Special HERO:The Interview Ms. Satonaka Machiko – First Part –

Fields × JAPACON “Contents & Human Future Lab. is planning to interview a Japan’s leading comic artist every month. We are going to clarify the artists’ background and how they think of their works under the keyword of their image of hero or heroine.

The second interviewee is Ms. Satonaka Machiko.
She debuted when she was a high school student. At that time, there were a few female cartoon artists. We can say Ms. Satonaka was one of female artist pioneers.
Currently she is a director of a cartoon association and a professor of Osaka University of Arts. Since her debut, she has been sending her message strongly to female readers. We would like to interview her passion for cartoons and her images of heroes and heroines.

■The motive of becoming a cartoon artist

Seo:
We have learned you have just returned from oversees. Thank you very much for accepting our interview. Today, we would like to your creative activities and your images of heroes and heroines.

Komuro:
First of all, I heard you started your career when you were very young. What was your motive to become a cartoon artist?

Satonaka:
I am a so called a baby boomer. I was born just after world war II, and educated in democracy saying that equality between men and women. Population of men who are a bit older than us were very much fewer than us. I therefore came to think I have to be independent financially in my elementary school days. However at that time there were not so much jobs for women. I started to think a cartoon artist when I was upper grades of elementary school. I was just dreaming. I knew I was good at drawing and I like plotting stories better than that.

Seo:
Had you thought of becoming a novelist?

Satonaka:
I loved to develop stories by character’s words. After I entered junior high school, I desperately submitted my works to publishers in order to become a cartoon artist. Then Mr. Tezuka Osamu* published an introductory book to draw comic. The book was a bible for me and taught myself. I is a shame that I had been submitting my works to small sized companies, because I assumed I had bigger chances to be chosen. Fortunately, many of publishers gave me some advice. Through their advices, I learned drawing good works is the most important and my works had been improved a little by little.
I debuted when I was 16 year old with my prize winning work. It was the year of Tokyo Olympic, in 1964.
*born in 1928, a Japanese cartoon artist and animater.

■Childhood

Komuro:
You were quite a sensible girl when you were very young. What kind of girl were you?

Satonaka:
I think I was mature for my age. I was tall so I had spats with boy classmate and had beaten them logically. (laughter)

On the other hand, I love books and films. I had read all the novels and nonfiction stories. Reading nonfiction was really good for my creation, I think.
Then Nouvelle Vague, at the time of a French film movement, I was very excited to think about films which had become sophisticated to the level of culture since its invention in several decades.
I certainly love comics. I was born and raised up in Osaka. In my childhood, Osaka Education Board was getting rid of comics as bad books. I was eager to cultivate comics to the level of films in those days, to that of culture, even though it took long. Furthermore comics taught me the things that I could not learn at school. “Astroboy” by Tezuka Osamu was a textbook which taught me code of conduct.

Seo:
Could you elaborate more?

Satonaka:
In there, Mr. Tezuka gave his/her cause to the villains. I began to think about others’ view. I said to myself, “What if I were Astroboy? Do they have reasons to act such nasty things?” I had come to think deeply by myself. But I did not like girls’ comics very much.

Seo:
Why didn’t you like them?

Satonaka:
Because most of them with a few exceptions were classified into several types, a mean step mother and mean rich friends make a heroine cry or a prince comes to help a heroine out. I felt strange all of step mothers and rich friends were so mean.

Seo:
As far as I remember, there were not so many female cartoon artists then, am I right?

Satonaka:
Not as many as today and much fewer compared with male.They drew attractive works. Anyway, I really loved comic books. I made my comic collection. I saved my allowance to get old magazines at cheap prices at book rental shops. Later Mother made a promise with me that if I made one mistake on school test I had to throw one comic away from my collection. I had decided the order that I should have thrown away before I had to. She kept this promise in a positive and a negative way. Although my school teacher once visited my home and suggested mother I abandon my comics, she declined to keep the promise. Mother and I feel sorry if we had not thrown away, my collection would be much more worthy. (laughter)
While I was reading my collections, I was moved by Mr. Tezuka’s wide knowledge. I therefore assumed I had to understand encyclopedia from the first to the last page.
Becoming a junior high school student, I filled my future occupation with a cartoon artist on a school document but I was not very confident. So, I had chosen my high school in the light of pursuing my dream, a cartoon artist.
I had got top class score at an IQ test in Osaka. My parents and teachers opposed when I chose a public high school near my house. When I happened to meet one of my teachers in elementary school, she told me, “Hey, wake up, Machiko!”
But I did not change my mind. There were two reasons of my school choice: coeducation and drama club. When I was very young, I used to beat boys at school but by this time, I learned to enjoy talking with boys having known differences between boys and girls. My purpose of entering the club was to learn scenario. But after joining it, there were few boys in there and I had to play man’s role. One of my wonderful memories there was that I was praised by my teacher when I performed an old man. I never forget the happiness that I felt then.

»Continuing onto the second part

■Introduction of Interviewer

Seo Taichi
Senior Executive Director, Contents Portal Website Executive Committee
Photographer
Executive director, Japan Photographic Copyright Association
Vice president, Japan Photographic Copyright Association
Interacts with various people including creators.

Komuro Tsugumi
Research and Development Office
(Fields Research Institute),
Fields Corporation

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