Thursday, 21 August 2008

[Interview] Masami Kurumada interviewed in Saint Myth Chronicles

Okay, I still suck at Japanese, but a kind person from the Ikki63 forum who goes by the pseudonym "archange" has translated Masami Kurumada'sminterview in the exclusive magazine Saint Myth Chronicles into French. So this is my translation of, umm, his translation. Second degree translations aren't the best but it's the best I can do for now.

Anyway enjoy ;)


1. Ring ni Kakero also has the Twelve Gods of Olympus in one of the teams, could you tell us since when you've been interested in Greek mythology?
Actually, I don't have a particular interest in Greek mythology, just like anyone else. I get inspired by it simply because there are interesting ideas. Greek mythology has a lot of characters, and gods both powerful and graceful are a part of it. That's why I used it in Ring ni Kakero. That way, I can create scenarios with enemies more cool and powerful than the heroes, and I find this approach much better. Prior to Rinkake, I knew a little bit about Greek mythology but I had to read a book on mythology to fill the gaps of my knowledge when I started. When I began Saint Seiya, I had to go deeper in my research however. In this kind of manga, you have to bring enemies in constantly, which can be difficult to imagine, but for Saint Seiya, ideas were easy to come up with. The reason is Greek mythology is so full of characters such as Poseidon, Hades or Zeus.

2. How did you define the characteristics of the five Bronze Saints, who are the main characters of the story?
I though of the classic balance of the Shonen. One hero hot blooded and stubborn, a serious guy, a cool guy, another more "kawaii" [cute] and finally another who is the very powerful guy, which explains how we arrived at Seiya, Shiryu, Hyoga, Shun and Ikki. However I thought it wouldn't be very interesting if the five were one group from the beginning as in stereotypical stories, and that's why Ikki was first introduced as the common enemy. Moreover, it was also my intention to make Hyoga into an assassin sent by the Sanctuary who would have given them a hard time.
Seiya and Ryuji (from Rinkake) are two different kinds of heroes. In fact a character like Ryuji is difficult to use. He's not one to go straight for the enemy but tends to wait that they come to him, otherwise he doesn't do much, which makes the scenario difficult. In Saint Seiya, it's Shun who is more like Ryuji, whereas Seiya would tend to be more like Ishimatsu (from Rinkake), if an enemy shows up, he'll go and face him straight away.

3. Why did you choose the constellations of Pegasus, Draco, Cygnus, Phoenix and Andromeda for the heroes amongst the 88 potential protecting constellations?
Actually there aren't that many usable constellation amongst the potential 88. For exemple, I can't pick up constellations like Pyxis [the Ship's Compass] or Antlia [the Air Pump] (laughs). Of course, the 12 constellations of the zodiac were reserved from the beginning for the enemies to be introduced. So, in the beginning I took 10 constellations which seemed usable. But I had to pick up 5 amongst those, which was a shame for Hydra Ichi or Leo Minor Ban (laughs). Actually, in the beginning I intended to make Jabu one of the main characters but Seiya already had the role of the hot-blooded boy so he ended up with Ichi and the others, outside the main group. Even nowadays I still think about it sometimes but I'm convinced I made the right choice with Pegasus.

4. Is there a character you had clearly defined from the beginning, well before he appeared in the story?
There isn't really such a character. In the beginning, I intended to have Milo being Hyoga's mentor, but eventually I thought that ice should be related to water and so I changed it to Camus. In the beginning, I had not yet decided whether Marin would be Seiya's sister. If I had made the choice from the start, the reader could have seen it coming and would not have been surprised.

5. Who is your favourite character?
That's a question that often comes up, but I like all characters and I don't mean just in Saint Seiya. I invested a lot of myself in each of my characters and they've all left me with a feeling like a painful birth. I can't make a choice.

6. How did you determine which constellations would go with each character?
I first thought about the characters, then I picked up their constallations. The Twelve Gold Saints are however an exception as in their case I rather defined the characters based on the constellation. For example Leo (the Lion) suggests a strong masculine character, whereas Virgo has feminine traits.

7. How did you create the concept of the Cloths?
In the beginning, before I started this manga, I imagined suits of armour close to those worn by the samourai and a style of combat close to karate. The idea was that their attacks were so powerful they would need protection during their fights. But the basic suits of armour weren't great and while I was pondering on the idea, Greek mythology started to emerge in my mind. I thought if I could find inspiration from the constellations, I could come up with a pretty cool result. That's how I started to design ancient european-style suits of armour with curvaceous lines. Aiolia's Gold Cloth is was resembles this idea the most. With my assistants we were constantly debating how to design new cloths, it was really exhausting. In a classic manga all you have to worry about is the story (laughs).

8. Tell us a little about the conceptual design for the Scales now.
The Scales are protections inspired by fish scales. The result when drawing them with lots of scales was pretty unpleasant, so I only drew a few that way. The Scales represent sea monsters of course, but I had to select as much as I could those who seemed to render best. Obviously, I couldn't use a sea anemone, though if I'd had to do that its technique would have been "I swallow everything around me" (laughs). I have however given a lot of thought to Isaak, his Scale and its design based on his common past with Hyoga.

9. Why are Scales golden?
To be honest, I don't really remember (laughs). In the beginning, I did intend to make the Scales blue but they weren't really giving a feeling of power. I think I must have wanted to make them golden so they could look like the Gold Saints. Since the Anime was being shown at the same time as this part, it could have been a suggestion from Toei or Bandai.

10. And what about the Surplices?
For my ideas, I gathered the 108 stars of the novel Suikoden and associated them with all sorts of monsters. During this chapter, the design of the suits of armour was really difficult to imagine.(laughs)I'd imagined the Surplices as being jet black but the Anime added colours with a purple hue. Whichever the version, I think they look like they come from the deep. A plain black colour would however have made them look too much like the black saints from the beginning. For Minos, Aiakos and Radhamanthys I used the names of the juges from the mythology.

11. How did you come up with the idea of the God Cloths?
Actually, to keep pushing up to the next level, I didn't have much choice but to introduce them (laughs). They were necessary to defeat Thanatos. Ah, maybe I've gone too far? (ironic laugh). To begin with, the twins call them Kamuis but looking at them more closely, they call them God Cloths. The God Cloths are the ultimate stage of evolution for the Cloths... maybe (laughs).

Second Double Page

12. The God Cloths are placed beyond all Cloths including the Gold Cloths aren't they?
Regarding the ages, the Bronze saints would be roughly in middle school, the Silver saints in high school and the Gold saints would be students. Regarding heights, the Bronze saints are approximately 165cm, the Silver saints go up to 175cm and the Gold Saints are above 180cm [not from me, if you want the measurements in feet you'll have to calculate it yourself, sorry ;)]. The appearance of the Cloths very distinctly differentiate their ranks just like in the army. There are admirals, colonels and captains. The God Cloths have a design that clearly sets them apart and are equipped with wings too, all this showing that they are ultimate cloths.

13. What kind of protection are the Kamuis? Could you share with us the image you have of them?
Those are protections worn by the Twelve Gods of Olympus, and therefore Athena herself has one. However, I think it's more cool if Athena only uses a cloth like her army. Though Athena says she only wears a cloth, it could very well be that this is her real Kamui. In the same way, it could be that Poseidon's scale and Hades' Surplice are their real Kamuis.
I more or less intend to reveal the Kamuis in the near future so watch this space.

14. Which cloths were the hardest to design?
I always managed to figure out what the Leo, Cancer and other cloths based on animals would look like. However, Gemini or Libra and others of the same kind were more of a problem and I worried a lot trying to work out what the Gemini cloth would look like once worn by Saga. As he first appeared as the ultimate evil, I had to think as much as I could to come up with a beautiful result.

15. And so, which one is your favourite cloth?
If I'm forced to reveal it, it's the Gemini Cloth, though I like all of them. In those days, the people at Bandai were quite worried about the design, because of the two faces on the helmet of course. But eventually, they liked the result. By the way, there is a fan question that comes back quite often. "Which one is the most powerful ?". Even 30-year old+ men ask me that question [note from me... I'll go hide now], just as young children do, they want to know. Whichever the age, Saint Seiya remains a story close to their hearts.

16. And so, who's the most powerful?
You too (laughs)? It's a very hard question. I drew the twelve Gold Saints intending to make them all cool and powerful, but I would say that each have their strengths and their own personality. I really can't tell who is the most powerful.

17. What is your opinion on Myth Cloths?
The old toys were quite simple but these are very clevery designed. You can really see the techinal progress. Amongst the Myth Cloths, I find Lyra Orphee to be truly unique. The texture really suggests a sheen similar to silver. I also find the 3 judges of the underworld magnificent and imposing. The surplices really have an excellent rendering. I do feel for those who collect them however, there are so many it takes a lot of space in people's houses [note from me. yeah you have no idea...]

18. Tell us a little about the Hades Chapter.
This part is inspired by Dante's inferno and I've always liked this part. In the beginning, Saint Seiya had a very raw male design, just like Ring ni Kakero or Fuma no Kojiro, but it's towards this part that my drawing had become graceful and the textures for the Surplices were very detailled. I spent a lot of time on this part to make it a success.

19. How did you come up with the idea of bringing back Saga and the others from the dead for the Junikyu [Hades Chapter Sanctuary]?
When the crossing of the Twelve Temples was over, the Gold Saints had become very popular characters. Later when we came to the part where Hades rules over the dead, I thought it would be a good idea to bring them back and add the fact that they want to have Athena's head to create a shocking revelation.

20. Why didn't you include Aiolos amongst the other ressucitated Saints?
Aiolos didn't die at the same time as Saga and his companions, so he seemed a little out of place. Moreover, the members of Saga's group were Gold Saints who were serving him. If Aiolos had been brought back to life, he would probably have had to oppose Saga. Kinda hard to imagine them side by side in this part, isn't it? (laughs)

21. And the return of the old pope?
It's also a character I then thought about using. The Pope was one of Dohko's friends, also a survivor from the previous war, though as we hadn't had the chance to see his face yet, I decided to include him amongst the ressucitated Saints. As for the idea of making him Mu's mentor, it simply comes from the fact that the temple guarded by Mu is the first one which has to be crossed. If I'd made someone other than his mentor he would have been kicked out of the temple of Aries. That's actually why Deathmask and Aphrodite get thrown out (laughs).

22. Regarding Dohko's return to youth?
This is something that was planned long ago. For the transformation, I got inspired by the golden sword of Fuma no Kojiro. (黄金の剣 ôgon no ken)

23. Are the situations of Shun becoming Hades and Kawai in Ring ni Kakero similar?
It's not the same. To be honest, I didn't believe the part where Kawai becomes an Ashura would be successful. Regarding the "revelation" for Shun, it was just an idea to surprise the reader. In my mangas, there is no leading framework of story as opposed to most other mangas. What's important is to suprise the readers. To this end, I don't forbid myself any idea, even if it's strange, which also means each week I torture myself wondering what I could come up with to create a surprise (laughs).

24. Did you think you would make Kanon a protagonist of the holy war from the conception of the character?
In one scene Milo tests Kanon with his Scarlet Needle and concludes that there is no enemy here but just another Gold Saint and his name is Gemini Kanon. It's a scene I intended to draw. The personal feelings of the protagonists are key in my mangas. This kind of story is also very popular in France, incidentally there are a lot of Saint Seiya fans in this country.

25. Could you tell us why you name Saga's brother "Kanon" ?
Until the end I wondered if I should make Saga into a man suffering from a double personality disorder or someone with a twin. I eventually chose to do both. His name comes from that which naturally separates humans in two groups: sex. [translated note from the original translation: The kanji representing the sex meaning male/female is 性 which can be pronounced "saga"]. Regarding Kanon, since he's Saga's little brother,I first wanted to call him Sega, I'm just kidding (laughs). Truth is, I didn't know what name to choose, I then opened an atlas and found Kanon island (カノン島). I thought the name sounded nice so I chose that.

26. What's your feeling about the animated adaptation of the "Elysion" chapter?
With that release, the adaptation of Saint Seiya is finally complete. I find the Elysion anime cool, gracious, warm. I think it's the ultimate level of animation. What's more I wrote the lyrics and participated in the writing of the ending song "Kani no sono - DEL Regno". Please, you have to listen to this music. [note from me... he must be talking about a different Elysion no one else has seen...]

27. Finally, what's your message for all the country's Saint Seiya fans?
Thank you for remaining faithul to Saint Seiya and keep on carrying this dream in your heart. The world of Saint Seiya continues to grow, keep an eye out for what's happening there.

Edit from me: Typos corrected

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