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Gaiden Memoirs part 4

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Questions for Minekura Kazuya Sensei!

Q: Of all the “Saiyuki Gaiden” characters, who has Minekura Sensei taken a special liking to? (Aichi Prefecture, MA-san) A: An unforgettable… but honestly, basically I love them all (the four main characters equally without exception), and they’re all dear to me. Personally, the ‘preferred man’ I openly drew is Tenpou, and the ‘ideal man’ I drew full-throttle is Kenren (laughs). I think ‘preference’ and ‘ideal’ have, ignoring their roots, rather different feelings. Moreover, this military man combo itself might be a symbol of Minekura’s personal tastes.

Q: If you were to assign the “Saiyuki Gaiden” characters to be your lover, older/younger brother, parent, friend, boss, and subordinate, who would be who? (Tokyo City, KM-san) If you were to date one of the four, who would it be? (Chiba Prefecture, MY-san) A: D-date? (sweatdrop) These characters are all like my children, so dating any one of them would be unthinkable… and seriously thinking about it is embarrassing, anyway. Lover = Tenpou (Though, I’ve got a bad feeling I’m choosing a relative, laughs) Older Brother = Kenren (Even though he’s most likely younger than me) Younger Brother = Goku (Gaiden’s Goku might be more of a nephew than a younger brother) Friend = Konzen (I want to teach him some bad games) Boss = Kannon (Because she’s a surprisingly amazing person) Subordinate = Jiroushin (Because he’s a surprisingly nice guy)

IMAGE: I’ll love them forever ♥ (Shiga Prefecture, F-san)

Q: Does “Saiyuki Gaiden” have an image song, or character theme songs? (Hyogo Prefecture, MA-san) A: Fundamentally, I already have the image songs for the illustration I’m working on at any given time (I listen to them on repeat while I draw). Gaiden, at any rate, has sakura for a theme, so from before while drawing I’ve been listening to Moriyama Naotarou [森山直太郎]-san’s “Sakura (solo)” [さくら(独音)sakura (dokuon)], “Wind Song” [風唄 kazeuta] and the like, but I’ve received a lot of suggestions from readers, one after another, saying Hajime Chitose [元ちとせ]-san’s “Spring Memory” [春のかたみ haru no katami], KOKIA-san’s songs, Nana Mujika [ナナムジカ]-san’s songs, and others “match Gaiden”. This was from around the time of the 3rd volume? It was right when the story entered its climax, so all the songs really, really helped to build the tension. It’s completely different when I have music. I have a Gaiden Image Song folder in my workplace iTunes. As for recently released songs, I often listen to Tsuru [鶴] (<- band name)’s “Sakura” [桜]. It’s a little different feel from the songs I tossed out earlier; those are very simple, but that’s good too.

Someone else singing Moriyama Naoto’s ”Wind Song” in karaoke Hajime Chitose’s ”Spring Memory” Tsuru’s ”Sakura”

Q: In the main “Saiyuki”, Sanzo and the others’ birthdays are decided; do Konzen and the others have birthdays? (SN-san) A: They don’t. After all, the idea of ‘time’ in Heaven is fuzzy. Even if they had a calendar, it would be set up quite differently… Moreover, Sanzo and the other’s birthdays are dubious, too (I mean, they’re all characters of uncertain birth… pained smile)

Q: What type of book did Tenpou loan Konzen? A detective story? Sci-fi? Don’t tell me it was a romance novel! (Or was it An{ }an Man, same as Goku?) Konzen said, “It was rather engrossing,” so I got curious. (Nagasaki Prefecture, HM-san) A: I’m only imagining this, but I think it’s probably a detective story. If Tenpou chose it thinking of Konzen, it’s probably something like a not-too-difficult, series-type adventure-detective novel (one recommended for middle school and above). Something befitting his character… But what if it was actually manga or something?

Q: When you draw these four characters, what are the points you pay attention to for each? (Osaka City, HM-san) Please tell us the special points you draw on the characters. (Saitama Prefecture, Ina Satsuki-san) A: This isn’t limited to Gaiden; it applies to any character I draw. I don’t want to turn their personalities into symbols. I want them to be raw and complicated on the inside, while wearing a thin symbolic skin. I went ahead and named this the “Strawberry Daifuku Law”… Even though I don’t like strawberry daifuku. Especially in the case of Gaiden, since the final goal becomes one, I wanted to draw (the piercing-ness of) their individual wills, more so than focus on harmony. And I wanted to preserve the parts of them that are different from the Sanzo Ikkou. To put a drawing process into words, I believe that once the inside is determined, expressions and movements will naturally follow, so I don’t really think, “I’ll draw him like this,” or “Let me draw him like that.” I think about what ‘is like’ a certain character and what ‘isn’t like’ him, and everything about that character…… I’m sorry, I didn’t explain that well at all (sweatdrop).

IMAGE: Saiyuki Gaiden Good work. (Tokyo City, Kuon-san)

IMAGE: Minekura Kazuya Sensei, Thank you for your hard work this long serialization! I like the innocent and cute Goku! (Shizuoka Prefecture, Kazara-san)

Q: I noticed that the “Saiyuki” members and the “Gaiden” members have slightly differing personalities; is there any particular part you paid special attention to? (Tokyo City, AM-san) A: I wrote this in volume 1’s afterward as well, but I drew them to be completely different individuals. So conversely I thought, “It’s hard to draw how they’re similar…” Concluding “They’re the Sanzo Ikkou’s previous incarnations!” was a little different from what I intended, so I purposely didn’t state it at the beginning. So at the beginning of Gaiden I dared to draw them quite similarly (their expressions and behaviors) in order to emphasize the link with the Sanzo Ikkou. By the second half, I had no inclination to draw them similarly anymore (laughs). I just left things to how I thought they would act. But, yeah, all their faces are structured exactly alike. I figured, if the personality was different, whatever oozed through would be different too.

Q: I know that “Saiyuki Gaiden” ‘s goal was set from the beginning, but how long ago did Sensei mix up the plot for the last arc? (Tokyo City, Sa~ra-san) A: The last arc, huh… Ever since the beginning of serialization, I ‘vaguely’ had the plot for the last half of volume 3 until the end, but at first I didn’t allow myself to think about it. I gradually created a clear flow up to the end at about the time Seiten Taisei went wild and the four escaped. It was kind of like I was thinking along with them, “Okay, what to do now.”… I braced myself for the tale’s ‘final section’ at the same time they did.

IMAGE: (Okinawa Prefecture, MA-san)

IMAGE: (Hyogo Prefecture, MM-san)

Q: Were Konzen, Tenpou, and Kenren’s deaths and the order of their deaths decided from the start? Or were they decided as the story progressed? (Niigata Prefecture, MA-san) A: As I just described, I had vaguely set the order. In the end, ‘vaguely’ became ‘clearly’ without hesitation or change. I think Tenpou was the only one whose expressions I worried over… It was difficult, in many senses. Tenpou’s battle scene monologue, I think it resembles a mountain climber. He had to shut out all unnecessary feelings like fear or guilt, aim for his goal (mountaintop), and mechanically move his feet. Calmly dealing with what needs to be done and thinking of something completely different in his head… I think that is the easy-going stoic-ness of the man called Tenpou… Ah, the one and only thing that changed from my original plan was Goujun’s ending. I had planned to have him commit suicide at the end, but I didn’t like having the man who witnessed Kenren’s last cry, take his own life.

Q: Please tell me how Tenpou and Konzen met! (OS-san, many others) A: … I wanted to sketch this out somewhere… but it’s one episode that I couldn’t fit in. I plan to draw it someday. I’m sorry all my answers are like this.

Q: What kind of meaning does the mark on Kenren Taisho’s forehead hold? (Saitama Prefecture, SC-san, many others) A: It’s like a symbol of one’s family. Like Jiroushin and the Sanbutsushin, it seems that Kenren is actually from a rather highly-ranked family. But it looks like he didn’t manage to become a bureaucrat.

Q: In “Saiyuki Gaiden”, everyone takes part in the drinking parties, but all of them, who can handle the most alcohol? (Hokkaido, MS-san) A: I think it’s Kenren. Just looking at him, he always seems drunk, but I think he actually drinks a lot, and it doesn’t seem like he’d ever get completely smashed. Tenpou is the type to get generally happy (talkative) when drunk, and then pass out somewhere, suddenly like a string’s been cut. Konzen’s the type to not outwardly show it when he’s drunk, but as he drinks his face gets whiter, and at the end he pukes (laughs). Incidentally, Goujun knows how to ‘socially drink’ at a drinking party, so he can handle quite a lot.

Q: The gate needed a password to open; what was the one Tenpou gave to Konzen? (Italy, codeveronic-san) A: It required taking down a memo, so it was probably an irregular list of letters and numbers, not a series of words or a quote.

Q: Do Goku, Konzen, Kenren, and Tenpou have surprising (hidden) facets? If there are any episodes concerning this, I’d love to know. (Mie Prefecture, Saori-san) A: Hmm, what would you call “surprising”…? Something like how Kenren, said to have few siblings, actually has five siblings, or how Konzen, who is lacking so much in physical activity, actually has only 5% body fat (laughs)? Tenpou has flown by being surprising and is a ‘weirdo, plain and simple’, so I can’t really say much there… (laughs). Ah, Kenren is good at calligraphy and drawing, but Tenpou’s writing is too sloppy and messy, no one can read it, and he sucks at drawing too (he’s on par with Downtown’s Great Artist Hamada*)…… I suppose that’s not particularly surprising.

  • Downtown is a comedy group, and Hamada Masatoshi is a comedian/singer

Hamada’s drawing of the Statue of Liberty

Q: About how many years apart in age are Goku, Konzen, Tenpou and Kenren? Please tell me the characters’ (phsycal) ages. (Kanagawa Prefecture, MM-san, many others) A: As I wrote earlier, because there isn’t a concept of time, their ages aren’t decided. Personally, if I were to liken them to humans, Kenren and Tenpou would be about 28, Konzen would be barely younger than that… I think. As for Goku… I only thought of him as ‘tiny.’

IMAGE: Tenpou (Niigata, WM-san)

Q: Why does Ken-nii hate heights? If there’s a reason/episode where he came to hate them, please tell us! (Aichi Prefecture, Yohta-san) A: His fear of heights is most likely an inborn one, and the fact that his legs unconsciously freeze up in high places is something he just can’t accept (laughs). He hated that, so ever since he was small he dared himself to climb to high places and jump off. He kept repeating the process until he conquered that height (and ended up with the habit of climbing things), but as to be expected, extremely high heights were still impossible. He didn’t want his subordinates to find out because it isn’t cool, but Tenpou alone realized and, on top of that, turned it into a joke.

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