Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kazuo Umezu VS TSB (Part 5)

(The following is the final installment of a five-part interview with living legend of manga, Kazuo Umezu, whose works released in English include Cat Eyed Boy and the award winning Drifting Classroom. 
Our event coverage on Same Hat! caught the attention of his official homepage's staff, who then contacted us directly about helping to produce information about the author for the benefit of his English speaking audience. 
At the end of November, we were invited to the infamous Makoto-Chan House, his recently-completed home and physical embodiment of his vast works, for a face-to-face talk with Umezologist Demerin Kaneko and the man behind five decades of mayhem.)

After the interview, the Umezu crew allowed us to scamper around the house and play in the attic before taking us to visit his office studio. It was here, off camera, that Kazz made his most colorful comments and observations.

Part 5: Kazz On...


I don’t believe in ghosts per say, but I find the concept interesting. Essentially ghosts are people that have come back from the dead. Strip away the supernatural elements and what are you left with? People! This affirms what I’ve always believed—that nothing is scarier than people.

This doesn’t keep me from being spooked! Returning to my pitch-black villa late at night, it feels like a ghost is waiting to jump out at me. The feeling that it could be—not that it is—is what's terrifying.


If environment is the external factor that drives evolution, then fear is the internal force that pushes all living things forward. Fear is the most primordial instinct of all living things, and fear itself is rooted in an aversion to being eaten. Beings evolve in their search for stability and safety, and cease to evolve once they achieve it. Look no further than deep-sea fish as evidence.

In this sense, horror is a selfish emotion. It’s every man for themselves. Conversely, once you feel secure in your environment, you are able to love others. This instinct emotes more strongly as the being develops. Humans can experience a deeper breed of fear with more subtle hues than say, a dog.
Iara spans the history of Earth from the advent of dinosaurs to the fall of humanity.
Let’s talk about dinosaurs for a minute. How did they go extinct? Was it a meteor? Another theory postulates that plants evolved spines and toxins that made them inedible. This killed off herbivores and destroyed the food chain as a result.

So, life forms find a way to protect themselves. What about something like a chicken, which exists solely to be eaten? The chicken can’t be happy about that! The chicken has no real means of defense, leaving it only one option: Revenge from beyond the grave. Cholesterol, heart disease—these are the curse of the chicken. Predators need to be careful that their food doesn’t cook them from the inside. That's why I never eat the same dish consecutively for more than a week.
Chicken George from the sci-fi epic Fourteen evolves from the genetic swill of vat-grown poultry.
His Reputation as a Prophet

A written work, be it manga or literature, is useless unless it makes some conjecture about the future. And to get your guess right, you need to capture the zeitgeist.

The Drifting Classroom started with the idea that in the future, the world would be covered by desert. That's proven to be an extremely viable scenario. Once you have a strong foundation for a story, the details begin to fall into place.

Humans are responsible for everything in our world. Look around you. The clothes you’re wearing, the building you live in, the words you’re reading. They’re all made by human hands! Therefore, if you understand what humans want, you can deduce where we’re headed. Want to know what the future holds? Follow human desire!

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn't trying to make a political statement with The Drifting Classroom, nor did I have absolute confidence in my prediction. It just happened to come true!

And that’s it! We would like to thank Kazz for making the time for us and the staff for giving us the opportunity to meet one of the most interesting people on the planet. TSB will do our best to continue bringing you the latest Umezu news from the front lines, but in the meantime please visit to check out the new English profile penned by us

Following that,  pick up a copy of Demerin's ingenious Umezzology for a proper education!
Now leaving Umezzland...

Click here for more Kazz
Kazz's House


  1. Kazz is t,t,t,,,too cute!!


  2. Many thanks for this !

  3. This entire interview rocks. Entertaining and really informative. Top quality! :)

  4. I'm grateful to everyone who stayed with us to the end. It was a mentally draining task but we couldn't let the Umezz crew down.

    Stay tuned...

  5. Great interview! So is he finished making manga now? I'd heard a rumor he stopped when an editor insulted his art style a few years back...

  6. @Dylan Acres:

    Thanks for commenting!

    He had to retire from manga in the mid-90s due to acute tendinitis, but continues to be active in art and many other fields.

    That rumor may have stemmed from an argument he had with an editor way back when he was still at Kodansha, which led him to change over to Shogakukan publishing, with whom he continues to enjoy a very good relationship.

    I saw that you run a Rumiko Takahashi site. I have read several places that she had gotten her start as Umezu's assistant, but he said it was untrue. Do you know where that rumor got started?

    Thanks again!

  7. @voidmare

    Wow? She didn't? Thats REALLY interesting!
    I had always heard that she had, as long as I've been a fan of hers (1992 or so). Typing in "Takahashi Rumiko +Umezu Kazuo +assistant" in Japanese gets 11,000 hits on Google, so I think its one of those things that just been generally accepted as true for a long time.

    What I've always heard is that Takahashi worked for him very briefly around the time of her debut in Shonen Sunday in 1978 to help her make the transition from dojinshi artist to full-fleged mangaka. She wasn't a long term assistant by any means. But I've never heard HER say it in any interviews.

    If it isn't true though, that's fascinating to me personally and something I'd definitely like to correct the record on. Again, terrific interview.

  8. Thanks a lot for this interview, great work!
    Finally I can understand what "The Umezz" is saying (watching the Youtube videos all that I got was that this man sure has a contagious energy and smile).

    Greetings from Spain,