactions on A Sign of Affection that you’ve seen so far?
Makiro-san: I try to create Yuki’s monologue and words carefully since there are no speech bubbles for her. I know it’s a sensitive subject, so I’m careful of how I depict and represent this topic because I don’t want people to get hurt by the way it’s presented. Beyond Yuki, I also take care of the scenes, story arcs and dialogue. But, the smoothest part is that Yuki is easy to portray as a character in terms of personality, more so than the heroine characters we’ve had in our past works.
sM: We often receive comments such as “it’s きゅんきゅん (kyun kyun)*” and “it’s 尊い（toutoi)*”. We’re happy to hear when people say that Yuki, is a cute main character. Also, we feel we’re getting more and more comments that fans read and reread this manga over and over again.
きゅんきゅん (kyun kyun): A kind of sparkling beauty
尊い（toutoi): too pure and should be treasured
KC: A Sign of Affection is now available in English, and it’s also going to be available on Simulpub. How to you feel that English speaking audience will be reading this manga at the same time as Japan?
sM: It’s so nice to be read by someone overseas in real time!
There are many kinds of sign language in many countries, but I hope you can see that this is what Japanese sign language is like.
KC: Any last words to the fans of A Sign of Affection? What should the fans be looking forward to in this series in the near future?
sM: We’re grateful that people are interested in our manga. We’re getting more messages on Instagram from people abroad. We believe Itsuomi will learn sign language and use it more often in the future. Although sign language is a visual way to communicate, we hope that the emotions and sentiments that show up between gaps in the fingers can be conveyed to the readers as well. And that they take notice of what is also left unsaid. We hope you will continue to read and enjoy this manga.