Hiromu Arakawa Talks: Fullmetal Alchemist vs. Silver Spoon
From Clewilan’s Tumblr: A recent interview with manga creator Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist, Silver Spoon) about her early influences growing up in a farming family in Hokkaido, the moment when she decided to end Fullmetal Alchemist, and how much real life experiences are woven into the characters and stories told in Silver Spoon. This interview was originally published in Animeland, a French anime/manga magazine and done in January 2013, after Arakawa’s visit to Europe.
In the interview, there was a particularly interesting passage about her impressions of a “shonen renewal” due to the influx of female creators in shonen manga, a genre primarily made by and made for young male readers. She discusses the differences in approach that female creators can bring to the table, and how the gender lines are blurring nowadays:
Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 Edition. vol. 6 © 2004 Hiromu Arakawa/SQUARE ENIX.
Q : There has been a shônen renewal for a dozen of years, thanks to female writers such as Yellow Tanabe (Kekkaishi), Kazue Kato (Blue Exorcist), and yourself. Do you feel you’re bringing something different in the shônen genre ?
A : It’s above all a matter of generation. Twenty years ago, there were in the Shônen Jump several really violent series such as Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star) or Sajigake !! Otokojuku. Oddly enough, girls like those stories ! Those female readers found those shônen very entertaining and often more interesting than the usual shôjo manga. Ten years later, we were old enough to draw and so we made boys manga. This explains the increased number of female drawers in this area.
It is often said that women are better to talk about emotions, to write dialogues that hit the nail on the head, and men know how to create stories with twists and turns. As for me, I think it’s difficult today to make a distinction between genres. Some men are really able to imagine sensitive and complex characters, while some women are able to create sometimes violent action scenes. Nowadays, each writer has their own specialty. It doesn’t matter if they’re a man or a woman.
You can read the entire translated interview at Clémentine’s Tumblr, Last Known Surroundings. You can also see a fan-translated version of Arakawa’s 1-page comic about the moment when she and her editor missed their train and were freezing on a train platform in France and found out that Silver Spoon won the Shogakukan Manga Award.
If you haven’t read Hiromu Arakawa’s work now’s a good a time as any! The Fullmetal Alchemist manga series is available in print from VIZ Media, as single volumes, in 3-in-1 omnibus editions, or as a boxed set. The Fullmetal Alchemist anime is available to watch for free, online at FUNimation.com.
Silver Spoon is Arakawa’s current series that is serialized in Shogakukan’s Shonen Sunday magazine (home of Rin-Ne, Kekkaishi and Cross Game). Here’s the plot summary, courtesy of Aniplex:
Silver Spoon Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa © Hiromu Arakawa / SHOGAKUKAN
The only reason why Yugo Hachiken decides to attend the Oezo Agricultural High School (a.k.a Ezono) was simply because the school had a dormitory. At first, entering Ezono was a way for Yugo to run away from the fact that he failed to endure the stifling academic pressures at his preparatory school back in Sapporo.
But, it doesn’t take long for Yugo to realize that life is just not that simple. He is soon forced to face more hurdles in his new environment surrounded by all the farm animals and the magnificent Mother Nature. For Yugo, who was raised in a home environment far from farm life, the training and the club activities at Ezono are all too unfamiliar for him making every day a struggle.
Yugo also begins feeling a different kind of pressure from when he attended the preparatory school as he deals with many of his classmates who, compared to him, all have a much clearer view of what they want for their futures.
But, as Yugo faces one challenge after another at Ezono and strengthens his bonds with his classmates, he begins to grow stronger both physically and mentally… This is a coming-of-age story filled with sweat, tears, and literally a lot of dirt.
The Silver Spoon manga has not yet been licensed for publication in English (it was my pick for most wanted in the Best & Worst Manga panel at Comic-Con 2013), but the Silver Spoon anime series is now streaming/simulcasting on Crunchyroll.com, as well as the Aniplex Channel and Hulu.com.
Set in an agricultural high school, Silver Spoon is a definite departure from the action-packed, fantasy world of Fullmetal Alchemist, but it’s still a fun and interesting story about a very different type of high school that will have you thinking about the food you eat and the people who bring it to your table.