With the release of a new chapter of If I Could Touch Your Heart on futekiya, we would like to give readers a more in-depth view of the story with our exclusive interview with its creator, Tachibana-sensei.
Hello, Tachibana-sensei! Thank you very much for your time. Could you please give us a short self-introduction?
Nice to meet you! I’m Tachibana. I’m very happy that you’ve given me the opportunity to introduce myself like this.I’m not a full-time manga artist, and I work full-time as a 2D game designer and game director. I’ve had a few career changes in the past; I used to work for quality control at a pharmaceutical company, as a part-timer at an arcade, and as an online ad director.
When did you first become interested in manga?
Both of my parents were big on reading manga, and I was able to find various types of manga – including seinen, shonen and shoujo – in our bookshelves, along with encyclopedias and dictionaries. There were also many historical novels in my grandparents’ bookshelves, so I think I was blessed with a good environment for reading books.
I’d enjoyed drawing since I was a kid, but in the beginning, I was more interested in writing my own stories in the form of novels. I still remember how the stories I used to write in my notebooks were directly influenced by the Record of Lodoss War series.
I started drawing manga after I became an adult. If I remember correctly, I started by creating derivative works of some shonen manga that I was reading at the time, after being encouraged to do so by someone I know.
What is your favorite BL manga or BL work?
I love the atmosphere in Sakae Kusama-sensei’s works, and I own a few of her comics. I admire how she uses slight silences and glances as a form of expression.
In terms of building the manga’s worldview through panel layouts, I particularly respect Fusanosuke Inariya-sensei, Mami Itoh-sensei, and CLAMP-sensei.
What kind of preparation does it take for you to write your own manga?
In terms of the manga-writing process, the first thing I do is create a plot. I note down the scene descriptions and the characters’ lines as they come to mind, and also start collecting reference materials.
I would then use this to write a storyboard on a blank notebook. I usually write in colors other than black, such as blue or pink; although it does sometimes end up being impossible to read afterward, I feel like it makes me work more efficiently.
While creating the storyboard, I reorganize the contents of the plot; I change the order of the scenes, delete scenes, or choose whether or not to save some scenes for later… (I sometimes forget, though.)
Once this is mostly done, I get my friend to look over it before making further adjustments and finalizing the manga.
I think my workflow after the inking process is similar to that of other manga artists, but since I work full-time, I gave myself 6 months to work on each chapter of If I Could Touch Your Heart and used my free time to write this manga. The preparation process for each chapter took around 2 months.
What made you want to write If I Could Touch Your Heart?
When I was struggling with an art block in terms of my style and writing process, a friend of mine said that I should go to Comitia and get some feedback from professional manga editors. I put a 40-page storyboard together using some ideas I’d had in my mind for a while, and thus If I Could Touch Your Heart was born.
This gave me some insight into how others perceive my dialogue and storyboarding choices, and ended up being extremely helpful.
When working on Chapters 2 and 3, I asked a trusted friend for feedback on my plot and used their honest opinions to improve my work. This also helped me stay motivated, so I think this kind of work style suits me, both in terms of my full-time job and my manga-writing process.
While I’m not taken aback by sexual imagery, I focused more on depicting romantic developments and the seasons that pass along with it in If I Could Touch Your Heart; just as many people would in real life, the characters fall in love with each other, and begin to make love after their feelings have been requited.
Actually, Anezaki’s words and the kiss at the home’s entrance (= the exit that leads to the outside world) at the end of Chapter 2 also illustrate this point.
Is there any manga or other works that have influenced your manga?
I was a big reader of shonen and seinen mangas, so when I had my work examined by the editors at Comitia, I was told that my art style and storyboard layouts didn’t fit well with the BL genre. (Until then, I had mostly read “hardcore” titles, such as Berserk and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures…)
I was already aware of this, so while I was writing my manga, I took this opportunity to read significantly more commercial BL mangas and anthologies.
I was particularly enthralled by the works of Enzou-sensei and Wakachiko-sensei.
On an unrelated note, before I wrote If I Could Touch Your Heart, I preferred to write bromance stories against battle-heavy or suspense-heavy backgrounds, rather than romance-focused stories. I think I like those moments where you can observe how the characters’ relationships were influenced by the work’s worldviews. I also used to watch a lot of those kinds of shows, back when I was obsessed with international TV dramas.
What scene(s) would you want your audience to focus on when reading If I Could Touch Your Heart?
There is at least one scene in each chapter that involves holding hands. I think that when you develop a closer relationship with someone, holding hands lets you feel the other person’s warmth for the first time.
I also want the audience to take a good look at Hasumi wearing kimonos, as well as Anezaki’s forehead and glasses. Also, this is just a hidden backstory, but Hasumi really likes sex despite his sophisticated exterior. Anezaki is actually the one who’s being trifled in the bedroom!
Do you have any manga you would like to draw in the future?
I’m preparing to release a fantasy-genre manga next year. I’d like to slowly start incorporating sexual imagery into my works too. I’m also interested in omegaverse, but I also like the buddy genre, so I’d like to think about those when I have time.
I had to cut some scenes from If I Could Touch Your Heart due to page number constraints and I have some regrets over that, so I’d like to be a bit greedier and stuff more scenes into my future works.
We have a question from one of our readers named Paula. The question is “What’s your favorite part about writing BL manga?”
Thanks for your question, Paula!
I like situations where someone in a serious line of work or someone who has trustworthy credentials opens up emotionally to their significant other. So, I have a bit of fun when I illustrate scenes where this shows in the character’s demeanor.
I also like drawing waistlines and groins, so when I draw sexual scenes, I tend to spend way too much time on those parts…
We have another question from reader Mimi. Tachibana-sensei, I heard that you’ve participated in doujin events before. What is it like to participate in a doujin event as a BL manga artist?
Thanks for your question, Mimi!
Comitia was the only event I participated in when I published If I Could Touch Your Heart, but since all of the exhibitors there wrote original stories, I’ve found it to be very stimulating. I actually crossed paths with futekiya.com at Comitia, so all of my memories about this event have been very positive.
Thank you for allowing futekiya to release your work in English! What do you think about futekiya?
When you first approached me, I was very happy to receive such an honorable invitation. I’m very grateful that you’ve given me the opportunity to showcase my original works to a wider audience.
In addition, futekiya has a strong stance against piracy and proactively supports many creators. I’m sure it must be daunting, but the futekiya team really works hard day and night. I have so much gratitude and respect for you.
Finally, what is your message to the readers of futekiya?
Thanks for reading this far, dear futekiya users!
I’m also truly grateful to everyone who has read If I Could Touch Your Heart.
You’ve really encouraged me to get motivated for my next works!
Thank you very much, sensei!
Follow Tachibana on social media:
Tachibana’s work on futekiya:
After visiting Seiichiro Hasumi’s cafe for a magazine story, freelance writer Daisuke Anesaki can’t forget the warmth he felt there. His heart touched, Daisuke is determined to confess to Seiichiro and win him over.
futekiya Library subscribers have access to this title and more!
What do you think about the latest chapter of If I Could Touch Your Heart?
We’d love to hear about it on our Twitter account!
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