Our Creators’ Corner this month features Kazuki Natsume, author of I HATE, MODS, NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, and BY MY SIDE!
This week, Natsume-sensei answers the second part of questions from fans from all over the world and gives a final message to all the fans! Thank you for sending in your questions!
from P.Hu (United States): What are your favorite parts of the body to draw?
Do you purposely make your ukes have lighter colored hair and semes have black hair?
What’s your ideal uke and seme?
Did you do any research for MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT for its’ more seedy culture?
Are there any other BL genres you want to make?
I like drawing hands the most. I like drawing them and looking at them.
I can’t get enough of the muscular backs of men’s hands, their long slender fingers, and especially the way they handle their cigarettes… (I can go on and on) The fact that uke’s have lighter hair color and semes have black hair is half by chance, and half because of my editor…! (laughs) I’ve suggested doing the opposite but my editor makes the black haired one the seme~ The reason behind that is apparently because “Natsume’s black haired characters look cooler so they become semes.” Actually, the uke in my current serialization His Little Amber was first supposed to be the seme.
My ideal uke and seme are characters that are both masculine.
When I was writing MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT I watched movies and read books and magazines for research. I want to draw a master-slave story or a slice of life story.
from PommesPatti (Germany): I love MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT. Is there any chance we’ll get a sequel to either manga? Or maybe a joint volume? I want so much to read more of Shiro and Tora but also Haru and Yukitaka. Haru had to wait a year for Yuki. Will he come back after that? Will it take another year?! Please Natsume-sensei give us a happy ending for both of them!
By the way, I also love that BY MY SIDE has such a feel-good ending. They both deserve it so much! 🙂
Thank you for all your hard work sensei!
There are no plans for it as of yet, but if I do write a continuation, I will let everyone know, so please be on the lookout. I also have fun imagining how the characters would develop! Yukitaka and the Ichijo clan fighting has calmed down and he can go see Haru often. He won’t move in with Haru until he retires from being a yakuza to keep Haru safe. But he will eventually start working on his own and go pick him up.
The two of them will definitely have a happy ending! Thank you for reading BY MY SIDE. They are also living happily ever after.
from Aya-nee (Russia): Sensei, thank you so much for your work! I’m a reader from Russia and your books are the best! Is there any hope to see a story for Tsukimori in the future? Thank you!
Thank you! Tsukimori is a character that readers in Japan also ask about so I am quite surprised. For now, unfortunately, I don’t have any plans on writing a story about Tsukimori, but he might appear in other places. If I do write a manga about him, I will be sure to let everybody know. By the way, Tsukimori has a gigantic tattoo on his back, bigger than Yukitaka’s.
from fifi (United States): Hello sensei! Thank you so much again for all your hard work. I really enjoyed reading your work on futekiya. After finishing NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, I noticed that Haru got a new tattoo of a cross behind his neck. It seems like he got this after Shigure passed away, does the cross symbolize anything for him? To me, it seems like a sign of him asking for forgiveness since he seems to carry heavy guilt and responsibility. Thank you for allowing us to see more of Haru, Yukitaka, and Shigure. I hope you have a happy and healthy year ahead! 💗
Thank you for your support~! The cross tattoo on Haru’s neck symbolizes exactly what you’ve imagined. It is a tattoo that Haru got as atonement, so that he would never forget Shigure’s death.
from Cran_Apple (South Africa): Some of the characters have intricate tattoos – is the meaning of the tattoos connected to the characters’ stories? If yes, is the meaning closely related to the characters’ stories?
Each character’s tattoos have a meaning to it. For example, Haru’s cross tattoo on his neck is atonement for Shigure’s death. The pattern on his arm is a dragon, which he was forced to get by a yakuza he used to date before he met Shigure. The pattern of Yukitaka’s tattoo is a hawk. He chose the design of a hawk because he likes the character for “hawk” which is in his name. (laughs) The reason why he didn’t get a Wabori tattoo was to rebel against the yakuza, but in the end, Yukitaka couldn’t be an average person either.
Aki-chan, the photographer in I HATE, also has a tribal tattoo. He grew up in the same orphanage as Haru. I think that tattoos, piercings, and personal preferences are a reflection of the character’s upbringing, so I think a lot about the character when making decisions about them.
from Pachi (Brazil): I really liked MODS, but NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT made my heart hurt and I cried so much in the final chapters. Thank you for this wonderful manga! Were there any scenes you wanted to do in NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT but couldn’t get in? I feel like I could read about Haru and Yukitaka for at least three more volumes.
Who is your favorite couple?
I wish I could’ve included a sweet lovey-dovey scene between Haru and Yukitaka. I should have drawn more scenes where they were flirty…! But there weren’t enough pages. Also, I wanted to include a part with Tora and Shiro living together but I had to focus on the main story so they didn’t make an appearance.
If I do say so myself, I think of all my characters as my adorable children. (laughs) I most often think about how things ended up with Tora and Shiro, Yukitaka and Haru, and Chiyo and Kei.
from PurpleRain (Venezuela): Does creating manga with heavy topics take a toll on you? Do you have a recovery time between mangas? What is your favorite way to relax and take breathers?
Yes, it really does take a toll on me. (laughs) Including recovery, I take a long time to draw so I am nothing but grateful to the readers who are patient with me.
My recovery time is also time for me to think about my next work, so I like watching many movies, listening to music, and watching music videos.
My favorite thing to do is to listen to music or the radio while waiting for my rice to finish cooking. My happiness is smelling the freshly cooked rice in the rice cooker.
from Glera (Indonesia): I always love the angst in your stories! Where do you get your inspiration for the deep and angsty parts?
You’re right, there always seems to be a scene like that…! I think I just like when a strong, cool man who is usually calm and rational gets worked up and passionate about something close to his heart. I like the irregularity of it.
from baby sayang Shigure (Malaysia): Thank you for allowing us to read your works in English, Sensei! MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT have definitely become one of my favourite BLs. I love to read them again and again.
I don’t know about art, but I feel like you are really good at making sensual scenes and conveying emotions through the characters’ facial expressions. Do you have any references or inspirations that you use to draw them so well?
I’m so happy~ Sensual scenes are very difficult. What I pay attention to when I draw facial expressions is not to let go of the character’s feelings at that moment. I also try not to forget the sex appeal of men, and I always want to draw pictures that make people feel it, even when they are not in sex scenes or are wearing clothes. I also get inspiration from reading BL works, which I love. The power of moe is amazing…!
from Tera (United States): When you first wrote MODS did you already have in mind that Haru and Shigure were lovers or did it come after? I really loved their story in NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT. Thank you for sharing it with us!
By the time I drew crack_3 in MODS, I knew that they would become lovers. I am very happy that you noticed they were lovers even if they never exchanged words. Thank you for reading my work!
from Artbreaker (Germany): Hello Natsume sensei! Thank you so much for your hard work! I really love your drawing style. Do you prefer to draw on paper or computer?
I draw my storyboards and drafts on paper, on copier paper or a notepad. I import that to my Macbook Pro then do the inking, toning, and coloring digitally. I am very happy that you said you love my drawing style.
from Donna (United States): Which of your characters do you feel is most like you and why?
This is a difficult question…! There aren’t any characters that match myself exactly, but I asked my editor who I most resembled and they said “Hiro.” Apparently the way he and I suffer are similar. (laughs)
from Himi-hime (Belarus): Hello! How do you work with your editor? Do you follow the tips they give you or do you work on your own without asking anyone?
My editor and I work like we are a team in a three-legged race. We contact each other a lot and when I come up with something, I immediately talk to them about it. We often get into meaningless fights, too. (laughs)
from Sonie (Philippines): Hello Kazuki-sensei! I’ve recently become a fan of your work and I’m absolutely in love with all of them. Is there anything you like to do while working?
When I’m working on the plot or the storyboard, it’s silent, but when I’m drawing I often listen to music. Depending on the story, there’s a specific song that matches the theme, so I play that on repeat to keep myself pumped up. Also, when I get stuck, I like taking long baths and resetting my thoughts.
from Kate (Philippines): I just finished reading BY MY SIDE, thank you so much for your hard work, Sensei! What do you think is Chiyo and Kei’s daily routine now that they are dating and living together in New York? Are there differences from when they were neighbors? What do they do on their days off?
Thank you! I think the biggest difference from when they were neighbors is that they now have a full sized bed. When Kei wakes up in the morning and sees Chiyo sleeping next to him in bed, he feels like he’s still in a dream. They probably have morning sex…
Now, Chiyo dotes on Kei more and they embrace until Kei starts sobbing. On their days off, they buy sandwiches or pretzels and coffees and spend time in Central Park. Sometimes they set a dress code and meet at the station to have dinner. They are totally in love.
from Kel (United States): Hello Sensei! I’m a fan from New York City. What happens after the last chapter of BY MY SIDE? What are Kei and Chiyo doing now? I hope they’re still together! Thank you for your hard work as always. I can’t wait until your next work!!!!
Kei and Chiyo are still together~! After the last episode, they started living together. Their apartment is in Brooklyn and their office is in Manhattan, so on nice days they walk across the Brooklyn Bridge together as a date. On days when Chiyo finishes work early, he picks up Kei and they go shopping at the market and take the subway home. On weekends, they buy a lot of groceries at the farmers’ market, and I think they enjoy going on dates with full paper bags with a baguette peeking over the edge. Chiyo always presents Kei with flowers (a bouquet bought at Kei’s store), so their lives are always filled with flowers and delicious food.
from Fem (Philippines): I love your work, Sensei. Do you have any upcoming works in the making? Will you be releasing manga longer than one volume?
I currently have a serialization in Tokyomangasha’s magazine NUUDE called His Little Amber. This story has an appearance by that man from MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT. The story is already so long… I will work hard so that they can be released as comics as soon as possible!
from Sibey (Japan): I have noticed your penchant for cool fashionable clothes, for example Akaya of I HATE, Tora of MODS, and Haru of NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT—a lot of times, they’d be wearing trendy clothes inspired by Boy London, Stussy, and Dr. Martens to name a few.
Among all the characters you’ve created, who’s sense of fashion do you like the best?
What kind of fashion or outfits are you a fan of or most comfortable wearing?
I’m very surprised that you picked up on those details! Thank you…! I think Haru has the best fashion sense. (Even though Tora is the one that likes clothes the most and works part time to buy new clothes (laughs)) Putting whether I can actually draw it aside, Haru wears refreshing and high quality clothing.
My own clothing is embarrassing so I am keeping it a secret…! (laughs)
from Tali (Indonesia): Sensei thank you for the hard work and the opportunity to be able to read your works in English, they’re precious to me! ♡ And thank you to futekiya for licensing these incredible works! ♡
- BY MY SIDE: the surnames for both Chiyo and Kei uses this pair of kanji 右左 (right, left), what is the reason? It’s so adorable! Also, they live in the States now that gay marriage is legal ~ despite the rings, are they really married?
- MODS: What is the usual reason that causes Sora and Tora to have a lovers’ quarrel? (giggling) Seeing Sora take shelter in Haru’s place every time this happened was so funny xD
- NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT: Do Haru and Yukitaka now live together? I want my dear Haru to get all the sweetest dreams every night as he falls asleep in Yukitaka’s arms. Hopefully they spend their nights together, always.
- I HATE: Does Hirose ever take off his housekey necklace when he’s having sex with Kiriya? (laughing) How is Aoe and Akaya’s relationship progressing seeing as they still live far away from each other?
I’m very sorry if it’s too much, I can’t get enough of these characters! I am very happy and honored to hear your answers ^^ thank you ♡
Thank you for all of the questions!
- Chiyo Sakyo (千代左京) means the left, and Kei Uyama (圭右山) means the right. I named them with the hopes that the two of them would become one. I think they will get married in the future.
- Shiro and Tora quarrel over the most meaningless things. For example, Shiro wants Tora to pay attention to him, but Tora prioritizes work and the rejected Shiro hides all of Tora’s underwear. (laughs) And when he gets in trouble for it, he evacuates straight to Haru’s house. (laughs)
- For as long as Yukitaka is the Young Head of the Ichijo clan, he won’t move in with Haru. But, Yukitaka thinks of Haru’s house as a place he calls “home,” and when his work calms down, he goes home to Haru. I think Haru is falling asleep in Yukitaka’s arms tonight, too.
- Hiro has a made it a habit to wear his necklace, so he doesn’t take it off during sex, which makes Kiriya jealous. (laughs) Akaya and Aoe will be doing long distance for a while, but when they are older and Akaya’s work calms down, they will move in together.
from Anh (Vietnam): Reading your manga is just like eating a chocolate bar with 70% cacao, I can taste both the sweetness and bitterness. After reading your manga I always think “OMG I want to read more!!” Can you tell us more about the daily life of Kei and Chiyo, Haru and Yukitaka, Tora and Shiro, and the past of Shigure too…Do you have any plans to draw more for these boys?
I read BY MY SIDE and I was very curious about whether Chiyo and Kei will be holding a wedding ceremony? If they are, Chiyo would prepare food and Kei would organize the decor, don’t you think?
Thank you for your wonderful comment…! I still think about everybody’s life afterward. I don’t have anything planned for them, but if I do draw something, I will let everyone know.
Chiyo and Kei’s wedding…! If they’re in New York they could have one! Just as you said, Chiyo would be in charge of the food, and Kei would be in charge of the flower decorations ♪
from Bonnie (Germany): I finally read BY MY SIDE. It is such a beautiful work. I find the idea of giving blossom flowers to your lover when your dream has come true amazing! Have you been to New York? I’ve never been there, but I would like to go one day! Do you have plans to publish this also in other languages? I am very happy that we can read your work on futekiya, I’m learning Japanese, but sometimes it is very difficult to understand everything. Very thankful! I love your style and your stories. Thank you very much!
I also think giving your partner flowers is such an act of love. Chiyo and Kei’s New York living is filled with flowers and gorgeous foods. Currently, besides English, I have works being translated and published in French and Korean.
I went to New York when I was a student! It was an incredible experience and I will never forget the scenes and the excitement I felt. I hope you are able to go one day too!
Thank you for your wonderful comments.
from Harryj (Italy): I HATE is the first installment of a shared universe (MODS, NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, BY MY SIDE). Will you continue to develop other stories in this shared universe?
The Yakuza’s world is a recurring theme in your stories. Can you explain the appeal of this world for you?
Have you ever started a story with a specific setting, including the ending, but found yourself writing a completely different story?
I HATE is the first of the shared universe, and right now I am working on a serialization called By My Side which is also set in the same world. Some familiar faces might make a special appearance.
The world of Yakuza and outlawed men really grab at my heartstrings. (But I’m actually not into blood and violence…!)
I have written a completely different story than the one planned. I rarely make significant changes to an ending, but how I get to that ending changes almost every single time I write a story. There have been many times when the characters just move around on their own and don’t listen to what I had planned for the story. (laughs)
from LuoLuo (Australia): Dear Sensei,
Hope you are well. I wrote you before from far far away (southern hemisphere 🌏). I loved your books so much.
Thanks to futekiya giving us an opportunity to communicate with you 💌.
Will we see Shigure and Haru again in His Little Amber?
Would you consider drawing a special edition about Shigure and Haru? Telling their love story from Shigure’s perspective? Sorry about so many questions.
For His Little Amber, I can’t help but dream that Kojiro would temporarily revive Shigure for him to say everything he couldn’t before he died. So if Shigure, Haru, and Yukitaka were all present at the same time, what kind of story would that be? Two brothers fall in love with the same person… 😍
I am looking forward to your reply, and I promise will continue to follow your story and support you ❤️
Take care yourself and stay safe in the pandemic 😷
Thank you for your support! I am very happy that you wrote me a letter.
I will keep whether they appear in His Little Amber a secret…! If you’re interested, I hope you will enjoy the comics once they’re out.
If Shigure, Haru and Yukitaka all existed at the same time.. Haru would meet Shigure and his heart would be full, and Yukitaka would get jealous and worried that Shigure would steal Haru from him. Shigure is the only one who can keep a poised face while stroking the other two’s hair. (laughs)
I sometimes upload illustrations of the three of them together on my Twitter so please do check it out.
I hope one day I can write an extra about Shigure and Haru and a story from Shigure’s perspective. I don’t have any plans to do so right now, but if I do draw something like that, I will let everyone know.
I am very happy that you wrote a letter and sent it all the way here and for all of your support!
from yaya (United States): Hello! I am a huge fan of your work and want to thank you for your art! Between MODS and NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, who is your favorite couple or character? My second question is for pure self indulgence, but after the end of NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT do Haru and Yukitaka continue to meet in the future? Thank you!
It is very hard to pick just one favorite. They are all like my children. (laughs) I still think a lot about Tora and Shiro, Yukitaka and Haru, and Chiyo and Kei.
After NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT, Haru and Yukitaka begin seeing each other often. I think Yukitaka goes over to Haru’s house and embraces Haru until the morning.
Comments from fans:
- from Brenda Torres (Brazil): Kazuki Natsume I love you so much! I would like to know if you have any plans to bring your stories to your fans in Brazil and your Latin American fans.
I am very happy to hear that. If my wishes were to come true, I would want futekiya to continue distributing my work in English from now on too.
- from IRIS (Brazil): Kazuki Natsume I love you so much!!! Your stories are amazing and your characters are beautiful. How do you create couples with so much chemistry and that are so beautiful?
Thank you~! I am so glad to hear you say that. I myself draw while I am excited, so I try to be honest about what that is.
- from caroline (France): Hello, no question, but I just wanted to give a HUGE thank you for your work. I love your manga. I’m very happy to have found them in paperback in my country. Please go on with your good work 👍🙇♀️
Thank you for picking up my book from a sea of thousands. I will keep working hard so that readers like you can continue to enjoy my work!
- from AnyutaSanchez (Spain): I absolutely love your art. It’s so aesthetic, clean. The lines are sharp but very expressive. The kissing and love scenes are so emotional. NIGHTS BEFORE NIGHT and MODS made me cry for days… Thank you for creating such memorable characters! (your Ukrainian – Spanish fan)
I feel extremely reassured thanks to happy messages like yours. There is nothing more that I as an author could ask for than to have readers keep my characters in their hearts. Thank you very much for choosing to pick up my work!
Thank you for answering all of our questions. Finally, do you have a message for the futekiya readers?
To the readers who read my work on futekiya, thank you very much. I received so many heartfelt questions and comments through this interview process. I am absolutely sincerely delighted that futekiya readers deeply understand my work and are keeping my characters so close to their hearts.
When futekiya announced on Twitter that they were releasing my work, I was surprised to learn that there were people that know about me from outside of Japan. I was moved by the reactions of you all saying “Finally!” It gave me energy to keep creating.
I am immensely grateful to those who held an interest in my work and read them.
I will keep working hard to create stories that you all can enjoy! Please, I hope you keep supporting me.
Thank you very much, sensei!
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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