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Mangaka Yuu Watase Blogs About Editorial Harassment

posted on by Bamboo Dong

In a recent post on her personal blog, mangaka Yuu Watase (Fushigi Yuugi, Ceres: Celestial Legend) wrote openly about her negative experiences with a former editor for her ongoing manga, Arata: The Legend.

Watase described a typical morning, saying that she often had headaches and would feel overwhelmed and confused after staying up all night to hand in pages early in the morning, only to have to start drawing again to hit the next morning's deadline. She eventually came to the realization that her exhaustion was due to being asked to redraw too many scenes.

Finally, all of the redrawn pages of the much-delayed Suzukura Arc have come out. Six chapters in all. The majority of it was redraws. One of my assistants said to me, "This situation is outrageous. It doesn't make any sense for a story to only 'come together' after having to redraw practically everything. If we'd drawn all of this when we started, we wouldn't have to go through this. You already had the plot worked out from the beginning, Watase-san... How did it end up becoming a totally different story?"

Watase then goes on to mention that she did already have the story for Arata: The Legend worked out in her head, and had already discussed the plot and the story development with her editor, but wonders whether he actually understood her words or her vision for the story.

The editor constantly "bulldozed [her] ideas to make room for his own," and continuously asked her to redraw layouts. Scenes that her editor didn't like or understand were simply scrapped, even if she insisted that they were pivotal. His response was, "Draw it exactly the way I tell you."

Watase received her publishing debut in 1989 with her work Pajama de Ojama, which was serialized in Sho-Comi. Despite her decades-long career, she writes that her experience with her editor was a first, saying, "it made me confused and exhausted, diminishing my desire to create," and made her question whether or not she should continue making manga.

Upon talking to other manga creators, Watase learned that her editor, "Mr. I," treated everyone in a similar manner. Although her friends asked her why she continued to listen to his demands, she said that she was "stuck" because he wouldn't approve her layouts, and she needed to meet deadlines. Speaking out to him about her concerns only resulted in retaliation from him at a later time.

In regards to Arata: The Legend specifically, Watase initially tried to work with the editor, but whenever she told him that she wanted the story to follow a specific theme and have meaning, he insisted on making corrections. She goes on to say that his corrections were inconsistent, and he'd often forget things she mentioned, and would repeatedly cut or edit things that she was insistent on leaving in the manga.

It was very difficult to deal with and caused a lot of stress, especially with a weekly publication... It was pretty much Hell. At some point, I was no longer doing it for the sake of the readers, or even for the sake of the manga as a body of work. I was just drawing storyboards and layouts solely to get his approval and keep going... Just thinking about how nothing I drew would get approved made it more and more difficult to draw successive pages, and nonsensical cuts and edits made it hard for me to draw anything at all.

Fortunately for Watase, her editor was replaced around the time of the manga's Yataka Arc. She writes that although she was still traumatized, her experience with the new editor was better, and he would only ask for a few changes, such as a line or two of dialogue.

She concluded the post with, "It seems to me that Mr. I thought the readers were imbeciles, and it makes me sad when I think of all the reasons why I draw manga."

The original blog post was recently removed, but can still be read in its entirety here.

Watase launched Arata: The Legend in Shogakukan's Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine in 2008, and the 22nd compiled volume shipped in Japan on December 18. Viz Media publishes the manga in North America, and shipped the 16th compiled volume on December 10.

The manga received a 12-episode anime adaptation last spring, and Crunchyroll streamed the series as it aired.

[Via Hachima Kikou]

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