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tetuso-hara-garuzo2-eng

We publish the translation of the second part of the interview conducted by Garuzo to Tetsuo Hara. This interview was initially published on January issue of Monthly Comic Zenon and it is now available (in japanese) on the official website. The interview is part of a series specially made for the 30th Anniversary, entitled "Tales of Hokuto".

A BIG THANK YOU to Peter and Fabio for theri precious help.

ENJOY THE READING!


In last month's 3 year anniversary Zenon publication, we had our very first Opening Color spread with Hara Tetsuo Sensei, and in the special bonus, we had him talk about the new episode. However, there was so much content that we could not fit it all in so our editorial staff decided to continue with the contents of that interview.

NEW CHAPTER

In commemoration of Hokuto no ken's 30 year anniversary, Zenon Comics has released "Hokuto no Ken Ultimate Edition" in late November and has released up to Book 4 (2 books a month). It is based on the "blank time frame" depicted from Raoh's end (Book 11) to the coming of age or Rin and Bat. It is a returning of the Duo Buronson sensei and Hara Tetsuo Sensei not seen since publication ended. Become a witness to history!! (This interview was posted directly from Zenon Comics Janurary Edition (Nov. 25 2013).

Garuzo: Sensei, this time I would like to ask about a something that has confused me for a while now.

Hara Tetsuo: Point of confusion? I don't know what it would be, but go ahead.

Well I guess it’s more for confirmation, but Kenshiro is wearing a leather jacket, yes?

Yes, why do you ask?

It's just that some people sometimes say it's a denim jacket and jeans.

Oh, there are people who say that isn't there, that's because of the anime's influence because it was drawn blue.

Oh, good...I'm glad I now have an official refuting of the Jeans Jacket.

It's supposed to be leather. People who grew up on the anime misunderstood. In my mind it was leather, and that's what I meant when I drew it.

I know, I know, I just wanted to use this formal situation to bring that to light and end the confusion.

I see. I thought it was strange question coming from you, but now I understand (Laugh).

Yes, then for another point that has confused me.

What would that be? Kenshiro has no scars on his chest? Some mistake I made?

No, Jagi's mask. Does that have anything to do with "SukebanDeka 2" ?


jagi-sukeban-deka

Sukeban Deka 2 was on air from Nov 7 1985 to October 23 1986 on Fuji TV. Drama starring Minamino Youko in her debut role. Wearing a mask during her grade school years, an unthinkable scenario today, but was praised for its uniqueness in its time. The 2nd part also was a big hit. It began after the Hokuto no Ken was made into an anime.


Sukeban Deka? No.

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much…?

The ironmask in Sukeban Deka looks like the one Jagi wears, and some people say that was first. I researched on the internet, and came to the conclusion that Jagi was first, but some people insist this isn't the case.

Hahaha, I thought it up first. And for the record, I took my inspiration from "Star Wars"

Ah! There are many characters with masks in that. Interesting.

At first, I was taking stuff directly out of Mad Max 2 and using that as inspiration, but eventually I started to go with my own designs to make the Hokuto world. 

Starting to go with your own flavor.

Intentionally. Also, I was starting to get better at drawing so I wanted to appeal that I could do faces with a tremendous likeness.

Like Falco's model being Drago from Rocky IV?

Yes, exactly. And in the "Shura no Kuni" Arc, the goggles being…

Cobra! Stallone's Marion Cobretti!

cobra-stallone-outdoorsman-kenshiro

Marion Cobretti! Stallone's American Cop Movie released in 1986. The main character's Ray Ban's "Teardrop" (Sunglasses) (Most likely "Outdoorsman" (model) was a trademark of the film. Inspired by this, Hara Sensei made them into "Goggle" and had Kenshiro wear them in the Shura no Kuni Arc. It is a memorable scene.


Yes, Cobra. Wow, you even remembered the full name (Laugh).

At the time, Stallone was my biggest hero.

So I wanted to show off I could draw likenesses, but in the end it still was a little off and ended up looking like my own drawings.

Sensei, you say that, but I thought it was plenty good.

But it wasn't a likeness; it was Hara Tetsuo's drawing in the end. I thought it was important to have that sort of playful spirit, But today, it seems doing so is taboo.

Playful!! That actually leads well into what I wanted to ask next. One shining example of your playful spirit is the "Danzetsuma"(Dying Cry) "Abeshi", "Hidebu", one of the more elaborate ones was when Kenshiro pulling the saw in one of Jagi’s minions’ head and he cried, "PabbibuppeppoOo!"

Yes yes, normally with a saw stuck in the head he should be dead, but I imagined the brain would still be alive.

Would it be like Aji no Ikezukuri (fish served when it's still alive), still moving?

Yes, yes! I wanted to show that trembling image. It was right before the deadline, and I thought the rhythm of pulling the saw matched that sound perfectly.

The brain would be thinking "Huh?" while dying and that’s when the saw is being pulled so…

Pa, Bi, Bu, Pe…PO!!!!! (Laughs)

Finally dies on Po!!!

Even though it's playful I'm actually trying to capture reality. For example if you touched a hot iron, no one says "Atsui! (Hot)" right? You would more likely say "Hachi!" or something like that right (the sound has shifted because of panic, it doesn't actually make sense as a word)? You make strange sounds that aren’t real words, you see?

 I see.

That’s what I was trying to capture. When Amiba dies, “Uwaraba!”comes from "Uwa~~~" as he falls and dies at the end with "RABA!!" No one normally dies yelling "Raba!"

Dying phrases in Hokuto can be understood if you look at the dialogue that came right before it. "Hidebu" isn't one word either.

That takes "Ite!" (Ouch) and sort of becomes "Hide!" and then followed with "Bu!" (sort of a splattering "pop") which sort of captures the last moment. There was a theory that is was a misprint for years, but no, I actually intentionally did that.

For 10 or so years there had been a debate whether the editor’s mistook your handwriting and misprinted it or whether you did it intentionally. Now this mystery can finally be laid to rest.

Also, that was the scene where someone dies which has a bad after taste, but since it was for a young boy's comic, I thought to add that to lighten the atmosphere. They say the feeling of exhilaration beats the feeling one gets from savagery.

In a sense, that's what saves it, but in the end that becomes Hokuto's calling card I feel.

Ah...the dying cry. Yes, They say girls who don't even know the source material at least know, "They dying saying Hidebu…right?"

So, it's a little after the trend, but I think the "Bai-gaeshi" (2x revenge) line from "Hanzawa Naoki" (recent popular drama on Japanese TV) was the same thing.

Yes, yes. That totally got us. I had forgotten it for a while. But yes, in essence that’s what we were doing.

"Bai-gaeshi" (2x revenge) that one word IS "Hanzawa Naoki". Maybe if they didn't have that one line, it might have ended as a normal bank drama (and not become the social phenomenon that it became).

Yes, exactly that is what I was doing. You would laugh if it ended up going to 100x Revenge no?

Hahaha, yes 100X. Wow, how could that be? Haha.

Even though the viewer might think 100x is too much, you still want him to say the line, it feels so good. Like the when they show the Imperial Crest in "Mito Koumon". It's classic.




It's going to happen, it's going to happen… THERE WE GO!! That type of a feeling.

Also, that's a story (Hanzawa Naoki) about a normal salary man who basically becomes a Yakuza after saying that line.

Ah. I see, he becomes a demon. You no longer see him as a loving husband, you only see the tenacity.

That's a big part too. If you they never showed his loving husband side, all he would be is a tenacious salary man.

Shifting Gears, what parts of drawing Hokuto was difficult? What gave you trouble? Anything of the sort?

It was tough the entire 5 years, but what gave me the most trouble was...Yuria.

You mean how Julia was alive? That surprised us all.

It should have, I was surprised too, "What!? Really?"

What were the circumstances behind you accepting that idea?

The idea was to spend a year to make it plausible.

I see, so you had a place to safely "Land the story" in mind.

All I could think about was the Jump rule of the time, if you lose popularity; we end the comic in 10 weeks. It’s something I've experienced before.

But Sensei, as a simple reader's perspective, Hokutonoken already established itself as a giant. I would imagine they would wave that.

That’s not what it's about. First of all, you shouldn’t make anything that they would have to make exceptions for. So regardless of whether it's 1 year or 2, first we needed to concentrate on sustaining popularity for the immediate 10 weeks.

I'm sorry, you are correct. Then how is it that Yuria became the Last General? Hokuto has a lot of elements that are connected after the fact. How about in this situation?

I had a year's worth of planning, but regarding this, we decided this first. In order to bring back Julia, we first needed to create the Last General character.

I see. You tell the reader that yuria is the Last Nanto General in the end, you keep that a mystery as you draw.

Yes. You need preparation to convince the readers, so first I introduce the Nanto Goshasei, and eventually connect it to Julia.

I didn't think Hyui and Shuren would die so quickly, but you sure didn't cop out when drawing them. Hyui and Juza, they are on the same level. That's how you drew them, correct?

Yes, I don't play favorites between main characters and those who aren't. Hyui and Shuren, I drew them as though they were main characters.

But the moment we found out it was Yuria was a complete surprise. Both finding out the Last General was a female and it was Yuria was quite a surprise, because we were all expecting some sort of Last Boss.

I drew carefully not to give it away.

As soon as I found out Yuria was coming back, I had to double check all the previous comics we had done and read them over.

Read them over?

For example there's a scene when the General's soldiers talk, If someone who didn't know the identity talked, it would be obvious no? "Isn't that a female's voice?" So I re-read carefully checking for stuff like this.

Wow, that's an interesting detail to look out for.

Today, it would quickly make its way on the internet. Someone would probably tweet, "the General's identity is Yuria, please pass it on".

Hahaha, well that's what's good about manga, there's no sound.

Yes. When the General says "Kenshiro…" everyone's reading it with a last boss like man’s voice in their head. But re-reading it, all the dialogue could work both ways. You actually purposefully drew the general not so tall, but many probably didn't notice because they thought it was a man.

yuria-manga

Most readers thought the Nanto Last General was a man, but looking at the scene here one can see the general is shorter than the man on the left and the same height as the woman on the right. These touches were intentionally meant to hint that the general was woman. It can be said that this was a most clever way of leveraging manga’s unique medium to achieve this mystery.


So in a sense, I too was hiding the identity much like the Goshasei (Laughs).

Buronson sensei also said "Wow that was quite the gamble", but in the end the Goshasei having Juza and Fudo, which made the final bout with Raoh all the more epic.

Yes, that's what I mean about making it "plausible". Within that 1 year of planning, I was able to put the bone structure (key points) in. It resulted in creating great characters so I am very pleased.

So if you had rejected the idea to go with brining back Yuria, we would not have had popular characters like Juza and Fudo, much less Juza’s child from the new episode.

Thanks for putting it that way, it truly was a giant gamble.

Does that mean if you did not bring back Yuria, Raoh would have had a different ending too?

raoh-death-hokutonoken

Not that you need to be told, but arguably the most famous scene from Hokutonoken, and the line “My life, not one thing do I regret!” as Raoh puts his fist to the air is infamous. But to find out that this was something he had planned on drawing no matter what is an exclusive scoop of this interview.


The story might have been different, but how Raoh ends, the pose, that would not have changed.

Oh really!?

In Frank Frazetta's works, there’s an image of a person raising their arm straight up.

frazetta-hara-raoh

Frank Frazetta, American Illustrator for the cover art in the fields of Science Fiction and Fantasy, was a huge inspiration for Hara Sensei who was in his early 20s at the time. Hara sensei took on that DNA and made works that would change the Japanese Manga world. And now Hara Sensei’s works have inspired other works. This truly is fate.

READ THIS ARTICLE TO FIND OUT MORE


Yes.

It was my take on that picture. I thought one day I will make something like this.

Wow, I did not know that last scene had such a back story. Incredible.

Frazetta's had the arm straight up. I made it a little diagonal.

I never knew that!

I had decided, when I draw Raoh's end, I would go with that image.

So when you received the script, you said to yourself  "Use it here!!"

No, regarding Raoh's end it was already decided, and then we added what we talked about earlier to it.

That Julia was still alive?

Yes, except I still was set on drawing "that last scene". That didn't change. With Yuria being brought back, that scene got pushed back by a year, but when that time finally game, that's how I drew it.

Interesting!

Although the story ended up not concluding and we kept drawing the following week (Laughs).

Hahaha. I see. But it was something you had been incubating all this time and waiting for your "moment" to use. During the final climax with Raoh.

That would be correct.

I did not know such was the background behind making Raoh's ending. You shared with us your inspiration, your influences, and filtering that through yourself and channeling to make that incredible last scene. What a wonderful episode.

I thought there would be no better place, I didn’'t want to draw anything half-heartedly. That needed to be used for Raoh’s ending.

Hearing that, Hokuto no ken now holds an even deeper place in my heart. To know you put what you considered to be the greatest, you loved and studied it and gave it your all and made it your own style. Please forgive me if I offend you by saying this, but this reminds me of Kenshiro’s path and growth in the story.

I see, now that you say that. You could say I did go in feeling like how Kenshiro did as he went up against Raoh. Fought with love, in my case, drew with love.

Sensei, thank you so much. Regarding "Ikusa no Ko" (Child of War) (new comic by Hara Tetsuo), the new episodes (Hokuto no Ken). We are looking forward to it.

Thank you. That’s right, I can’t go easy on either one of those works. It’s tough, but I will draw with everything I have.

Garuzo's finishing thoughts

Hara Sensei has a heart like that of Toki and when we were together for me, when in the moment it was fun, once I had time to be objective later, I got Goosebumps. While talking, it seemed like a casual conversation, we talked about memories of movies that influenced his works, among other things. It truly was a fun time. And yet later when I had a moment to catch my breath, only then I would realize "Did I really just talk to Hara Tetsuo?". Then my entire body, each cell would boil with excitement. Hara Sensei talked to me so openly, I truly am so thankful, I would like to give a giant GOSHO HA of gratitude. Everyday.


I would like to continue to be drawn by the 7 starts in thanks and for giving me the life I have My deepest thanks to Buronson Sensei from the first interview, and this time with Hara Sensei. The two "Men who created Hokuto" I am overjoyed. But my life.. NO! Hokuto doesn't end yet. To repay with gratitude, I will continue to produce this column, to pass Hokuto on to the next generation. Only children get giddy over meeting their heroes. As an adult I will dedicate my life.

garuzoThe Interviewer Garuzo
Free Writer. Jan 4 1974. Born in Hiroshima. Hokuto "1st Generation" / "Dankai Jr" Generation (In Japan this is the generation born in the 70s, 2nd baby boom after the war) and the official good will Ambassador of "Hokuto no Ken" and a Hiroshima Carps (Baseball team) Fan. Has a good relations with Hara Tetsuo’s circle. He can be seen on the end credits of the movie "Hokuto no Ken ZERO Kenshiro Den". His favorite character is Toki.




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