This is an English translation of the interview with Tanigawa Nico in the official fan book that was published on September 21st, 2013.
– Tanigawa Nico, come into being. Their twists and turns.
Interviewer: Let’s begin. By reading the bonuses of Watamote comics, fans have already known Tanigawa Nico is a manga duo. But since when have you known each other?
Writer: We were doing a part-time job at the same place.
Artist: We were working at a publishing company, but just co-workers that sometimes had a talk.
Interviewer: Why did the Just-co-workers start making a manga together all of a sudden?
Writer: At the time, I read a manga that Sakura Tamakichi-sensei drew. In the manga, he drew a doujin and earned some money and I thought drawing manga was profitable. And I had already known the artist could draw through the grapevine and I made use of her.
Interviewer: Have you become a manga artist for money? (laughing)
Writer: For me, yes.
Artist: I’m not a smart person and I had no special dream for life. I had a dream that I would continue doing a part-time job all my life, though.
Interviewer: Y..you can call it a dream?
Artist: Yes. But the writer invited me to the chance of earning money and I thought it was once-in-a-lifetime chance to earn big money for me. So I accepted the invitation.
Interviewer: Was that your first time of drawing manga?
Writer: We were over 20 years old when we started drawing manga. From my childhood to that time, I had not drawn as a hobby or something. I don’t know why, but I thought I could do it.
Artist: I had been drawing silently without speaking to anyone since my childhood. The main reason of it was drawing was all I could do at that time.
Interviewer: I see. What kind of pictures did you draw?
Artist: When I was a child, I tried to draw a manga of an after story of Dragon Quest anime, though I quit it in a few pages.
Artist: Through manga and TV, I had an image that people good at drawing would become manga artists. However, I had not had a dream of becoming a manga artist. I had not known even screentone until the time the writer invited me and we started drawing manga as a job.
Interviewer: Like that you became a manga duo and made a doujin. What did you think when you actually drew a manga?
Writer: We were not friends or something at the time. So we compromised each other to make the doujin while trying to be nice each other.
Artist: It was not enjoyable at all while making the doujin because we compromised each other again and again (laughing). The writer has been kind of reserved to me from back then. He hardly gets angry with me.
Interviewer: So, could you earn big money?
Writer: We made 100 copies and only 2 copies were sold.
Artist: It cost lots of money to print them. So we had a fight about how to pay it after the event.
Writer: However, I gradually came to enjoy making a manga. It was enjoyable somehow, but not profitable. So we decided to become pro manga artists instead of making doujins.
Interviewer: Could you compromise on what kind of art style you would aim for?
Artist: At first what we wanted to draw was different each other. I had an image that manga had to have beautiful art work even at joke scenes because I had been reading shoujo manga till I became junior schooler. But the writer had been reading shounen manga and he insisted me manga had to have funny art work at joke scenes. We were not popular at all then, but we had a fight about our art style. Kind of pathetic we were.
Interviewer: Well, you decided to become pro manga artists and you’ve actually become ones. Would you tell us how you debuted as pro manga artists?
Writer: We brought our manga to publishing companies a few times, but we couldn’t get good responses at all. After that, we found a gag manga award of Monthly Shonen Gangan called “GG Grand-prix” that you could send your manga even it had only 2 pages. We thought we could draw 2 pages and began to send our manga to the award. We have met our editor, Kiuchi-san, through the award. At first I had felt embarrassing to show my manga storyboards, so I was sending my plot in text format. I thought it was kind of pro-like. Our manga got publication for the first time when we sent manga three or four times. We were really happy then.
Interviewer: From your editor, I’ve heard that you sent your manga as an artist, not as a manga duo at first.
Writer: Thanks to Bakuman has become popular, a manga duo is not rare case now. But at the time, I assumed being a manga duo gave editors bad image in the light of manuscript fee. And when we brought our manga to a publishing company before, an editor told me “Don’t consider yourself as a writer unless you have an actual achievement. We won’t use you as a manga writer unless you’ve got at least a light novel or novel award.” The company that I said in the bonus of the second volume.
(TN: Japanese fans presume it is Ichijinsha)
Interviewer: I see. After that your anxiety was cleared and you became Tanigawa Nico. Where does the pen name come from?
Writer: We began to use the pen name while we were sending our manga to GG Grand-prix because we needed one. I asked the artist to decide it freely.
Artist: I’m not sure… but I think that I combined someone’s name and a name from a main character of a TV show that I happened to be watching at the time. I had to decide our pen name quickly and send our manga before the post office closed. So I didn’t have enough time to consider the pen name. But we had changed our pen name several times, so I don’t have an attachment to it.
– Tanigawa Nico made up a manga about a mojo, Watamote, with their editor.
Interviewer: I have a few questions to your editor, Kiuchi-san, too. Kiuchi-san, what did you think when you met them for the first time?
Kiuchi: They really spoke little. It’s difficult to explain, but they seemed they didn’t have their opinion or things they wanted to do.
Artist: We said “We have nothing special to say.” at all times.
Writer: It was easy for us that our editor showed us our direction. Kiuchi-san is our first editor. So we were worried that he would think of us as annoying artists if we said lots of things.
Artist: We knew that we couldn’t make high-quality manga like Bakuman even though we were also a manga duo. So it was enough for us to draw a manga as pro artists. Maybe other manga artists usually have things what they want to draw. But all we had was “eagerness” and we kind of thought our selling point was “We don’t have things what we want to draw.”
Kiuchi: You sure had eagerness.
Interviewer: How did you decide that the manga’s theme would be mojo?
Writer: We came to the decision gradually while talking with Kiuchi-san. After the decision, if I’m not mistaken, we put a priority on making its visual before we made up its plot. We thought its heroine had to be striking because no one would read our manga if we drew an ordinary girl. We read some shoujo manga for reference, and unpopular girls in shoujo manga are usually cute. But we didn’t have to make its heroine cute on Gangan Online. We thought it would be its selling point.
Artist: We often have a talk that “What types of girls are there in popular manga?” and we predict that “Which type of girls would be popular next?” In the meantime, we made up a character and she suited the theme.
Interviewer: I see. Its title is also striking, how did you decide its title?
Writer: Kiuchi-san said our previous work’s title, Choku!, was difficult to get its concept, so its title would be longer and easy.
Kiuchi: I made some suggestions.
Writer: And we sent back about 20 patterns of its title.
Interviewer: What kind of patterns were there?
Kiuchi: There were really many.
1. 喪女は踊らない / A Mojo Doesn’t Dance
2. 喪女的なあまりに喪女的な / Mojo, All Too Mojo
3. 喪女はかく語りき / Thus Spoke Mojo
4. 女子高生は喪女を語らず / High School Girls Don’t Speak About Mojo
5. 高校生が喪女を名乗るな / You Never Be A Mojo If You Are A High Schooler
6. 喪女語り / MojoGatari
7. 天翔ける喪女 / Mojo Flying High
8. 意外ともてなさすぎてどうしようか? / What Should I Do Since I’m Unexpectedly Too Unpopular
9. もてないのは誰かのせい / It’s Someone’s Fault I’m Not Popular
10. 日本じゃなかったら今頃もててた / I’d Be Popular If I Didn’t Live In Japan
11. もてないんじゃなくて処女を守りたいんだ / I’m Not Unpopular I Just Want To Protect My Virginity
12. 推定喪女 / Presumption Of Mojo
13. 喪てない / Motenai
14. もじょし / MoGirl
15. もじょる / Mojo-ing
16. もじょった / Mojo-ed
17. もじょじゃない / I’m Not A Mojo
18. 喪っと喪 / MottoMo
19. も喪藻 / MoMoMo
Interviewer: There sure were many. From poetic ones to conjugations of Mojo. (laughing)
Kiuchi: We had a concept that its title would be easy to understand. So our problem was if we would insert “mojo” in it or not. It was possible that readers didn’t know the word and I thought No. 8 and 10 were good.
Writer: And we thought up some patterns again and concluded with the title of now.
Interviewer: Would you tell us your procedure to draw each chapter?
Writer: Manga artists usually have a meeting with their editor first. But I don’t provide many ideas and I’ve been busy with other works, so we don’t have a meeting nowadays. When I’ve decided its punch line, when I’ve decided its opening, when I’ve decided its jokes, our procedure is different according to the situation. Sometimes I send just a page of storyboard to the artist and think up other pages while she is drawing. In earlier times, I decided its punch line first and made other pages towards it, though.
Artist: I really draw pages while I don’t know what’ll happen in their next pages or its punch line, so afterward I often wonder if I knew them. But I know making storyboard for manga is pretty tough. And personally, I like our manga that we make desperately after the writer ran out of his ideas. Whether it’s good or not, it shows my disgraceful part. I like the situation. So I don’t mind his storyboard is late.
Interviewer: I… I see. So where do you put out your ideas?
Writer: Sometimes I put them out from my memory of high school days. But I don’t remember when I was a high-schooler so well. I feel like I had lots of things that I wanted to draw before, though. And, I give my attention to the balance of chapters, for example, when lonely episode continues I make girly episode in the next chapter.
Interviewer: Does the artist devote herself only to draw the manga?
Artist: I provide some ideas, but they don’t change the writer’s plot. To be honest, we have an experience that we drew a chapter that I made its plot and readers reviews were horrible, when we were drawing Choku!. I guess he doesn’t want to have such a shameful experience again.
Writer: But I often use her ideas for reference in detailed depictions.
– About Tomoko’s design
Interviewer: Well then, would you tell us points when you draw Tomoko?
Artist: I think my art style is not unique compared to other artists’. So to make it unique, I draw her dark circles under her eyes to express her feelings and I draw her mouth and eyebrows carefully. Since the writer doesn’t like overreactions, we sometimes have a discussion how to draw her mouth and eyebrows in detail before I draw.
Interviewer: In your previous work, Choku!, the main character was impassive. But Tomoko overreacts at pivotal points and she is expressive.
Artist: I remember that I made Tomoko’s design while thinking how many facial expressions I could make with it because the editor suggested us about differences from Choku!. Speaking of differences from Choku!, I leave joints between lines on purpose. When I drew Choku!, I erased them carefully. And I barely draw highlights in Tomoko’s eyes.
Interviewer: By the way, what type of pen do you use?
Artist: I used a G-pen when I drew Choku!, but I use drawing pens to draw faster now. However, I don’t know why, my drawing speed is slower than before. (laughing)
Interviewer: They say silhouette is important for character designs. Did you make Tomoko’s unique hair style consciously?
Artist: There is a defect in manga as a medium, characters look cute even if you try to draw them less cute. As a result of my effort, her silhouette became singular as you see. And eyes in manga differ from real eyes, so I hide one eye behind her hair to make her look a little creepy or look different from ordinary cute eyes.
Interviewer: Did you do lots of trial and error before you decided Tomoko’s design?
Artist: When I submitted my first draft of her design, the editor told me make her cuter. So the writer and I had a discussion and I drew her cute tentatively in the second draft. But when I drew the draft of the first chapter, I drew her less cute on purpose so that we could not change her design anymore. (laughing)
Interviewer: That is the prototype Tomoko as I have now. You are good tacticians.
Writer: We are not.
Artist: We just don’t have courage to express our opinion.
Writer: We don’t have self-confidence to persuade others through the front door, so we prefer to use drawings.
Artist: We are really not good at speaking and we cannot convey our opinion well in words. I guess the editor has lots of problems because of that. I think we are making manga together with his help and advice at each time.
Interviewer: Tomoko, the character you created, readers think her very cute.
Artist: Well, I’m glad our readers love her. To be honest, our readers are more imaginative than us and they interpret our manga along with their own experience and feeling. I assume that makes our manga good story. So I basically would like to leave them what is Tomoko’s attractive feature.
Interviewer: Well then, what do you think of Tomoko’s state now?
Writer: I think nothing of it at all. (laughing) Maybe I’ll change my mind from moment to moment. But I think of nothing special now. I don’t empathize with her. So when our readers said that they felt pain while reading our manga, I did not understand at all why they felt pain at first.
Artist: I agree with the writer. I basically don’t want to deny other people’s life, so she is good in her own way. I think everyone is good in their own way.
Interviewer: What is the most unforgettable reaction from readers?
Writer: The chapter Tomoko forgets to mail Tomoki’s application form (Chapter 35), the editor told me she’d look too scummy in a meeting. But I didn’t think it was scummy at all and the artist drew as I planned. Then, lots of readers really said she was a scum. (laughing) I didn’t expect so many negative reactions and didn’t think it was unforgivable.
Artist: However, we’ve been able to continue this manga thanks to those reactions. We appreciate both positive and negative reactions. As we draw this manga, we receive lots of heartful reactions from various generations and even from overseas fans and they make us very happy. We are really glad we draw this manga because we had not received such reactions before.
Interviewer: Would you tell us each of your memorable episode?
Artist: My favorite is the panel that Tomoko is saying “couldn’t the school get occupied by terrorists or something?” in the first volume. I always think I want to draw panels that both its lines and art are effective, but I’ve barely drawn panels that I’m satisfied. I felt satisfaction with that panel.
Writer: For me, Tomoki’s application form episode that I mentioned just now and the episode that Tomoko plays card game in front of Kii-chan. I remember the episode because I could make its storyboard quite easily in one day or two days.
Interviewer: So, can you make episodes more easily when Tomoko is a scum? (laughing)
Writer: Maybe so. (laughing) If she is not, I feel like she would look just a normal good girl. So I make episodes she looks a scum on purpose and let readers see scenes that she fails. And it maybe easy to make jokes if she is. But for me, she is not a scum at all. I think she looks a scum just because there are basically only unbelievably good characters in SoL manga.
Interviewer: In the end, please give a message for your readers.
Writer: I appreciate if you won’t drop our manga and will continue reading. (laughing) If you get disgusted by it, I’m sorry then.
Artist: I feel the same. Some readers maybe come to hate our manga at some time, but I hope they will read until the time. I feel something like that.
Interviewer: […]. Thank you very much.
– Readers’ Questions and Tanigawa Nico’s Answers
Reader: What genre of music does Tomoko usually listen to?
Tanigawa Nico: As a genre… Music related to anime, I guess.
Reader: Did Tomoko ever have her first crush? What kind of guy did she fall in love?
Tanigawa Nico: I might make the story into manga someday in the future.
Reader: Does Tomoko play only otome games?
Tanigawa Nico: In the early plot, she also played games in fashion such as FPS, and RPG popular among girls. It may surprise you, she plays otome games only 4 times out of 10 times. She also plays BL games on a whim, but she’s not a fujoshi. However, she does not play online games.
Reader: How much is Tomoko’s monthly allowance?
Tanigawa Nico: I’ve not decided it yet because I don’t know the average of student allowance. She may get a little more than the average.
Reader: You sometimes draw episodes with animals and I guess Tomoko loves animals. Which does she prefer, cats or dogs?
Tanigawa Nico: Although she doesn’t like people, she loves animals. Although she loves all animals, she may prefer cats to dogs.
Reader: Are the black clothes that Tomoko wore when she was a middle-schooler someone’s cosplay?
Tanigawa Nico: In Gantz, the main character wears black suits and stands at a rooftop. It’s one of symbols of her longings. She was kind of cosplaying it.
Reader: T-shirts that Tomoko wears at home are designed by the artist? Will you sell them?
Tanigawa Nico: I don’t think they will sell.
Reader: I think everyone has a secret that they don’t want others to know. Does Tomoko have a secret?
Tanigawa Nico: I think she has lots of secrets. For example, the recorded voice file in the chapter 17. I cannot list all of them since she has too many.
Reader: I’d like to know about Tomoko’s parents who watch and look over her. What kind of people are they?
Tanigawa Nico: I’ve not decided their personalities in detail yet. Her mother is a full-time housewife. My image of her father is vague… Maybe he works for a trading company. I cannot decide how he looks… I guess he is an average, decent and cool person like her brother.
Reader: Why doesn’t she do any club activity in high school?
Tanigawa Nico: She joined a club once in middle school but quit it halfway. She hasn’t joined any club in high school because no one invited her. She might have joined a club if someone insisted her to join.
– About Tomoki, Yuu-chan and Kii-chan
About Tomoki’s design
Artist: I draw him as a male version of Tomoko, but still looks cool. There are lots of stories that a younger brother looks like his older sister. And, you can be unexpectedly popular as long as you are a man even if you are not good-looking. It’s not the writer told me, but I had a image of that kind of relationship between them. I draw them to look alike to express the state of “One is successful but the other is not.” And I have a little image of shounen manga art style when I draw him.
Writer: He is a opposite existence of Tomoko. There is no need for two characters of the same type and it’s hard to make episodes if both of them were losers. I thought it would do if a younger brother was superior to his older sister. If it were a younger sister, they might come into conflict each other. So I made him as her brother to reduce their conflicts.
About the appearance of Yuu-chan
Artist: At first, we didn’t have a plan to make her appear in the manga. We had thought to make Tomoko fight alone, but the editor told us that it was too pitiful in a meeting, so we decided that she had a friend from her middle school.
Writer: If she had no friends, all lines became her monologues. So Yuu-chan was born as a character while we had a meeting with the editor.
About Yuu-chan’s design
Artist: I draw her to look cute and trendy anyhow. I made her face and hair design as fashionable as I could. Since the main character is not cute, I draw cute side characters to make up for the lack of cuteness.
Writer: She is kind of an airhead. To tell you the truth, her personality was quite different from her as of now in the first storyboard of her first chapter. She was kind of a bad girl in the storyboard. But It seemed I couldn’t make a story if she was a bad girl. So I made her as a more normal girl.
About Kii-chan’s facial expression
Artist: As the writer instructed me, I draw her face carefully not to be expressive. I think there are lots of blank-faced children in reality. And if her face was expressive, it might cause unnecessary misinterpretation to readers. So I’m thoroughly careful when I draw her face. It’s not only for Kii-chan, I basically draw characters’ faces carefully not to be expressive, except for Tomoko.
I will delete this page at the end of January in 2016, to avoid copyright issues. Thank you for reading to the end!
Bonus – NHK WORLD imagine-nation: Watamote
In this video, there are interviews with Tanigawa Nico’s editor, Watamote anime producer and director and Izumi Kitta.