Not only was the NYAF the first convention your lovely gumshoes attended as press, it was also the place where we did our first interview. From the point of view of my mind-numbing, I-can’t-eat-or-I-will-lose-it, state before the interview I felt it came out okay.
Ryo Moto is probably best know for his character designs for Petite-Evangelion. Petite-Evangelion is a franchise in which all the Evangelion characters and some of the mecha have SD forms that all go to the same school. It has countless pieces of merchandise based on it including a calendars, figures, and a DS game. He has done other collaborative projects with GAINAX including a Gurren Lagann doujinshi anthology. Ryu Moto has not just limited himself to the Japanese market as he recently worked with Image Comics in the U.S. and is looking to do more work abroad as well as in Japan.
I first encountered Petite EVA through toy shopping with some friends in NYC. As many an anime fan can tell you, the Evangelion franchise has a staggering amount of merchandise, but these stuck out as something new and exciting. Ryu Moto’s work is both stylistically appealing and incorporates a lot of humor. He likes to play around with licensed characters and his own creations to make it fun for the audience. If you don’t know him yet you are surely missing out on his vibrate, sharp imagery. You can see much of his work on his deviantART account.
Ryu Moto was very accommodating and delightfully charming. He even gave us free singed copies of his latest sketchbook after the interview. I then bought an older sketchbook as well. We totally forgot to take a peek at his latest sketchbook. I really wanted to see if he drew Hisui. I hope he comes back to the U.S. so I can buy the sketchbook he did while at NYAF.
Reverse Thieves: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Ryo Moto: I am Ryo Moto. I’m from Japan. I’m [a] manga artist. I am working mainly in Japan but I have also started working overseas and am looking for other opportunities in the work field outside Japan.
RM: Actually I was a professional in college, while in school I did illustration and manga work for publishers in Japan. And while I kept doing work I was then asked to do character designs for Petite EVA. Actually I started my doujinshi work after I became a pro. More for self-promotion.
RT: Wow, that seems rare.
RM: I’d say so. [laughs]
RT: Continuing along the line of doujinshi, since many Americans don’t know a lot about it. . . . Have you sold stuff at Comic Market (Comiket)?
RM: Yes. Some of the books I brought for New York Anime Festival are ones I have sold at Comic Market.
RT: Can you tell us what Comic Market is like? Do you like winter or summer Comiket better?
RM: It’s about ten times the people as the San Diego con in three days. It is really crowded all over. I prefer the winter . . .it’s not hot. I hate hot. Many people come to Comiket in summer time and it is so hot. Because there so many people in the summer their sweat vaporizes and makes a cloud inside!
RM: Well, it is foggy!
RT: Have you noticed any major trends emerging in the modern doujinshi scene?
RM: I think it is basically right after a new anime comes out it will be at Comiket. It doesn’t keep going and going. There is not a phenomenon like Sailor Moon or Haruhi. It is always changing now. [There are] not as many big shows that stay. Probably for next Comiket it will be Gundam 00, Code Geass, Macross Frontier, oh and maybe Hatsune Miku. Have you heard of that? It is a computer program, a vocal program, with a girl’s voice, she has long green hair. It is not the software but the illustration on the package, in a way a virtual idol. The image of the girl has lots of merchandise.
RT: Do you have a favorite circle?
RM: Right now I’m not doing doujinshi. But I really liked Chocolate Shop, he is the designer of Xenosaga. His mecha designs are very good. His doujin quality is very high with glossy paper and high design. I also liked Mine Yoshizaki’s [Manga-ka of Sgt. Frog] circle. He has quit for about three years but he used to do a lot.
RT: You mentioned how you got started with Petite EVA but how is it working with GAINAX? EVA is such a huge franchise, what kind of creative freedom do you have with it?
RM: So far I have felt pretty comfortable working with GAINAX. The reason is, there aren’t many limits from GAINAX at this point. But when I’m working with Petite EVA I try not to be too off from the original characters. I respect the characters first, then I do Petite EVA.
RT: Having worked in both the amateur and professional markets, what are the biggest differences?
RM: There are no editors! The editors don’t yell at you. [laughs]
RT: So how influential are editors?
RM: Well, from what I have [seen], editors are individuals. So even if they are in the same company there are editors that like me or some that yell a lot. But it depends on the editor. From the people I have worked with, of course there have been ones that didn’t go well, but basically I have worked with editors who like my artwork and like me as an individual.
RT: So you’ve mentioned starting working abroad, and I know from your blog you like American comics a lot. Anyone in American comics you would really like to work with?
RT: How much professional training have you had?
RM: I was going to art school but I was learning design so I actually haven’t had any training in drawing.
RT: What was your first work as a professional artist?
RM: I think my first word as a pro was an illustration for a novel. It was published in 2002 through Tokuma Duel Bunko (Tokuma Shoten). The author was Sara Yajima and the title was Kero Kero Midori no Chikai. My first manga as a pro was published in 2004 titled Gyu-Nabe Damussu. It was an original title by myself. I drew a manga for my web-site using one of the character that appears in the afore mentioned manga. It was done in 2006.
RT: Can you tell us about your original works?
RM: One of my comic books that has come out is called White Chaos. It is about a girl whose former life was very pure, she didn’t do anything bad. So in this life the devil comes and makes her a devil, then asks her to do something bad. It is mostly comedy. This is one of my favorite works so far.
RT: Has any of your work been animated?
RM: Petite EVA is coming out on DVD in the spring. It is a 3D CGI production. I have samples at my booth. You can search it on YouTube. [laughs]
RT: So how much were you involved when they animated it?
RM: Basically I just do the character designs. But once they finished I do package illustrations and publicity art as well.
RT: Can you tell us about the work you have done overseas?
RM: My first official work overseas is COMPASS published through Image Comics last year. But before that I did an art piece for a book called Comic Artists Asia. Which was sold in English speaking territories. The book focused on introducing Asian artists [to overseas audiences] and I was asked to do a piece in Japan. I was surprised to know that many people at overseas cons knew about this book. Of course I was happy about that!
RT: Having been to New York Comic-Con and New York Anime Festival, have you notices any differences between American fans and Japanese fans?
RM: I don’t see a big difference, but what I like about American fans is that they speak out about what they like. Japanese fans are more shy.
RT: Are there any anime or manga you think Americans should know about?
RM: One of the titles is called Noramimi it is based on a manga but I recommend the anime. It is very Japanese oriented, Japanese cultural things. I would like to see what Americans would think of it. It is like a sitcom. Like Doraemon. For manga, I would say Yotsuba. I think it is one of the manga Japan can be proud of. It is for everybody.
RT: How was New York Anime Festival?
RM: It was fantastic! I have participated in other overseas conventions in the past, but it was my first anime con and was actually a bit nervous. But I was able to meet a lot of people and had fun.
RT: Is there anything fans should take away from your work?
RM: In my work I always do exactly what I want to do. So if I do that the fans will follow. You don’t have to do what is a trend. You should do what you think is good and your fans will come with you. When I just started in the industry, the editors scolded me and told me my art wasn’t very good. They told me to imitate other popular artists, but I never listened to that. I always tried to do what I wanted. When I found my own way in art, then the work came, too.
*Special thanks to Akihide Yanagi for helping us by translating.