Makura Sakita is a young mangaka from Sapporo. Let’s get introduced to her cat-world mangas. From Cat soup (ねこぢる草, Nekojiru-So) to Night on the Galactic Railroad (銀河鉄道の夜 Ginga Tetsudō no Yoru) we could really speak about a Japanese cat genre that reaches new heights of interspecies/companion species interplay. It can be very serious, even philosophical and terribly humane. Makura Sakita’s cats are completely dynamic, fluorescent fresh felines full of gags and tricks.
When did you first start drawing manga?
I have been drawing manga since I was in the third grade of elementary school.
My first manga was a “Pokemon” spinoff that I drew with a friend. I became more serious about drawing manga in my first year of college. That’s when I created a manga about a samurai who used an iron back-scratcher instead of a regular sword. It was a little like “Samurai X” (Rurouni Kenshin). One year later, I started drawing manga about cats and I haven’t stopped since.
What are the topics and how goes the usual storyline of your manga?
I tried a huge variety of topics and styles with my manga. For instance, I created both serious manga and comedy (gag) manga. If there’s something I like, I’ll draw about it.
All of my stories have a happy ending. It’s not that I don’t like stories with a sad ending, but I don’t want to make my own characters unhappy.
I start all my stories with illustrations. If I try to think of a script first, my characters won’t feel as lively. First, I illustrate the main scenes of the story; then, I connect those scenes. Finally, I wrap up the story itself.
Can you give us an example of mangakas or a particular manga series that influenced you?
I respect and admire Ryu Fujisaki, who is the mangaka of “Hoshin Engi”. This was one of my first shonen manga favorites. Fujisaki used very detailed illustrations which looked almost like scenes from a shojo manga, and that’s what made me read his works.
When I was in elementary school, I didn’t really like the shonen manga style, but I did like the specific character designs in “Hoshin Engi”, with big hands and feet. I still have an artbook by Fujisaki-sensei and I leaf through it sometimes.
If I hadn’t read “Hoshin Engi”, maybe I wouldn’t have become an otaku who loves to draw manga.
How is Sapporo for you, what kind of environment does it offer to young manga artists like you?
I love Sapporo because this is where I grew up. Also, I think that Sapporo is a very good place for subculture in its many manifestations, like “Toho Project” and “Hatsune Miku”.
On the other hand, there aren’t any major publication companies here, such as Shuheisha. Most of them are in Tokyo. That’s why I think there are few opportunities for young mangaka to have their works known by editors.
Of course, we can still publish our works online – on Pixiv, Twitter and so on. I was actually very happy to meet a woman at a fan convention in Sapporo who knew my works from Pixiv. We can share our works and connect with people from all over the country on the Internet.
I plan on living in Sapporo and keep writing about my characters and drawing them.
What does “Touho project” mean?
“Touhou Project” is a generic term for shooting games made by “Team Shanghai Alice”, which is a personal circle run by ZUN.
It’s well-known for its fanworks made by people on Pixiv and Nico Nico Douga.
Can you please tell us about your latest works?
My latest work is titled “TAKAMINE’s younger girlfriend”. It’s a fanzine (dōjinshi) for girls – a love story where a female college student falls in love with a 40-year-old man. I distributed it at the dōjinshi conventions in Tokyo and Sapporo in September and October.
Why did you create “TAKAMINE’ s younger girlfriend”?
The idea popped into my mind last autumn. I was obsessed with Kotetsu T. Kaburagi in “TIGER & BUNNY”.
“TIGER & BUNNY” is the story of Kotetsu T. Kaburagi and his crew, who use their superpowers to protect peace in the city. Kotetsu himself is a hero who strives to keep the peace, but also cares deeply about his family. He is a 30-year-old “ojisan” (old man). I fell in love with how he sacrifices himself to protect his family and everyone else.
That’s what got me thinking about writing a love story between an ojisan and a younger girlfriend, set in the modern world. This is how “TAKAMINE’s younger girlfriend” was created.
崎田マクラ Makura SAKITA, Sapporo, Japan
Interview by Yuka FUKUURA