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Christopher Tordoff Christopher Tordoff 09/12/2020 10 min read

Pen-Name: Laica Chrose Round: SMA14: “Creature, Spirits and Monsters” Manga: The Tree of Farewells Award: Excellence Award Name: Laica Chrose Country: Born and raised in Brazil, currently based in Hong Kong. Favorite manga: I have to say I was heavily influenced by Sailor Moon and CLAMP! I also love the works from Igarashi Daisuke, Irie Aki, Mori Kaoru, Sahara Mizu, Ōima Yoshitoki, Shirahama Kamome… I have so many favourites, I can’t even name everyone! I also like to read doujinshis from independent authors I discover on Twitter or events like Comitia! Favorite movie: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and Laputa: Castle in the Sky were the first Ghibli movies I ever watched, and they are my all-time favourites! The world building is so beautiful and intriguing, they made a huge impact on my childhood! As for non-anime movies, I love Iwai Shunji’s “Swallowtail Butterfly”. The setting is an alternative universe Tokyo, with an atmosphere that resembles Hong Kong. Migrants overflow the city and the main character is a third-culture-kid, which speaks to me a lot!   QUESTIONS   ABOUT THE SMA
  1. How does it feel to win a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award?
It’s a great honour to have my work assessed by big names in Japan. Getting their valuable feedback is a huge motivation to keep on creating! It’s also very rewarding when people around the world reach out saying they read and liked my entries!

  1. What was the inspiration behind your winning work?
I was researching some myths and urban legends from my hometown and found out about a centenary tree that had been neglected for a long time. And even though it was close to my birthplace, I or my family had not even heard of her, showing how forgotten she was – and that intrigued me. Apparently, they finally began efforts to preserve her, but some fear it is too late. My story’s end is open to interpretation, but the last scene may be only a vision of the tree’s wish of what should happen, and not necessarily a happy ending in real life.  
  1. What challenges did you face making your manga? How did you overcome them?
I had less time to work on my entry this round as I was finishing another manga one month before the SMA deadline. But that limitation actually turned out to be a positive factor and made me think of a more direct and concise story, which I think was a step up from my previous SMA entries, when I used to think a story needed to be an epic to be powerful.

  1. How and when did you start making manga? Any advice for beginners?
I started drawing in manga style during my teens, inspired by my favourite titles from CLAMP, Sailor Moon and the Ghibli films. But I only started creating my own stories recently, when I realised I was not able to express my ideas solely through illustrations. I started studying some basic storytelling, like the 3-act structure. I’m still learning about it, but I can say I learned a lot by actually making manga. I realised finishing a story (even a short one) is a skill we must improve that is just as important as drawing. Anyone can start a story, create concepts of world building and characters, but what about finishing it? So, my advice would be finish your story first! The first attempts won’t be the best, but the good ones will follow eventually!  
  1. What was the first manga you picked up?
Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth from Nakayoshi magazine, which I used to buy from a bookstore at Liberdade, the Japanese neighbourhood in São Paulo.

  1. Which manga changed your life?
Detective Conan! I consider myself self-taught in Japanese thanks to this manga! And getting to know the language allowed me to get to know more about Japan through the internet, and eventually it made me interested in studying in Japan!  
  1. Which manga character do you most identify with? Why? 
Shizuku from Whisper of the Heart! Although I also read the manga afterwards, it was the Ghibli adaptation that caught my heart at first. I like how Shizuku develops as a person while struggling with her creative writing. She sets a 2-month challenge to test her skills, just to realise she’s still a rough stone. But like everything in life, the process matters more than the outcome, and I believe many can identify with how Shizuku faced her challenges.  
  1. What kind of manga do you want to make next?
I have ideas for several stories and I hope I can finish them all someday! On my list is psychological horror, a war action, a dark fantasy and a heartwarming slice of life with a fantasy twist!


  1. What industry do you work in (If manga making isn’t your primary job)? How do you relax?
I’m a full-time mum, and making manga is actually my best way to relax! Optimise and carve out some free time to draw is my everyday challenge!  
  1. Where do you see your manga career in 5 years’ time?
I’d love to be creating manga full-time by then! And hopefully I’ll be skilled enough to put together all the ideas I have in mind!  
  1. What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®?
I’d say entering the SMA on a regular basis does improve your skills because deadlines force you to think about solutions within the limitations, and a provided theme (which may be something you’d never pick yourself) pushes you out of your comfort zone!

Christopher Tordoff

Christopher Tordoff