2005 6th Comic Exhibition @ Taipei, Taiwan Interview: Jin Kobayashi
by Chih-Chieh Chang,
I attended the press conference of Jin Kobayashi, author of School Rumble. Held by Tongli Publishing, the press conference was more restricted than others: no photography during the questioning phase. This was due to Kobayashi-sensei preferring to keep his profile low.
Kobayashi (K): I'm very happy to be here in Taiwan, and I have to admit that I'm quite nervous.
Q: How much of the story in School Rumble was inspired by your personal experience?
K: My favorite character, Kenji Harima, was modeled after several of my friends, and about 30% of Harima was modeled after myself.
Q: Would it be possible for you to use materials you've collected in Taiwan for School Rumble or any other artwork?
K: There are endless possibilities. The Hsimenting / Ximending area is very interesting, and I've got some ideas out of it.
Q: What are your hobbies?
K: The working style of a manga artist is rather stationary, so I prefer to go outdoors and play basketball during my vacation.
Q: What's your impression on the Taiwanese high school students you saw?
K: I'm very interested in their daily lives. To me, they are similar to Japanese students.
Q: How much do you love anime, manga, and games? How and when did you start getting interested in that kind of thing?
K: I didn't realize that I myself am a manga-ka until recently. However, when I was in elementary school I was THE manga lover at my school. I started drawing manga in college and kept practicing since then.
Q: How does one become a manga-ka?
K: You must love drawing manga and ought to know a lot of different things, especially to experience what you and others don't already know. You also need to practice a lot if you don't draw very well.
Q: How do you feel about the anime and the video game version of School Rumble?
K: I was very interested in the production progress of animation and I visited the studio quite often just to watch the ongoing production, but I was a mere observer and wouldn't give opinions to staff of anime production. As for gaming, I was never a good gamer.
D: There are many character popularity polls over the Internet, particularly for romantic relationships between characters. Have you read any of those? If so, would you refer to those opinions, ignore them, or set the plot in the opposite way to surprise readers?
K: I don't hang out on the Internet very often, but editors would give me opinions from the web. However, those opinions would not affect the plot development, for the personalities of characters would be dished out naturally during the progress of the story.
Q: What are your favorite manga, idols, foods, and places?
2. Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
3. Most favorite food: curry. Least favorite food: shrimp.
4. Taiwan! (Laugh)
I'm not very accustomed to be treated as a manga-ka yet, but I'm very happy.
Q: (Host reading a reader's letter) Tell us about the love life of Akira Takano and how do you feel about this character?
K: I didn't put much emphasis on her, yet she gave me a feel of close kinship. She keeps me drawing. There will be more love story of her, little by little.
Q: Many story arcs starts with misunderstanding. Do you often misunderstand others or cause others to misunderstand you?
K: For a person like myself, lots of misunderstandings had happened. I'd either try to clear one up or make fun out of it. It's always better to clear up a misunderstanding, but if there's no misunderstanding then there's no funny story.
Q: What is your dream job?
K: Even if I were not a manga-ka I'd still draw – maybe as an illustrator. I also love doing historic research.