Naoko Takeuchi (name in western style) is the author, or mangaka - manga artist, of Sailormoon. She became a mangaka in 1986 after winning Nakayosi's art contest, new talents. It is common in Japan for magazines to hold such contests, and many other mangaka have risen to fame this way. Her first work was Chocolate Christmas, followed by Miss Rain, Mariah, and The Cherry Project.

In 1991, Codename wa Sailor V was born (meaning Codename: Sailor V), and because of it's moderate success, Ms. Takeuchi created Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon (Beautiful Soldier Sailormoon). Sailormoon was so successful that in March an anime version aired in the Japanese television channel Asahi. It was planned to be one season only, but the success was so unexpectedly huge that it was enlarged to fit the manga. The television series ended five years later, with 200 a total of weekly episodes.

Mariah was about her "daily routine". She projected her dreams of being a bride, owning a car, and dating a doctor into it, claiming it was a way to sort out her life. The Cherry Project was about figure skating, and "determination". I have no idea what Miss Rain is about, but I hear Chocolate Christmas was a one-shot manga, not a series.

Ms. Takeuchi graduated as a pharmacist. Her parents are actually named Ikuko and Kenji, and her brother, Shingo (exactly like in Sailormoon). Her favorite manga are Uchuu Senkan Yamato, or Space Battleship Yamato, known as Star Blazers in the U.S.A., and Senjoo Manga Series, a "battle-arena-type manga".

The following interview comes from Animax, a now-deceased Brazilian anime & manga magazine. I have written permission (by e-mail) to reproduce and translate this interview. You may not use this on your site, or you are subject to legal action. You may, however, link to this page.

Questions are in bold, followed by Ms. Takeuchi's answers.

P R I V A T E   L I F E

The Japanese love cars. What model do you drive?
Ever since I bought an automatic, I've been addicted to driving. In my old Porsche, the motor's scratching noise didn't exactly make the car comfortable. Currently, my new "boyfriend" is a Ferrari 512M.

I guess Sailormoon got you some money then, eh? Well, I heard on the internet that you're a very mystical person. Do you believe that stones have powers?
Definitely! Some time ago, I never realized they had practical results, but once I was desperate about one of my works' due date and I ended up putting the alarm clock at the front door, afraid of [accidentally] turning it off and not waking up. I was sure I had slept on the tatame [translator's note: straw-type floor matting, where the Japanese sleep] , but I guess I rolled over to the marble floor and, even in the cold, I felt so good in it that I remember dreaming... Maybe that's the true power of stones. Of course, I never got the originals [translator's note: copy of the manga she sends to the editor] done sooner!

In Sailormoon, you frequently talk about this Game Center. What video games do you play?
Currently, I haven't had much time to play games, but I love arcades.

D R A W I N G   T E C H N I Q U E S

What materials do you use to sketch your work out? Some special pencil..?
No, I'm not very precise when it comes to pencils. I can use any material, the important part is the final result. But if you're asking what I'm currently using, it's a 0,5 Pentel mechanical pencil

What about paints? [...]
Paints are easy to use and the colors are beautiful. But, maybe because I like to paint soft colors, I feel that the prints on magazines never look as good as the originals. It's very frustrating.

Did any other artists influence your work?
Reiji Matsumoto (Star Blazers). I love the women he draws. Their legs are very long, thing... I also love his stories. My favorite was Senjoo Manga Series. For [shoujo manga], I like Kimiko Uehara. The beauty of her art, the fun dialogues, I read and re-read her a lot.

[How do you work] throughout the month?
From the 1st to the 4th days, I work for Run-Run magazine (publisher of Sailor V) and fix my [tankoubon] for Kodansha Comics. From the 5th to the 6th, I usually have to do coloured illustrations. From 7th to 9th, I'm usually napping, shopping, and meeting friends... [translator's note: I finally see why she says Usagi is like her ^^]. And from the 21st to the 30th, I go to work meetings, and finish up the colored illustrations, and prepare the supplements.

Tell me one thing you like to do [when working], and one you don't.
I love to create stories and to use the white paint [translator's note: used to create an interesting effect on the black lines. Read the next question]. What I don't like? To trace the ink and touch up the final art. I guess I don't like that.

What's this white paint thing?
I use the white paint [translator's note: white paint can vary frm artist to artist. CLAMP, for example, uses white-out] to correct little mistakes in my sketches. Actually, I don't see the white paint as simply a correction tool, I consider it a part of the illustration. I love creating the effect of rays of brilliant sunshine. And the color... well... when it's shoujo manga, even when I'm in a hurry, I try to take time with skin color.

Can you tell us a bit about your old work, Mariah?
I was very square, then. I dreamt about being a bride, and ended up putting these ideas and dreams in that manga. I dated a doctor, went to lots of chic places... And that ended up being my "daily routine" manga. It was a very spontaneous work, I like it.

And what about The Cherry Project?
I love ice-skating. This title taught me how fun it was to draw determined girls. And I dated a quiet, conservative man...

Codename Sailor V?
I wanted to have had more time on that. It was the first title where I felt the responsibility of mass-producing. But this manga is very prestigious, it'll be an anime one day [translator's note: =DDDD].

Why did you use Usagi for the main character in Sailormoon?
Sailor V's Minako had already been used. I thought of many things for her, but I ended up turning her into a protagonist. I guess I had a feeling.

With the big Sailormoon "boom", did anything change in your life?
I got more work! Since it's something I do at my own table, it's hard to realize any changes. But my profits grew too, of course!

Why does Usagi loose her powers when she becomes the Princess?
I felt that a princess was a creature that had to be protected not a fighter.

What theme do you want to follow in Sailormoon?
Love. And that girls should always be strong. I'm the type that looks for subjects and exploring new themes during the series was probably my main objective. I'm also the type that gets too involved with the story, so I like to give the characters' a chance to find their own objectives. I guess I want to continue drawing them until they find it. I mean, I want each to make a journey in search for something.

Why don't your male characters fight that much?
Maybe because they lack love. Fundamentally, I like to draw beautiful girls and since I have to share the space in the pages, I think that I want to make more girls.

How much do you think about a character when you create her?
The face, the name, the clothes... That's it. I like to begin through the story, not the characters. When they began to produce the anime, I was very confused when they asked me the height of each character!

Could you possibly analyze the reason of your success?
I produce my titles with honesty, thinking of a story for girls, I guess.

Since you produce art for younger people, how do you keep up with your publics' feelings and thoughts?
There's always a lot that I still want to draw and I try to think that one day I'll draw it all. I dare say that I'm sure my work will follow a certain direction. My preference is for stories with a less cheery mood and a more dramatic atmosphere, but I try not to make my titles too heavy. I think I also have to make the stories easier to understand (I haven't been making too much of an effort at that!). And to have a happy ending. All that so that, at the end, we can follow our path, no matter how hard and sad it is, because there is hope at the end [of the path].

When you think "I can't stand drawing anymore!", what keeps you going?
I guess I'm conscious of my professionalism. I keep thinking what my readers will think if I give it all up. I once said I'd never draw again, that was it, and I got my friends all nervous. They told me "what about the magazine? and the anime?" I told them "I don't know! I can't do this anymore so I'm quitting!" But when they asked "what about the readers?" I stopped and felt I had to finish, no matter what.
I also think about my assistants to whom I give so much work. Even when I wanted (and did) cry, I though about them and how I had to go on.

P E R S O N A L   P H I L O S O P H Y

What do you expect from your friends?
Someone I can lean on.

What is true strength?
The power to stop.

When do children become adults?
When they feel love and passion.

What's your ideal man?
Someone very complicated, intelligent, wise, and taciturn.

What if someday a cat like Luna came to you and said "You must fight to defend the Earth!" What would you say?
Umm.. "No!"

What type of titles do you want to work on now?
A new girls' manga and an erotic manga!

When do you feel it was really worth having worked so hard on a manga?
When I receive a fan's letter. It's very thrilling, I feel like I want to work even harder. When I see that Sailormoon has spread to all the countries in the world, I feel it was really worth having created it.

Finally, what message do you give your readers?
Read a lot, and cultivate your passion. And thank you all so much!

 

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