Masashi Kishimoto Interview by Naruto Collector
Naruto Collector: If you weren't the creator of Naruto and were simply a fan of the manga, which character's poster would be your first choice to put up in your bedroom?
Masashi Kishimoto: I'd prefer a female character, so maybe Tsunade, and maybe one of Naruto performing the Ninja Centerfold Jutsu. And Gaara....he's one of my favorite characters. (I posted a little about that last night but didn't notice he was talking about posters, not favorite characters.XD)
NC: If you were a ninja, to which village would you belong? And what would your signature jutsu be?
MK: Of course, I would be from Konoha. I'd master the Art of the Shadow Doppelganger Jutsu, so I can shorten the amount of time I spend on drawing.
NC: Would that give you more sleeping time?
MK: Hopefully, because I'm really sleep deprived....
NC: If you were to do a spin-off series that focused on one of the side characters (or a group of side characters) (were they hoping for Akatuski?) , who would it be?
MK: I'm thinking about doing one with the Fourth Hokage as the lead character. He'll be much younger. I intend to draw the Fourth as a child.
NC: In America, your manga is sold in bookstores that don't even carry other manga or comics. So in a way, it has actually changed how some bookshops sell books. How do you feel about that?
MK: I've been in Japan this whole time, so I don't know much about what's happening in America. But I'm really glad that Naruto is getting so much attention. It's a great honor. I think Americans know what's good (laughs).
NC: Which member of the Akatsuki is your favorite to draw?
MK: Hmm, let's see....Tobi. His face is covered on one side and has a hole on the other. He's easy to draw (Laughs).
NC: We know a lot about Naruto, Itachi, Gaara and Kakashi, but does Sakura have dark secrets we don't know about yet?
MK: She's a normal girl, so I haven't given it much thought.
NC: How did you change your drawing style to fit the new characters and storyline of Naruto Part II?
MK: In Part II, I try not to overdo the typical manga style. I don't go for too much deformation and keep the layout of the panels simple in order to make it easier to follow. My drawing style has also shifted from the classic manga look to something a bit more realistic.
NC: Many of the older Konoha Village ninja are dying. How do you feel about the younger ninja taking over the responsibilities for the safety and welfare of the village?
MK: It's the same in manga. There are a lot of great manga artists that I admire, beginning with Osamu Tezuka, Shotaro Ishinomori, Fujio Fujiko, etc. I'm not their blood relative, but they influence me in ways that seem as though they've been passed on through genes and are spreading like a ripple. To inherit a legacy and pass it on...I think that's wonderful. Whatever I've inherited from people in the past or those whom I call my predecessors, I'd like to put into perspective and depict in the manga. I think people can identify with it. At least that's my view.
NC: It makes the story very epic.
MK: For instance, I really love the work of Toriyama-sensei (Dragon Ball) and Otomo-sensei (Akira), and Ghost in the Shell, so you can tell how much they influenced me. In turn, younger artists will be influenced by the manga I draw. Such a world, I think, is really cool. The idea of passing a baton in a relay, so to speak, is something that I hope to portray in manga.
NC: Did you map out the entire plot of Naruto right from the beginning, or do you find yourself making new choices about characters and storylines as you go?
MK: I've already decided on the overall plot, but depending on the flow, I change the direction in which it's going right in the middle of things. Sometimes I just make it up along the way, and other times I do what I orginally intended to do. It's a weekly installment, and I have deadlines. I'm not always able to do everything I wanted to do. My private life and how my hours are spent ultimately will have an influence on the story. That's what it comes down to. Having a new editor affects the story too.
NC: What is the most important thing for you to express in Naruto Part II?
MK: I've always had "bonds" in my mind as the fundamental theme. And since the story is about battles and struggles, I'm inclined to depict the resulting complications and....difficult relationships. Still, the emphasis will be on bonds. I'm going to show each side's perspective. I won't really divide the cast into friends and foes, but I want to portray each group's circumstance in a fair manner. And when they clash, I want to get inside the mindset of the characters. It won't be a feel-good narrative, since the premise is more complicated than your basic good vs. evil, but I'll give it a try.
NC: Do you have any message for your fans in the U.S.?
MK: I have no idea how big Naruto is or how it's perceived in America, yet it's such a joy to hear that a lot of people read it. And I hope you keep on enjoying it. If you read it until the end, I promise that it's going to be worthwhile. So please, don't get bored. Keep going! Thank you very much.