2005 6th Comic Exhibition @ Taipei, Taiwan
Interview: Kino's Journey creator Keiichi Sigsawa

by Chih-Chieh Chang,
The first event at the show was a group interview of novelist Keiichi Sigsawa. Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1972, Sigsawa-sensei was a finalist in the 6th Dengeki Novel Awards with his book Kino no Tabi (Kino's Journey) in 1999 and started its serialization in Dengeki HP in 2000. In April 2003, the novel was adapted into a 13-episode TV anime, and the movie version was premiered on February 19, 2005. His hobby, not surprisingly, is traveling on his motorcycle, and has been dreaming about traveling around the world on it. His major works include Kino no Tabi, Alison, and Lilia and Trais, his newest creation.

Host (H): Please welcome Sigsawa-sensei and Ms. Koyama, editor of Dengeki Bunko.

Reporter's question (Q): We knew that Kino no Tabi has been animated, and we had been informed that sensei was unable to accept the invitation to the Taipei International Book Exhibition 2005 earlier this year due to the premiere of the movie version in Japan. Please tell us your thoughts about the anime version.

Sigsawa (S): I've loved anime since early childhood and was literally brought up by watching anime, so I'm very happy to see my work animated. It's like a dream come true. However, I'd consider the anime as a creation of the director, and I'm only the provider for original material. Therefore, I wouldn't comment how good the adaptation is, and would simply enjoy the show on TV or in a movie theater.

Dormcat (D): There are people who feel that Kino no Tabi possesses some degree of similarity to the famous Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince; Hoshi no Ouji-sama) by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry – even I myself feel that way. Please let us know how do you feel about this.

S: I read Le Petit Prince only after people told me about the similarities between the two novels. Actually, Ginga Tetsudo 999 (Galaxy Express 999) had more influence on my creation of Kino. However, I like Le Petit Prince very much after reading it, and am happy to have my book mentioned together with such a great novel with huge fame.

Q: Since sensei has mentioned Galaxy Express 999 and said that you grew up with anime, which anime is/are your favorite and which anime are you watching recently?

S: My favorite anime since childhood is Gundam and Miyazaki's movies (e.g. Laputa), and in my free time I'd like to watch anime. I can't live without TV Tokyo, for it always has so many anime on air. However, I've been watching too many recently, so it's hard to say which one is my favorite.

Q: Motorcycle is one of two major characters in Kino no Tabi, and sensei has mentioned that you'd like to travel around the world with a motorcycle. Please tell us your experience on motorcycle riding and its relationship to the creation of Kino.

S: In the beginning of creating Kino, I've decided to use a motorcycle as the tool of traveling. I didn't think much before giving Hermes the special ability to talk; I just felt that Kino needs a companion, and it would be natural to have a talking one. Of course, it was because of my passion of motorcycle that gave me the driving force to use one as one of two main characters.

Q: Could you talk about your motorcycle riding experience?

S: I got my motorcycle license at 20, and since then I've been riding around to travel and play. I think motorcycle riding is an enjoyable experience; somehow it feels adventurous. I also like travel by car and train, but with motorcycle I can feel the progress of traveling. Currently I own three motorcycles: the first one, which was bought in US during my study and was brought back to Japan with lots of memories, is a 650-cc Honda. The second one is a 750-cc Kawasaki, and the third one is a 250-cc Honda. All three are off-road bikes. It's a pity that I have little time to ride them after becoming a writer. Note that none of them can talk (laugh).

Q: How did you choose to cooperate with Kouhaku Kuroboshi-sensei and create your ideal Kino or Alison? Furthermore, how did editors at Dengeki find an illustrator to faithfully translate your text?

S: In the beginning, it was the editor (Ms. Koyama) who chose Kuroboshi-sensei. I've discussed with Kuroboshi-sensei on how Alison should look and dress in the new novel. However, Kino was my first novel and Ms. Koyama picked Kuroboshi-sensei, so I'll let her to answer the question.

Editor Ms. Koyama: In 1999, about the same time I finished reading the draft of Kino, I saw the popular PS game Summon Night with characters designed by Kuroboshi-sensei (dormcat's note: under the name Takeshi Iizuka). I asked him to illustrate Kino, and Kuroboshi-sensei accepted without hesitation.

S: There's an untold story. When Ms. Koyama picked Kuroboshi-sensei, I was not sure if the style would be the same as I imagined, since I expected Kino with a more realistic design. However, I thought I should listen to the editor, so I stick with Kuroboshi-sensei. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Q: Do you have any favorite video game and/or any game that impressed you?

S: Right now I don't have much time for playing games, and I've never been a hardcore gamer. However, there's a game named Ace Combat by Namco. I've played each and every generation, and I bought my PS because of this game. I don't play RPGs because they take too much time, and right now I really don't have much time for gaming.

D: In both of your novels, Kino and Alison, there are many weapons involved in the story, and the way the characters dress and talk has a strong militaristic style. I wonder if sensei is interested in military stuff?

S: I'm always interested in weaponry; I'd call myself a “gun maniac.” I'd like to add more military elements into my book if the editor didn't tell me “stop adding those military things that would confuse ‘normal’ readers; get a hold of yourself.” I've been trying very hard to reduce the amount of those military elements.

Q: What's your impression of Taiwan and passionate Taiwanese fans you've met this morning?

S: I've been thinking about coming to Taiwan for a long time, for the delicious food and the relaxing atmosphere. The passionate fans here were similar to those of Japan, and I was very pleased and happy. By the way, if you've read Kino, you'd know that Kino stays at each place for only three days. Since my trip to Taiwan this time consists only three days as well, I could call it a “Kino's Journey.” I enjoyed this visit very much and I hope to visit Taiwan again.

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