Location: Anime Expo 2016
Interview Date: 7/2/2016
I have come to realize that people have certain preconceptions about Okayado. I must confess that I went into the interview wondering if there was a germ of truth to them. After all, this is the man who became famous for writing and drawing Monster Musume. Furthermore, the world’s longest pillow can claim him as its father:
The first question for Okayado was pretty straightforward: How do you come up with your characters?
“I like distinctive characters. That is what led to monster girls. The theme and story came later.” -Okayado
He explained that he does a lot of research surfing the net, searching for different types of interesting monsters. He looks for characters that will generate a lot of discussion, then builds from there.
“It doesn’t take a much time to get characters. I use Wikipedia a lot to find them.” -Okayado
Let’s take a step back to see how we got here. When Okayado was a kid, he loved Dragon Ball Z and its creator Akira Toriyama. Later in life, specifically in high school, his tastes grew more refined and Berserk became his favorite. After his high school graduation, he took a job working as an artist assistant to manga artist Naoki Serizawa, of Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire fame.
At the time, Okayado was also drawing for fun, posting images to imageboard Futaba Channel. Eventually, he was happy enough with his work to upload it to art sharing site Pixiv.
It was around this time that the office environment with Serizawa was starting to deteriorate. Okayado decided it was time to roll the dice and submit his work to Kodansha. They were impressed, and hired him to write MaMaMa: Mahou Iinchou Mako-chan Mahou Shidou (lit.: MaMaMa: Magical Director Mako-chan Sorcerous Guidance). MaMaMa (Sweetie Witch Mako-Chan) proved to be a success, earning a place in Magazine Special.
Fast forward a bit, to when MaMaMa is ending. Okayado is still posting to Pixiv. Kei Murayama (creater of A Centaur’s Life) is a fan, and shows Okayado’s work to editor Mikio Ikai. Ikai, impressed by Okayado’s work, then reaches out to the artist. He brings Okayado in to write for Tokuma Shoten’s Monthly Comic Ryu, and Monster Musume is born.
Well… actually, I’m skipping one step. Okayado had been posting one page manga versions of Monster Musume to Pixiv. Turning Monster Musume from short, impactful manga to a full story was controversial to Okayado’s fans, but they stuck with him.
What Okayado did not expect, though, was for Monster Musume to become an anime.
“I was shocked.”
The artist stated that he felt sorry for the animators. He then noted that he asked them to improve on the designs. When asked what he meant, Okayado replied with a simple a request as one could make:
“Make the tits bigger.”
On an interesting note, Monster girls weren’t a part of Okayado’s original plan.
“I first wanted to create action manga, but I didn’t feel I had enough technique.”
He tried many different types of manga, but ultimately:
“Cute girls was the first thing I had confidence in.”
Regarding the individual characters in Monster Musume, he was afraid readers would not like spider girl Rachnera Arachnera. He was both surprised and pleased at the response to her, as she is his favorite character in the manga. He added that he would love to see a second season of the Monster Musume anime. If there is one, expect to be introduced to a vampire girl.
One of Okayado’s greatest frustrations comes from the research process. Specifically, when he discovers that somebody else has already done a story he’s working on.
On a personal note, Okayado’s hobbies generally involve creating things. Gardening, making Gundam figures, playing video games, and making videos of the aforementioned hobbies are how he spends his limited free time. He added that, if he were not a mangaka, “I’d probably be a salaryman. I have no other special abilities.”
Okayado had a funny story about the making of the anime. When they started doing the voice recording, he felt very sorry for the actresses. He apologized for giving them such lines. They laughed and clapped. It’s become an inside joke, as now he always apologizes when meeting them.
On a more serious note, Okayado spoke reflectively about Monster Musume. If given the chance to make any changes, he nodded:
“I would requite them all. Maybe make them a little less obvious. I didn’t expect the series to go on so long!” -Okayado
When offered a chance to say something directly to the American audience, Okayado didn’t hesitate:
“I want to thank the English-speaking readers. They saved the series.” -Okayado
He added “Attack on Titan level support would be great.”
Currently, Okayado is reading Dungeon Meshi and Hakumei to Mikochi.
After having recently interviewed Your Lie in April author Naoshi Arakawa, I had to ask Okayado if he ever made his editor cry. They looked at each other and shook their heads. I had a follow up though.
“How are you with deadlines?” -Seth Burn
“He has made me cry.” -Editor Mikio Ikai
“Deadlines are hard.” -Okayado
I want to note that monster art is very well respected in the film industry. Basil Gogos is a legend:
In Italy, Renzo Barbieri founded Edifumetto to give artists such as Alessandro Biffignandi and Emanuele Taglietti a place to showcase their work:
Both are legends today. When we see the sketches Okayado did at Anime Expo, let’s try to recognize them as art, capische?