Monday, October 8, 2018

SWF 2018 - Interview with Harumo Sanazaki

Shojo manga has always been popular in Singapore, although we may not always be cognizant of the differences between shonen and shojo manga. From the classic Candy Candy series of the 1970s to Sailormoon in the 1990s, girls comics cut across the gender divide among the manga reading audience. As I graduated from Shonen Tai to Shonen Knife, I also learned there was much to research about shojo manga within and outside of Japan.

In February 2011, a women manga conference was held at the National University of Singapore. This year, SWF is featuring two shojo manga artists - Harumo Sanazaki and Meguru Hinomoto. The following are Harumo's programmes:

Here's a short interview with Harumo ahead of her visit. (an interview with Meguro Hinomoto will be up next)

Did you have a regular job before becoming a full time mangaka?

I worked at small graphics workshop. I designed some characters for stationery like Snoopy.

What are the conventions of shojo manga?

Shojo manga is lyrical…delicate expression.

How is your manga different from other shojo manga?

At the start of my professional career, my editor said to me, "Your manga like a movie or stage." That is a good comment for me. Because I hope it is so.

What are some of your favourite shojo manga?

The Rose of Versailles, The Heart of Thomas, To Terra…Yes, I love them all. And I love Toshie Kihara, Kyoko Ariyoshi. After the 70s, many kinds of shojo manga appeared. Currently, there are many good artists who worked closely with the editors. So through collaboration, shojo manga has also changed over the years.

What is the future for shojo manga?

No border, many types, but sensitive.

Yaoi is very popular in Japan and other parts of Asia like Singapore. What do you think is the appeal of BL for readers and who are some of your favourite BL artists?

I have many friends who are BL manga artists. I like their works. The story is fantasy for girls and far from real. BL has become shojo manga. Beautiful, not real, is an important element of Shojo manga which BL has taken from. My favorite BL manga artists are Romuko Miike and Makoto Tateno.

I found some BL elements in your Hamlet puppet adaptation: between Hamlet and Horatio. Is that an intentional pairing?

My story portrays the friendship of boys, and sometimes between men. (Like Sherlock) My friend who is a manga artist has said to me, “Your manga story has elements of BL.”

Have you met the writers of the Harlequin books you adapted like Marion Lennox and Lynne Graham? What do they think of your adaptations?

I did not have the chance to meet them. But I did receive messages from them. Someday I want to meet them to thank them.

How are your own stories different from your adaptions?

My own stories are very different in terms of visual expression. The adaptations required more visual expression for the characters.

What do you think of the stereotypical portrayal of women and male-female relationships in stories like Married to A Mistress? (part of the Nancy Leeward's Goddaughters series)

I sometimes feel the need to resist …to tell the truth. It is difficult for me. Romantic novels have these kind of stereotypical portrayal of women and male-female relationships in their stories. I try to change that sometimes as far as it is permitted.

What's next for you?

I hope to adapt Othello and Beauty and the Beast. For my own stories, I want to do more Japanese historical fantasies.

Is this your first trip to Singapore? What do you hope to visit? Or eat!

Yes it is. I want to feel the energy of the people. I would like to visit the markets and I love chicken rice! So I hope eat Singapore food.

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