Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend the 2nd “Erotic・Weird・Unique Manga Artists life counselling session” evening held at the Asagaya Loft in Tokyo. The event which is organized and run by well-known manga artist Shintaro Kago featured an eclectic line-up of manga artists including Kago himself, Senno Knife, Murata Rum, Noroi Michiru, and of course Toshio Maeda. Though it’s the second time such an evening has been held, last night was the first time Toshio has made an appearance at the event so naturally I wasn’t gonna miss it!
The evening was set up as a talk panel between the four artists as they each took turns to tackle the various questions posed to them with the final segment of the evening being a Q&A round from the audience. Questions ranged from semi-serious ones such as “Are you open about telling family/friends about the kind of work you do? If not, how do you hide it or avoid the subject?” to racier questions such as “Be honest, do you get a boner when drawing erotic scenes?” and “Ever had any encounters with crazy fans or stalker-types?”. Needless to say, the answers that all the guests gave were as enlightening as they were ludicrous but, and I’m not just saying this because I’m biased (honestly) but Toshio’s answers drew the most amount of laughter and gasps from the audience hands down. The contrast in talk styles was really stark at times but each of the insights given from the guests was really quite fascinating.
I’m not gonna elaborate too much on what Toshio said in response to his questions since I won’t do them much justice, and it’s better to hear his stories from the man himself but, definite highlights of the evening included insights on how he had a fight with his dad at the age of 16 before running away to Tokyo, as well as tales from his days reporting on the escort industry. He even shared with us an absolutely hilarious encounter he had with a rather well endowed hermaphrodite. The stories came thick and fast and before I knew it, the full three hours had passed by in an instant as the night was brought to a close with the guests answering questions submitted by the audience. Upon arrival, each of the audience were given a sheet of paper in which we could write down a question we wanted to have asked on our behalf by the MC. Naturally, I didn’t waste the opportunity and wrote “Among all your characters, are there any you would like to revisit and draw again and are there any that you definitely don’t wanna draw a second time?”. My answer was read out and Toshio gave an interesting response to my question by stating that even if a manga is popular or not, if he gets bored of drawing somebody he just stops drawing them. In other words, once a character has been put to rest, that’s exactly where they stay – resting. Manga, he says, should be fun to draw so what’s the point of drawing the same thing over and over again if you don’t enjoy it? A very valid point indeed…
Though the event was a blast from start to finish, my only gripe would be that spectators were strongly forbidden from taking any photographs or audio recordings of the event at all. I can understand the audio recording thing since there was some pretty crazy stuff being spoken about but I was pretty sad that I couldn’t take a picture of all four of these manga creators sat at on stage with their beers and mics chewing the fat over manga taboos and life in general. It was a really great sight but, due to the rules of the house, I’m not able to share with you all any pictures of the actual event which is a bit of a shame. That said, the event ended in a spectacular fashion for me as I was lucky enough to have the winning ticket for a unique, fully hand-drawn piece of original art from Shintaro Kago! I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be a giveaway of that nature but when he revealed the prize and said there is only one, many of his fans drew gasps of excitement as plunged his hand into the box of tickets. He pulled out ticket number Q93 and up I stood to march over and pick up my prize and say thank you amid a bunch of sighs from his devoted fans sitting in the front row. I felt bad for them since I was there to see Toshio but the piece is really interesting and is now on display in my living room. Lucky me!
The end of the evening was a bit of a mad dash for myself and Toshio since we both live in the Yokohama area and the last train was rapidly approaching but we managed to squeeze in a quick coffee at the station, catch up, and say our goodbyes. A great night all round I must say!