Our Creators’ Corner this month features Kazuki Natsume, author of I HATE, MODS, NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, and BY MY SIDE!
This week, Natsume-sensei generously answers the first part of questions from fans from all over the world! Thank you for sending in your questions!
from HoneyLavender (Germany): Thank you very much for this opportunity. Do you have any favorite BL story you would recommend? Thank you! I am thrilled that I can finally read your works!
Thank you for reading my work! I have so many BL that I love, it’s so difficult to choose isn’t it! I love any work by Kou Yoneda-sensei. Yoneda-sensei is one of the artists that inspired me to draw manga.
from Arti (Philippines): Hi Natsume-sensei! I would first like to say that I really enjoyed reading Aoe and Akaya’s story.
Which part do you enjoy the most when designing characters? Which particular aspect in designing characters do you feel is most important?
I’m looking forward to reading more of your work. Thank you!
I’m very happy that you liked Akaya and Aoe.
When I’m designing characters, I enjoy thinking about their physical appearances. I like men with short hair, so I guess I especially enjoy thinking about characters’ hairstyles. That’s why so many of my characters have short hair. (laughs) I also love when a character with long hair ties it up~!
I think the most important part in character design is creating their charm points. This part isn’t just about the design and has to be integrated into the story, so I spend a lot of time thinking about the characters. I hope my characters are appealing…
from Korin (Philippines): Hello Sensei~ How are you? I hope you’re ok~ ୧(＾ 〰 ＾)୨ Please be safe~
My question is: Any plans for a new project? Which type of genre are you going to make? I was so attached with how your characters deal with their emotions and how deep their stories are.
Are there any personal experiences (like a piece of advice you received from close friends or relatives…) that you include in any of your works?
Thank you so much for sharing your work. I enjoyed all of them. I hope someday I can meet you in person (つ≧▽≦)つ I like how detailed your characters are, especially with their facial expressions and physique (◍•ᴗ•◍)✧*。
P.S. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I hope everyone is safe and healthy~
I am very happy to hear your thoughts. I am doing well~! Currently, I’m working on a serialized manga called His Little Amber. This story is set in the same world as MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT so you may see some familiar faces. Please check it out if you’re interested.
I’ve never written directly about my own experiences, but I’ve brought in some personal elements before. For example, the views from No where, Now here are from my hometown and BY MY SIDE takes place in a town where I used to live.
from Capy-chan (Russia): Will there be another story for Haru and Yukitaka? Please 🙂
Unfortunately there are no plans for another story, but I do love thinking about Haru and Yukitaka’s story, even now. If I do end up writing a sequel I will let everybody know, so please be on the lookout.
from Lucía0812 (Uruguay): In your opinion, which one of your characters is the best written? And who did you enjoy drawing the most? Love your stories ❤️
I’m currently still in the wishing stage and thinking “I hope my works are well written.” (laughs) I don’t think that he is written particularly well, per se, but Haru from MODS is someone I packed all of my preferences into, so he was the most fun to draw. I rather enjoy drawing the side characters. So when I made Haru the main character in NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, I was very happy to have him be seen in different scenarios, even if it was very difficult.
from Mrs. Kaido (Italy): Hello! Thank you for your work, Sensei 💕 I am writing from Sardinia (Italy). I love MODS very much and I love Shiro even more. MODS made me cry so much, it is a pearl of rare beauty. When I read it, I had these questions:
– Is Shigure really dead? Is there any hope that he’s still alive somewhere far away under a different identity? How’s Tora and Shiro’s love life going and will we see them again? Did Tora finish paying off his sister’s debt?
Shigure’s death was a blow for my little heart, and in my imagination he is alive and well ✨
Good work to all and thank you for giving us this opportunity to read manga ✨ Saluti dalla Sardegna 😀
Thank you for thinking so deeply about my work. Shigure, unfortunately, is really dead. It was a huge shock to Haru and Shiro but it led to the stories of MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT. Shigure has passed on, but to have you say that he lives on in your imagination makes me very happy as an author. Thank you. If Shigure were still alive, I think he would love Tora and Shiro as if they were his children.
Tora and Shiro are doing well~! I think Tora has paid off his sister’s debt by now. The two go shopping together, eat breakfast together on their days off, and go over to Haru’s house to hang out. I think they’re living everyday peacefully now.
from Zen (Hong Kong): In the MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT series, was Shigure in love with both Haru and Shiro at the same time or did he just care for Shiro as a big brother? Thank you so much for your hard work, your books have always been my favorite!
Concerning Shiro, it was more of a parental love. Also, seeing how Shiro lived like a stray dog, Shigure saw a bit of himself in him so I think he couldn’t leave him alone.
As for Haru, he was never able to vocalize it, but he loved him. In flap_5 of NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, in the scene where Haru falls asleep, Shigure’s last words were that of love, even though Haru wasn’t able to catch them.
Shigure had a very complicated upbringing and received no love from his family. So for him, Haru, Shiro, and Yukitaka were like his first family. He wanted to protect them no matter what.
from Lamia (France): Hello Kazuki-sensei! I really love your art and would like to know where you get your inspiration?
I think I get the most inspiration from music. I mainly listen to rock but I also like listening to J-pop and hip hop. I love watching music videos and when I watch a cool music video, it makes me want to draw!
from JenniferS (United States): How are Shiro and Tora doing? What are they currently interested or obsessed with, like food or hobbies or places, etc. Any plans on a sequel to I HATE?
Shiro and Tora are doing well~! Shiro is obsessed with… Tora (laughs) After moving in together, Shiro is gaining many new experiences of quiet everyday life.
Tora is into cooking for Shiro. Tora was good at cooking even before he met Shiro, but when he saw Shiro’s surprised and happy reactions, it made him want to learn how to cook new dishes, especially since Shiro used to be a small eater. By the way, I have been addicted to a brand of rice from Yamagata Prefecture called “Tsuya-hime” for many years now. It’s a very good brand of rice and I can eat it endlessly! If only I didn’t get full…
As for a sequel to I HATE, unfortunately I have no plans for that. If I do draw something, I will notify everyone so please check it out.
from sako (United States): What is a trope that you have not written before but are interested in trying?
I am interested in a master-slave story. I would like to see a toshishita seme slave and uke master~!
from Alice (United States): Hi! Do you have any plans on making an omegaverse story?
For now, I don’t have any plans on writing an omegaverse story. But I have created an omegaverse character when I drew the cover for Tokyo Omegaverse (Tokyomangasha). It was very fun thinking about their stories!
from Cy (United Kingdom): First off I want to say I LOVE your manga!! How did you come up with the plots/ideas for them?
Thank you, that makes me very happy. The first part of the story is conceived from fragments of images. For example, at the beginning of MODS I had an image of “a man in a mod coat standing idly in the rainy streets of Shinjuku,” and from there I began to expand my image of what kind of man he would be and what kind of man he would fall in love with. After coming up with a rough story and ending, my editor and I discussed the contents of each episode.
from Marge (Ecuador): I really love your works! Especially MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT. From where do you draw inspiration for your characters and stories?
I think both of my works were inspired by the city of Tokyo. Both works are set in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, a famous entertainment district in Japan. There is a unique atmosphere in Shinjuku, especially in the early morning. Even though it’s morning, there’s still a bit of a suspicious atmosphere from the night before. I think I was trying to envision a character living in such a place when I was thinking about the stories.
from Melie (Brazil): Which of your works is your favorite? Are any characters inspired by you?
Not to toot my own horn, but NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT is my favorite because I struggled so much with it. I have never drawn a character that resembles myself, but I have used a friend as a reference.
from NekaVada (Russia): Dear Kazuki Natsume Sensei! Are you planning an exhibition of your works in the near future?
I don’t have any plans of holding an exhibition now but if I could, I would be ecstatic!
from SpiceandWolf (United States): Will there be a second volume of MODS? I love Shiro and Tora so much!
I would love to draw a sequel to MODS~! But I don’t have any concrete plans for it yet. If it does get decided, I will announce it so I hope you can keep an eye out for it! I’m very happy that you like Shiro and Tora!
from Crystal (United States): Hello! I am a big fan of your work. I loved I HATE so much! Would you ever consider turning it into a longer series? I’d love to see more of the characters’ relationships!
Thank you for becoming a fan. Unfortunately, there are no plans on continuing I HATE, but all of my comics are from the same world. Some familiar faces may pop up sometimes.
from Wagashi (Indonesia): Hi Sensei! Who is your favorite character out of all of your works? Do you have any reason why they’re your favorite? Thanks <3
Probably Haru. Haru is a character that I packed all of my preferences into. To be more specific, it’s fun when Haru is a side character. (laughs) In crack_5 of MODS, Haru makes an appearance and I made his entire look from his clothes to his sunglasses entirely to my liking…!
from SDJ (United States): Your characters are very complex, and each one has his own unique personality. How do you craft such amazing, full-bodied characters?
I am very happy that you think so. Creating characters is very difficult and I’m always left scratching my head. I discuss with my editor and as I continue with the story, the details of the characters become more apparent. During the series, I keep thinking about how to make the character more appealing and how the character would feel. If I get stuck, I watch a movie or two.
from Yomi (Indonesia): Why did you choose yakuza and prostitution as the setting of your stories? I love your work so much btw!!!
Before starting MODS, my editor saw my drawings and complimented(?) me saying, “Natsume, you’d do well drawing characters who work the night.” That’s how I decided on the theme. (laughs) That’s how I got started, but I was attracted to and gripped by the sadness and sorrow behind the strength of the men who live in the yakuza and sex industry. I wanted to try to portray that atmosphere as much as possible.
from VanLee (United States): Hi sensei! First of all, thank you for all the hard work. I was really happy when NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT was nominated for the 2019 Chil-Chill BL Awards. Congrats! How did you come up with the idea for this story? Best wishes, sending hugs from the USA.
Thank you for the hugs~! (hugs)
The story of Haru and Shigure in NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT was already basically done as I wrote MODS. When MODS went onto shelves, I received a comment by a reader saying “Please let Haru be happy!” Thanks to that, the next serialization was decided. I came up with the story by deeply thinking about how I could make Haru, who had lost Shigure, happy. The fact that Shigure had a half brother was apparent since MODS, but Yukitaka was created in order to save Haru.
from fifi (United States): Hello sensei!
Firstly, thank you for your hard work giving us so many amazing stories. I really enjoyed reading your work on futekiya. After reading MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, rain seemed to be an important artistic and literary motif to the story and characters. For me, it seemed like rain was used as an expression for loss and grief but also as a chance for growth and new life especially in Shiro and Haru’s case. Was there anything specific that inspired you to use rain as a motif?
Thank you once again! Your work has brought me so much joy. I hope you continue to stay well and healthy!
I am moved by your incredible explanation of rain…! Going into MODS, I thought about having rain as an important motif. I also feel a sense of loss and sadness when I see rain, as if it is an expression of tears being shed in secret. In the minds of Shiro and Haru, who are still entrapped in Shigure’s death, it seems as if there was a rain that has been falling for years. The theme of both MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT was “redemption” and “rebirth,” so I wanted to create a story that would lift the rain that had been falling in Shiro and Haru’s hearts and allow them to love someone again.
from Tera (United States): Hi Natsume sensei! I’m so happy we are able to read your work in English through futekiya. My favorite is I HATE and I really loved Aoe and Akaya’s story. Could you tell us a little bit about the game they played and what the drawings mean?
I am also very happy that my work can be read in English. In I HATE, Aoe and Akaya were playing a Japanese game called “picture shiritori”. Is there a game in America like this? (I looked it up and I found something called “Word Chain”. It’s a game where a player says a word that starts with the last letter of the word the other player said. For example, [Player 1] ApplE → [Player 2] EgG → [Player 1] Grape and so on!) Doing this with pictures is “picture shiritori”. In Japanese, there are not many words that start with the letter N, so if a player says a word that ends in N, they lose the game. In the last part, Aoe drew the sea (うみ/umi) then Akaya, still a student, drew a tangerine (みかん/mikan) which ends in N (Akaya’s loss!). But then Akaya, now an adult, redrew it to be a crescent moon (三日月/みかづき/mikazuki) which would continue the game. Because of that, Aoe’s heart is moved and he goes to Tokyo to see him (nice job Akaya!) To continue the game from mikazuki, Akaya gives Aoe a kissキス/kisu which should lead to Aoe saying “I love you” (好き/すき/suki) ♪ (Good luck, Aoe!)
from Aki (Malaysia): Natsume-sensei I love, love, love incredibly love all your work!! I bought them all and the biggest reason I bought NUUDE was to read your latest work! Your art is stunning!!!!
I enjoy reading all of your stories, especially MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT!! I cried so much reading them and cried even more when I listened to the drama CD. Thank you so much for creating these amazing wonderful characters and stories!
I was surprised to see a familiar face from I HATE in NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT and then I was very happy to see “him” in His Little Amber! Are all the works actually existing in the same world/universe?
Also all of your titles are really cool, how did you come up with them? Is there a particular reason that they’re all in English?
Was it intended for the title MODS to be an abbreviation of the song title?
When designing the main characters, did they look more or less the same from the first sketch design or was there a huge difference in setting?
Sorry for so many questions, I’m so excited to finally be able to read your works in English! I love you Natsume-sensei!! Please allow me to keep cheering you on from overseas!
Thank you for all of your comments! I am happy that you’re also reading NUUDE. Just as you suspected, all of the stories exist in the same world.
I didn’t mean for all of the titles to be in English, it just happens to be so! Titles are decided over discussions with my editor and they told me “An English title would fit the image” so that may be why.
I purposefully made the song title be abbreviated to “MODS”. It was also trying to be a play on Shiro’s mod coat. The English is a bit forced and I’m kind of embarrassed but thank you for thinking highly of it… (laughs)
Usually the final designs of my characters don’t change from their initial images. Shigure, though, might be the only character that changed from their first conception.
from Catherine (Singapore): Thank you for this wonderful opportunity, Sensei! May I know the meaning behind your name? I’ve also been curious, is the self-portrait of you rice? I do know that you are a fan of rice but please excuse me if I’m mistaken.
Speaking of portrait, is there any possibility for Portrait to be continued as a series?
Are there any particular genre or settings you wish to draw in the near future?
Thank you very much and please take care!
“Natsume” is the pen name I’ve always used. When I debuted, I decided to add onto that name. My drawings are quite “angle-y” so I decided to use katakana where the letters are similarly “box-y” to make a unisex name. When I tested it out on my drawings, “Kazuki Natsume” was the most fitting. As for my self-portrait “Okome-chan,” you are right! It is rice! (To be more specific, the Okome-chan has a long body and is actually a Japanese dish called “kiritanpo” which is made from rice.) Basically, I love rice~!
I don’t plan on continuing Portrait as a series, but thank you for being interested in it. I am very happy.
I want to draw a master-slave relationship and some slice of life as well.
I hope you are doing well and staying safe.
from Lenny (Malaysia): How do you come up with names for the characters? Personally I find Haru and Shigure’s names suit them well. Shiro’s real name is also very beautiful. Do you create them then name them or vice versa?
You have amazing taste in drawing and posing male characters. I have this delusion of having all of your characters pose and model for a photoshoot for a fashion magazine or something (the magazine’s name could be NTM KZK ^^) That’d be so awesome! If they’re in an alternate universe as people involved in the fashion industry, who would be the top model, designer, photographer etc.?
I make the character designs before naming them. For MODS, I thought about it and came up with the keywords “rain” and “sky” for the story. So Shiro’s real name (which contains the character for “sky”), the name of the service “Rain,” Shigure (which contains the character for “rain”), Haru (meaning “spring”), when I imagined the names of everything, I gravitated towards including seasons and nature in them.
I am happy that you complimented their posing. An entertainment industry parody sounds fun! The models would be Shiro and Kiriya (although they both seem like they wouldn’t be interested in it), the designer would be Akaya and Uyama (it basically already is their jobs), it would be amusing if the photographer was Yukitaka (but he would probably get in a fight with Shiro). I would want to buy NTMKZK ♪
from Jen (Philippines): Hello Sensei. Thank you so much for these wonderful and heart tugging stories. I love them so much. Which is your favorite story and character? And why?
Personally, I like the one that I struggled with a lot: NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT. My favorite character is Haru I think. I packed my preferences into him. Especially in MODS he was a side character so I was able to stuff all of my tastes into his character. (laughs)
from Bia (Brazil): What is your favorite trope?
I have many tropes that I like but at the end of the day, I can’t argue against a seme that is larger than the uke. I love a seme with a good body~! Even more so if he’s a toshishita seme!
Next week, Natsume-sensei will answer the second part of the questions from fans, and give a final message to all futekiya readers!
27-year-old Nozomi Hirose has dated girls before, but he’s never even been able to kiss any of them. He puts all the blame for his little problem on his old high school classmate Kiriya, who randomly asked if they can be kissing buddies – friends who kiss sometimes. What happens when they meet again as adults, ten years after Hirose ran out on a kiss that went on for way too long?
When his sister gets scammed, Tora takes it upon himself to save up enough to make the money she’d lost back. Responding to an ad looking for a “hotel pick-up driver” leads him into gay escort service “Rain,” where he gets assigned to Shiro, their biggest moneymaker. Tora says he isn’t gay and definitely isn’t interested in Shiro’s services, but can he really knock it when he hasn’t even tried it?
It’s been a long time since Haru, owner of the gay escort service “Rain,” left his yakuza days behind. But when the Ichijo clan, the group he had once belonged to, says he’s the only civilian they can trust to hide the clan head’s troublemaking son Yukitaka in line, there seems to be no choice for him but to follow suit. There’s just one problem, though – Yukitaka looks just like his half-brother Shigure, Haru’s lost love… A must-read for MODS fans!
Kei and Chiyo have been each other’s best bros for the past ten years, and now they’re living in neighboring apartments as adults. Chiyo thinks that after spending most of their lives together, he knows everything there is to his friend…until he walks in on Kei, moaning his name in the dark.
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