Roundtable Discussion with Osamu Tezuka, Leiji Matsumoto, and Moto Hagio

Left to Right: Osamu Tezuka, Leiji Matsumoto, and Moto Hagio
Osamu Tezuka Complete Manga Works Dialogues vol. 3
Image: Cover of the Osamu Tezuka Complete Manga Works Dialogues vol. 3

This roundtable discussion includes Osamu Tezuka, Leiji Matsumoto, and Moto Hagio talking about what it’s really like to be a manga artist, including assistants, meal assistants, ideal women, and more. While it mentions nothing about Unico, we wanted to share the translation for those who may be interested, as it has quite a bit of information and insight. While this discussion took place in October 1977, they included it in the back of the first volume of the Special Edition Lyrica – Unico Special Issue released on January 1, 1978. It was later published with other “talks” on May 16, 1997, as part of the Osamu Tezuka Complete Manga Works collection. As this book is still available digitally in Japan, we will not include the Japanese text on this page.

There are translation footnotes included with this discussion but let us know if we need more for any clarity.

※ Please note: As we are not fluent in Japanese, there may be some translation errors. Translated by Crystal “Xellis” Rider. 10/22/2023

Weird! Funny! 
The World of Manga Artists

The busy artists, who had not seen each other for a long time, were all anxious. Matsumoto-sensei was having a meal and Hagio-sensei was working on a cut for the magazine. Then Tezuka-sensei appeared.

Assistants and Meal Assistants

Tezuka: Hey, hello, hello, oh, Matsumoto-san, are you eating?

Matsumoto: Yeah, actually I haven’t eaten since last night. This venue is a restaurant and I couldn’t resist…

Tezuka: What a stark contrast. One of you is working hard, and the other is eating, symbolizing all aspects of a manga artist’s life. Hahaha! Drawing, eating, and one is sleeping. (Laughs)

Matsumoto: If you don’t have an appetite, you don’t have the stamina.

Tezuka: How many times a day do you eat?

Matsumoto: Four times.

Tezuka: Then you’re with me.

Matsumoto: Breakfast, lunch, dinner…

Tezuka: And then you eat at night, right? What do you eat for dinner?

Matsumoto: I try to eat something like this (beef stew), or I’ll eat ramen…

Tezuka: So, that’s rather luxurious, isn’t it?

Matsumoto: Yeah, I call it dinner to build stamina.

Tezuka: Me too. Basically, I eat everything. I eat a full meal at night. But I rarely eat in the morning. How about you, Hagio-san? Do you make your own food?

Hagio: No, we have a messistant (meal assistant) who specializes in making meals.

Tezuka: “Messistant” is a term peculiar to female manga artists.

Hagio: That’s right.

Tezuka: I wonder who created it. Wasn’t it Eiko Mizuno?

Hagio: I wonder who did. Before I realized it, there was an assistant and a meal assistant.

Tezuka: But it doesn’t mean it’s a female assistant, right?

Hagio: Yes, just someone who makes meals.

Tezuka: Doesn’t that mean it’s instant food?

Hagio: No, no, not exactly.

Tezuka: If you have a wife, or in your case, if you have a husband, do you become a messistant?

Hagio: That’s right. It’s a loss for women.

Tezuka: Haha, sorry, thank you. I’m not discriminating. Even Mr. Matsumoto’s wife is a messistant, isn’t she? (Note: Matsumoto’s wife is Miyako Maki)

Matsumoto: Well, I’ll make it myself. At night, they say something about women are at a disadvantage.

Tezuka: But don’t women really like to make things?

Matsumoto: Well, I’m kind of obsessive. (laughs)

Tezuka: Do you make food instinctively?

Matsumoto: It seems I’m forced to make it.

Tezuka: Is that so? My wife falls asleep before I get up, so I don’t want to wake her up.

Matsumoto: It may not be possible for people with normal working hours. It’s at night.

Tezuka: That’s true. In your case, your wife is with you. That’s nice to have someone like that. But when you go to bed, do you both sleep even during the day?

Matsumoto: Yes, that’s why the house is so quiet. Our daughter is upset she’s out on the street. (laughs)

Tezuka: Poor thing. Have no choice but to go to night school. Hagio-san, what is your day to day like?

Hagio: I wake up around two o’clock in the afternoon and go to bed at six or seven in the morning.

Tezuka: Is that bad beauty-wise?

Hagio: It’s not good, not good at all.

Tezuka: Even though it’s not good, you’re doing it?

Hagio: I am. When it becomes a habit, you can’t help it.

Matsumoto: Your body will last as long as you eat. If you don’t eat, you’ll be tired. You’ll definitely be exhausted. If you are too tired to eat around 2 or 3 a.m., you will make do with a cup of tea, and by 7 or 8 a.m., you can’t keep up. But you have to eat at that time. I learned that from my own experience. I always plan on eating.

Tezuka: So, you sleep all day but get up and eat when it’s time?

Matsumoto: That’s right. It was just around one o’clock, wasn’t it? Breakfast.

Tezuka: Crabs and rats, even in the dark, eat lunch at noon. You are an animal, after all. (laughs)

Feelings on Newcomers

Tezuka: What do you think about young aspiring manga artists these days? Hagio-san?

Hagio: Well, there are many people out there. Compared to our time, there are a lot more people who are good at drawing pictures. But there are many people who have no substance.

Tezuka: Does it look like someone else’s work? If you sort them out, are there any original and wonderful pictures?

Hagio: I’m still a little too young to create something original.

Tezuka: But your drawings are very original.

Hagio: That’s not true. I was influenced by many people when I was young.

Tezuka: But you already had a proper drawing style when you did “Cake, Cake, Cake”.

Hagio: Thank you very much.

Tezuka: What did you do before “Cake, Cake, Cake”?

Hagio: I wrote several short stories.

Tezuka: I guess things haven’t changed much since then.

Hagio: That’s right. When I was in junior high and high school, my art was very much like Masako Yashiro (Tomi Mutsuki) and Mizuno-san’s drawings.

Tezuka: That is what you practiced. What are your thoughts on young people these days?

Hagio: Sometimes there are nice people, but comparatively, I think it remains the same. It’s the same now as it was in the past. However, it is said that there are now about 8 times as many shoujo manga publications as there were 2~3 years ago. Shonen manga are still flat, and even if the number increases, it is said to be about double.

Tezuka: Is it that much?

Hagio: There have been a lot of new entries this year, and even if the number of pages increases, there will be no one to draw them, so they will be given to newcomers, of course.

Tezuka: So, you are saying that newcomers are the easiest to get out now?

Hagio: It’s easier to get them out.

Tezuka: According to one theory, things are getting tough for newcomers again. In other words, I heard that there was a time when newcomers were highly praised, but now they are being selective again.

Hagio: It’s always tough for newcomers.

Tezuka: Does that mean there are too many sempai (seniors)?

Hagio: No, I have yet to find my own pace.

Tezuka: I see. It’s also true that there are many students.

Hagio: That’s why editors everywhere are looking for good newcomers with a hawk’s eye.

The Manga Protagonist and My Ideal Image

Leiji Matsumoto
Image: Leiji Matsumoto talking.

Tezuka: What weekly magazine was it? There was a manga artist’s assessment of the attractiveness of women, wasn’t there? When I looked, Matsumoto-san’s women, whether at the University of Tokyo or Waseda University, were the best Japanese women, and what a great description. They were setting the best adjectives, though.

Matsumoto: Men get angry because they’re not popular, and I’m sure it depicts those male desires.

Tezuka: Then it’s wonderful from a man’s point of view.

Matsumoto: I think so. It’s strange to say that I think so, but I feel sympathy. But only for men who are not popular.

Tezuka: Even if a popular man sees her, she’s a beautiful woman.

Matsumoto: That’s why I tried so hard to portray the idea of a woman being kind to a man who was not particularly popular. It’s okay to be scared when you go outside.

Tezuka: That would be your ideal woman.

Matsumoto: That’s what I mean.

Tezuka: So, it’s your wife, isn’t it?

Matsumoto: Nah.

Tezuka: That’s what it comes down to. They are similar.

Matsumoto: Apart from that, there is also an ideal image of immortality. I’m drawing it as hard as I can.

Tezuka: I wonder if there is such a thing. An image of an immortal woman.

Matsumoto: This may sound like a very convenient ideal for men, but I would like to have a woman who doesn’t interfere when she doesn’t need to, doesn’t reject those who come, doesn’t chase those who leave, and doesn’t make a mess.

Tezuka: Never sleeps before the husband.

Matsumoto: So, you leave them alone and they don’t even shake their heads.

Tezuka: They will work with you even if you don’t give them a salary.

Matsumoto: When it comes to fighting, it seems like they fly together and attack us.

Tezuka: How do you feel? As a woman.

Hagio: Well, it’s nice. If that were my ideal woman, I would demand that much from my man.

Tezuka: I see. So, it would be best if a man could do it, in other words, do everything from the kitchen?

Hagio: That’s right. I think that if you become a veteran, you can do anything you want because men are good at it.

Tezuka: So, has your image of the immortal man emerged?

Drawing by Leiji Matsumoto of the three during the discussion.
Artwork by Leiji Matsumoto

Hagio: In the end, he is like my alter ego, so I haven’t drawn such a great man yet.

Tezuka: So, who would be your ideal, truly immortal type of man, for example?

Hagio: He is a rather round-faced type.

Tezuka: Really? Why is that?

Hagio: I think it’s because I feel the power of embrace.

Tezuka: Do you have memories of the round face type from the past?

Hagio: I once became a little obsessed with an actor, who happened to have a round face.

Tezuka: Who is the round face actor?

Hagio: It’s Takuya Fujioka.

Tezuka: But… Takuya Fujioka is that burly guy, right? Do you like that type?

Hagio: I do.

Tezuka: I’m middle-aged now… Do you find middle age attractive?

Hagio: Yes, I do.

Tezuka: You do, so you like that type. By the way, I am interested in your marriage story. Are you going to marry a manga artist?

Hagio: I don’t know yet. But I heard that luck in love is at its peak this year, and if you miss it, it means that you should give up a little.

Tezuka: Is that this year’s fortune? Did you have your fortune checked for love?

Hagio: Yes, I did.

Tezuka: How’s that working out for you? For example, a wonderful person may appear next year.

Hagio: If he shows up, it will be before the end of this year. After that, I have to be prepared.

Tezuka: Because it’s been two months already.

Hagio: It’s only two months away.

Tezuka: By the time this book is published, you’ll have to settle down. (laughs) Okay, let’s do some searching. (laughs)

Pen Names Influence the Fate of Manga Artists!

Tezuka: Matsumoto-san is Akira Matsumoto, right? I can’t seem to connect the image of Akira Matsumoto with the image of Leiji Matsumoto. What do you think? I think you changed it completely there. Why did you change it?

Matsumoto: I refrained from using my real name because of my parents. I had a pen name from the beginning.

Tezuka: Which is your real name?

Matsumoto: Akira is my real name. When I was working as Akira, I hit a wall with the girls’ stories. This is because you end up becoming a laughingstock, and you reach a state where you are no longer in adolescence. When that happens, you won’t be able to draw the same thing forever. However, what is required is the same continuity as before. I wasn’t in the mood to draw. I was thinking, “This is not good,” and, “Oh no, I can’t do this.” Then, when I drew dogs, cats, squirrels, and so on, I got into the swing of things. I thought I was in a transitional period, so I started using a pen name to make a fresh start.

Torajima no Miime
Image: Torajima no Miime

Tezuka: Was that before or after you met your wife?

Matsumoto: After we were married. That’s when we started dating, I want to say. I was crying about our dora cat1, who had been with us for 14 years.

Tezuka: Was it the cat that made you become Leiji?

Matsumoto: That’s right. I watched as the cat went from being a kitten, meowing excitedly, becoming pregnant, then giving birth to a baby, and protecting the baby and losing it. You can understand the cat’s emotions better. If you look at something like that in a girl’s story where they are tangled up in a field, a mountain, and a familiar place, you can portray that as something that both of them have in common. So, there was a time when I was really busy drawing animal things.

Tezuka: I’m sure it’s not an animal like this.

Matsumoto: No, that cat. The cat is using a bitter character intentionally because it is exactly like the one from 10 or so years ago. I don’t want to change it, so I’m using it as it is. I don’t want to change it. I feel sorry for the deceased cat.

Hagio: “Torajima no–“

Matsumoto: “Torajima no Miime”

Tezuka: Are you still working on that?

Moto Hagio drawing Leiji Matsumoto and Osamu Tezuka.
Image: Moto Hagio drawing.

Matsumoto: Yes, I work on it slowly, once a year.

Hagio: That’s been around since my high school days.

Tezuka: Has it been that long?

Matsumoto: It started around that time. I changed my pen name, and I also realized that I needed to sort out my feelings. Also, Tezuka’s influence on me is very strong. I know that about my early works.

Tezuka: That’s probably because you and I were both insect lovers.

Matsumoto: That’s one thing, but it’s hard to shake the influence of reading those books while growing up. Conversely, there is a kind of fate that you cannot escape. Even now, if I am asked to draw something similar, if not exactly the same….

Tezuka: By the way, thank you very much for drawing my bearded father the other day. (laughs)

Matsumoto: Not at all, I’ll draw anything.

Tezuka: That would go nicely with my substitution, but I’ll do it for you. Ha ha ha!

Matsumoto: If it’s your teacher’s work, then you can draw it on the fly. But when you take a different approach, you begin to feel your own individuality. I had a hard time deciding where to neutralize it. Fortunately, there was the cat. The cat did my work for me.

Tezuka: So that’s how it all began.

Matsumoto: So, I gradually changed because of the cat. If that cat had not existed, I think my destiny would have been a little different.

Tezuka: You used to draw westerns a lot when you were Akira.

Matsumoto: Yes, “Laramie Ranch.”

Tezuka: That’s when you created “Otoko Oidon.” I think that was the turning point between Leiji and Akira.

Matsumoto: No, on the way there, I drew a science fiction comic for a youth magazine. I was able to experiment with my drawing style there by drawing whatever I wanted.

Moto Hagio's artwork of Leiji Matsumoto, Osamu Tezuka, and herself.
Artwork by Moto Hagio

Tezuka: Uh, was that Sexaroid?

Matsumoto: That’s right.

Tezuka: That was very interesting.

Matsumoto: So, I was drawing panties and so on. After that, I started “The Great Four and a Half Tatami Matters”. The first two episodes were science fiction. From the beginning, I asked them to let me take the science fiction part. I told them that I was going to depict the bottomless pit and that my personal life was a mess, but they didn’t trust me. I tried to trick them halfway and did a science fiction story called “The Great Four and a Half Tatami Mat” about twice. Then I gradually replaced it.

Tezuka: I see, I thought “Otoko Oidon” was the original, but it’s not. I thought that the name change must have been requested by your wife.

Matsumoto: No, it was to make myself feel better.

Tezuka: Hagio-san, is your name your real name?

Hagio: Yes, it is.

Tezuka: What is the meaning of the name “Moto”? What did your parents mean by it?

Hagio: I heard that people named Moto were more common than you might think. My mother told me there were also poets named Moto, and some of my classmates had the same name.

Tezuka: You are the original, Moto.2 (laughs)

Hagio: Yes, Moto.

Tezuka: The character “Nozomi”3 is very rare for a name.

Matsumoto: But the characters give a very good impression of the name.

Tezuka: I thought it was a pseudonym. Like Motoko. It’s completely different characters, but it’s a Motoko. If you took “Ko”, it would be Moto, right? I thought this was an easy name to remember.

Matsumoto: I think the pen name somewhat affects the manga artist’s fate in the long run.

Tezuka: It does.

Matsumoto: That is why I think you should be very careful when you first choose a pen name. If you give a name that would be outclassed in a crowd, it would be a loss. There is such a thing as a poor name. A manga artist’s name is lined up on bookshelves, whether they are open or closed. The name will appear in many places, so it is better to have a powerful and economic name. I have experience of replacing a name in the middle of a project. After five years, I changed my name. Then the previous five years are nothing. They don’t exist. It’s a new beginning.

Tezuka: I see.

Moto Hagio and Leiji Matsumoto
Image: Moto Hagio and Leiji Matsumoto

Matsumoto: But I would get letters saying, “Are you his younger brother,” or “You copied because your art looks like theirs.”

Tezuka: But those who knew you probably knew.

Matsumoto: Yes, but it was mainly the inner circle.

Hagio: I knew about it, even though I’m not a member of the inner circle. (laughs) I thought, “This person’s real name is probably Leiji.” (laughs) And I was thinking, “but the character ‘Zero’ is very difficult to write, so he must have started out as ‘Akira’ because everyone else couldn’t write to him.” (Laughs)

Osamu Tezuka
Image: Osamu Tezuka

Tezuka: But you know, the character for “Akira” is difficult to write.

Hagio: No, he used hiragana for his shoujo manga. (laughs)

Tezuka: I see, I get it now.

Various Shoujo Manga

Tezuka: I thought that Hagio-san and Keiko Takemiya were men. In other words, they depict the male psyche very well.

Hagio: Wow! Thank you very much.

Tezuka: That’s how I feel. Which is why I think they can draw for shonen magazines. But there are women who draw feminine men who are slouchy and have thick pineapple hair. When I see such things, I think that I am a woman. I think it is not at all strange for a man to look at the manga of Hagio-san’s and others.

Hagio: I am sure it’s influenced by the manga I read as a child. As Matsumoto-sensei said… I think I was strongly influenced.

Tezuka: So, you read only boys’ manga?

Hagio: No, because both you and Matsumoto-sensei used to draw for girls’ magazines.

Tezuka: But that would be shoujo manga.

Hagio: It is shoujo manga, but there is a difference. Shoujo manga drawn by men and shoujo manga drawn by women are different.

Tezuka: I suppose that’s true. I feel that shoujo manga drawn by men are like onnagata in the Kabuki theater. In other words, you draw them as if you were a woman. That’s why when I draw them, I have a strange demeanor and smile.

Matsumoto: Are you the one doing the drawings?

Tezuka: Yes, I am. When you draw a woman, don’t you feel yourself getting a little nervous? (laughs)

Matsumoto: I wonder what a woman’s ideal face would look like when you picture it. It’s getting creepy, isn’t it? Let’s put a mirror on the table and draw it next time. I don’t think the features will change much, though.

Tezuka: For me, a woman’s portrayal of a man is very much like a shoujo gekijo (girls’ opera). So, I think that women portrayed by men are more like onnagata (female impersonators).

Hagio: That’s probably best. It’s a little sexy.

Tezuka: Even women fancy Tamasaburo.4

Hagio: Yes, I love him!

Tezuka: You know, maybe that’s why I might be able to draw women better than women. That’s what it feels like.

Editor: “Everyone, it’s time to go. Please prepare to move to the other side of the hall.”

In fact, the same lineup of three successful teachers was waiting for a roundtable discussion at the Tezuka Osamu Exhibition hosted by the Seibu Department Store Ikebukuro Store. We will also send you a report on the round-table discussion.

The Story of Their Debut

Tezuka: Thank you very much for coming today. Actually, we have been discussing a lot of things in the other room. So, I would like to start again with the continuation of the discussion. I would like to begin with something from Matsumoto-san.

Matsumoto: I would like to tell you a very special story. I first met Tezuka-san about 20 years ago —

Tezuka: That’s right.

Matsumoto: When I was 18, I received a telegram from Tezuka-sensei in Fukuoka. I was just hanging around at home. I remember the text of the telegram. It said, “Tetsudai Tanomu Tezuka.” (laughs) I was so fond of Tezuka’s manga that I was also known as a Tezuka fanatic, and I had a collection of his books from that time, so I thought someone must have carried the telegram. I thought it was impossible for such a telegram to come directly to me. At that time, the mass media was not as developed as it is today, so there was almost no way to contact the artist other than by letter. So, I was very impressed and thought, “It’s the real thing!” I remember that I worked very hard to draw a mob scene like the one in “Hi no Tori” (Phoenix) or something like that. Sadly, this mob scene was too strong, and when I sent it to Tokyo, it was rejected. I am saying that it is unprecedented for a Tezuka-sensei manuscript to be rejected after it was completed and sent to the editorial office just before the deadline, so I was irritated. (laughs) One day, I stayed up all night. It was the first time I had ever stayed up all night, so I had no idea what day or night it was going to be. Someone asked me to deliver a manuscript titled “My Son Goku” to an airfield in Itazuke, which I will never forget. When I returned, Tezuka said, “Thank you very much for your hard work. Eat this.” It was some kind of nigirizushi. There were 16 of them. It was raw sea urchin sushi. I couldn’t sleep that night. My nose started bleeding. (laughs) The experiment was a success. (Laughs)

Tezuka: It’s true, it’s true, ha ha, we were all waiting for your return at that time.

Matsumoto: It appeared that way.

Tezuka: We were going to feed him anyway… I wonder what will happen to someone if they eat 16 pieces of sea urchin sushi. (laughs)

Matsumoto: It was hard to sleep. My eyes would glaze over, and everyone would say, “You’re not able to sleep, are you?” (laughs) At that time, I was with Kenichiro Takai and his friends. “I’m not going to let this happen. I will definitely sleep.” But it didn’t work. I couldn’t sleep for about three days. (laughs) At the same time, I realized how hard manga work is in terms of time, and that you have to have more physical endurance than others to be able to endure it. I didn’t know anything about that kind of a situation, and that’s why I was so nervous about it. However, when I woke up at Sobi, Tezuka-sensei was awake and painting without a care in the world. I remember thinking to myself, “This is going to be tough.”

Tezuka: That’s because when you were sleeping, I was also sleeping. So, when you were awake, I happened to be awake, too, so I thought, “Oh, we’re continuing.”

Matsumoto: I also learned a lot from the first time I read someone’s manuscript, thinking, “Oh, I see. I get it now.” At the time, I was just starting out, so I didn’t really know what I was doing with my own manuscripts. I was drawing on my own. It was the first and last time I helped others. It was a great experience that I will never forget. I still remember it every time I see fresh sea urchins. (laughs)

Tezuka: Hagio-san, please share your memories of the past.

Hagio: One of my classmates was Makiko Hirata, who moved to Tokyo after graduating from high school and became a manga artist. She introduced me to someone at a publishing company, and I went to see them. When I showed them my 16-page work, they said, “Well, you’ve drawn some really cute pictures. Why don’t you bring me the next one, about 24 pages long?” So, I finished the drawings as soon as I got home for New Year’s and sent it out by mail at the end of January. That happened to be my debut.

Tezuka: So, your debut was based on your first drawings?

Hagio: Yeah, I guess…

Tezuka: That’s wonderful. You have contributed a lot, Matsumoto-san.

Matsumoto: In my case, there were so many rejections (laughs) that I don’t remember how many I sent to where until the first time they were published in a magazine.

Tezuka: Hagio-san, tell us about your “Cake Cake Cake” days.

Hagio: After graduating from high school, I went to a design school for two years. By the time I graduated from there, I had three or four manuscripts in the works. When I told my mother that I wanted to move to Tokyo to become a manga artist, she said, “Do you really think you can continue your career in Tokyo if they don’t consistently buy your manuscripts? What if something happens and you end up in a business your mother hates?” (laughs) Anyway, they were always against manga at home.

Tezuka: Why is that?

Hagio: Because my grades were bad. All I did was draw comics.

Tezuka: So, you drew in secret at home?

Hagio: Yes.

Tezuka: I’m surprised, didn’t your mother approve of your manga skills?

Hagio: Yes, the first time I was recognized was when I won a gold prize at a sundry magazine’s manga academy and received 5,000 yen.

Tezuka: So, as soon as the money came in your mother completely changed her mind? (laughs)

Hagio: Until then, it’s like it’s neither from the sea nor from the mountains, and their daughter draws a bunch of weird pictures.

Tezuka: What do you mean by “weird”?

Hagio: Well, I wasn’t that good at it, and I was often asked, “How many people do you think there are in the world who can draw manga? Do you think someone like you can draw manga? And besides, the salary for a cartoonist’s work is low.” (laughs)

Tezuka: You know too well, mother. (laughs)

Chocolate Udon???

Matsumoto: On the subject of food, there is one more thing. I came to Tokyo for the first time. I stayed at your house for about three days. There is something about the food I ate there that I still have trouble understanding. Can I ask you something? It’s about the chocolate udon… (laughs)

Tezuka: Did you really eat at my place?

Matsumoto: I did. (laughs)

Tezuka: I wouldn’t give you that kind of thing, no matter how much it costs (laughs)

Matsumoto: You said, “If you don’t want to eat it, it’s fine.” Udon noodles covered with chocolate… Tokyo is a horrible place… (laughs) I still can’t forget that.

Tezuka: But you really ate it? (laughter)

Matsumoto: I ate it. (laughs) When I took a bite, I thought, “this is not something humans should eat.” (laughs) But I felt bad if I didn’t eat it…

Tezuka: Well, no matter how much you are from the countryside. I wouldn’t do such a terrible trick.

Matsumoto: I didn’t think it was that kind of thing. I thought this kind of food is available in Tokyo. (laughs)

Tezuka: I’ve never had it either. (laughs) That’s terrible. (laughs) Ah, that wasn’t yamijiru.5

Image: Osamu Tezuka, Moto Hagio, and Leiji Matsumoto

Matsumoto: No, no, it was a long time ago.

Tezuka: I see. Did I really serve such chocolate udon?

Matsumoto: You did. (laughs)

Tezuka: (to the audience) I’m not that kind of a bully. (laughs)

Matsumoto: So, I will never forget the fresh sea urchin and chocolate udon noodles.

Tezuka: There are so many crazy things like that… (Laughs) But the yamijiru was interesting. When was that?

Matsumoto: That was about 20 years ago.

Tezuka: The members at that time were Matsumoto-san, Kenichiro Takai, and Miyako Maki?

Matsumoto: It was.

Tezuka: Hagio-san, have you ever had yamijiru?

Hagio: No, I haven’t.

Tezuka: I brought a big pot with me. We used cob to make soup stock. That was really a nabe in a cob.

Matsumoto: It’s all swollen and squishy. Cob, pig’s feet and…

Tezuka: You had the teeth of a geta.6 (laughter)

Matsumoto: You’re not supposed to put anything in there except food.

Tezuka: You know the one with the fish still in the newspaper? The words on the newspaper were clearly visible on the fish. Someone put a shinamanju7 in there. The red bean paste was on the fish. (laughter)

Matsumoto: And then there’s the whole sparrow. (laughs)

Tezuka: No, that was fine. There was a guy who ate only cobs from the beginning. (laughs)

Matsumoto: What’s more, I have the 8mm film from that time.

Tezuka: What! You do?

Matsumoto: It’s clearly visible. The part where Tezuka-sensei is biting the pig’s heel… (laughs)

Tezuka: That’s right. (laughs) It was a hairy heel, but it was delicious. After that, I threw away the leftover soup. Then a cat came by with its nose pinched. (laughs) The cat wouldn’t go for it, and a dog wouldn’t go for it either. We ate well. Huh.

Matsumoto: No one will ever ask me to do it again. (laughs)

Tezuka: Hagio-san, have you never had such an experience? Don’t women eat that kind of food?

Hagio: No, I’m sure others have experience. I haven’t done it.

Tezuka: So, if you had moved to Tokyo a little earlier, you would have joined us and been made to do it. Who initiated that? Urchin… I’m not sure… Who started that?

Matsumoto: It was Tezuka-sensei who suggested it. (laughs)

Tezuka: It wasn’t me. (laughs) Since everyone was blaming me, someone suggested that we do it at my place. So I had no choice but to prepare various seasonings and wait for them.

Matsumoto: Oh, I see.

Sci-Fi and Animation

Tezuka: Hagio-san, you’re writing science fiction these days. Do you enjoy drawing them? This month’s issue was very interesting.

Hagio: Really? Hee hee

Tezuka: Have you read it Matsumoto-san? “Kiso Tengai.”

Matsumoto: Yes, I read them all.

Tezuka: Who can write that kind of science fiction?

Matsumoto: There are few precedents.

Tezuka: Go Nagai wrote one once. Did Shotaro Ishimori write one too?

Matsumoto: It’s just the beginning, so it’s very promising, and it’s getting interesting.

Tezuka: That’s right. So I guess you could say that I am a brilliant person like Hagio-san. In that sense, I don’t want her to worry about popularity. She is already popular; she is already a guru.

Hagio: No, I don’t think it will last forever, it’s called popularity and money. (laughs)

Tezuka: Who says that? (laughs) By the way, “The Poe Clan” is definitely science fiction, isn’t it?

Hagio: Yes, that’s right.

Tezuka: Whenever I look at a doujinshi magazine of female students, there is always one science fiction story drawn by a woman.

Hagio: I love that.

Matsumoto: It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, but the generation of science fiction animation, starting with “Astro Boy,” has grown to the point where women in particular no longer feel any sense of discomfort and accept it as an element. They no longer feel any resistance.

Tezuka: But what do you mean by suddenly appearing?

Matsumoto: I think that’s what makes this generation stand out… That they were children before that…. And that’s how it all comes full circle. Therefore, I think that the animation and other things that Tezuka-sensei have done since Atom have been very influential.

Tezuka: Let’s talk about “Space Battleship Yamato” then. Are you going to make more anime like “Space Battleship Yamato”?

Matsumoto: It depends on the time. As it is, it’s a little difficult to make. So I make it a little more my way, to suit my tastes.

Tezuka: Like what?

Matsumoto: My original desire in animation was to make “The Adventures of Maya the Bee.” I am still holding on to that idea. I would like to make something with a more fairy-tale mood, rather than something action-oriented or violent.

Tezuka: How about “Space Battleship Maya?” (laughs)

Matsumoto: Spaceships are fine, but with space battleships, I feel a sense of discomfort myself. So when I took on that story, I dropped the battleship and just used “Spaceship Yamato,” but in the end, Yamato is such a prominent character that the battleship was inevitably pushed to the surface. So this is an area of reluctance for me. Then there is another one that is not as cool, like bowlegged. I wanted to create a new frontier, where a man like that, moving left and right, pushes his way across the universe.

Tezuka: Is it a comedy?

Matsumoto: No, no, this is an important thing. I believe that no matter what time period we live in, people like this will be the frontier, pushing the universe forward.

Tezuka: Oh really? (laughs)

Matsumoto: Yes, I think there are certain aspects that will never change. I would like to make a manga about such a theme. I also want to make manga about insects.

Tezuka: So, how about the bee hive flying out into space? (laughs)

Matsumoto: I think it would be fine to bring in something like an insect-like human being who wanted to fall in love but couldn’t help it, and I would like to create something that is not bound by a single image in terms of ideas. That is why the sequel to Yamato is still ambiguous, because there are so many problems in that area.

Tezuka: But it’s cool, right, Yamato?

Matsumoto: Yes, but if it’s too cool, it’s not exactly what I’m aiming for.

Tezuka: So it has to be bowlegged. (laughs)

Matsumoto: I definitely want to include some people.

Image: Leiji Matsumoto’s “Otoko Oidon” with several Tori and Noboita Oyama.

Tezuka: Ah, bowlegged. Don’t tell me there will be that bird from “Otoko Oidon?”

Matsumoto: No, it will appear in the next one I make.

Tezuka: Ha ha ha, I’m surprised.

Matsumoto: There will be Tori, there will be heavy drinkers, and that’s why I want to have ordinary people around. Friends are everywhere, the ones who say, “Oh, it’s you,” and are willing to drink and talk shit with you.

Tezuka: I see.

Matsumoto: The tall ones, slender eyebrows, and the long hair are all thrown out into space… (big laugh)

Tezuka: But that other one is cool too. It’s in Play Comic.

Image: Leiji Matsumoto’s Captain Harlock with Tori

Matsumoto: Ah, “Captain Harlock?” That one is a bit of a mess if you take away the flaws. Therefore, I’ve made him with one eye and a scratch. I’m not too concerned about extremely good-looking or bad-looking men, but before that, as a matter of character, I still don’t like flawless people. There is always some part of you that isn’t quite right, and there is always some part of you that isn’t so great that you can’t tell people about it. People hate so-called superheroes, or perfect people, or saints, who should not exist. That’s why I want to draw something like that. The women are gentle and never humiliate the men, and if there was a stand-up fight afterwards, they would come and join in the fight. Then when the guy says he’s going somewhere, they just shut up and say, “Okay, goodbye.”

Tezuka: Ah, then they’re not following them…

Matsumoto: It’s not good to follow them… Go away. I think the story “The Life of Peer Gynt” in Pere Gynt Suite, is kind of an ideal theory.

Tezuka: In other words, there are women in every port…

Matsumoto: Yes, that’s right. And finally, they go home to die. I wonder if people will call this brazen.

Tezuka: Yes, that’s true.

Matsumoto: But if a man didn’t have that part of his life, didn’t have those dreams, he would be a castrated, unimpressive person. So that’s what I’m talking about when I say I don’t want to die on a tatami. I think it’s okay to die anywhere other than your own home. I want to die where no one is watching as much as possible. It’s the same as a cat. To tell you the truth.

Tezuka: Hagio-san, what about your interest in animation?

Hagio: I’m not as enthusiastic about it as you or Matsumoto-sensei.

Tezuka: So, you have little desire to do your own work in animation?

Hagio: Yes, that’s correct.

Tezuka: How about “The Poe Clan,” for example, if you made the characters a little more cartoon-like?

Hagio: I can’t imagine it at all.

Tezuka: Can’t imagine? Haha, I guess that’s how it is.

Matsumoto: If you tell me to make it, I’ll make it. (Laughs loudly) (Applause)

Tezuka: It’d be fascinating, even if it was animated.

Matsumoto: If you leave the directing to me, I would like to work on Hagio-san’s work, and I grew up reading “Jungle Emperor” as a child, so I have a certain image of what I want to do. If you entrust me with this kind of work, I can make it my own, but I am sure that I can bring out various emotional aspects and moods, not influenced by the “Jungle Emperor” that became my flesh and blood at that time. So, if you have a sponsor and they are willing to pay for me, please recommend me. (laughs)

The roundtable discussion held at the Osamu Tezuka exhibition was packed with more than 200 people. It was very impressive to see everyone’s eyes shining with excitement.

Image: Leiji Matsumoto, Osamu Tezuka, Moto Hagio


  1. 1. A dora neko (ドラ猫) is a cat without an owner that steals things, but it’s also a name/nickname for a cat that does naughty things. ↩︎
  2. 2. Tezuka is making a joke by saying, “Motomoto Moto desu ne.” ↩︎
  3. 3. Tezuka is talking about the “mo” kanji in Hagio’s first name which is read as “nozomi” meaning “hope.” ↩︎
  4. 4. Bando Tamasaburo is a famous Kabuki actor. ↩︎
  5. 5. Yamijiru is a game where party members prepare a stew with ingredients they’ve brought and eat in the dark for fun. ↩︎
  6. 6. Geta are a type of traditional footwear that look similar to sandals with wooden blocks called “teeth” underneath. ↩︎
  7. 7. Shinamanju is a steamed dumpling with red bean paste. ↩︎