Anime News Network is running an interview with Takeshi Obata, wherein he mentions Death Note.
Reporter Katriel Paige caught up with him at New York Comic Con to ask questions, including one about how difficult it was to capture the 'cat and mouse' thinking processes visually in the Death Note manga.
After an intervention from editor Koji Yoshida to say that was surely more to do with Tsugumi Obha than Takeshi Obata, the artist did answer the question. He replied,
... in Death Note, a lot of the characters are borderline full-fledged villains, so it was important to capture those manipulative facial expressions so it looked like they were thinking diabolically, just because their faces looked manipulative.
So many of the Death Note characters are 'borderline fully-fledged villains'. Anyone got any thoughts on that? Personally I think it's fair comment!
Guest Blogger Orangepunch brings us a round-up of all the Death Note news and gossip from Takeshi Obata's appearance at New York ComicCon 2014.
The New York ComicCon was held from October 9 through October 12th in New York City, and Takeshi Obata was invited to host two different question and answer panels.
Both had crowds of people wanting to participate, many of whom had to be turned away after the room had filled.
On top of the two Q and A panels, Obata had two signings in which the few lucky fans who were able to get one of the few tickets to attend before they sold out were able to meet Obata, and get something signed by him.
For those who missed out, one fan recorded the panel and posted it to YouTube for fans to watch. (Skip to the below to view it.)
During the panels, Obata discussed his art in his past and present manga and answered questions about his art style, what it was like to work on manga like Death Note, Bakuman, and his others, and how he designed certain characters.
He ended by doing a live drawing of Ryuk and L from Death Note.
Obata and Death Note Related Announcements Released at NYCC
“…He made playing Go look exciting. And then he made a person writing in a book look cool. And then he made people drawing pictures look amazing. He is a legend in the manga industry, and probably the reason you’re at this panel. Introducing the one, the only: Takeshi Obata!”
The Shonen Jump panel had many announcements for their fans, including several exciting ones for Death Note Fans.
A new program from Shonen Jump called Jump Start - which will release internationally the first three chapters of every new series simultaneous with them coming out in Japan - hopes to identify what fans abroad my be interested in reading.
At the same time, they are also launching Jump Back, which will highlight classic hits from Shonen Jump manga. October's focus is upon Death Note! We will have lots of free previews and fun things to see that are Death Note related on their website.
As previously highlighted on Death Note News, the panel also announced that Viz Manga is having a big sale on all manga related to Obata and they are also running a sweepstakes to win exclusive posters and manga signed by Obata. Check out the website to enter.
Takeshi Obata Discussing his Art and Working on Death Note
Death Note is undeniably Obata’s first and greatest success in manga so far. There’s no doubt that the brilliant artistic minds of Ohba and Obata were meant to work together.
We have all our thanks for this pair meeting up due to the editor of Death Note, Koji Yoshida. Yoshida was familiar with Obata’s art style, and after first meeting with Ohba and seeing Death Note, he had a feeling Obata’s “Gothic aesthetic” would make him a good artist for the story.
Obata talked about what it was like when he first met Ohba, and described him as mysterious and cool, and remembers thinking, 'Yeah, he seems like the kind of person I’d be able to come up with a story like this.'
New York ComicCon: Takeshi Obata on Drawing Death Note
Obata’s inspirations for Death Note characters initially came from Ohba’s writing. But, he also drew inspiration from the personality he seemed to get from them.
He described L as weird, eccentric, and strange, yet still cool, and those attributes really intrigued him, so he really wanted that to come across in the drawing of the character as well.
When Obata went about drawing and designing the character of Ryuk, he wanted a true representation of a shinigami, but he also to have fun with it. As he first drew Ryuk, he decided it would be fun to make his costume look like someone who was trying to wear “high fashion for the Milan collection.” And because he gave Ryuk a human face, the artist commented that it was important to pay attention to “not make him too scary or too cute.“
Obata said that, in the end, his design for Ryuk ended up strongly influencing the personality of the character when Ohba wrote him. And this is true across the board.
Of course the initial written design of a character by Ohba influenced how Obata brought them to life in a drawing, but the details, quirks, traits that Obata put into the drawings of characters then influenced how Ohba went on to write them and their behavior in the manga. I think it is interesting how the duo came to work together so perfectly; not only ended up with a captivating story, but characters who were so real, interesting, and had so much personality and depth that it left readers obsessed, to the point where we are still talking about them over a decade on.
Death Note Editor Koji Yoshida Talks about Takeshi Obata
As with any artist, you have to know that the things in their lives which affect and influence them will eventually make it into their art, even if only subtly.
A particularly cute moment from the panel is when it was pointed out during questions about character design that Yoshida, the editor of Death Note, eventually made his way into one of Obata’s later works - Bakuman. The character himself was even named Yoshida!
When Obata was asked how he came up for the design of Yoshida-san, Obata turned and looked at his former editor sitting beside him, and the crowd attending the panel erupted in laughter. Obata commented, “That’s how I see him in real life.”
Yoshida seemed to disagree, declaring that he didn’t actually look much like the character. Though he was impressed with Obata’s ability to bring that character to life.
The editor mentioned that several years back, when they were working on Death Note together, he used to wear a square watch every day. Even though they no longer worked together when Obata was doing Bakuman, Yoshida did notice that his namesake character sported a wristwatch exactly like the one he used to wear.
He believes that it’s Obata’s ability to remember and include such small details like that, which makes him so good at depicting people.
The Artistic Link Between Death Note and Sherlock Holmes
Considering that, I was entirely amused when the crowd had a chance to pose questions and one person asked who Obata’s heroes are. Obata described his first heroes being the characters of manga he read when he was a child. He named Sherlock Holmes, because of “how he would solve the most unbelievable mysteries.”
Death Note is described in the panel as Obata’s first global hit. I think it is great that Obata, as a manga artist, declares Sherlock Holmes as one of his first and standing heroes. When you consider how much it must have influenced him in every moment he was working on Death Note, you can really see how he was able to bring each and every character, no matter how minor, to life on the pages.
Ready to watch it all for yourself? Spot the Takeshi Obata's live drawing of Ryuk and then L, which you can watch in the video (starting at 4:00 and 8:33 in the YouTube videos linked below).
With much thanks to Orangepunch for writing this report for us! If you'd like to guest blog here, just ask. Assuming it's relevant and interesting, I'll probably say yes.
Never miss an update - subscribe to Death Note News feed and/or check out an extended list of the latest Death Note news headlines.
Disclosure: This page generates income for the author based on affiliate relationships with her partners, including Amazon and VigLink.
Site Claim and Authorship Verification: All that follows is for me to prove my authorship of Death Note News in various places. Hoop jumping stuff for me; boring for everyone else.