Interview: Manga Artist Shirow Miwa

We spoke with Shirow Miwa, the manga artist and illustrator behind the cover of art book titled More Heroes and Heroines.

More Heroes and Heroines (published by PIE International Inc.) , being released in February, looks at character designs of more than 60 of the latest games and anime from 2012-2015, such as Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Knights of Sidonia and Gundam Reconguista in G. We spoke with Shirow Miwa, who was behind the cover illustration and the character designs of 7th Dragon 2020-II, which were included in this selection.

Shirow Miwa Profile:
Japanese manga artist and illustrator. Publishes DOGS/BULLETS&CARNAGE in monthly Ultra Jump magazine, while also working in a wide range of fields, such as character design for video games. Active as a member of the online creative musical group supercell.

──Could you share your thoughts on the character designs for the series 7th Dragon 2020-II included in this book?

Exactly three years have gone by with this series, but I’ve repeatedly overseen the figures and such, so I haven’t felt that far removed from it and it’s something that has been continuously on my mind.

More Heroes and Heroines: Japanese Video Game + Animation Illustration Book

──The character designs of the notable illustrators and animators behind recent anime and games are included. Is there anyone among them that stands out to you?

Yusuke Kozaki. We’re the same age, and we have a professional rivalry. We’ve known each other personally from the beginning and we’re good friends. Every time he releases something new, I’m amazed. It’s rewarding having someone to compete against, you know.

──Do you also interact with redjuice and the other artists who belong to supercell?

We haven’t been in contact much lately, but we’ll chat at events and such. We’ll have meals at places that apart from supercell’s business. With Ryo and Huke and the like.

With supercell, we don’t all gather for a meeting and record together. Usually, Ryo requests packaging for a single from someone, and then contacts them directly and meets with them one on one to produce a CD. It’s a group like that where the partners change as needed. Rather than calling it a group, it’s really more of a smaller gathering. From an outside perspective it may look like a team, but on the inside, we’re not all working together; one on one combinations are the norm.

Live painting and signing held on Jan. 18.

──It must be difficult doing additional work while continuing a manga series.

It is. I say this every year, but it’s a back-breaking workload.

──Within that is your work on 7th Dragon 2020-II. The details of that are also laid out in a lengthy interview in the book that includes an English translation.

After my work for 7th Dragon 2020 was finished, I thought, “Now I can focus on my manga,” but just then, the development staff contacted me and I told them, “I would like to focus on my manga, so it would be really difficult for me to take on anything that isn’t directly related to 7th Dragon,” and they replied, “It’s a sequel,” and I decided to take it on.

Live painting and signing held on Jan. 18.

──Did you take on any special approach for the cover art (the box illustration for 7th Dragon 2020-II)?

I drew each character separately to make sure that they could be moved around easily depending on the design. I drew them so that they would be easy for the designers to use.

──Who is your favorite character?

The really easy one to draw in the playable characters was the underground-style (Psychic) male. I arrived at the final design with my very first rough sketch.

Live painting and signing held on Jan. 18.

──Are men easier to draw?

They are. I tend to work really hard when I’m drawing girls because I want to make them cute. I may be pushing myself in vain.

──Were there any female characters in particular that you focused on?

For 2020, it was the otaku-style (Hacker) girl. The one I struggled with for 7th Dragon 2020-II was the idol-style girl. The director and I had different views on the idol, so we kept going back and forth. My favorites were the otaku-style (Hacker) girl and the vivacious powerful-style (Destroyer) girl.

──Did you reference the source material when coloring the characters?

I did. I also incorporated the director’s ideas. The original coloring for the underground-style (Psychic) male, for example, was all black. However, I kept in mind the notion that colors that could easily be distinguished would be better so the characters don’t blend into the map when they’re displaying on it.

With the hood up, he looked like a worm, and I came up with the idea of adding a noxious coloring on top of that. The design was originally based on a straightjacket, so with everything bound up he looked like a worm. That was perfect, so I settled on having a color that gave off a worm-like image. The eyes on the hood also give it a creepy feeling, and including that with it enhances the venom worm image.

Live painting and signing held on Jan. 18.

──Are there any artists or works that influence your style?

I’ve been heavily influenced by American comics. Like Mike Mignola 1 and Frank Miller 2. I’m heavily influenced by the designs in those kinds of American comics that are meticulous with shadows. The one who introduced me to Mike Mignola was Yasuhiro Nightow. I first saw that kind of design in Nightow’s Trigun manga and I studied up on American comics after that.

──Could you share some words for our readers overseas?

The themes that become the source of my work incorporate a lot from American comics I’ve read and other cultures. As I get more opportunities to release my work overseas, I will try my best to deliver from my end the kind of visual impact I’ve received from American comics.

More Heroes and Heroines (ISBN: 978-4-7562-4585-4) featuring Miwa’s cover artwork will go on sale February.

^1^ An American comic book artist. His signature style uses a lot of shadow. Best known for Hellboy.

^2^ American comic book artist, screenwriter and film director. His vivid signature style heavily uses black. His famous series include Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil. Has done a lot of work as a film director and screenwriter.

More Heroes and Heroines
Shirow Miwa Official Site
supercell Official Site


This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

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