From our special envoy in Tokyo

he likes to put in scene in its manga, the appearances of Mitsuru Adachi in the press are of great rarity. A humility like no other, it is astonishing today for its success. And yet, with more than 250 million manga sold in Japan, it is part of the five mangakas are the most read of the archipelago. His title track Touch (available in France to éditions Glénat) has crossed the 100 million mark of copies sold.

Mitsuru Adachi likes to draw in his works. Here in H2. H2 © 1993 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

Mitsuru Adachi began his career on the advice of his brother Tsutomu Adachi him as a mangaka in arriving at Tokyo, in 1969. He made his weapons as a draughtsman, mainly of works of shôjo. The year 1978 will be a turning point in his career with Nine , his first manga, where he is both writer and artist. In the early 1980s, he signed two manga that will mark the history: Miyuki and Touch . The first, which the animated version was broadcast on TF1 in 1991 under the name Tommy and Magalie, tells the story of the encounter between Masato and Miyuki, teenagers who are brother and sister after the remarriage of their respective parents. The second was released on fire 5 under the name of Theo or the bat of victory and has marked the history of the shônen (the name given to manga intended for young adolescents, in contrast to the shôjo, rather for young girls) sports.

With Touch , Mitsuru Adachi sign a major work that is the epitome of the kind of romantic comedies with to frame a love triangle on a background of sports, especially baseball, his favorite sport. It is at this time that he became friends with Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma ½ ) another sacred monster with which he has long had a healthy rivalry.

Stakhanoviste, he continued the publications to be successful. The latest series, still in course of publication, Mix , is located in the universe of Touch , thirty years after. The release of the first chapter caused a rupture and a reprint of the latter, something which had not arrived since more than ten years.

Minami and Tatsuya, the main characters of the saga “Touch”, contemplating a sunset on the banks of the river. TOUCH © 1981 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

LE FIGARO – Since the 1980s, you revolutionise the world of manga with “romantic comedies”. For your colleague, Rumiko Takahashi, you are the absolute master of the genre. How did you get the idea of these romances?

Mitsuru ADACHI. – Say that I have arrived at the right time at the Weekly Sunday (weekly manga, ED.) I found my place by chance. At the time I started, several projects have been rejected by the editors of the Sunday . It felt that my stories were not adapted to the male audience. With time, the public has evolved, teams to me have called back and my stories have pleased to this new readership.

Image taken for the “Season’s Album”, a magnificent artbook marking the anniversary of career of Mitsuru Adachi published by Shogakukan. This illustration shows the titles which have appeared on more than 20 years and illustrates the evolution of the style of the master. Season’s Album © 2002 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

what is it that has changed with the success of Touch ?

The success of Touch I was embarrassed, to tell the truth. It was really huge, I was surprised that people enjoy at this point what I was doing. I have not really changed my method of work or my creative approach. Maybe because it gave me more freedom on some of the series thanks to Touch .

Is it that now you are aware of being one of the mangaka’s most influential?

I’ve never really paid attention to the polls of popularity or sales figures. And surprisingly, it worked. Since then, I continue to tell the stories that I like without really stopping to ask me the reasons for their success.

What are they according to you?

I don’t know if there is a magical recipe for success. I have the reputation in Japan of being a writer very elliptical, in the sense that I cannot explain it all, I play a lot with the non-said. What makes some messages may be more difficult to read, to perceive, even for the japanese public. So I’m pleasantly surprised when they told me that my works are pleasing to the stranger.

“Short Mail”, a short story in four boards without any dialogue. The genius of Adachi makes a mockery of the constraints and is expressed masterfully in the suggestion. credit : SHORT PROGRAM – Short Mail, © 1988 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

You are a past master in the art of conveying emotions through “non-dits”. You have even made two short stories silent in Shorts Program . In the end, what is the importance of text in a manga, according to you?

I have always sought to use the least amount of text possible to suggest to them what I wished to convey. I always prepare my story-boards with a minimum of dialogue. I’m not too fond of having to explain what’s happening, it seems to me less natural and it amuses me not. For a long time, I had to insist to keep this minimalism at the level of the dialogues and one day, my works have met with their readership. It happened the moment I entered the home of Shônen Sunday. An opportunity to dream for me, a young author, unknown at the time. And since, it is a daily pleasure.

speaking of fun, what series did you like more exploring?

I took pleasure in all my stories, but two of them keep a special place in my heart. Niji-iro Tohgarashi (published by éditions Glénat in France) and Slow Step . For the second title, I had infinite freedom, I carried out the work exactly as I had imagined. I’ve even had to make any effort to tell it all came naturally. It was just after a big success: we have more editorial freedom in this context. Myself I told myself that I could aim for a more intimate atmosphere. It is to this absolute freedom that is born Slow Step .

“Niji-Iro Tohgarashi”, real ufo in the work of Adachi mixes thriller, comedy, science-fiction backdrop of medieval Japan. An absolute masterpiece. (NIJI-IRO TOHGARASHI © 1990 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN)

Thirty years later, you revisit the universe of Touch with your new series Mix . Why would you want to immerse yourself in ce world?

My editor suggested me this idea. I found that it was interesting to come back in this world thirty years later and see how it had evolved.

is there a difference when you draw a Shorts Program and when you’re in a series for the Sunday ?

In the context of a long series of pre-publication in a major magazine as the Sunday , I have a big and heavy responsibility. Vis-à-vis the magazine to the public. The new girls are, in general, a work order where I have more latitude and I write according to my inspiration of the moment. I have a lot less obligations in this context.

“I like to draw during adolescence, a period when the feelings are exacerbated”

Mitsuru Adachi

speaking of responsibility, the duty and the weight of responsibility are prevalent in the majority of your characters. Is this a metaphor for your job as a mangaka?

No, this is not a metaphor for my job! It is never pleasant to have responsibilities, it is easier to be irresponsible. Indeed, it is enough weighing responsibility of being a mangaka, it is necessary to render pages on a recurrent basis, to build an interesting story. But, in the end, I get to keep my commitments vis-à-vis the readers, and my editors without too much deviate from my line of conduct, I really lucky.

The end of “Rough” is one of the most beautiful épilogues manga. ROUGH © 1987 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

With hindsight is that ten or twenty years later, you would change the end of one of your manga?

This is a question I never asked. I’m rather pleased with the end of my stories. This is a really crucial, I’ve always done my best to be as beautiful as possible. I love drawing the end of a story, especially a long series. We can even say that, in a sense, I tell my stories for this last chapter. Think about how to get there, by what path, by what twists and turns, it is a process that is extremely attractive.

do you Know, from the beginning, the end of your stories?

On the long time series, non. I have an idea of where I want to bring the history, but I does not freeze forever in marble to the end of the series. I like to surprise my readers.

Why death is so present in your works?

death is not an element that I use to surprise the reader, it would be cruel. I’m a writer who likes to draw everyday life and unfortunately, death is ubiquitous in ordinary life. Death happens like that, without any dramatic effect, when it is not expected. It is this realism that makes the dead stirring in my humble opinion. My manga are mostly shônen. A shônen shows the period where a young person evolves in his daily life. The death is, since always, it has the more evolved humanity. I don’t want to show death in a meaningful way. I hope that it happens naturally, as in our daily lives.

Your series, following primarily the hero at the college and high school. It is for you to register in this period of evolution?

I like to draw the adolescence which is a period of life where all feelings are exacerbated. Something that seems trivial to an adult can be poignant for a teenager for example. It is for this reason that I continue to place my mangas at this time of failover.

You feel a real tenderness for the secondary characters in all of your series, even when you are having fun to humiliate them…

The secondary characters have a primary role. They allow to express the feelings of the main characters that are not necessarily the most expensive. And I am very happy that it works well. I didn’t think too much about it to this use to be my debut. And today, I delegate naturally to this role the secondary characters. This is probably why you feel a tenderness toward them. They are complementary to the hero.

Is this the same thing with the commentators for the matches?

Yes, indeed, they have the same role of complementarity. They are also often associated with a comedy aspect as opposed to the tension of the matches.

Scene iconic of Mitsuru Adachi. Struck by tragedy, Minami and Tatsuya hide and express their distress in a similar way. TOUCH © 1981 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

there is often symmetry in your performances. Why?

I don’t have a dogma regarding the staging, I work a lot on instinct. I really don’t like the shots. To draw a picture of someone who is suffering or crying, I’m not going to show a face distorted by crying. I start by imagining an ordinary scene, banal and I modify it to include this item different. The most important thing is to remain able to transmit the feelings.

“I am an author and very dependent upon the imagination of my readers”

Mitsuru Adachi

Nothing moves on this board and yet the tension is at its peak. The staging of Mitsuru Adachi is also eloquent as sober. Beautiful. ROUGH © 1987 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

You play with movement, stasis, the time. Is this to allow the reader the opportunity to take a step back?

I am very dependent on the imagination of the readers. But it is also a way to not be identical to the majority of scenes of manga sports.

Is this appeal to the imagination of the readers, which makes your work timeless?

I don’t know if it is for this reason that my works continue to exist, but I am very flattered in any case. It means that I managed to convey emotions to my readers and this is the most important.

“The manga “Nine” was the first major turning point of my career.”

Mitsuru Adachi

Your drawing has always managed to evolve while retaining the particular style that is unique to you. What is the work in which you have found this style “Adachi”?

It is at the time of Nine , the manga of baseball, just before the Miyuki , where I took confidence in my drawing. It was my first original series
(He was both the author and the illustrateur, editor’s NOTE) in a magazine of pre-publication. The warm welcome around this series has been a key moment of my career. It is thanks to the readers of Nine that I took confidence in my style both at the level of the narration as the drawing.

No voyeurism in the work of Adachi, but a sincerity that is troubling in the staging of the pain of the loss of a loved one. Cross Game © 2005 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN The four protagonists of “H2”. The title is a play on words with the square lovers around the characters, all of whose first names begin with the letter H. Haruka, Hiro, Hidéo and Hikari. (H2 © 1992 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN) H2 © 1992 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

To close the debate raging among the fans, what is the best pitcher of all-your universe?

The launcher the more successful, the more complete, it is Hiro. This is how I envisioned it. If one is close to perfection as a pitcher, it is him. Moreover, it is a genius and a hard worker.

it is Impossible to reduce the bibliography of Mitsuru Adachi just three titles, but among those available in France, “Le Figaro” recommends you start by “Touch”, “H2” and “Rough”. H2 / TOUCH / ROUGH /© 1992-1981-1987 Mitsuru ADACHI / SHOGAKUKAN

The selection of Figaro to discover Mitsuru Adachi in France :

To discover the absolute reference of the human comedy in the form of manga, Le Figaro advises to start with the following series:

Touch , éditions Glénat, 6,90€, complete set in 26 volumes.

Rough , éditions Glénat, 6,90€, complete set in 12 volumes.

Mix , éditions Tonkam, 7,99€, ongoing series with 11 volumes currently.

H2 , éditions Tonkam, 7,99€, complete set of 34 volumes.

Cross Game , éditions Tonkam, 7,99€, complete set of 17 volumes.

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