The Yomiuri ShimbunA young manga creator has published his first book while honing his skills in an apartment that used to house the studio of mangaka Fujio Akatsuka (1935-2008).
Gaku Kajikawa, 25, is the first resident to have a book published among the budding mangaka who have lived in the Shiunso apartment building in Toshima Ward, Tokyo. Kajikawa receives financial aid under a mangaka support project run by the ward and a local association.
“We hope he’ll spread his wings wide as a Shiunso mangaka,” said a ward official.
Shiunso is located near the original location of the famous Tokiwaso apartment house, where Osamu Tezuka and several other manga creators lived and worked before they became leading figures in the manga industry.
The project was launched in 2011 by the ward and the local Association for Cooperation Project of Toshima Minami-Nagasaki Tokiwaso, which comprises a neighborhood association and representatives of the local shopping district. Aspiring manga creators who live in Shiunso can receive ¥20,000 per month to subsidize half of the ¥40,000 monthly rent for up to three years. Four people, including Kajikawa, have lived in Shiunso under the scheme.
Kajikawa, who moved to Tokyo from Nagoya to become a professional mangaka, became interested in Tezuka and other manga creators through his parents. He started submitting work to manga contests run by publishers when he was a high school student.
After graduating from university, he became a nursing care worker. He was so busy with the job that he sometimes had no time to work on manga. He applied to the program in 2014 because he still held hopes of becoming a professional mangaka.
He moved to Tokyo and committed himself to manga at Shiunso, in a room next to Akatsuka’s former study.
Kajikawa made his debut with a one-off manga released in a comic magazine in August 2015.
His new book is the first volume of “Maachan wa kyo mo ie ni itai” (Maachan wants to stay at home today too) published by Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co., a comic currently being serialized in the online manga magazine Web Comic Zenyon.
The protagonist in the comical series likes to stay at home, but she can’t say no to her boyfriend, who likes outdoor activities and wants her to join in. Kajikawa depicts how she tries various daredevil activities, from bungee jumping to airsoft, an activity where participants shoot each other with air guns.
He came up with the idea for this manga after fellow Shiunso lodger Yuma Himeno asked him to join him at a restaurant serving unusual dishes. Kajikawa, who likes to stay indoors like his protagonist, could not decline the request and ended up eating edible insects and frogs. He drew the manga’s first episode based on this experience.
Whenever he is struggling to think of new ideas, he visits the nearby Tokiwaso monument.
“I’m glad I can train as a manga creator in the town where many great pioneers used to live,” Kajikawa said. “I’d like to continue creating my own comics.”
Exhibition of young manga artists
An exhibition featuring Kajikawa and Himeno is under way at a gallery along a walkway at Shiinamachi Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line in Toshima Ward, Tokyo.
The exhibition introduces work created by the two current participants in the mangaka support program. Exhibits include copies of their manga manuscripts enlarged on panels, comic strips, illustrations of their characters, and Kajikawa’s published manga.