Original interview here. The way the translation is divided does not correspond with the division of the original interview. Corrections, suggestions are welcome!
Mantanweb.jp in 2019 featured an interview with Yukimura Makoto (Vinland Saga, serialised in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon) and Noda Satoru (Golden Kamuy, serialised in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump).
What made you each read the other’s work? Tell us about your first impression of the work.
Yukimura: I’ve always read Young Jump every week. At that time, as I noticed that Young Jump was popular of late, Golden Kamuy serialisation started. I think before reading it, I already had a bias that it might be interesting because it’s Young Jump (laughs). I remember that after reading the first and the second chapters, my impressions were, firstly, “He’s researching… This person started after researching properly!” “Maybe he’s still preparing much more! This manga has a lot of interesting ideas!” Moreover, I personally like stories about brown bear and hunters. I thought, “This is just what I like!” Then I told my editor-in-charge, “Are you reading Golden Kamuy that began serialisation in Young Jump two weeks ago? It will definitely be interesting!” However, I got the reply, “If Yukimura-san said it’s interesting, that manga would lose its luck, so stop saying it.” I was treated like I was a god of death or something. As if one would get cursed if I stood by the side of their bed. It’s not cursed! I mean, have you read it, isn’t it going to be a big hit!… as I was saying this, my editor responded, “If Yukimura-san wasn’t a fan, Golden Kamuy would have sold thrice than it has now.” Anyway, I’m proud of having noticed Golden Kamuy’s charm since a considerably early stage.
Noda: Thank you very much. I’m glad to hear that. Yukimura-sensei’s Planetes really astonished me when I read it. Because I only knew fantasy-oriented science fiction before that, I was surprised to find a science fiction grounded in reality, which got me thinking that “A great writer has appeared”. I then kept an eye of what Yukimura-sensei was going to make next. When I read the first chapter of Vinland Saga, I got the impression that “This work was prepared to advance to a difficult place.” I wonder how hard it is for an author who is so particular about the details of a picture to draw Nordic historical objects. I am like that, so once I got interested in, say, Russian door knob, I would wonder how it’s like and search for it in references, and I thought that Yukimura-sensei would be like that too.
What made you think that “This manga is amazing!”?
Noda: With every new volume, Vinland Saga gets more richly and imposingly drawn. The characters get more polished, the background characters are drawn amazingly different from each other, so many things can be conveyed well because they’re drawn with such details. Especially good is the way snow is drawn. If an axe fell on the snow, then the snow would be sunken following the shape of the axe; footsteps on the thick snow are drawn so well. Yukimura-sensei doesn’t cut corners in every panel. Actually I too wanted to draw snow like that in Golden Kamuy. However, since weekly serialisation means I really can’t afford that luxury, I had to compromise… I have to compromise a lot of things. Sorry this has nothing to do with the story’s main plot, but I’m attracted to such detailed depictions.
Yukimura: What I think is amazing about Golden Kamuy is how full it is of the entertaining spirit. Generally speaking, I think Golden Kamuy is excellent because it’s packed with Noda-san’s feeling of wanting to make readers have fun. However, I got the feeling that it’s himself that Noda-san wants to entertain the most. I think the readers can feel it too if an author enjoys what they do. I always enjoy the playfulness of each cover. For example, every time we get a nice feeling when Asirpa-san seems to be good friends with a seal or a squirrel. Right before she eats them (laughs). That playfulness. Really good. Aren’t the series of chapters of “Everybody, Get Together! It’s a Murder Hotel” the exact embodiment of that playfulness? For instance, when they fell down. Or how the clothes of Sugimoto &co were torn when the building collapsed at the end! It’s amazing how they reappeared with such details!, I thought (laughs). It’s really amazing how so much effort is dedicated to the smallest details and so much information is put in. When Sugimoto and his friends were fleeing on an airship from the 7th Division, I believe there’s a panel in which Lieutenant Koito is swimming mid-air for a moment. We can follow the story without that one panel, but it was put in as a proper use of space. I love that aspect of Golden Kamuy.
Noda-sensei, do you have strong awareness of ‘playfulness’ and ‘let’s have fun’, like Yukimura-sensei said?
Noda: Rather than the ‘boke and tsukkomi’ formula like in kaiwageki (conversational plays), I like to play with such movements in drawings. That swimming-like movements that Koito did was similar with what we’d see in anime like Sherlock Hound or Future Boy Conan, and even though that panel was not copying any particular scene, people like Miyazaki Hayao sometimes showed such dynamic expression of gravity in old anime. I like how it conveyed stuff like a character’s desperation or boldness. However, actually it’s better not to make any homage. It’s sneaky to make gags out of existing popular works. What’s more, it might make people say “That’s a parody of that” even to your own completely original scene. You wouldn’t want to look like a writer without originality.