Interview: Kamisama Kiss mangaka Julietta Suzukiby Zac Bertschy and Rebecca Silverman,
Julietta Suzuki is the mangaka most known for the smash hit shojo fantasy Kamisama Kiss, which has developed an international fanbase and was subsequently adapted into a 2-season anime series. She's also responsible for Karakuri Odette, the tale of an android girl who goes to high school to learn more about humanity. We had the opportunity to talk to her at Anime Expo 2015 about her life, her career, and her favorite movie.
Zac Bertschy: What are your thoughts when the title of your manga is changed for publication in a different language? For instance: Kamisama Hajimemashita became Kamisama Kiss and Divine Nanami in French. Does that bother you or do you prefer the foreign language title? Do you ever prefer the localized title?
JULIETTA SUZUKI: The Japanese titles themselves have a little bit of a comedic element to them, Kamisama Hajimemashita, but if you look at the content of the manga itself Kamisama Kiss or Divine Nanami may be more fitting.
So both of those titles, Kamisama Hajimemashita and Karakuri Odette, they deal with the idea of what it means to be a human being. What do you think makes someone human and why?
Having emotions and wanting to express desire the way you want to, that makes someone a human.
Have you had to do a lot of research into Shinto mythology and traditions for your works?
Well, to begin with I had a basic knowledge of Shinto rituals and custom from everyday life. So as I draw my works I started doing some research but that's the extent of it.
What interests you the most in traditional Japanese mythology? Is there a particular myth or god you find interesting?
The Kamisama in the Japanese tradition of Shinto stories are more emotional or human. That kind of element makes it easier for me to draw manga.
Do you think androids like Odette could ever become a reality, why or why not?
Something I think is that those androids don't have emotions but they look like they do, so that kind of makes me a little scared. If those robots start feel concerned or worried or started having, you know, problems, then they may become an android like Odette.
Your work tends to either be science fiction or fantasy as a base. Do you prefer one of those genres over the other?
I love fantasy, I prefer fantasy. I prefer fantasy because there are more mysteries associated with it. Before, I liked science fiction because if you looked at the space, there were a lot more real things that we can actually witness that make me actually feel fearful, so I prefer fantasy.
Why do you think shoujo manga in particular has such an incredible amount of international appeal? In the instance of your title, Kamisama Hajimemashita, its theme and its sensibility is very Japanese. Why do you think that appeals so much globally?
The audience overseas probably do not know or understand firsthand the Japanese elements, so there are quite a few things they may not know, but they're interested in it. Those areas they don't have direct knowledge of, they try to fill in with their imagination. That's probably the reason way.
What do you think is the greatest strength of shoujo manga as a storytelling medium.
I think that we can build the stories around the character's emotion as a main core, that's a strength.
Recently the cat stationmaster at Kishigawa was made into a goddess. How do you feel about that and do any of the characters in Kamisama Hajimemashita have a similar backstory?
Well it makes Tama feel a lot closer to me although the station is far away.
What inspired you to write Karakuri Odette?
I liked the pink hair in general.
Probably the inspiration was from the Sanrio characters when I loved when I was child, Kiki and Lala, and Lala had the pink hair.
Do you have any personal thoughts about people in other countries who scan manga and translate it for free online? It's an illegal practice, but they scan the manga and they translate it and make it available for free. Do you have any thoughts on that? How do you feel as an artist about that?
No. I want them to stop it. I pay for something that I enjoy and people do not cherish something they get for free. It's unappreciated.
Okay, I agree.
Ah, thank you.
Last two. First: are you enjoying Los Angeles and have you seen anything you're really impressed by and is there anything you want to do while you're here? And is there anything you'd like to say to your English-speaking fans?
I love movies and I love movies made in LA so it feels like I'm made in a movie. Thank you for reading my work.
Last question – what’s your favorite film?
Thanks to Viz Media and Anime Expo for the opportunity.
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