Hot on the heels of Rockman-san and Rockman-chan's first volume release, we're happy to bring you an interview with authors Yūshi Kawata and Yukito. The interview was originally published on Rockman Unity and translated by our good friend Windii Gitlord.
Check it out after the break!
What is the production setup of "Rockman-chan" & "Rockman-san"?
Well, first of all, I would like to ask you to briefly introduce yourselves.
Yukito: Hello, my name is Yukito, and I am in charge of the art. Thanks for having me. I have been drawing gag manga with Mr. Kawata for many years since my first work.
|▲Yukito, who is in charge of the art, and Rush? (4th and 5th generation?)|
Kawata: My name is Kawata, and I am in charge of the story. Thanks for having me.
|▲Yūshi Kawata, who is in charge of the story|
Ooh, you and Kawata have been working together since your debut! You're the most powerful duo ever!
Since Kawata is in charge of the story and Yukito is in charge of the art, what is the actual production setup like?
Yukito: In Kawata's case, instead of writing, he draws "storyboards," which are kind of a manga draft with panel layouts and simple pictures, and I draw over them.
Kawata also directs the drawing team by deciding on the backgrounds for the panels with his assistants and making corrections to the drawings.
I see... so Mr. Kawata is drafting storyboards, not scripts. And he plays the role of a director at the drawing site...
Certainly, it is easier to give specific instructions if you are drawing storyboards.
Kawata: Since "Rockman-chan" and "Rockman-san" are practically serialized on a weekly basis, I also "assist the assistants" by shopping for everyone and cooking meals for them.
Ooh! A supervisor & support mech!
Yukito: Sorry, I appreciate it.
Kawata: That is how my 40s are.
Ahaha, that's some neat role-sharing!
By the way, do you think there will be any chemical reactions in the story that will be fed back by Yukito's drawings after receiving the storyboards?
Kawata: Yes, I do. Especially for "Rockman-san," which was conceived on the premise of Yukito's drawings, and "Rockman-chan" was conceived on the premise of a gag I wanted to do, but I thought Yukito would manage all that.
Yeah, "manage." (laughs) and not just manage it, but knock it out of the park!
By the way, I think it's rare to have two works being serialized at the same time with the same original game series as the theme, so how do you plan the story?
I know you are working in synchronicity, but aren't there likely to be some mixups?
My first thought at the start of serialization was, "Wow, I bet this is gonna be challenging..."
Kawata: In my case, I don't have any problems. What I can't do with "Rockman-san," I can do with "Rockman-chan," and I do with "Rockman-san" what I can't do with "Rockman-chan."
I enjoy drawing them because it's like that.
Huh! The two works complement each other, and when you put the two together, you get to do what you want! This must be the Rockman Complementary Project....
Yukito: Due to my schedule, there are times when I have to draw "Rockman-chan" in two consecutive chapters, and then draw "Rockman-san," which has different body proportions, main outlines, etc., so sometimes it takes a while to get the drawings to match.
Whoa, that sounds like trouble! If Dr. Right from "Rockman-chan" appeared in "Rockman-san," it would be a disaster!
Now, as you mentioned somewhat in your comments in the graphic novels, why did you decide to draw a "Rockman" comic in the first place?
I think that Rockman lovers were surprised when they suddenly heard the announcement of the start of the serialization.
(And they continue to be surprised in many ways.)
Kawata: When our previous original work finished its serialization in "Young Ace," my editor suggested that we do a spin-off next time. I remembered how excited we were about "Rockman 2" that was included in the Nintendo Classic Mini 4 or 5 years ago, and since my editor and I were both Comic BomBom lovers, we decided that we wanted to draw Rockman.
You were a BomBom fan!
Yukito: That hit me like a bolt from the blue.
I never knew!
|▲Here is the commemorative "Rockman-chan" volume 1 cover.|
As you can see, the design was made with the packaging of the games in mind.
Now I would like to ask you about each of the works! I was shocked at how ridiculously outlandish the first chapter of "Rockman-chan" was!
The idea of "2nd generation Rush (live)" and "3rd generation Rush (cat)," as well as the sudden inclusion of such jokes as Wily thinking he will be forgiven if he gets down on his knees that everyone experiences when playing classic Rockman.
I laughed at the genius of using duct tape for the shoulder parts of the live Rush!
(Producer Tsuchiya also said that he burst out laughing the moment he noticed it.)
Was that Kawata's idea?
|▲Duct tape is a novel idea for shoulder parts.|
Kawata: Yes, that's right. At that time, I tried several patterns with Yukito and the assistants, such as whether to use colored tape or cute masking tape.
I hope you will enjoy imagining grown-ups discussing something that, in some way, doesn't matter at all.
It's great! I could never come up with that idea! It's the things that don't matter that matter!
After that, though, the real (?) Rush finally appeared, which did lead to some cool stuff (Super Rushman, the disappearance incident, etc.).
|▲Why does Rush have that personality?!|
Kawata: In my distant memory, Rush sometimes talked and sometimes did not talk in the manga I was reading at the time, so I wondered which was which, and I also wondered what the evolution of a robot's thought process was.
I also didn't want Rush to be too active because he is so versatile.
I see. It's true that if Rush plays too active a role, it will affect li'l Rockman's screentime and traumatize him...
The main character, "Li'l Rockman," is so innocent that you wonder if he was really developed by Dr. Right himself.
What kind of image does Rockman (and Li'l Rockman) evoke for you, Kawata?
Kawata: In my case, I have a strong image of the early days of the series, and I see Rockman as a pure and innocent grade schooler with a sense of justice and ability to take action.
|▲Li'l Rockman, dazzling and innocent to a fault.|
The ability to take action and be remodeled in order to protect the peace is certainly pure. And without Roll, "Rockman-chan" would not be feasible.
Did you intend to make her look like that (an adult) from the beginning? I would love to hear about her role!
Kawata: I felt that if we disturbed the "sense of justice and purity of heart" that Rockman has in "Rockman-chan," he would no longer be Rockman, so I decided to make Roll more of an older sister to emphasize this aspect.
Yukito: That was also the reason why we used Roll's design from "Rockman 8" onward.
|▲Think about what would happen without Roll.|
So that's what it's all about! Rockman has his image from the early days, while Roll is the Roll from 8.
And we also have Blues, another mature looking, cool but "freaky" character. I have no idea what his behavioral principle is, so I wonder what on earth he is thinking? (laughs)
I can't take my eyes off him, wondering if he's okay.
Kawata: Unlike Rockman and Dr. Wily, I think of Blues as a mysterious, nihilistic, cool character who, unlike Rockman or Right, sees through Wily's tricks from the very beginning and you can't tell if he is friend or foe.
He is so strong that when Rockman finally arrives at Wily's stages, he is ahead of him, but I think he also has a "big brother" feel to him, entrusting Rockman with important matters.
|▲Blues appearing before anyone else.|
Oh, that's true! At first, Blues was quite a mysterious character, wasn't he?
Kawata: He is so enigmatic that I can't imagine his personal life, so I hope to create the sense of a highly puzzling character with him in "Rockman-chan."
He has way too many mysteries (laughs).
|▲Check out what Blues is up to in the graphic novel!|
Yukito: I wanted to emphasize the mysterious image, and the character design is also the most different from the original in "Rockman-chan."
|▲Blues with a different design from the original, with things like high laced boots and leather.|
He's cool! But... his behavior...
I will continue to keep an eye on Blues's personal life. I also feel that Dr. Right is actually the star of this story.
"The freakiest character in addition to being smart."
How did Dr. Right's characterization come about?
Kawata: Part of me has always wondered about Dr. Right, and since Rockman and Roll's characters can't be too disturbed just because it's a gag comic, I decided to have Dr. Right lead "Rockman-chan."
Interesting. Still, though, he is outstanding... in both personality and behavior.
|▲Dr. Right enjoys a variety of recreational activities at the lab.|
Kawata: I received feedback that Dr. Right is freaky, but after reading the graphic novel again from the beginning, I realized that through "Rockman-chan" and "Rockman-san," he is the character closest to me, so I decided to take a moment and think about my own way of being.
Bwah! Dr. Right, are you Kawata's alter ego?!
Kawata: It may be too late, but I thought I'd apologize to those around me. So, like... I'm sorry.
Yukito: ...It's okay.
|▲Image for illustration purposes only. Actual apology is different.|
Well, now that we have the shocking revelation, I would like to move on to the next question. Here is another shocking reference.
When the North American version of Mega Man showed up, I thought, "Here he is at last!" and "Are they really going there?!". Did you intend to go for it from the beginning?
(Incidentally, the European version of Mega Man is raging about at the time this interview is being edited.)
Kawata: Indeed. After I finished drawing the storyboards for the first chapter, I drew the Mega Man story as the second chapter.
Whoa! Early Mega Man!
Yukito: But then the editor in charge of the project said that it was a bit early to have Mega Man show up in the second chapter, so we decided to wait until the groundwork had been laid a bit more firmly, and he was introduced in the sixth chapter.
Good job, Mr. Editor!
If Mega Man had showed up in the second chapter, I am also a bit curious about what would have happened afterwards.
Now, about the MEN'S 6 arc, which is the main story in the first volume of "Rockman-chan," how did you come up with those original robots?
|▲That's not Beaujolais Nouveau Man! That's Beaujolais Manouveau.|
Kawata: For the original robots, since there were boss character applications for Rockman games at the time, I am having a lot of fun recruiting and employing characters myself in my brain in the same way. Thank you very much.
Hahaha, I see! Recruiting bosses in your head! That's fun. By the way, do you have a favorite?
Kawata: My favorite character is the first one I thought of, the "Sushi-Go-Round Man."
|▲The robot that would be active in Giroppon.|
Kawata: The theme of the new 8 bosses is "nostalgic things." I thought that "Nostramandamus" would have a nice ring to it.
|▲I remember a lot of my friends using up their allowance money because of the prophecies, saying that the world was going to end anyway.|
I see, so the theme is "nostalgic things."
Also, I gradually came to like the namings of "Beaujolais Manouveau" and "Nostramandamus," with the "man" in the middle instead of "__ Man."
Yukito: My favorite is "V.K. Man". Unlike the other new 8 bosses, I was entrusted with a detailed design for this character, so I have a strong attachment to him, and I also like V.K. Man's motif.
|▲We would like to draw your attention to the details.|
"V.K. Man" reflects Yukito's design tastes. He's a nice character and popular within the company. The keyword "nostalgic things" was mentioned earlier.
The continuation of the MEN'S 6 arc to be included in volume 2 was exploding with the Shouwa-era flavor.
I reacted to all the parodies (Pig*nton and so on), so by any chance, are we of the same generation?!
Kawata: Indeed, I think you and I are probably of the same generation.
I would like to incorporate the vibe of the era in which Rockman was born, and I would like to share a sense of nostalgia with everyone who has grown up.
Ahaha, that sounds great! I'd love to get excited together with MCU (KICK THE CAN CREW) aka Rap Man!
I heard that "Rockman-san" was planned first, and the theme was "a Rockman unlike any before". From what point of view did you come up with the idea of "Rockman-san"?
|▲Here is the cover of the commemorative "Rockman-san" volume 1.|
Look at the signpost for the main setting's location!
Kawata: I was wondering how Rockman lives after defeating Wily, and what happens when a robot grows up, so I started from there. Also, when we were in the planning stages, we were told that we should try something new and different from existing works, so we took the plunge and came up with this.
Why did you make Mr. Rockman a dentist?!
|▲Mr. Rockman leads a life following retirement as a dentist.|
Kawata: The dentist concept was because I remembered thinking when I used to go to the dentist that it would be useful to be able to do something like a weapon change with the Rock Buster, since dentists use various tools.
Haha, I see. Sure, they can let out air, scrape off and suck up stuff, and I just get flustered every time the dentist pulls out various gears and I'm like, "Huh?! What are you doing? What are you gonna do with that screechy thing?!"... but they're pros!
And "Rockman-san" has me asking, "Who's gonna show up next? What are they currently doing?" which is part of the fun.
I am constantly moved by the way each character has a different and sensible occupation, or has a different problem, and the relationship between the robots and their traits are well reflected in the story.
|▲This new interpretation shows that the eyelid parts of Elec Man are attached to the mask!.|
|▲Many people must have seen Star Man's design and thought it looked hard to move around in.|
I thought the thorough detail and references throughout the whole thing could only turn up if you knew or liked Rockman, so do you like the Rockman series?
Kawata: Of course, there are many younger people who like Rockman, but at that time, I liked Rockman as a matter of course, as if he had a deep-fried chicken kind of presence. I especially loved Comic BomBom. It seems that many people now enjoy Rockman in a new light.
Everyone knows about deep-fried chicken and everyone loves it! Glad to hear you like it as a matter of course! That's a BomBom lover for ya!
In terms of your story, do you think of characters you want to appear first? Or do you choose the characters based on the story you want to tell?
Kawata: For each character's storyline, sometimes I think of the character first, and if that doesn't work, I think of the story first and apply the character.
And one of the charms of "Rockman-san" is the very human developments, such as Mr. Rockman listening to the troubles of those in the bar, but the troubles of each of them and the troubles that Rockman himself has are quite profound and can be replaced by ours.
Among them, the existence of Enker, who identifies himself as a Rockman Killer, is a very interesting one, as he is closely related to Rockman in a large part.
|▲Many people were surprised by this visual (I was one of them).|
Kawata: Enker was made to be a Rockman Killer while other robots are often made to have a role in society, and I thought he was the most suitable character for the theme of "Rockman-san", how to find the meaning of existence in a world where there is no more fighting.
Th-That's so deep! Oh, clumsy Enker, what will happen to you? By the way, do you have a favorite character in "Rockman-san"?
I love Guts Man, he's such a nice guy!
(Guts Man and his good friend, Stone Man, are also a great duo.)
|▲The greatest duo ever was used for the graphic novel cover.|
Kawata: I would like to learn from Top Man and Gyro Man's go-getter attitude.
|▲Top Man and Gyro Man, both are challengers.|
Yukito: I'm very worried for Enker.
In the second half of the graphic novel, the story moves quickly and takes an unexpected turn toward battle, but what will happen in the future, including the presence of Enker?
Will this be another "what if...?" development that will thrill fans just like "Rockman-chan"? Do you have any original developments in mind that are unique to the manga?
Kawata: Of course we are thinking about it. That depends on the response we get from our readers, so please check out the "Rockman-chan" and "Rockman-san" graphic novels!
Yukito: Please do!
I'd also like to ask you something that's been bothering me. Are "Rockman-chan" and "Rockman-san" connected?
Are you aware of any commonalities between the two works (Roll looks the same, the secretary appears, etc.)?
Kawata: Basically, I think it is safe to think of them as being separate, but there are some parts that are done intentionally. We are considering original developments in the future, but that will depend on the response we get from all of you!
Kawata & Yukito: Please let us know what you think!
Finally, we aren't Wily, but do you have any dreams or ambitions for the future? And please give a message to all Rockman fans.
Kawata: My dream is for boss character applications to appear in the manga. But that depends on your response!
Yukito: Let us know your thoughts!
Kawata: And we hope that Rockman fans will enjoy it while poking fun with us.
Yukito: I would be happy if the manga can be a gateway for Rockman newbies who, like me, found the original games fun using "Rockman-chan" and "Rockman-san" as a springboard.
My ambition is to be served as a customer drinking at Robot Bar 8-bit! (laughs)
Thank you for your time today!
Although it's not yet collected in the "Rockman-chan" graphic novels, Kawata commented that he would like to "take on as many challenges as he is allowed to" with regard to more unexpected developments.
I look forward to what will come next with great excitement!