Spotlight: Reiko Okano, creator of Onmyouji

by Chih-Chieh Chang,
Invited by Tongli Publishing, Reiko Okano, manga-ka of Onmyouji (original novel written by Baku Yumemakura) paid a visit to TIBE 2006.

Twenty years ago in 1986, Baku Yumemakura released his first Onmyouji novel, a story designed to reestablish the image of the most famous onmyouji (a shaman/priest who can communicate between living and dead worlds) Abe no Seimei (921-1005) in the Heian Period. The novel achieved incredible popularity and has been adapted into live-action TV series and movies, as well as manga by Okano-sensei.

As a story that contains humans, ghosts, and demons, Onmyouji bears resemblance to a famous Chinese novel Liaozhai Zhiyi (Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio; written by Pu Songling). Okano-sensei has read and loves Liaozhai very much and has been fascinated by it. She loves many Chinese literatures, including poems of Tang Dynasty, due to their more laid-back feelings compared with modern literatures. When she began cooperating with Yumemakura-sensei, Okano-sensei describes that “Baku” is a charming person who loves fishing a lot. Later Yumemakura-sensei had granted Okano-sensei the maximum freedom an adaptation author could receive: “Draw however you like!” This liberty is nonetheless a great pressure. Personally, Okano-sensei believes in supernatural beings, regarding them as entities beyond human senses. Her newest serializing title, Youmi Henjou Yawa, is drawn with calligraphy brushes instead of standard manga instruments, creating a distinctive style never before seen in manga. Okano-sensei also mentioned that some prototypes of the ghosts that appeared in Youmi Henjou Yawa were inspired by X-Files, but she wanted to write comedy instead of a thriller, so Youmi was born.

It is interesting to know that Okano-sensei is the wife of director Makoto Tezuka (son of the “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka), who is also present at TIBE 2006 to promote his new movie: Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness. However, Okano-sensei mentioned that they would not get involved in each other's work.

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