The fans have spoken and the results are in for the first Umezu Girl’s Beauty Contest poll! Kazz reminisced over his most popular characters, offering insight into his creative process and digressing into trivia along the way. Stick around to see who was crowned scream queen.
Kazz(K): This is where you use the phrase, “She’s beautiful on the inside!” But it actually applies in Tamami’s situation.
When I set out to create a monster for this story, I tried to think of the least scary thing in the world to flip, and it doesn't get less threatening than a baby. The results, as you can see, were terrifying.
I’m rather fond of the scene where Tamami puts her sister Yoko in the guillotine, so I thought it would be nice if on tonight’s menu we had little toy guillotines with wieners—Finger food! Sadly, it was shot down for budgetary reasons.
Barbara (From Fourteen)
Kazz had no particular notes for this character so instead we got an anecdote from Demerin:
When I was in elementary school I stayed home sick one day. My mother brought me one of Umezu Sensei’s comics called Kai (meaning Bizzare). What kind of mother gives her sick daughter horror manga? I think she was trying to kill me but her plan failed and I recovered. Now I am immune to horror. Thank you for the murder attempt, mother. Oddly enough, I am not the only one; (mangaka) Kentaro Takekuma and (director) Noboru Iguchi told me they had the exact same thing happen to them.
Izumi (From Left Hand of God, Right Hand of Devil)
K: Up until this point, the horrific elements in my stories were all external. Take Tamami, for example. The fear has an all too physical form. With Left Hand of God, Right Hand of Devil, I wanted to show fear as something internal that wrenches its way out from inside of you. Hence the rusty scissors, skeletons, and dead children that come pouring out Izumi!
Yoshikawa (From Drifting Classroom)
K: This story has nothing to do with manga, but when I was young I loved persimmons. Well, the thing about persimmons that nobody tells you is that they are big orange balls of fiber! Now I won’t get into the details, but lets just say that I ate too many, and now I know how a pumpkin feels to have its guts dug out with a spoon!
The Sisters (From Orochi)
K: Hairstyles are the best way to make your characters unique on the page. Manga’s black and white, so this can lead to all sorts of problems when you have color covers. Make sure your blondes don’t turn brown!
Saki (From Drifting Classroom)
K: Drifting Classroom has inspired many works, so what inspired Drifting Classroom, you ask? I wanted to create a world of all children and see what happened. They create their own government and go on to murder each other—I wonder where they picked up these habits from?
Yoko (From Akanbo Shojo)
K: When I was working on Akanbo Shojo all my assistants quit on me, except for one who was just out of junior high. How did I get by with just one assistant? Well, that goes to show you what a good teacher I am!
I always had ads out for new help. “Looking for a female manga assistant who can cook,” and so on. Much later I found out that people were afraid that if they answered the ads, they’d be kidnapped and imprisoned beneath the floorboards. If only!
Ayumi Nishi (From Drifting Classroom)
K: Classroom scenes are filled with characters so you have to draw a lot of faces at the same time. It’s hard to remember people’s face, much less their name, or if they’re still alive in the story at this point, so you need to come up with a special way to draw each of them to help you differentiate.
The school started with 800 students. This wasn’t a figure that I pulled out of thin air. I read that it was the number of people needed to provide a group with adequate genetic diversity for repopulation, that and there needed to be enough dead bodies to fertilize the soil.
Mika Sawada (From Makoto-Chan)
K: She would be a pretty girl if she weren’t puking all the time! The reader projects themselves onto the characters, so even though her actions may be pretty extreme, I’m sure lots of people wish they could have the kind of sibling love that she and Makoto-Chan share.
Sakura (From Baptism)
K: The concept for Baptism was based on the real life story of Hara Setsuko, a post war actress who has remained hidden from the public eye since her retirement in 1962. Sakura’s mother switches bodies with her daughter to maintain her youthful beauty, so who knows? Hara Setsuko may still be out there in an unfamiliar form. That young idol you’ve been seeing on TV lately? Who knows where she got the body from!
Marin (From I Am Shingo)
K: I’m always particular about the names I give my characters. Something about “Marin” caught me and wouldn’t let go. The sound has a certain quality to it.
A classic scene from I Am Shingo involves the characters jumping from the top of Tokyo tower. If I was going to draw it, I wanted to see it, but you’re not allowed to the go out on the actual roof! I had to crane my neck up a skylight, and even then I couldn’t see what was going on, so my art may have some discrepancies! See if you can catch them.
Later in the story Marin moves to Europe. I followed the same method—I don’t like to draw things from photographs. So it was off to Europe for some field research! Turns out that it looked just like the pictures!
Orochi (From Orochi)
K: Who didn't see this one coming?
Given my insane schedule at the time, I had to finish each issue in two days. I would get home from my studio at 4:00 AM, then wake up at 8:00 to do it all over again. I may not always remember to clean my ears, but I always make my deadlines!