[Manga Author: Mai Tsurugina] Accomplishing something that you can do alone

The master appears…. Say what? That’s right, I was honoured to interview Mai Tsurugina, the author of the hit manga and now TV drama “The Chef” 


Now, many of you might be thinking if the main theme of Doujin World is “Doujin” then why are we speaking with a manga pro like Mr. Tsurugina? True, but what you may not know is that there are a lot of professional artists that support many different aspects of doujin artistry and that’s why today we’re bringing you the professional point of view.    


The great Mai Tsurugina; author of a number of hits, such as “The Chef” and “Female Doctor Reika”!



The Author Doesn’t Bend to the Amateur

“As you know, there are people like manga artists, novelists, and musicians whose craft and projects are able to be completed on their own and people are still able to enjoy the finished product. However, manga authors, scenario writers, and the screenwriters for theatre or movies cannot complete their projects alone. So unless you become a professional it’s almost impossible to present those works to the world on your own.”


Indeed… this might be an opinion unique to the author, or possibly a point of contention?


“As an amateur I couldn’t enjoy my work. That’s why I chose the path of becoming a professional. There are times when the original author and the manga artist work together to complete something. In those situations, I feel the both creators can enjoy the finished product.”


For sure, if the aim is to complete one manga … a team up like that could definitely work. However, in the case of Mr. Tsurugina,there is a lot that goes into finding the missing pieces that come together to portray his vision and create a successful product. Things like what art would be the best for the story and choosing what is necessary to include in the manga to convey the main message. It might be more accurate to say that it’s not about the original manga content so much as it’s about what the original plan for entertainment is; what you want to do with it.


“That’s the reason I didn’t follow the path of doujin. I will say that I do think that it’s possible to help the community and contribute to the local area through manga. For example, there’s a confectionary in the area and I really want to help them promote their sweets. I could then say “Let’s write an original manga about it!” or something like that. However, one could wonder if the sponsorship from corporations or the government for something like that would be the same for a doujin artist versus a professional.”


Taking full advantage of the tools your ambition presents you with… That is something that both professionals and doujin creators have in common.



Copyrights Cannot Be Avoided in the Doujin Community

The manga  “The Chef” by Mai Tsurugina is a hit manga, so everyone knows about it. So when it was adapted into a drama, the derivative works really started to increase.  

“Yes, even now there are reports from fans that there is “The Chef” BL doujinshi on the market. The chef in the kitchen… well he’s “doing it”. It’s hard to know what to think when you’re shown something like that… It’s a complicated emotion.”


For sure it would be a complicated feeling if you witnessed a character you created doing something far beyond you imagined them to do, right? 


“The first time I saw it I thought “What is this?!” But you know, that doujin was an expression by someone who must really love my character.”


Mr. Tsuruguna has an amazing capacity!


“There are a lot of manga artists and a lot of really kind people. I think it would be nice if we could have love and respect there between us all. There are many derivative creations; parodies, plagiarisms, homages, inspired works and commemorations, just to name a few. Almost all creative works use hints of other creations to produce something new. Of course, it would be an issue to say, “Copy the characters from a manga and that becomes your work completely!” but in terms of derivative works, I think it’s important to show respect to the original work first. I was even told “The Chef” resembled “Blackjack” at the time I made it. If I had presented the character as a doctor then there may have been some that would have called it a copycat series, however I stuck to the centre focus of the story being food. It was then recognised by the world as a creative piece of work, and became original because it was presented and spread as an original creation.”


Whether you’re a professional or a doujin creator it may be difficult to take a project from start to finish. Even Mr. Tsurugina, a famous manga author, said that he had pushback when he first started the series. However, if you push to put more and more of your essence and vision as an artist into your work it will inevitably come to be an original creation. 


“So if you’re a person who creates derivative works, you should first and foremost respect the original product then  add your own originality little by little from there. You know, for example, cosplay is not just about the manga it comes from. Even if the character is the same, that character will meld with the cosplayer and inevitably have a different personality. And it’s that space in between the cosplayer and the character that I want people to really revel in.”


In regard to doujin creators, we cannot overlook the issue of copywriting. We must bear in mind to never forget to show respect for the original author.



The Unstoppable Ideas… The Many Attempts

Currently, Mr. Tsurugina is not only involved in creating original manga, he is also delving into stage plays. It’s being reported that his recent play is now underway and coming along nicely thanks to him.


“You often hear about manga being adapted to dramas or manga to theatre, right? But I thought it was much more rare (and practically nonexistent) to see the opposite. In this project, the manga was adapted from the theatre. I’m pretty sure that no one has ever done it before; bringing the experience and worldview from actors on stage to manga. It was a result I arrived at after thinking about what I could do using all of the experience I have as a manga author to bring a new take on the subject. Coming soon, my stage play called “Death Penalty Island” will be cartoonized and available on a website called “Manga Kingdom”, so please look forward to it!”


Not just one success, but conquering challenge after challenge. That may be the mark of a true entertainer going far beyond just a manga author


In the end, we received an autograph on coloured paper reading “Impossible feats”! 



If you’re looking to become a professional manga author yourself, check out Tsurugina Production’s homepage:






Shiro Sato

Having started an advertising production company in 2010 whose main business partner is a mail order company, he specialises in direct response advertising.


Rhiannon Charles

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