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As manga fans well know, manga creators (manga-ka) are very reticent about talking about anything interesting. The chat sections of manga are filled with accounts of their favorite pastries or sketches of their cats, and interviews seldom go beyond “I am trying very hard to make a manga that my fans will enjoy.” So Shaenon Garrity’s interview with Moto Hagio (and her translator, Matt Thorn), is a bracing blast of fresh air. Hagio is one of the most respected manga-ka both inside and outside Japan, but her work is hard to find in English; that’s about to change with Fantagraphics’ release of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories.
In the interview, Hagio discussed her influences, including American science fiction writers Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury, as well as manga-ka Osamu Tezuka, Shotaro Ishinomori, and Leiji Matsumoto. And she gets into some issues as well:
SG: Your work also shows the influence of psychological theories. How did you get interested in psychology, and how has it affected your writing?
MH: I had always been interested in psychology, but when I was in my late twenties my relationship with my parents, which had never been very good, got worse and worse. To try to understand them, I started to read more about psychology. Unfortunately, most of the books at the time talked about people with clearly defined mental illnesses and where they could go for treatment. There wasn’t as much about people who were just ornery.
Finally I turned to a book on astrology and compared my parents’ birthdates with my own. According to the book, we were just incompatible.
Later on, Hagio discusses how that factors into her use of fantasy to describe real-life situations:
You can analyze it in different ways, and there’s a cause somewhere in there, but it’s not a cause you can explain rationally. I try to capture that feeling through fantasy.
There’s plenty more there, and at one point Hagio turns the tables and starts quizzing Garrity about why boys love manga is popular in the U.S. Good times!