How to Interview Japanese Manga Artists: Tips for Western Journalists

How to Interview Japanese Manga Artists: Tips for Western Journalists

Summer is convention season, and for people like me, it’s also high season for interviewing comics artists, writers, and editors from Japan.

In the past few months, I’ve chatted with at least 6 visiting manga creators, an anime director, plus 5 manga editors from Japan. What have I learned along the way? What makes interviewing a comics creator from Japan different than interviewing one from North America? There are so many unspoken rules, so many things I learned through a lot of trial and error, and not much of it is written down anywhere.

I’ve clocked in eight years of working this beat, from my first interview with Arina Tanemura (Sakura-Hime) at San Diego Comic-Con 2007 to my chat with anime director Koji Morimoto (Akira, Short Peace) yesterday at J-Pop Summit 2015. While I think I’ve gotten better at interviewing manga artists, I still have a lot of room to improve.

With this in mind, I started a conversation on Twitter with a few fellow members of the “manga press corps” and some manga translators, and got their take on what it takes to have a great interview with guests from Japan.

Here’s our tips for pre-interview prep, interview questions to avoid, tips for having more productive conversations with comics pros from Japan, plus seven requests that I’d like to make to publicists, convention guest coordinators and publishers that might help western journalists have even better interviews with manga creators.


  1. One correction (while I’m still reading through the article—I love it and all the ideas presented!): A couple names got switched, Masakazu Ishiguro is the creator of SoreMachi, and Masahiro Ohno is the magazine editor 🙂 (I letter the series for CR, and formerly JManga, and remain sad to this day that I had to fly to Japan just days before Ishiguro-sensei’s visit NY!!)

    • Ah, thanks for pointing that out! I made the edit. 🙂

  2. I want to point out that bringing a gift (and accepting them) is kinda frowned upon in American journalism ethics. BUT this is also a huge cultural difference between the US and Japan, where giving small gifts in a business setting is very polite.


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