Katsuhiro Otomo, the renowned Japanese manga artist and film director, has just revealed he is at work on a major new project. Otomo is acclaimed especially for his work on Akira, which was serialized for eight years after he created it in 1982.
Referring to his new work, Otomo tweeted this week: “Actually I’m drawing it, and it may be published somewhere in a little while. Manga is hard work.” Otomo’s complete works are being published by Kodansha. His comments were featured on that project’s website, where the artist answered questions posed by readers.
One of these questions came from fellow manga artist Yusuke Murata, who was noted for his work in drawing Eyeshield 21 and One-Punch Man. Murata asked Otomo about the genesis of SOL, the space-satellite weapon that appears in Akira: “I remember reading in the Akira Club that the design of SOL was modeled on an electric razor.” Otomo replied: “At the time, I used things around my desk as the basis for my designs. I was even trying to make an ink bottle into a robot.”
Otomo also acknowledged his debt to Okamoto Kido’s book Ozumi no Rei. “I’ve read this work many times,” he tweeted, but it’s still interesting no matter how many times I read it. It’s all true stories.”
And Otomo also credited a visual experience from his early childhood as a stimulus for his work, referring to “the rice paddies in the countryside where I lived when I was a child. When the water was drawn in the spring, the sky was reflected and it was very beautiful. When I looked at it, I felt like I was flying through the sky.”
Born in Miyagi prefecture in the decade following the end of World War II, Otomo published his first work in 1973, when he was 19 years old. Titled A Gun Report, it was a manga adaptation of the short story Mateo Falcone, written by French author Prosper Mérimée. His first science-fiction work, Fireball, was published in 1979.
In 2012, he became the fourth manga artist ever inducted into the American Eisner Award Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Purple Medal of Honor from the Japanese government in 2013.