Exclusive Interview: Fujita on Wotakoi Finale – Part 2

Continuing Our Conversation with Fujita!

The wait is over! Part 2 of Kodansha’s exclusive Fujita on Wotakoi Finale interview is now available to read below or if you would like to experience this entire interview in one video check out the Kodansha YouTube page to see a special video covering all the topics of this interview in a singular multi-media experience fans of Wotakoi are sure to love!

To read Part 1 of Kodansha’s exclusive interview with Fujita hit the link below:
Exclusive Interview: Fujita on Wotakoi Finale – Part 1

Once again we must give a big thanks to our interview translator, Sawa Matsueda Savage. And English-language series editor, Vanessa Tenazas for their help on this interview.

(Please note that since we transcribed an audio recording of an interview with Fujita-sensei, some comments come from Wotakoi’s Editor, Suzuki are mixed into the answers.)

On Hobbies – What is Fujita’s personal otaku genre?

Fujita: I like video games, and I play fun, low-key ones like Animal Crossing and Pokémon. The types of games I like are ones I can enjoy in my own time, that I’m free to play as I like by myself. 

Recently, I’ve also been into TRPGs (tabletop role-playing games). The Cthulhu TRPGs have surged in popularity in the past decade or so with more people playing them, and it became a trend to stream playthrough videos on YouTube. I happened to watch a really fun one that got me intrigued and I played it with my family, and that’s how I got into it.

I generally like creating characters and letting them act out stories, and while creating a manga out of that takes a lot of time and energy, a table talk game is less taxing and great for some casual fun. I think TRPGs are unique in that they let me create characters and play with them in ways that aren’t possible in manga.

Asides from games, I like horror-related content. Recently when I work, I’ve been playing videos in the background where YouTubers go to some haunted location or professional horror storytellers tell spooky stories. I’m very intrigued by the emotion of fear, and I find it curious and impressive that being scared can also be entertaining.

I think that the emotion of being scared and being entertained might involve a similar evoking process, just in different colors. A well-crafted story is of course scary, but also makes you go, “Huh. That’s really neat.” Everyone is capable of fear, and the same goes for enjoying something. Because I draw manga, I have a habit of dissecting the fear I feel to figure out what gave rise to that emotion. I break down the elements to arrive at a reason that makes sense to me, like “maybe it’s scary because this part of the story is told in this kind of tone.” When I listen to these stories, half of me does it in the spirit of research, hoping to translate that method somehow into my own manga, and the other half just wants to enjoy being scared as a regular member of the audience.

On Wotakoi’s Ending – What were the challenges of wrapping up a series?

Fujita: I wasn’t conflicted about finishing the series. It went as far as it would go, and I thought it was time to wrap it up. I felt the story couldn’t go on without having Narumi face her inner conflict about hiding her otaku ways, and if I kept waiting to pursue that storyline, I was worried that it wouldn’t be clear what the story was about anymore… Over the six or seven years working on the series, a gradual rift began to grow between the readership and the character I had originally intended Narumi to be. So time was running out to give closure to the story of Narumi wanting to hide being an otaku, which is what I had set out to do in the first place. Closet otaku are already becoming a minority, and once it becomes normal for most to think they have no reason to hide their otakuness, I figured it would be really difficult to present a story that would be convincing to my readers. Looking back, I just barely made it in time for the story to be relatable, so I think the timing was good.

Personal Thoughts – Did Fujita get to draw the ending they wanted? 

Fujita: In finishing the series, I put a crazy amount of thought into the last two episodes or so. I had to wrap up all the stuff about Narumi’s relationship with Hirotaka, but also figure out how to fit that into her own inner conflict, as well as how Hirotaka should get involved in Narumi’s personal struggle. I may be the one who came up with Wotakoi, but throughout the series my editor Suzuki-san helped make the adjustments it needed, so the two of us discussed what would make the most sense for Narumi and Hirotaka’s characters. We had ideas that would have been fine if it wasn’t the finale, but we definitely wanted to aim higher because it was going to be a special episode. I knew we couldn’t compromise. We ended up going with an idea that was completely different from my initial plan.

Suzuki: Compared to when the series began, society’s ideas on otaku have changed so much, haven’t they?

A positive interpretation is that Wotakoi may have had some influence, with the suggestion that it’s okay to be more open about otaku inclinations. And now people are becoming a lot more open about it than we ever expected. 

Fujita: I first thought about retuning to the usual energy and banter at the end, but as I was working, it started getting emotionally touching. I didn’t want the kind of heartfelt ending that screams, “This is the finale!” which was why I meant to end on a busy, comical note… [laughs

Suzuki: Well, I thought it had the feel of their usual style while still having Narumi overcome her inner problem, and I felt like it ended in keeping with the series. I also thought the individual characters really got a chance to shine in the final volume’s book-only episodes in a way that makes you want to see more. I really liked the one about Ko changing the way she calls Naoya.

Fujita: Those were meant as bonus treat for the fans!

Suzuki: The book-only episodes weren’t the only treat. You didn’t hold back with the cover of the artbook, either. 

Fujita: I drew all the lovey-dovey situations I had refrained from drawing before. 

On What’s Next – What does Fujita want to do next? Are they working on anything new? 

Suzuki: We can’t really talk much about this, but we have been discussing things.

Fujita: I’m at the stage of preparing my next move.

Suzuki: I think it’s going to be something that surprises everyone in a good way, so I hope it leaves people in awe.

Words to the fans of Wotakoi

Fujita: I can’t thank you enough for supporting me from so far away, and I hope to see you again in some way or the other!

On Characters – Fujita Tells us why they love each character

Narumi Momose

Narumi was the easiest to work with because I didn’t have to worry about how to portray her. She also functioned to ease the tension in any situation. She would make everyone smile just by being there. Narumi is the heroine, but I wanted her to be a kind of hero who saved Hirotaka. At the very end though, I got to make Hirotaka the one who saves his hero Narumi, so I’m glad I managed to guide the story there.

Hirotaka Nifuji

Hirotaka is actually meant to be the heroine. So I was really careful about how I portrayed him, and many of the times my editor turned down a storyboard, it had to do with how I presented Hirotaka. We had discussions that went like, “If you make him smile here, it might make the rarity of him smiling less special.”

Taro Kabakura

I worked with Kabakura thinking it was okay if he was something of a jerk. When I came up with material for Kabakura, it would be him making a verbal attack with something rude or selfish in an argument with Hanako. I didn’t mind if he came across as awful or a jerk depending on how you looked at it, but I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t clearly in the wrong. I wanted the fights between Kabakura and Hanako to be quarrels stemming from a difference in values. I sought advice from a lot of people about how to keep that balanced in terms of whether Kabakura’s way of thinking made sense in certain scenes. Kabakura was the second easiest to work with after Narumi, so I enjoyed drawing him. His character was great for throwing curveballs.

Hanako Koyanagi 

She was a good senpai around Narumi—older, reliable, cool, and composed. But she acts like a kid around Kabakura, and I wanted to show that contrast. Some characters can be insensitive around the people they’re comfortable with, and I wanted that for the Kaba-Hana couple, where they end up looking like a husband-and-wife comedy act from the outside. I had never created a female character like Hanako, so I wasn’t sure if I would grow to like her in the beginning. One thing that can be said for both Kabakura and Hanako is that they both like to act cool.

I suppose this is my opportunity to say that I come up with the characters for Hanako’s cosplay based on what I think she might choose, so although sometimes people say that those must be my favorite characters, that’s not always the case!

Naoya Nifuji

I really didn’t know what to do with Naoya until later on in the series. He was so innocent that I felt like I was drawing a mythical creature I’d never seen before. Kind of like a unicorn that people say exists, but no one’s ever seen. I personally identify the least with Naoya’s personality traits. At the beginning, I had a really hard time using Naoya because his character ran solely on being innocent, blissfully oblivious, and pure, and that wasn’t much to work with. But by introducing Ko, I decided that I wanted him to provide Ko with emotional support, or in other words, be Ko’s source of light*. That’s how Naoya’s role as a character materialized. Without Ko, he really would have just been there for Hirotaka to tell him he sucks at video games.

*The kanji character for “Ko” means “light” in Japanese.

Ko Sakuragi

When I proposed Ko’s character design, I almost had to redo it at first because she “looked too much like a boy.” But I pushed it through with the promise that she would get cuter as the series progressed. I thought she was cute, and I didn’t want to change her to fit in better with society’s idea of cuteness. Juxtaposed with Naoya, I was particular about not making them look like they would work together, so I couldn’t agree to make pre-transformation Ko look cuter. I wanted Ko to be an otaku with no love for herself who gets pulled up by Naoya. Naoya is a radiant “Light type” to a ridiculous degree, so although I felt bad for Ko, I figured she needed to start from a ridiculously low place. But people with low self-esteem like her tend to be really kind. They get hurt easily, so they’re careful about not hurting people, and they’re very observant of others. So I think of all these characters, Ko is the kindest of all.

This concludes Kodansha’s exclusive interview with Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku series creator Fujita, detailing their thoughts and feelings around the manga, adaptation, it’s finale and more.

Fans who still need to get their copy of the final volume can find where to buy their copy on kodansha.us. And remember that there are still exclusive variant editions of the final volume at Barnes and Noble!

Wotakoi fans can also experience Parts 1 and 2 of this special interview in a uniquely crafted video full of art from the series, as well as a process sketch segment of the exclusive AX 2022 art by Fujita

Exclusive Interview: Fujita on Wotakoi Finale – Part 1

Hear from Series Creator Fujita on all things Wotakoi!

We’re continuing the celebration of Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, kicked off at Anime Expo 2022, by giving fans a glimpse into the creative mind of series creator, Fujita, as they recount the ideas and experienced that inspired them to create the geeky fan-favorite rom-com, Wotakoi. Read below for part one of a two-part interview and also be sure to check out a very special sketch video at the end!

Big thanks to our interview translator, Sawa Matsueda Savage. And English-language series editor, Vanessa Tenazas for their help on this interview.

(Please note that since we transcribed an audio recording of an interview with Fujita-sensei, some comments come from Wotakoi’s Editor, Suzuki are mixed into the answers.)

On the Beginning: Tell us how Wotakoi started.

Fujita: I started by posting one page at a time on Pixiv for fun, and people said they liked it in the comments. That made me so happy that I kept at it until Ichijinsha contacted me one day and it became a series. Back then, looking for undiscovered amateur content on Pixiv that you personally enjoyed was just starting to become a trend. The free platform provided easy access to that kind of content, and it was kind of like uncovering a lucky find or buried treasure. Nowadays, there are professional artists on Pixiv and people know they can find good content there, so I think the expectations are much higher than before. I think it really helped that I was posting back when people were just starting to realize that there was some surprisingly fun manga to be found there.

On the Concept: What gave you the idea of Wotakoi?

Fujita: It came from a conversation I was having with a friend while working on art stuff. We started discussing “what if” scenarios about a guy and a girl we thought would be cute together, and what kind of things they might talk about. That idea grew and I thought it was neat, but I couldn’t explain it that well in words. So I put pen to paper because I wanted to give shape to the idea, and the resulting rough sketches was how it started. Even in today’s day and age where it’s much easier being an otaku in life, I still think there are a lot of people who are like Narumi and hide that part of themselves. Even though times have changed and it may not seem necessary to hide it, that’s a separate issue, and one of the things I wanted to do was to acknowledge that feeling of reluctance. So I think the final volume provided a sense of closure in that regard by focusing on that issue.

On Characters: Are they based on real life people?

Fujita: There are no real-life people I can point to and say, “This is who that character is based on.” But I imagined there were people out there similar to these characters. Rather, I think I was totally convinced there must be as I drew them. Take Kabakura, for instance. I drew him thinking that was exactly what a guy would be like if he had a big ego and an image to uphold but actually loved anime and couldn’t resist his cravings. I did find it hard to believe when a reader told me they knew a person who was just like Naoya. Even with Hirotaka, whose personality is meant to be a boiled down, extreme version of a bunch of otaku traits, I occasionally hear about reported sightings of guys just like him, so I think it’s definitely possible that he exists. When people tell me they’ve seen people like the characters, I’m relieved to know they aren’t completely a figment of my imagination. I get the sense that readers enjoyed seeing familiar bits of themselves and people they knew in the characters. 

On Comedy: Who’s your comedic influence? 

Fujita: I’ve liked comedic stuff from when I was little and liked making people laugh, so I did kind of incorporate some classic comedy tropes and formulas. Also, this was not a direct inspiration for Wotakoi, but the type of comedy I enjoy is work like Gag Manga Biyori (A Good Day for Comedy Manga). I like that absurd style, but I couldn’t create that kind of humor with my drawings, so I aimed for the kind of vibe you find in Gintama. Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku are also examples of my idea of the ideal energy I wanted to create. I took care when developing the feel of the characters so that readers would find them endearing and want to see more of their everyday lives. I also tried to keep things light and not too serious.

On Manga: How did you get into drawing manga?

Fujita: In terms of just casual drawing, I started when I was in elementary school. I would draw four-panel manga with no dialogue in my notebook and show them to my friends. When I grew up, I still had this vague notion that I wanted to be a manga artist and went to a vocational school. Stuff happened, and I had a period of difficulty where I lost sight of what made manga enjoyable, so I decided to take a break and just draw manga for my own enjoyment. That’s when I turned to Pixiv and the result is Wotakoi. So I guess it started as a hobby I played around with that turned into a career. I feel like by the time I realized, it was the only path for me.

On Manga: What kind of tools do you use?

Fujita: I work with analog tools up to the inking stage. Before the inking stage, drawing with the analog tools I’m used to makes the page look more convincing, plus it’s faster. But for the background art, I definitely prefer working digitally given how challenging it is to have to put a ruler to paper and draw each individual line, making sure none of them go out of the panels.  I hope to hit a sweet spot of balancing digital and analog processes, and I’m still figuring that out.

Working in analog, the lines I draw will be printed just as they are, so I have an idea of what the finished product will look like. But working digitally means being able to zoom in indefinitely and draw infinitely thin lines. I hate that when I work on fine details until I’m satisfied, there’s too much detail in the final print and the page looks cluttered. I personally don’t enjoy reading pages with too much detail, and I want to produce the look of the manga I grew up with. I like lines that are relatively thick and easy to see, and a drawing style that depicts depth of field with just the use of lines. When I draw digitally, I don’t get a sense of the finished product, and trying to get it closer to where I want ends up being a time-consuming process.

On Anime: What was it like to see your manga become an anime?

Fujita: Everyone involved worked so hard to create it, and it made me so happy to see how passionate everyone was.

Suzuki (Editor): I feel like a lot of people discovered Wotakoi through the anime, including overseas fans. I think the anime played a big part in how it reached such a global audience. 

Fujita: I love watching overseas reaction video series, and in a scene where Hirotaka sees Narumi crying over anime and says, “What’s the point of crying over anime at this age?” there are these two overseas otaku guys who tell him off and say something like, “Hey! You just turned everyone against you!” But then Hirotaka cries as well right afterwards and the guys are like “Yeah, that’s right!” It was good to see that they approved of how that played out. People from overseas have much more candid reactions and it’s cute. 

Suzuki: Even after the TV series was over, we released several OVAs, and they sold in a way that’s unimaginable with most usual OVAs. I really felt that it’s indicative of just how many people loved the anime.

Fujita: Those involved put so much work into it, as well. The anime was a good learning opportunity for me. 

On Anime: Would there be a new season of anime?

Suzuki: I do want to see them do the events surrounding Kabakura and Hanako’s wedding and the book-only episodes from [Japanese] volumes nine to eleven. 

Fujita: I want that as much as anybody, so there’s no point asking me about it. [laughs]

Suzuki: It would certainly make a lot of people happy if they animated the full series.

On Theatre: Is it true that Wotakoi is becoming a theatrical play?

Fujita: Yes. The stage adaptation has a distinctive theatrical vibe of being a live show, and I think people will be glad they watched it. I think the choice of doing Wotakoi in live action is kind of a gamble. It can make some people die from embarrassment by feeling “seen.” I’m one of those people, actually.

It’s bad enough in manga form, but producing it with actual people honestly makes me worry that some viewers might explode from embarrassment. 

Suzuki: To tell you the truth, the person who came with the play proposal had an abnormal amount of passion. Be it the anime or the live action film or the play, I felt that the people involved had completely different personalities depending on the genre. I have no idea what the stage adaptation will be like until we see it, so it’s something to look forward to.

Fujita: It is! It’s completely unknown territory, so I can’t wait to see how it’s developing!

This concludes part one of Kodanansh’s exclusive interview with Wotakoi series creator Fujita detailing their thoughts and feelings around the manga, adaptation, it’s finale and more. Stay tuned for the upcoming conclusion to be released soon!

Can’t get enough of Wotakoi? Check out our exclusive Fujita sketch video as they draw the exclusive Anime Expo 2022 Wotakoi Art

Celebrating Witch Hat Atelier, Osamu Tezuka & MORE! What’s Happening @ NYCC 2020?

The autumn has arrived in the Big Apple! That means it’s time for our annual party with manga fans! But this year, we’re doing it a little differently to make it extra special & social distancing-friendly too!

This year at New York Comic Con x MCM Comic Con Metaverse, we’re cerebrating the award-winning magical manga, Witch Hat Atelier as well as the new Harvey’s hall-of-famer and the godfather of manga, Osamu Tezuka!


Update October 9

Take this survey for the chance to with Witch Hat Atelier signed by Kamome Shirahama! 

Just announced on our panel that 3 lucky winners are getting an autographed copy of Witch Hat Atelier signed by Kamome Shirahama-sensei!

To enter for a chance to win, take this survey and let us know what you thought about the show!
(Offer ends October 23, 2020)


The Harvey Awards


As you may have heard, The Harvey’s Awards had just announced that Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama from Kodansha Comics had won the 2020 Best Manga Award! And the rumor has it that we’ll have a special message from Shirahama-sensei during the The 2020 Annual Harvey Awards Ceremony. So dress up (if you like) and join the party on Friday, October 9 at 7:50pm ET / 4:50pm PT!



Check out the FREE chapter 1 preview of the Harvey Award winning Witch Hat Atelier here!

And that’s not all! The legendary manga creator Osamu Tezuka, known for many manga published from Vertical Inc. like Dororo, Buddha, and Black Jack, will be inducted into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame this year! During the the awards ceremony, there will be another special message from Macoto Tezuka, the son of late Osaku Tezuka and the Representative Director of the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Foundation.




Check out the masterpieces by Osamu Tezuka from Vertical Inc.!



Looking for new announcements? Check out…


Kodansha’s Greatest, Latest, & Upcoming Manga
Friday, October 9 at 4:40 pm ET / 1:40pm PT (30 min)

To celebrate The Harvey Awards recognition of both the inimitable manga creator, Osamu Tezuka (Buddha, Black Jack, Dororo), and the magical series Witch Hat Atelier, the Kodansha USA Publishing manga experts, Misaki Kido, Ivan Salazar & Tomo Tran will take you on a tour of both Tezuka’s work, the Witch Hat Atelier series and will also reveal new licensing announcements, new MONOGATARI Series news, and much more. PLUS, stay tuned until the end of the panel to find out how you can win an autograph from Witch Hat Atelier creator Kamome Shirahama-sensei, in a special giveaway!


Update: October 9


We had some exciting announcements Kodansha’s Greatest, Latest, & Upcoming Manga Panel for the upcoming seasons. And if you’re fan of the MONOGATARI Series, you’re in for an extra special treat! ?

MONOGATARI Series Final Season Box Set is underway and that’s a good news for the collectors! VOFAN is working on an exclusive illustration for this special and final box set of the beloved MONOGATARI Series by NISIOISIN from Vertical Inc. Coming in Summer 2021!

Monogatari Series Season 2 Novel Box Set
is currently available for a special price at Rightstuf!  



Speaking of MONOGATARI Series, we had the first look of ZOKU OWARIMONOGATARI (END TALE CONT.) during this panel. This is the final book of the MONOGATARI Series proper. On street date is coming soon on November 24!


Can’t get enough of those stories by NISIOISIN? Then be sure to check out Pretty Boy Detective Club–– the “new faces” of the NISIOISIN novels. As you may know, the light-novel series is currently available from Vertical Inc. And the manga adaptation is coming soon in Summer 2021!


Pretty Boy Detective Club (novel) is available now!


Looking for new manga to read? Check out…


Kodansha Got Fall 2020 Manga Recommendations
Sunday, October 11 at 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT (30 min)

Looking for some new manga to read? Then you’re in the right place! Kodansha USA Publishing has tons of new awesome series debuting Fall 2020. Join the Kodansha manga experts Misaki Kido & Ivan Salazar as they recommend new releases, including the legendary supernatural shonen manga Shaman King – fully complete for the first time in English via comiXology Originals – as well as upcoming anime-inspiring series, twisted & twisty romances series, and more! And if you like the manga that you saw on the panel, then stick around until the end for your chance to win them as prize giveaways! It’s a panel no manga fan can miss and you’ve already got the best seat in the house!


Happening Right Now!

TT Humble Bundle Main




Be sure to check back on this page for the updates on the new announcement from Kodansha Comics at New York Comic Con x MCM Comic Con Metaverse!

Join Hiro Mashima Session on ANN Connect! (9/15)


Did you hear? We’re teaming up with our friends at ANN Connect, to bring a special Q&A session with Hiro Mashima, the superstar creator from Kodansha Comics! Join us for in-depth discussion about FAIRY TAIL, EDENS ZERO, Rave Master & a whole lot more! 

ANN Connect: Hiro Mashima Session
When? September 15, 2020 at 6pm PT / 9pm ET
Where? Anime News Network’s official YouTube, Facebook and Twitch channels!

Not only will Mashima-sensei be fielding questions from ANN Connect, but he will also be taking questions from YOU, the fans! 
Want to ask question? You can either submit them at the ANN forum here or on Twitter using the hashtag #askmashima (make sure to tag @anime).
But HURRY! The deadline to submit questions is 5PM EDT / 2 PM PDT on Friday, September 4th.

And be sure to stick around until the end of the September 15, ANN Connect Session for a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! 

For more details, stay tune to kodanshacomics.com!


Wanna win Special Prizes like FAIRY TAIL Box Set, EDENS ZERO, & MORE? 
Watch this episode of Kodansha Live and take the viewer’s survey (link in video description) 



October 17: Hiro Mashima Global Autograph Session! Here’s How You Can Enter.

Update October 15

Are you curious if you have been selected as one of the lucky winners to get a spot on Hiro Mashima Global Virtual Autograph Session? Join the event on livestream on October 17 at 7am ET / 4am PT on Shonen Magazine Official YouTube Channel


Updated September 15!

On October 17, superstar manga creator Hiro Mashima (FAIRY TAILEDENS ZERORAVE MASTER), along with Weekly Shonen Magazine in Japan, will host an exclusive global virtual autograph session! During this session, 80 lucky fans from North America (US & Canada), China, France, Italy,  and Japan will be able to request unique illustrations from Mashima-sensei himself! 

For your chance to be one of the lucky U.S. & Canada fans virtually meet Hiro Mashima, and get your own signed illustration, visit kodanshacomics.com/mashima and submit your entry today! Deadline to submit is September 30, 2020 JST.

Winners will be announced on Weekly Shonen Magazine’s official YouTube channel  at the start of the signing session, October 17, 2020 at 20:00 JT (4am PT / 7am ET). This event will also be open for anyone to view regardless of being a winner.


US & Canada Fans! 
Submit your entry for Hiro Mashima Virtual Autograph Session HERE!  


To help celebrate this great upcoming Hiro Mashima event we’re having a special sale on both FAIRY TAIL & EDENS ZERO! That’s right! If you’ve only seen the anime but have’t read the manga, we’re here to get you started with volume 1s priced at 99¢ and select volumes up to 50% off after that! So whether just starting or catching up, you won’t want to miss this sale!

Just visit one of our participating digital vendors to take up to 50% off these amazing Mashima series: BookwalkercomiXology, Google Play, Kindle, Nook and izneo. Sale runs from September 15 to 30!

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY! Wanna win awesome prizes like FAIRY TAIL Box Set, EDENS ZERO, & MORE? 
Watch this episode of Kodansha Live and take the viewer’s survey (link in video description) Offer extended until September 23, 2020. 



Did you hear? We’re teaming up with our friends at ANN Connect, to bring a special Q&A session with Hiro Mashima, the superstar creator from Kodansha Comics! Join us for in-depth discussion about FAIRY TAIL, EDENS ZERO, Rave Master & a whole lot more! 

ANN Connect: Hiro Mashima Session
When? September 15, 2020 at 6pm PT / 9pm ET
Where? Anime News Network’s official YouTube, Facebook and Twitch channels!

Not only will Mashima-sensei be fielding questions from ANN Connect, but he will also be taking questions from YOU, the fans! 
Want to ask question? You can either submit them at the ANN forum here or on Twitter using the hashtag #askmashima (make sure to tag @anime).
But HURRY! The deadline to submit questions is 5PM EDT / 2 PM PDT on Friday, September 4th.

And be sure to stick around until the end of the September 15, ANN Connect Session for a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! 

For more exciting news about Hiro Mashima, stay tune to kodanshacomics.com!


Creator Spotlight: NISIOSIN! Rare Digital Novel Sale (Ends 9/07)

More NISIOISIN novels now available in digital! 

To celebrate the debut of new NISIOISIN novels in digital– including, OWARIMONOGATARI part 1 & 2, KATANAGATARI, DECAPITATION,STRANGULATION, & SUSPENSION – we’re pulling out all the stops for a rare Creator Spotlight sale to fill your digital library with all things NISIOISIN!

Think there are too many new NISIOISIN titles to get them all? Think again! For this special event we’re discounting these great debuting novels up to 30% off. And if you haven’t had a chance to jump into the world of NISIOISIN, we’re discounting backlist titles up to 50% off. Experience all the mysteries, urban fantasies, and supernatural excitement of the digital novels in this sale!

To save up to 30-50% off all these amazing digital novels, visit our participating digital vendors: Bookwalker, My Anime List, Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Nook.

Sale runs from August 25, until September 7!


Up to 30% off Debuting NISIOISIN Novels



DECAPITATION: Kubikiri Cycle

STRANGULATION: Kubishime Romanticist

SUSPENSION: Kubitsuri High School – the Nonsense User’s Disciple

Up to 50% off backlist NISIOISIN Novels





* KATANAGATARI series will be released and on sale starting August 31.


Born in 1981, NISIOISIN dropped out of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, to pursue a career in storytelling. Initially he had ambitions to be a comic artist, but he began to focus on his writing, eventually winning the 23rd Mephisto Prize for Kubikiri Cycle (Del Rey), recognizing his talents as a mystery writer, at the age of 20. Since his debut in 2002, NISIOISIN has penned more than fifty novels and a number of comics. And he has quickly become one of Japan’s top selling authors in recent memory with more than 5 million units sold since 2009. Many of his works have been adapted into animated television series and films. His best known works are the MONOGATARI series and KATANAGATARI

Creator Interview: suu Morishita talks A Sign of Affection & simulpub debut

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:

A Sign of Affection © suu Morishita/Kodansha Ltd.

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?

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.


A Sign of Affection © suu Morishita/Kodansha Ltd.


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.

A Sign of Affection © suu Morishita/Kodansha Ltd.


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

A Sign of Affection © suu Morishita/Kodansha Ltd.


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.


Creator Spotlight: CLAMP! Rare Digital Manga Sale (Ends 6/15)

A rare sale celebrating all things CLAMP

To celebrate the debut of Chobits 20th Anniversary Edition, the new and improved re-release of the cyberpunk romance series, we’re having a very rare sale in the form of the Creator Spotlight: CLAMP digital manga sales event!

That’s right, for a limited time the entire Kodansha Comics CLAMP back catalog is up to 40% off! This includes the iconic magical girl series Cardcaptor Sakura and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, the multiverse spanning crossover saga Tsubasa Omnibus and Tsubasa: WoRLD CHRoNiCLE, the Eisner Award-nominated Magic Knight Rayearth, and the dark and mysterious supernatural story xxxHOLIC Omnibus and xxxHOLIC Rei.

So to save up to 40% off an amazing selection of CLAMP series, visit our participating digital vendors: BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, Kindle, Nook and izneo. Sale runs from June 9, until June 15!


~Creator Spotlight: CLAMP Digital Manga Sales! ~
June 9 – 15
See below for the full list of titles being offered during this sale,
and click on the links or cover below to read chapter 1s FREE!

Cardcaptor Sakura


Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card


Magic Knight Rayearth

Tsubasa Omnibus

Tsubasa: WoRLD CHRoNiCLE

xxxHOLIC Omnibus

xxxHOLIC Rei



Creator Interview: Reiji Miyajima on Rent-A-Girlfriend

Celebrating the print & digital debut of Reiji Miyahima’s newest series Rent-A-Girlfriend with a spotlight interview!

Reiji Miyajima’s newest Kodansha Comic print & digital debut is Rent-A-Girlfriend – a series that begs the question: You can rent a girlfriend, but can you buy love? A boy rents girl rom-com for the 21st century, Rent-A-Girlfriend follows the romantically hapless Kazuya, as he tries to get over a staggering break-up by enlisting the services of seemingly polite and beautiful Chizuru Mizuhara  to be his rental paramour. But soon Kazuya realizes he bit off more than he could chew with hilariously cute consequences. We asked series mangaka Reiji Miyajima a few questions about his latest series and what makes him tick as a manga creator!

Prize Giveaway!: And to help celebrate this new release we’re giving away 5 signed print editions of Rent-A-Girlfriend volume 1. All you have to do to enter is like & RT our Twitter post for this interview and you’re automatically entered! This sweepstakes will run until Friday, June 12, and we will choose a winner after that.

Now, check-out our interview with manga creator Reiji Miyajima below:

Kodansha Comics (KC): Why write a manga about a rental girlfriend? What was interesting to you about this unique part of contemporary Japanese society?

Reiji Miyajima (RM): I first got the inspiration from an online news article out of China. During the Chinese New Year holiday, young people who work in the city return to their hometowns, and there is a lot of pressure from their families to bring their girlfriends with them. That’s where I heard that it was popular to rent a “girlfriend” to accompany them home, and reassure their parents. I looked at it and thought “That’s dumb, lol” but at the same time, I found it cute. I could understand that feeling, too.

In Japan, the term “Rental Girlfriend” get the response of “I’ve heard the name, but I don’t know much about it”, so I thought it was a good concept to make it into a manga.

KC: Chizuru really has the look and manner of an idol. Do you have a real-life model for each of the heroines in the series? (For both appearance and personality,)

RM: No, I don’t. If I have to say, it’s all about me… For example, when I’m drawing manga, one side of myself respects following rules and thinks this is the way I should draw, and other side of myself thinks, “No, but I want to draw this way”. There is an internal conflict within me.

Mizuhara is a character who has a strong sense of reality and respects these rules, while Kazuya is a character who has a strong sense of dreaming about what he wants to draw.

In this way, I’m trying to strengthen the part of myself that’s inside me and think about the personality aspect of my characters, so all the models are me, if I have to say anything about comparing to a real-life model.

KC: Have you ever rented a girlfriend for yourself? If so, what was it like? If not, how would you imagine your perfect day with a rental girlfriend?

RM: Of course, I did actually “rent” a girlfriend and even interviewed them. In doing this, I was able to also hear in-depth stories about why they chose to do this job. It’s important to know that when you speak with a “rental girlfriend” face-to-face, there’s a “real person” there. There was a part of me that hadn’t imagined what kind of “person” would be “rental girlfriend”, but by actually getting to know what kind of “person” they were, and “dating” them in person, that’s when I started to appreciate the “rental girlfriend” profession.

KC: Story or illustration: which one comes first when you are making manga?

RM: That’s hard to answer, but I was say both happen simultaneously. Really, it’s hard to separate between the two… You can’t judge a manga as “good” based on the illustration alone, and you can’t judge it as “good” based on the story alone.  Since I imagine both the story and illustration as a “scene” where the two are combined, I don’t believe that only one of them comes to mind first. Also, “good dialogue” and “good scenes” can only be considered “good” if there is a “flow” leading up to them. So again, I think it is “simultaneous”.

Rent-A-Girlfriend © Reiji Miyajima/Kodansha Ltd

KC: We hear you prefer to work on your manga digitally, Is there any specific reason for that?

RM: Personally, I think I can draw more quickly with digital tools. And, I feel that the taste of the illustrations will be more modern that way. Also, if you draw in an analog style, it doesn’t help when you see a good illustration that someone else has drawn digitally, and can’t figure out how they drew that art. Not being able to imagine “How do you draw this picture?,” when digital drawings are so prevalent and there are so many “good digital artworks”, felt wasteful in today’s world .

KC: We hear you had a major hand in designing your manga studio in Japan to be a bit more modern than your average manga studio. Why was this important to you?

RM: It’s just easier to work with, don’t you think? To prevent the floor from being full of cords, we installed an electrical outlet in the ceiling so that the electricity can be supplied from above, and we devised wiring so that even if the electricity in the room shut off, the lights on the tracing board and computer are not turned off.

KC: We hear you only spent a month as a manga assistant – in that time what was the most important thing you learned and do you still follow that today?

RM: The sense of how to “show characters” is something I’m still conscious about. When I worked as an assistant on Ace of the Diamond, I was very impressed with the idea that when the pitcher, batter, catcher, and umpire were in the same frame, I was asked to white out the background around the pitcher and batter’s faces. This is a visual queue to the reader, “Look at this person and this person”. I learned that even in Ace of the Diamond, which has such detailed backgrounds, that background art acts as an “extra” to help the characters stand out, and that it’s an important for manga to “show characters.” I was blown away.

KC: What’s your hobby?

RM: I don’t have any hobbies. LOL.

Manga has always been my main hobby, but now it’s also my job. I also like movies and foreign suspense dramas, suspense drama like Breaking Bad or Desperate Housewives. Basically I like dramas where characters tell lots of lies or that have plenty of story twists. There’s a lot that i’m watching to help inspire my manga, but in the end there’s nothing more fun than drawing manga!

Rent-A-Girlfriend © Reiji Miyajima/Kodansha Ltd

KC: How did you feel when you first heard that Rent-A-Girlfriend would become an anime? Did you have any personal requests when the anime was being developed?

RM: I’ve always doubted it. Like, really?! LOL.

I only asked for one request, that Mizuhara not be too “dere”*. I want the heroine’s character, Chizuru Mizuhara, to be cherished. I think I conveyed this to the director at the first meeting, and he understood it and worked on it.

*Tsundere: a person who is initially cold (and sometimes even hostile) before gradually showing a warmer, friendlier side over time. Dere, alone would be a person’s sweet or warmer side.

KC: Do you have any comments to the English speaking fans who are reading or want to read your manga?

RM: Nice to meet you, my name is Reiji Miyajima.

I think the interesting thing about foreign dramas, is that each character has a clear point of view and it makes viewers curious about a character’s development. As a fan of foreign dramas, I’ve become keenly aware of those narrative choices in the Rent-a-Girlfriend manga. So, I hope that people in the U.S. will also enjoy this manga, and I hope you can experience the feeling of being called “moe” or “precious” in Japan.



About Reiji Miyajima:

He is currently working on a manga series Rent-a-Girlfriend for Weekly Shonen Magazine.
His past major works include AKB49-Rennai Kinshi Jourei (Story by Motoazabu Factory).

Creator Spotlight: Konami Kanata Sale! Chi’s Sweet Home & other Manga up to 50% Off! (Ends 5/4)

Cute Feline Adventures for the Whole Family

Creator of consistently cute stories, Konami Kanata, brought to life the curious world of Chi’s Sweet Home, Chi’s Sweet Adventures, and FukuFuku Kitten Tales, letting readers view life through the eyes of some very feisty feline friends. To celebrate this purrfect creator we’re making it even easier to pounce on all of her amazing stories by making all of Konami Kanata’s VERTICAL manga up to 50% off!

That’s right! Be sure to catch up or complete your Chi collection at up to 50% off each volume, across all our participating digital vendors including: BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, Kindle, Nook and izneo. Sale runs from April 28, until May 4. But this sale isn’t the only way we’re celebrating Konami Kanata!

If you’re looking for even more feline fun and the opportunity to win prizes, we’re still holding a coloring contest where you can win a Boredom Buster prize pack of VERTICAL books just by coloring pages from the Chi’s Sweet Coloring Book! All you need to do is color one of the print-ready coloring book pages below, show us your masterpiece by posting them to twitter, facebook, or instagram using the hashtag #ColorMeChi, and we’ll randomly pull a winner! But be sure to hurry, this contest ends 5/1!

Click on the art below to download print-read versions of each page! Or click here for a PDF of all pages!



~Creator Spotlight: Konami Kanata Digital Manga Sale! ~
April 28 – May 4
See below for the full list of titles being offered during the Creator Spotlight: Konami Kanata sale.
Also, you can click covers below to read chapter 1s FREE!


Chi’s Sweet Home


Chi’s Sweet Adventures


FukuFuku Kitten Tales