Naoki Urasawa Talks about Manga and Professionalism

topNHK's latest "Professional: Styles of Work" series featured Naoki Urasawa, mangaka of Monster and 20th Century Boys. In the article, Urasawa talks about what professionalism means to him: "Professional is...the fact that there is a deadline, and the people who do their best until that deadline."

Humans are Complicated

Naoki Urasawa is one of today's "superstar mangaka," his works have sold over a 100 million copies. One of the reason Urasawa's manga attracts so many fans is due to his manga character's expressions. Urasawa could express deep emotions with a simple touch of his pen:

"I feel that I have done well when I draw my character's face like he is feeling the pain, or he is feeling sad, or he is worrying...the character can have all kinds of emotions."

Occasionally Urasawa even places his character in front of a mirror to inspect his own artworks.

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My Own Mind is My Enemy

Urasawa has a tough schedule. He is creating two titles at the same time (20th Century Boys and Pluto), and deadlines come five times a month. When creating manga, Urasawa begins his routine with a discussion with Shoji Nagasaki, a manga editor and Urasawa's partner during his debut. Urasawa's unique stories come from his meetings with Nagasaki, during which they both come up with and discuss new ideas.

After the storyline has been decided, Urasawa would create the storyboard. Urasawa first places the frames on a paper, then he would draw the rough outlines and insert the texts. Making storyboards tests the ability of a manga creator, and Urasawa is usually exhausted after doing so. According to Urasawa, good work exhausts people. Urasawa's harshest reader is himself. By criticizing himself, he struggles to create the best work.

All is for Manga Creation

When the storyboard is completed, Urasawa sends it to Nagasaki and they have one final discussion. Afterwards Urasawa works to finish the script with his assistants. There won't be much time left, but Urasawa cares more about the details of his characters. Moreover, Urasawa would even rewrite the scripts if necessary.

One time, despite the deadline being within 30 hours, Nagasaki called Urasawa and suggested to him to redraw a page. Urasawa listened to Nagasaki's suggestion and redrew the finished page.

Despite his position as the one of the best manga creators, Urasawa respects the advice from others:

"I'm not satisfied with my own "best," I want to create manga that could blow me away. I need the power of others too."

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Doing as I Want

Urasawa has two heroes in his life. One is Osamu Tezuka, the other is Bob Dylan. When Urasawa was a middle school student, he read Tezuka's Hinotori (Phoenix), and was impressed by the infinite possibilities of manga. For Urasawa, Tezuka is the highest peak that he is climbing toward.

Urasawa was also a "rock kid" and adored Bob Dylan's way of life. Bob did not stop singing even when fans criticized his songs.

Now, Urasawa is facing the challenge of creating the final chapter of his hit title 20th Century Boys. Urasawa is considering how to meet the expectations from the readers and stay true to the arts that he himself wants to see completed. Urasawa is creating manga under the demands of his readers and himself.

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I deeply respect him for his

I deeply respect him for his true profesionalism. He's a great example for all aspiring artists, we should learn from him. :)

5 deadlines?

Hmm so how many deadlines does a weekly manga magazine artist have? 3-4 I'd say? Though compared to a weekly serial Urasawa's works are on a higher level both artwise and storywise. Though I do wonder, if Pluto and 20th Century Boys both run in a bi-monthly magazine, shouldn't there be 4 deadlines instead?

There are 30-31 days in a

There are 30-31 days in a month, four weeks are 28 days, sometimes you would get 5-6 deadlines in a month.

Pluto runs on a monthly

Pluto runs on a monthly magazine while 20th Century Boys (or 21st Century Boys as it called now in the magazine) is a weekly magazine. If the comic is published in a weekly magazine then usually there will 4 deadlines in a month.


Urasawa's work is simply perfect.
He's the greatest mangaka ever, he is capable to dig deeper and deeeper, more than every other mangaka can do.
I adore his works and I'm from Rome, Italy.

i'm from holland. I only

i'm from holland. I only read monster and 20est in dutch. sadly 20est has a bad (but in recovery) publisher. when the newest 20est comes out (ones in a decenia) i'm verry happy.

I'm also curious about pluto. I demand it now!

similar with 1984, good work

i have no comment with urasawa way of caring his works.. i think that has been so perfectly done.. but, i think his 20th century boys is has a similar storyline with '1984' by orwell.. i've some feelings that urasawa has read 1984 before did 20th century boys.. mm.. but his great, i agree.. and i like japanese manga

Respect sensei!

I love his work!
He's a true mangaka and wish for him to be able to draw as much as he wants ^^