Manga Artist Haruichi Fujiyama: I Want to Always be Creating with Others




Cultural Exchange through Illustration

To be a doujin is to be creative, and if you are always being creative it could lead to something profitable! That’s what happened with today’s interviewee, manga artist Haruichi Fujiyama. 


“That’s right, I started as a doujin. Nowadays Japanese artists might get recognition by sharing their works on Twitter, but back in the day, we used a site called deviantART, which is like a foreign version of pixiv, so that’s where I started. After a few years, more people started using pixiv and Twitter so I switched, and that’s where I uploaded my fanart of a manga acalled ULTIMO. Stan Lee worked on the original draft of ULTIMO, so it was also pretty popular overseas.”


The ULTIMO fan art that started it all


We’ve heard that otaku overseas are more zealous even than Japanese otaku. Is that true, DoujinWorld readers? In any case, Haruichi-sensei’s art attracted the attention of many American otaku.


“All of a sudden I started getting messages in English. Of course I couldn’t speak any English–I’d barely just managed to pass the Eiken [an English proficiency test]–so I scrabbled together what I remembered from using deviantART and somehow managed to communicate with them. But in the end, I realized that words weren’t what I needed.”


Huh?? What could express your thoughts better than words?


“Illustrations. I’m actually a fujoshi [a woman who likes manga about gay male couples]…I mean, of course, I like yuri and male-female couplings too, but…Anyway, there are fujoshi all over the world, and all you have to do to communicate with them is to share illustrations of your favorite shippings. Thanks to that, I was invited to a chat group with four other people, where we had fun communicating and sharing our culture through drawings.”


I think I know what you mean. It must be hard for foreign fans to find fellow fujoshi, so to find one in the original otaku nation of Japan, and one as good at drawing as you…They probably couldn’t let you slip away!


The cover of Haruichi-sensei’s first commercial comedy manga. “I was so happy!” she said. 


The website for an indie-made original drama CD that she distributed at a previous Summer Comiket


Original drama CD and novelty goods distributed at Comiket and sold at bookstores and on Amazon


“By the way, I learned that in other countries, they use different terminology when talking about yaoi. For example, when we talk about different shippings in Japan, we usually use A x B, but overseas they say A / B.”


The more we talked with Haruichi-sensei, the more fujoshi knowledge we gained. We’ll keep these little tidbits in our arsenal for future reference…



What Made Her Start Being Creative

By the way, when did you start being artistic?


“Hmm…Probably around preschool. I asked people to take me to art studios because I always liked drawing. Then, when I was in elementary school, I started to practice drawing manga. I remember one time in middle school I was drawing a portrait of my teacher in class, and they caught me and confiscated it. I still remember the pleased expression on my teacher’s face.”


That’s true. It might be kind of hard to scold a student for drawing a really good likeness of you, even if it was in the middle of class.


“I was in the art club, and I won my first art prize for designing the school culture festival poster, so I continued doing art in high school.”


A sketch from her first year of junior high school


A poster she made in junior high school


Unfortunately, when she was a first-year in high school, Haruichi-sensei had to take a lot of time off from school. 


“I couldn’t go to school for about half a year. But a really close friend came to my house and drew me out, and we’re still good friends today!!”


One day, that friend said one simple thing that turned Haruichi-sensei’s life upside down. 


“Out of nowhere, she said, I’m going to start a doujinshi, so you have to help me!’ and all of sudden we were making a doujinshi. By the time I was in my second year of high school I was surrounded by really good friends, and I thought, ‘Being a doujin is really fun!!’”


Such a realization helped revitalize her creativity. 


“I’d made a book, so next I wanted to make a movie and unveil it at the next culture festival. I wrote the script and directed it myself…Now that I think about it, I think that’s the reason why I have so much creative vitality now.”


A few panels of her comedy manga


More than Just Manga

That’s right. Being creative is so much fun. And if you do it with like-minded friends, it’s even better. 


“Somebody once said, ‘I always want to live like it’s the night before the culture festival.’ Being creative is really like that. Making something with other people is really fun! And not just manga. Right now I’m learning how to do more and more things, like making videos. I’m even going to school for 3D modeling.”


Haruichi-sensei’s workspace. It’s so neat and clean!


Haruichi-sensei’s other workspace. “When I get tired of one desk, I move to the other one. I draw on this. My cat always gets in the way.” Isn’t her cat cute?


Learning through Manga? Haruichi-sensei’s Latest Project

Haruichi-sensei’s newest manga was released earlier this year, but you’ll be surprised to hear that it’s a manga that doubles as a science reference book. 


“There are already quite a few ‘manga textbooks’ on the market, but this one really is a manga!!”



Learning difficult subjects through manga is fun!


The above sample is a lesson on density. It’s surprisingly thorough, but while it’s very educational, it’s also pretty entertaining!


But for someone who doesn’t really like studying, like me, we’ve been betrayed many times by these kinds of books. 


“Right? Other textbooks like this haven’t really been manga. But this one is different! It really is a manga!! You could almost say all you needed for school all along was manga.”


Wow…well, if you put it that way, it almost makes me want to check it out. Maybe I’ll even start studying again. 


Haruichi-sensei only recently finished this project. Is she taking a break now?


“No. Each person has different rest requirements, and in my case, I get bored if I lay in bed or scroll the Internet…I want to keep enjoying doing creative things with other people forever!”


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