Manga story writer’s secret for success

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Shin Kibayashi smiles during an interview.

By Yayoi Kawatoko / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterWhile their drawings are different, the two manga have something in common: They are both mysteries that are based on popular series. They also have the same author.

Shin Kibayashi has contributed stories to the two serials “Kindaichi Sanjunanasai no Jikenbo” (The case file of Kindaichi aged 37), which is drawn by Fumiya Sato for the Evening magazine, and “Shima Kosaku no Jikenbo” (Kosaku Shima’s case file) by Kenshi Hirokane, which was carried in the Morning magazine. Both manga magazines for adults are published by Kodansha Ltd.

Kibayashi, who has provided stories for many popular manga, is best known for “Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo” (The Kindaichi Case Files), which began running in the boys weekly Shukan Shonen Magazine in 1992. He wrote the story under the pseudonym Seimaru Amagi.

The protagonist, a high school student called Hajime Kindaichi, is a grandson of Kosuke Kindaichi, a great private detective in the popular mystery classic by Seishi Yokomizo. The teenager, blessed with a high IQ of 180, solves murder cases.

The manga was born out of Kibayashi’s ambition to write a mystery for manga. The series, which won huge popularity for its intricate storytelling tricks and fine depiction of woe in people’s lives, has sold 85 million copies.

In the sequel “Kindaichi Sanjunanasai no Jikenbo,” the high school boy is depicted as having grown up into an unremarkable 37-year-old company employee who is reluctant to go back to solving mysteries, even shouting, “I don’t want to solve mysteries anymore!”

“There was a bit of a cliche in the stories about a genius high school boy,” Kibayashi said. “I wanted to describe him as someone who is normally an ordinary, dull salaried worker, but shows his talent only when solving crimes.”

Since the Evening magazine is targeted at adult readers, it can carry manga with fewer restrictions and a wider variety of expressions than those in publications for boys. “I can write more realistic stories and also depict things other than the criminal cases themselves,” Kibayashi said.

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  • The cover of Evening magazine with an image of “Kindaichi Sanjunanasai no Jikenbo”

The writer has a strong attachment to the Kindaichi character, who has the signature phrase “Nazo wa subete toketa” (All the mysteries are solved).

“I’ve come up with a new one for him,” he said. “It will come out soon.”

Kibayashi writes each story like a play, in which he describes each character’s movements and lines. He also checks the storyboard the manga artist draws based on the script. The writer sometimes corrects the storyboards of younger artists so that “they can learn how to make a drama more interesting,” he said.

In contrast, when it comes to “Shima Kosaku no Jikenbo” — a spin-off of Hirokane’s long-running series on how a salaried worker climbs the business ladder — Kibayashi barely changed the storyboard to keep the veteran artist’s rhythm.

Kibayashi writes each installment in one or two days, but he needs about a week to refine ideas. “There’s no other way to describe how I get story ideas other than to say they just come to me,” he said. “I read newspapers and books on magic tricks for inspiration.”

Why does Kibayashi, who also writes novels, work on stories for manga? “I feel like readers have a very clear and fair appreciation of manga stories,” he said.

He uses many aliases, such as Tadashi Agi for “Kami no Shizuku” (The drops of god), a story about wine, and Yuma Ando for “Psychometrer Eiji” because he wants readers to appreciate his works without prejudice so that he will be assessed only by the quality of the works, themselves.

Kibayashi considers collaboration between a manga artist and a writer to be “a model of success” at a time when readers are becoming more selective.

“Artists are required to draw pictures with ever higher quality,” the writer said. “It is tough work for them to make detailed drawings for a weekly magazine. You must be a genius to keep doing this.”

To become a successful manga story writer, Kibayashi said that “The most important thing is how much you love manga.”Speech

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