Chie Kutsuwada interview

Chie Kutsuwada interview

Chie Kutsuwada talks to us about her yaoi manga comics art (yaoi being a genre of manga focusing solely on boy-boy relationships). Whether you’re an aspiring mangaka or just enjoy looking at pictures of pretty boys making out… yaoi has something for everyone!

Chie Kutsuwada’s Profile:

Hometown: Saitama, Japan or North London

Birthday: 18th of March

Blood Type: B

Current favourite manga/artist: Mushishi, Bleach / Asumiko Nakamura, Yumiko Oshima, Fumiko Takano

Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start). Where did your interest in manga begin?

I don’t remember… I mean it was a long long time ago… As soon as I started reading I became a manga lover.

Have you drawn from a young age? I ate my first crayon aged two. It was Hot Magenta. What got you started?

Yes. Well, this is another question where I need to clear my old memories. I think I started drawing when I first gained enough power in my little baby hand to grip a pencil. Also, my parents are quite artistic people, so I watched my father drawing when I was a baby. Maybe that’s why!

Was it a conscious decision to become a professional and how did you progress from being a fan artist to a published one?

Actually, it was not that conscious but not coincidental either. After my graduation from an MA in Printmaking and while making fine art pieces, I was looking for a more suitable way for me to create and realise my ideas. At that time I started making some manga style drawings and fan art in my spare time and I really enjoyed it. One day, I talked with my friends about visiting the London MCM Expo but we finally thought it could be more interesting if we had a table, not just visited. So, we produced some manga style works for the event. I think that was the crucial moment. From that time on, I wanted to create more manga, joined more events and met a lot of people who led me to a more professional business.

In the UK a large number of people still look at comic art as being pretty inconsequential (fools!) but Japan has a more established comic art industry – what did your family think of your career decision?

They were happy, yes, more than happy. But believe it or not, when I was small, manga was banned by my father. It was a misunderstood art form once in Japan as well.

Tell us what, in your opinion, the term ‘Yaoi’ means.

Yaoi is a new style of love story and it’s a fantasy. To be really honest, if the concept is expressed nicely, it doesn’t matter if it’s a two-men-in-love kind of story or not. The most important concept of Yaoi is how a person loves someone unconditionally and stands by that love despite all the difficulties (so quite often in Yaoi stories, one of them or both of them are originally heterosexual).

Some of those girls who love Yaoi are too realistic to believe in “the prince on a white horse” so they (including me) sometimes have difficulty to dream away in the Shojo (girl’s comics) manga-style sugar-coated ‘boy meets girl’ stories. Also, because we know that in reality most of us go out with one of the ordinary boys anyway, get married and have some kids or whatever. this kind of life is – I wouldn’t say it’s boring, but there’s no fantasy about it. But even the most realistic girl needs some love fantasies to dream about. I think that’s Yaoi. Because they are two men who are another gender to us and we don’t know how they feel, etc, there is some space where girls can dream. And, hey, who doesn’t like two good-looking boys being friendly to each other?

What inspired you to become a Yaoi artist in particular, rather than staying within the more mainstream of the industry?

I’m one of the realistic girls, that’s why! And I just love drawing the male figure…!

And just to be cheeky – would you still remain focused on creating Yaoi if it ever became ‘mainstream’?

I’d love to!! But most of the offers I’ve got so far are not Yaoi… So I try to keep to self-publishing more. I need more time!!!

Research shows that Yaoi manga is most widely read by women aged from mid-teens to late thirties. That seems a bit strange – why do you think it appeals to this group in particular?

Some mid-teenaged girls are still too afraid of mingling with real boys, so they start having some interest in Yaoi stories (in which boys are all sweet). Then, when you start working and get married, etc, you need some fantasy kicks to survive your life. I think age is not so important when reading Yaoi. It depends on how realistic you are. If you are very realistic but still need some fantasy to escape from reality sometimes, Yaoi is for you.

You must admit that sometimes Yaoi titles DO contain rather graphic (aka sexually explicit/violent) images. What’s your opinion on those who object to younger age groups having access to this sort of material?

I agree that it’s not a very good idea that younger age groups have access to this sort of material, but at the same time I think we girls deal with those kinds of things quite well. Anyway, in a bookshop it takes a lot of courage to buy some graphical Yaoi manga and at the events like the Comic Market in Japan you have to show your ID to buy them.

Now let us imagine, for a moment, Chie turned Yoda. What’s the best advice that you can give to aspiring Yaoi mangakas?

Hahahaha! Yaoi Yoda! I like it!

Well then, Yaoi Yoda says:

“Never forget that Yaoi is about love and MOE, not about two men getting naked, even if they are naked.”

MOE is a Japanese word. Its direct meaning is “sprout / put forth young shoots” but nowadays it’s also used for expressing a mixed feeling such as “having a fancy”, “getting excited”, “beating heart” and “feeling butterflies in your stomach” for something (character or/and situation).

Can you recommend any other Yaoi writers for us to check out?

It’s shame that a lot of good Yaoi comics haven’t been translated yet. But I feel Yugi Yamada’s works are classic and you can find them in English, I think. Also I love every single one of Asumiko Nakamura’s works. She does Yaoi and non-Yaoi, but both are just brilliant. and Sakae Kusam, her work is very intelligent and deep, but very sexy.

Finally, is there anything else that we should have asked you but in our ignorance failed to do so?

First of all, thank you for having me!

Well, let me introduce what I’m doing at the moment a little. I’m working on two non-Yaoi comics with a writer. One is about the love and life story of a 20-something woman from Hong Kong, called ‘Story of Lee’ and the other is about a Samurai, called ‘Hagakure!’ They are not Yaoi, but really enjoyable and if you just like looking at beautiful men, the latter is really recommended! They are published next year from some major publishers.

I am also trying to publish some original Yaoi comics and a fan art Yaoi comic!

 

 


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