Thursday, March 2, 2023

Urasawa Naoki's Manben Neo: (18) Shimamoto Kazuhiko


Manben? Urasawa Naoki, himself a well known comic artist, took the first character of 漫画 MANGA (comic) put together with the first character of 勉強 Benkyo (Study) to create the name  漫勉 MANBEN.  You will not find it in a dictionary. 

Urasawa Naoki's Manben is an NHK TV series of the behind the scenes techniques of comic artists. Much focus is given to their technique of penciling and inking. How they got to be an artist, their storyboarding and cover artwork techniques are covered to some extent in each episode too. 

Just love this series. I have always drawn and done illustrations and cartoons, much in just black ink, but have only in the last few years been actually writing and drawing my own comics, so I appreciate everything this show offers. Very educational. 

For some of the artists Manben has covered, I have bought a book of their work to look at it in more detail. In the case of Nagayasu Takumi (ながやす巧) I have bought all his current work and one of his earliest.  I treat these as encouragement to read/study more Japanese too.

The latest broadcast Manben Neo (episode 18) was on comic artist Shimamoto Kazuhiko (real name Hidehiko Tezuka). Like most of these artists, I had never heard of him.

It mostly focused on his "most popular" manga アオイホノオ,  (Aoi Honoo), a comedy.  I have since bought vol 1.  It was 16円 second hand and in perfect condition.

The first page of the book says "This is a work of fiction", but it is very close to Shimamto's early experience at art school in Osaka, where he thought he would become an Animator but as luck would have it a classmate was Anno Hideaki  (庵野 秀明). Anno is best known for creating the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.  

The protagonist in the book is named Honoo Moyuru,( rather than Shimamoto Kazuhiko )  and after comparing his flipbook work (below right), to Hideaki (below left)

Is completely shocked 

and decides, in despair,  he will just have to become a lowly comic book artist instead. He just isn't good enough.

The book is a comedy, where things don't go so well for the protagonist and he finds life tough as a manga artist.  The book has been an award winner though for Shimamoto.

And the picture below shows Shimamoto with Anno. They did go to Art school together.

A few interesting things in this particular episode was that now, Shimamoto actually took over being the boss of his father's DUSKIN (a franchise cleaning company), without giving up comics. Also that his storyboards have almost no artwork in them. His pencil art is done a panel at a time, before he inks a panel.
But "the big secret he gave away",  was the lower eye lid is where much of the facial expression comes from.  I don't think that is a secret. 

He has 3 assistants and they looked to be all computer based, so he has a hybrid production system. 

This was the 4th episode this year. They only had 4 episodes last year so that maybe it for new Manben  in 2023. This year they were broadcast at 1:00AM Friday night which seems kind of an unkind time slot to me. I record them to watch. They are also on NHK+, the paid streaming service, so you can watch them any time.  The NHK page is here. 

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