│ Project : Interviewing editors at MangaPlus │

“The Making of a Jump Manga!”

vol.4 Dr. STONE

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“Dr. STONE” is an adventure manga created by Riichiro Inagaki, the author of “Eyeshield 21”, and Boichi, the author of “ORIGIN”. It is the story of Senku, a child genius who is reborn 3,700 years after a mysterious light petrifies all of mankind. Using his scientific knowledge, he attempts to restore humanity in this survival adventure. The work has gained popularity with readers of all kinds and has become one of Weekly Jump’s most representative titles. This time we interviewed Mr. Honda, the editor who brought the two talented authors together and launched “Dr. STONE”.

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Starting serialization in 2017, this manga has risen to popularity thanks to its skillful fusion of science, crafting, and adventure.
The anime adaption started airing in July 2019. The first episode made big waves when it was debuted at Los Angeles’ Anime Expo 2019.

【Behind-the-scenes story of “Dr. STONE” creation】

――Please tell us about the process leading up to the serialization of “Dr. Stone”.

Honda: A while after “Eyeshield 21” had been completed, Inagaki-sensei contacted me, wanting to start work on something new. In our first meeting, he presented a few stories he had already planned out. Out of those ideas, the one I thought had a lot of potential if executed well was “Dr. STONE”. With the other proposed stories, it was easier to imagine what the final form would be. In contrast, I had no idea what kind of manga “Dr. STONE” would turn out to be, and that was what drew me to it. I recklessly chose “Dr. STONE” for the single reason that I wanted to read it myself.

――After deciding on the project, what was the process of transforming it into a manga?

Honda: Inagaki-sensei was able to draw the storyboards on his own, so we immediately starting putting together the first three chapters. At the time that the third chapter was about to be completed, we started discussing if we should have someone else do the illustration. “Dr. STONE” has a very unique worldview and also requires some knowledge of science, so we worried over who would be able to handle it. At that time, the editor in charge of Boichi-sensei was working close to me. Boichi-sensei was searching for an original story at the time Inagaki-sensei’s storyboards were about to be completed. On top of that, I was reminded that Inagaki-sensei loved Boichi-sensei’s works and so I showed Boichi-sensei the storyboards. After seeing them, he expressed that he really wanted to work on the project and came on board as our illustrator. All of this happened in about three months since the launch of the project.

Episode 2 ”FANTASY VS SCIENCE”: Senku preparing a nital solution out of primitive materials

――What segment of readership was “Dr. STONE” intended for?

Honda: From the start it’s not very clear, but the first three chapters are built around showing a world after the downfall of civilization, and subsequently finding a way to survive in that world. However, chapters two to four, which had a focus on creation of objects and crafting via science, became very popular with readers, and so it shifted to this new genre.
A serialization is like a consumable in some ways - it has to be responsive to the current audience in order to be appealing. After completing his big hit, “Eyeshield 21”, Inagaki-sensei was absent for a long period of time, and he himself acknowledged the fact that most of his readership wasn’t likely to be keeping up with Jump nowadays. Through trial and error we were able to figure out what the fans wanted, which took us about two volumes. As a result, the title turned out to be a pairing of Inagaki-sensei’s style and the taste of the current Jump readership.

Episode 5 “Yuzuriha”: Senku shocked by an extremely thoughtless comment made by Taiju

How was the character of “Dr. STONE” created?

Honda: Since it is originally a project to depict Senku, a cool character who uses science as a weapon, he was decided on from the beginning. The scene in which he counts out 3,700 years was in Inagaki-sensei’s original plan. But Senku is too clever. He’s not surprised by the world after being reborn 3,700 years later. And so, in order to make the first chapter an entertaining one, we had to have a character who would react appropriately, and that’s where Taiju came from. From there we needed some kind of character motivation for Taiju. Since he’s the not-so-intelligent yet passionate type, we thought it’d be good for him to have a girl he likes to be that motivation, and Yuzuriha came about from that.

What things about “Dr. STONE” would you mention to recommend it to the world?

Honda: First of all, the characters, I think. Jump Manga depicts heroes, and I believe the nature of heroes is familiar with people overseas; people like characters such as Goku, Naruto, Deku and All Might that’s because they see that heroism in them. In the case of Senku, though, his way of thinking and his abilities aren’t like those of your average Jump hero. But the principle reasons for his actions and his attitude are just those of a Jump hero. In that sense, I believe we have created a new hero nobody has ever come across before, and readers have found it fresh. Therefore, I’d like to introduce a new kind of hero, in the form of Senku. In addition, I would think the survival narrative is more favored by readers overseas than those in Japan, so it’d be great if they read our work and get the feeling of traveling back in time as a hunter-gatherer, expanding their territory.

【The Editor】

What is an editor to an author?

Honda: The three roles that are often mentioned are producer, director, and manager. Editors are generally one of those three, and among those, I’m the directing type. In addition to these roles, though, I’ve recently started thinking that it’s important for editors to be good interpreters for their authors. We take something entertaining that the author has and serve as an intermediary, saying “it will be more compelling to readers if you depict it in this way, with these words.” This also applies in other senses, for example, in the case of an anime adaption, we understand and digest the elements the author wants to value and convey them to the people involved in producing the anime. This is why I think it’s part of our job as editors to interpret and convey the thoughts of authors. We should be interpreting to readers, makers, creators and towards the world at large.

What kinds of elements are needed in order to continue a serialization in Jump?

Honda: Regardless of whether the series is able to reach its conclusion or not, almost all authors who have serialized works published in Jump are extraordinary geniuses. It’s largely built on the premise of being a battleground for select people in the first place. And if that’s not all, to be serialized weekly is accomplished through weaponizing things like your stamina, your persistence, or your social charm. The fact that there are only about twenty geniuses out there at a time who are capable of publishing their series in Jump makes me think the world is an amazing place.

―― How are such talents cultivated?

Honda: Everyone is different, but each author I have met has had their own interests. Haruichi Furudate-sensei likes volleyball, Hideaki Sorachi-sensei likes rakugo and samurai shows, Eiichiro Oda-sensei likes yakuza films, and Masashi Kishimoto-sensei likes Hollywood films. Of course they all like manga, but they like and appreciate many other things and have long been asking themselves questions like “why is this so interesting? How could I work this into a manga?” In contrast, manga works made by people who are solely thinking, “I’m going to draw a manga!” are usually not as interesting. Manga made while fully occupied with the idea of writing an “introduction, development, turn and conclusion” ends up being like that. In contrast to that, there’s drawing a volleyball manga while thinking “there’s this amazing play in real life volleyball, and there’s this amazing player… how do I conceptualize this in a manga with this page count?” or asking oneself “How do I properly convey this atmosphere in a manga?” I think titles that are drawn from a place like that are fantastic.

―― You mean that the right way to go about it is to not just to want to draw a manga, but to have something they want to draw and turn that into a manga?

Honda: Exactly. In that sense, I really love the author Haruichi Furudate-sensei. Not because I was in charge of him, but because I really respect him as a person. After having made a success out of “Haikyu!!” he once said to me: “I don’t know whether I have talent, and so I draw and find out.” According to him, talent is often regarded as being a “key to success,” but it’s not. It does not exist as something so kind, like an entrance or a doorway. It’s only at the very last moment when you’ve exhausted all of your efforts and have fallen over, that God comes down and says “I shall tell you whether or not you have talent, as a reward.” Furudate-sensei went on to say to me that you don’t know if you’ve got the talent until the end, so you feel insecure about it and work to ascertain whether or not you do. I remember thinking “Jeez, you’re like a samurai!” (laughter) He also said “I can’t be happy while I’m serialized” and all this has really stayed with me. You can do your job, believing you have the talent, but it isn’t until you’ve quit that you know for sure whether you had it. So I’m trying to continue pushing myself every day without overdoing it.

―― How do you feel about Dr. STONE personally?

Honda: I don’t think manga sells well at all unless it’s made for the people of that point in time. “Naruto”, “One Piece”, “Dragon Ball”, and “Haikyu!!” - I think they all sold well because they looked a little into the future when they were made. I believe that “Dr. Stone” is the “newest” Jump manga like that. That’s why I think people should read it. I can’t say this enough but Dr. STONE is the best manga out there right now, so for everyone out there, I’d like to ask you to give the newest, most entertaining Jump manga a read.

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