Note: these questions and their responses have been reconstructed from notes taken at the press panel, and thus do not represent the actual wording of either the questions or the answers. There may be questions that have been omitted due to incomplete notes.
Q) What was the concept for Excel Saga?
A) I did a manga series before Excel Saga, and I decided that I wanted to do something really different from it.
Q) What do you draw on as inspiration for the strange scenarios in Excel Saga?
A) When driving or walking around, I see things and get inspired by them. That is, I get inspired by ordinary things.
Q) What got you started in manga?
A) As a senior high school student, I started to read manga, and I really enjoyed it.
Q) How much pressure do you feel? (About your work)
A) Well, I write comedic manga, so I need new jokes all the time, since people won?t laugh at the same jokes over and over. Also, I have to write funny stuff even when I?m sad or angry, which can be really hard.
Q) How and/or why did Excel Saga become an anime series?
A) I didn?t try to sell it, actually. The producers came to the publisher of my manga and asked about it.
Q) How much control did you have over the content of the anime?
A) I gave them permission to do pretty much as they liked, so long as they kept the theme of Excel Saga the same. I did have some discussions with them, and I checked the screenplay, but I wanted to give them a lot of freedom over the show.
Q) Why did you allow them to kill you in the anime? [in episode 1]
A) I guess they figured that if they could get away with killing me in the anime, that meant that they could get away with whatever they liked. (laughs)
Q) Why are there little notes of names and nicknames in the margins of the manga?
A) Those are credits to thanks the staff and others who helped me.
Q) Are there any plans for your other manga series to become anime?
A) Well, there has been some talk, but I think my other series are too? risqué.
Q) Is Excel Saga as popular in Japan as it is in America?
A) It?s hard to tell. Here, I can see the enthusiasm of the fans, but the sales are higher in Japan. [Note: the manga hasn?t been released in the US as of this writing, so I?m sure that has something to do with it. ^_^]
Q) Do you work on things other than manga? If so, what do you get inspiration from?
A) I like experiencing new things, and I get inspiration from them. [something was apparently lost in the translation of this question]
Q) Since you have so many varied works, such as Arahabaki, what would you define as ?your style??
A) Generally I don?t write things to be deep, I write them to be entertaining.
Q) What is the weirdest thing that has ever inspired you?
A) Well, one time I was driving around and all of a sudden there was this big noise and the car stopped. It turned out that I had just been an accident.
Q) What was your relationship to Puni Puni Poemi?
A) That was made by the same staff that animated Excel Saga, but I had nothing to do with it. Since I had a good relationship with the staff, I allowed my characters to appear though.
Q) Why does Hyatt keep dying?
A) In the anime, she is a [sickly] martian, but in the manga it?s still a secret.
Q) Will there be any more of Daitenshin?
A) Excel Saga is basically an evolved version of the characters of Daitenshin.
Q) Why is there such a focus on the female body & garments in anime and manga?
A) Well, I don?t make anime, but as far as manga goes, authors have to make what people want to see I think.
Q) What do you think about during your free time?
A) I?m always thinking about my manga, actually.
Q) Nowadays, computers are very widespread in the manga industry. Do you use them in making your manga?
A) Yes, a lot. I like the fact that it makes new forms of expression possible, but I want to make sure that people understand that just because computers are ?new? doesn?t mean that the ?old? tools are bad though. They both allow for different forms of expression.
Q) Do you still work on doujinshi in addition to your regularly published series? In one episode of Excel Saga (the anime), they show a parody of a Japanese doujinshi convention, Comiket, and that you still sell things there. Is this true?
A) There?s someone there that looks like me at Comiket, but I have no acknowledgement of that person. (laughs)
Q) Why have the ?world resets? via The Great Will of the Universe in Excel Saga?
A) Well, that character only appears in Excel Saga the anime, but I think it was so that they could do anything they wanted yet not ruin the continuity of the story.
Q) Will you make any serious manga series?
A) Well, I already have. Both volumes of it are already out. [He is referring to Arahabaki] Even if fans really like my comedic style, I want to be able to make all sorts of manga.
Q) What do you think of the convention?
A) I came with high expectations, but they?ve been surpassed in every way. The con is really great, and I?m having tons of fun. I was really nervous that nobody would know who I was when I got here though. [if you?re curious, Mr. Rikudo got the loudest round of applause of all at the opening ceremonies, so his fears were unfounded to say the least]
Q) Why did you draw some pictures of the characters from .Hack for Weekly Famitsu? Was this just another work assignment for you, or do you like .Hack, or something like that?
A) I really like .Hack. The president of the company that makes .Hack (he did not specify which .Hack series) is my senior from college, so I have a special relationship with that series, and sometimes I can do things like draw the characters from it.
Q) What will you work on in the future?
A) I can?t talk about my future projects right now, but I will say that if I can, I will come to the US again next year too.
Q) How did your publisher handle your more serious works?
A) They advertised it as normal, on fliers and such.
Q) How did you sell Excel Saga to your publisher?
A) I brought in several things I had worked on, and out of those, they chose Excel Saga.
Q) Who are your favorite characters to work with?
A) Excel, of course.
Q) I really like the joke you made by drawing the cover of the latest volume of Excel Saga as a parody of the second cover of Arahabaki. Will you do any more jokes about your own works like this?
A) Well, that was done on purpose, as those books came out around the same time. I was trying to get people to notice that they were related. Some bookstores finally realized that I had worked on both of them, and starting putting them together on the shelves.
Q) If you could change the color of the sky, what color would you make it and why?
A) Well, sometimes I?d like to make it yellow, because after pulling an all-nighter, the sky is yellow because of the rising sun.
Q) How much time does it take for you to make a book of manga?
A) Well, one book is 6-7 manga episodes, and Excel Saga runs in a monthly magazine (Young King Ours), so about 6-7 months.
Q) Is Nabeshin a Lupin III parody? Why?
A) He?s a parody of the director of the anime. He?s not in the manga, so I don?t really have anything to do with him.
Q) How do you feel about the anime version of Excel Saga? Would you have done anything differently?
A) Well, of course the anime and the manga are different. I knew beforehand that they couldn?t be the same due to TV regulations and such, but the theme was kept the same, so I?m very happy with the results. The anime version?s theme is very faithful to the manga.
At this point, Mr. Rikudo was offered the chance to ask questions to the press. His question was ?How many of you have actually read Excel Saga, rather than just seeing the anime version??
...I was the only person in the room that had. If you go back and look at the questions that I asked to Mr. Rikudo, it seems somewhat apparent that I was the only person in the room that was familiar with his works in general, actually. However, this is somewhat understandable, as none of Mr. Rikudo?s manga are available in English yet.
Mr. Rikudo?s next question, directed at me, was ?What do you think of the manga of Excel Saga, and how do you think people in the US will respond to it??
My response went something like this. ?Well, I saw the anime version before I read the manga, and the anime version relies on lots of over-the-top gags and humor, so when I saw that there was so much subtle humor in the manga, I was sort of surprised. The feel of the manga is definitely different, but after I got used to the differences in feel, I really enjoyed them both for their own merits. Also, since the manga and the anime are so different, it?s fun to see/read both of them, since it doesn?t just feel like you?re seeing the same thing rehashed in another form.?
I didn?t get to the ?How will people in the US respond to it? portion, but Mr. Rikudo seemed satisfied with my answer, and we had run out of time at the panel, so that was the end.