Interview from the Gintama Official Character Book "Gin-channel!"
Sorachi will answer 127 rigorously selected questions! Perhaps you’ll discover the creator’s true nature...?
“About the ordinary man, Sorachi Hideaki.”
001. Please tell us your birthday!
May 25, 1979.
002. Please tell us who your family members are!
Dad, mom, older sis, me, and my dog.
003. The first CD you bought?
Chage&Aska. In middle school.
004. The first manga magazine you read?
A super-thick Jump when I was in kindergarten. Must’ve been a seasonal edition.
005. Nickname when you were young?
“Aki.” Then when I was in high school, I farted when I was eating. I had a cold that time, so some fluid came out of my butt, and I was known as “fluid” from that day onward.
006. What career did you want to pursue when you were young?
007. What did you do during holidays when you were young?
Have fun with everyone.
008. When it comes to kancho, were you the one doing the jabbing or the one being jabbed?
Sometimes I jabbed, and sometimes I was jabbed.
009. What were popular games when you were young?
Micro racers, scaring people, and playing outside during the day. At night, I read manga and played video games!
010. When you were a student, what clubs did you join?
Basketball team, kendama club, Nepal research group.
011. The subject you got your best grade in?
Japanese. And I got a 5 in art! I’m really good at referencing, but I make a mess after I start coloring, so that screws up the assessment.
012. What did you like to eat at school lunch?
Fried bread, curry rice.
013. Did you ever have a part-time job?
Of course! Like handing out fliers, that kind of job. But the hourly wage in Hokkaido was really low, so it really sucked.
014. Do you like your hometown (Hokkaido)?
It’s alright. Because it’s exhausting to shovel snow.
015. Do you like to draw?
Of course I do! I was the one who started the movement to draw during breaks in elementary school! Every student was drawing!
016. What memories do you have about Lake Toya?
I went there on a school trip during elementary school, but I didn’t buy a wooden sword. I even laughed at those idiots who bought a wooden sword. Later I bought the famous local specialty “wakasaimo.”
017. What movies do you like?
There’s a lot... “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” and I also like “Porco Rosso.”
018. Do you like period dramas?
I do. “Onihei Hankacho.”
019. What manga magazine do you often read?
Wanpakku Comics. I read it until it stopped publication.
020. What magazine do you often read?
Basically nothing. It’s too much pain.
021. What’s the book in the library that left the most impression on you?
“Rudorufu to ippai atte na.” In elementary school, the teacher often required us to finish 100 books in 2 years. I was super diligent back then, so I really read 100 books. I’m very grateful to my teacher, since he made me like reading. This one was the most interesting; even though it was about a wild cat, adults can read it too. If you see it in the bookstore, please pick it up!
022. Favorite historical figure?
I like a lot of historical figures, but my favorite is probably Sakamoto Ryoma. There’s a lot of cool people, but he’s modest with style.
023. If you met him, what would you do?
I’d be very nervous and watch him from afar.
024. Up till now, what famous people have you met?
Taihei Saburo. We even took a picture together in front of Mongolian Barbecue! Made me think, “Oh! Haven’t seen Shiro in a while.”
025. What special talent do you have?
I can pick my nose with my tongue.
026. Is there any benefit to that talent?
Not a bit. It just stinks after I do it.
027. Favorite anime when you were young?
GeGeGe no Kitaro.
028. What skill did you imitate but left you paying for it?
Shimura Ken’s mouth. Isn’t it cute for a child to imitate that action? Because all the adults were laughing, I did it even more, resulting in my jaw misalignment.
029. What kind of adult did you want to be?
I didn’t want to grow up. Even in college, I said ridiculous things like “I want to learn computer graphics.” I just didn’t want to work. I’m just an annoying Peter Pan.
030. What comes to mind first thing in the morning?
“What time is it?”
031. What do you do when there’s nothing planned for the holidays?
I want that kind of holiday. I have no holidays, pretty much, but if there’s a break, I visit family. Because I want to see the dog at home.
032. Before you fall asleep, what do you usually think about?
Every time I sleep, it’s like I pass out, so I don’t think about anything.
033. How long do you sleep before you wake up?
About 2 days. If I don’t sleep, my brain stops working.
034. When faced with writer’s block, what do you do?
I scratch my head. But the scalp is very precious, so I scratch it lightly.
035. When you realize it, what do you do?
I go to the bookstore.
036. Where do you want to visit?
Kyoto. I like places full of nostalgia.
037. Which country do you want to visit?
Mongolia, India, and Hong Kong.
038. What do you often dream about?
I don’t really remember. My editor says he often dreams about being chased by something. I wish he’d be taken away forever and never come back to this world.
039. If you were to sing in front of people you just met for the first time, what song would you pick?
I’m not really the type to open up easily in front of others, so I wouldn’t want to sing.
040. What do you want to eat the most?
041. What do you want the most?
042. What’s the most common color of your clothes?
A lot of plain colors.
043. What snacks do you eat the most?
044. Do you like sweet things? Or are you a mayora?
If you want an honest answer, I’m a mayora.
045. Do you like soba noodles or ramen?
Ramen. Compared to ramen in stores, I prefer ramen with little meatballs and an egg.
046. Do you like to drink sake?
Personally, I don’t really like sake, but I like to cheer myself up by getting drunk.
047. Favorite character from Lupin III?
048. Favorite superhero?
049. Favorite robot?
050. Favorite joke from Shimura Ken no Daijobu Da?
“That won’t do!”
051. Are you a Shimura supporter or a Kato supporter?
Of course I’m a Shimura supporter.
052. You’re actually an Akashiya supporter, aren’t you?
Of course I’m a Shimura supporter.
053. If you had to pick either Sadaharu or Elizabeth as your pet, which would you pick?
054. Which part of your body do you think is most attractive?
My hairy butt.
055. What famous person do you look like?
Popular in Hagiwara, the soccer player Okubo Yoshito.
056. What is most interesting to you right now?
My antenna is trying to receive signals from all directions, but I haven’t gotten anything yet.
057. Favorite sport?
What sport? Eat shit!
058. Which sports team do you support?
What sport? Eat shit!
059. Do you know how to play badminton?
What sport? Eat shit!
060. What do you do out of habit?
Rubbing my face when I’m tired.
061. For you personally, what would trouble you if you didn’t have it?
Deadlines. If I didn’t have any deadline, I’d never be able to finish the manga manuscript. When I just started, I once spent a whole day on one line.
062. You’re confident about jumping off a building from which floor?
063. At what earthquake scale would you lose your calm?
064. You know you won’t cry when you get what kind of injury?
Bone fracture. But not if it’s too serious. If it starts bleeding, I might start bawling when I see the wound.
065. If you were an athlete participating in the Olympics, what sport do you want to compete in?
Hammer throw. Because I want to scream “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
066. If you have the Dragon Balls, what would you wish for?
“Shenron! Please give me 48 hours in a day!”
067. Boxers or briefs?
068. What Dora*mon’s gadget do you want the most?
The “F” in Fujiko F Fujio.
069. When you see a semi-revealing photo of a girl, where do you look at first?
070. How short should a skirt be to be ideal?
The length at which you may or may not see something when she walks down the stairs.
071. Who would you pick as your girlfriend: Kagura, Otae, Sacchan, Otsu-chan, or Catherine?
Sacchan. Because I’m a sadist.
072. Who would you marry?
Otae. Even though I’m a sadist, I also have a masochist side.
073. Do you want to get married? If so, what is the ideal age?
As long as I have the chance, I want to get married any time.
074. Do you want a son or a daughter?
I want two daughters. And then cry my eyes out at their weddings.
075. Do you like older or younger women?
076. Do you prefer “plain girl who wears glasses” or “cute girl who doesn’t wear glasses”?
I want a cute girl who wears glasses.
077. Do you like dog ears or cat ears?
078. What kind of girl do you like?
I like intelligent ones, but not the bookworm type. But if I like something particular about her, that’s even better.
079. Does the type of girl you like resemble any of the female characters in your work?
Not a bit. Because they’re all idiots.
080. Which celebrity are you following lately?
I don’t know if she’s a celebrity, but the girl eating yogurt in the commercials. Wait, is she eating yogurt? I like her.
081. What are you obsessed about?
I really like the paper thing under the cheese bread. After you eat the bread, you roll up the paper, then you want to tear it apart. It’s too cute... Isn’t it cute? It’s round and it smells nice, but you can’t eat it. So you just want to shout “Uwahhhhhhhhhhhhh!” …Do you get it?
082. Which Gintama character are you like?
None of them. I think every character has a bit of my annoying aspects.
083. If you were in Gintama world, what would you do?
Probably manga-ka? …Is that too ordinary?
084. Favorite Gintama character? And which character do you draw with most care?
I like all of them, actually. The one I draw with most care is probably Hasegawa-san. Ever since I let Hasegawa-san reappear, I became fond of letting minor characters reappear whenever they can.
085. Where does your pen name come from?
“Sorachi” is from the Sorachi subprefecture in Hokkaido. Hideaki is my real name.
086. What led you to draw manga?
I think I was unable to fit in with this society, so I decided to become a professional.
087. What character did you reference when you first started?
088. The first manga you drew?
089. What tools do you use for drawing?
G-pen, round-nib pen, calligraphy brush pen, marker/felt-tip pen, permanent marker.
090. Among those, which one do you use the most?
091. When did you find out about dip pens?
In middle school. Nobody sells G-pens in the countryside, so I couldn’t buy it until college.
092. What do you think about digital manga drawing?
If your computer dies, you’re screwed. The less you depend on, the better. So I still prefer drawing with pens.
093. Which step in manga drawing do you like the most?
Sketching the draft. But that’s also the hardest part.
094. How did you learn how to draw manga?
I read Toriyama Akira-sensei’s “Clumsy Manga Laboratory.”
095. Which manga-ka influenced you?
I think all the manga I read had an influence.
096. Do you remember how you felt when you received the first letter from a reader after you became manga-ka?
I’m not exaggerating, but I cried. I read the letter from the pachinko staff with trembling hands.
097. What was the most recent letter about?
Why are you drawing manga when you have no motivation? ...I read that after I worked my ass off to hand in the manuscript on time, so I cried. I was like “Why?”
098. What’s the happiest thing for you after you became manga-ka?
Probably letters from the readers. Reader reactions make me really happy.
099. Is there anything you stick with when it comes to character design?
Not really. I should say I want to... this so-called style for character design.
100. There’s quite a few characters with glasses. Is it your fetish?
No, because I’m not that good at designing special traits for characters, so when I realized it... Why are there so many people wearing glasses? I do like girls who wear glasses, though.
101. Which character is toughest to express?
Takasugi. Because he can’t be boke.
102. When drawing Gintama, what do you pay attention to the most?
The pacing and the dialogue.
103. Do you get material from the news?
I don’t actually know how to gather material all that well. At most, when I meet with my editor, I’ll ask, “What’s popular right now?” “Mushiking: King of the Beetles.” “So let’s go with that?” Something like that.
104. What do you want the readers to see in Gintama?
They can see whatever they want. As long as they’re willing to read it, I’m satisfied. I’m serious.
105. Which episode left the deepest impression on you?
When the old man died in episode 11 (lesson 11). The popularity of the series slowly started to rise from that point. Before that, it was on the verge of being canceled.
106. When you’re plotting the story, do you have a rule that says “This must never be done”?
It’s not never... But if I can, I try not to add descriptions of inner turmoil. Sometimes if you use words, everything will be over, won’t it? But if I have to end the story in one chapter, it’ll often appear very chaotic. My training is still not enough.
107. What’s the hardest thing for you?
Single-chapter stories. It’s hard every time. Makes me wonder if my brain is bleeding. It also eats up a lot of topics, so I really admire Akimoto Osamu-sensei and his Kochikame.
108. Do you talk to other manga-ka?
Not really. If I’m standing in front of another manga-ka, I become very nervous.
109. Is there anyone you respect or think of as a goal?
I respect all the sensei serializing in weekly magazines. I think they’re all amazing, because my manga is really quite messy.
110. What’s popular in your studio?
Riddles. On the day of the deadline, everyone’s really sleepy while pulling all-nighters, so everyone talks by coming up with riddles. But because everyone’s pulling all-nighters, nobody’s brain is working, so the people coming up with riddles and the people answering are both exhausted.
111. How do you and your assistants split the workload?
I’m only in charge of the characters and the crowds. Most of the time when my assistants start working, the draft is only done at 4 or 5 pages, and the storyline is really complicated, so it’s a mess. It’s like a battlefield.
112. Describe your studio in one sentence.
It’s pretty laid back, but on the day of the deadline, there’s this indescribable aura of murderous intent. Actually it’s not so much the studio, just me and my editor.
113. Are there rules or something like that in your studio?
Basically everyone in the studio has a sharp tongue, but when we have new members, we always make sure we find out their preferences. If they like hip-hop, we have to be extra careful. People who prefer milder hip-hop “In the past I did a lot of bad things, but I’m thankful for her now, check it out!” will become “Ever since the past I’ve been very nice to mother, you bastarddddd!” ...If it’s someone like that, it’ll probably be hard for them to continue in this profession.
114. Is there anyone you feel like you shouldn’t lose to them?
Of course. But I can’t say.
115. When do you feel like you’re really awesome?
Finishing the draft the morning of the deadline, and then finishing the manuscript. What do you mean I’m so awesome! You idiot! Hurry up and work.
116. Is there anything you persist in?
I persist in persisting in nothing.
117. If someone wanted to give you something, what would make you happy?
When I’m working, it’s bad to give me anything because it’ll mess up my thought process. Before, my editor gave me some famous fugu from somewhere. Not bad, right? But everyone was eating it and complaining, “Salmon tastes better, right?” Like that.
118. Do you often watch Shinsengumi drama?
I was just caught up in the craze. I don’t actually watch it that much. But I like the novels.
119. Do you like science fiction?
My father is an old man who only watches Star Wars and It’s Tough Being a Man. I’ve had enough, and I think all sci-fi films should eat shit! But I ended up drawing it anyway. By the way, I like It’s Tough Being a Man.
120. If there’s live-action Gintama, who would you like to see as Gin-san?
Watabe Atsuro. I don’t know what he’ll say, but don’t you think his lazy looks make him very suitable?
121. Do you use Mac or Windows?
Windows. I bought a laptop a while ago, but it broke after a week. It wasn’t adaptable at all, I was very upset.
122. What do you want to try drawing?
I want to draw something set in a school. I also have fun drawing things related to demons.
123. Your ideal way of life?
I hope to live with an open-heart, not caring for the little things.
124. Your editor?
He’s a punching bag.
125. And readers?
I feel like they draw manga with me. When I’m drawing, there’s always a shadow to the right of my head. Even though it’s not a particular reader’s face, I’ll always discuss with them as I’m drawing. “Is this ok? How about that?” ...Don’t worry, my head’s not broken.
126. What about manga?
I think when Gintama ends, I’m going to die or something. And I relax. And there’s something weird following me.
127. Finally, leave a message for the readers!
I think you should skip over this interview. You’ll be discouraged if you know too much about behind the scenes, right? Even though it’s a bit late to say that at the end.