The Art of 【Oshi No Ko】: An Interview With Mengo Yokoyariby Kim Morrissy,
To complete our set of interviews with the 【Oshi No Ko】 manga creators, here's our interview with Mengo Yokoyari, where she shares her insight about the art side of the manga. Read on to find out more about the manga's unique design choices and Yokoyari's working relationship with Aka Akasaka.
Given that the manga's early chapters move through time very quickly, what kind of things did you keep in mind when drawing Ai and the children?
Mengo Yokoyari: In terms of drawing, I have tried to show this change by thinking up differences in hairstyles, etc., but to be honest, I am not so confident about how well I can depict their aging (laugh).
How did you both come to know each other and what led to working together on this manga?
Mengo Yokoyari: We had a mutual acquaintance, and they introduced us at a party for a manga magazine. So we had known each other for quite a long time, but I never thought that the day would come when we would work together. I believe that the idea for the work that came into Aka-sensei's mind and my drawing style matched what was in sensei's brain.
To what extent do you (Aka Akasaka and Mengo Yokoyari) exchange ideas when developing the manga's plot?
Mengo Yokoyari: I share my opinions only when Aka-sensei gets stuck and asks for my advice. But in the end, initial rough manuscripts in manga can only be created based on an individual's personal worldview. So ultimately, what I can offer are hints, or rather have him look at my ideas and think, “It's a bit off,” and help solidify Aka-sensei's path.
How does working on 【Oshi No Ko】 compare to your previous manga?
Mengo Yokoyari: I have also done art for You Are the Queen for Indecent Me, where there was an original rough manuscript by someone else to work from. The manuscript had drawings by the original manga artist, so that might be something similar. The difference is that with 【Oshi No Ko】, I can maintain a close distance from the original author, which means I can reflect on their opinions, and at the same time, I am able to make some modifications myself. It's all so different from Scum's Wish (laughs).
What is your process for designing new characters? Were there ever any disagreements on how a character should look?
Mengo Yokoyari: Fundamentally, I want to emphasize reproducing the image in Aka-sensei's brain, so if he has a clear image, I ask him to tell me about it. This was the case with Taiki Himekawa, for example. On the other hand, when he has almost no visual image and allows me to create it myself, I do as I please. I can't recall any cases where one of my designs has been rejected.
Since Aka-sensei already had character designs for the regular characters that appear in the first episode, I added the elements I wanted on top of their designs.
What kind of research did you do on the entertainment industries depicted in this manga?
Mengo Yokoyari: Sometimes the two of us go out together to do interviews, and sometimes we use information that we obtained individually, but I think basically Aka-sensei has been doing most of the heavy lifting.
What inspired you to portray the idol world in such a dark and dramatic way for a fictional work?
Mengo Yokoyari: I'm told that in terms of the temperature of the work, they were inspired by my one-shot manga Kawaii, but I don't know to what extent.
Even though the wordplay is slightly different in the manga's English version, overseas fans are also in the habit of calling Kana “Baking Soda”-chan. What do you think of this joke transcending national borders?
Mengo Yokoyari: A reader told me about it when it first became popular, so I drew it on Kana's clothing logo as a form of “reverse importing” (see Chapter 36). I like it because it sounds cute!
Be sure to check out our interview with Aka Akasaka too, where he discusses the industry realities that shaped the plot of 【Oshi No Ko】.
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