“I also like the “dumpling head” look.”
We sent out the call for questions and you responded! We chose 5 of the best, from researching a profession to building tension on the page. We’ll now let Arai Mamare-sensei take over!
QUESTION 1: How do you research specialist vocations, such as pharmacy, to ensure the manga is accurate?
I actually consult with a supervising pharmacist called Mr. Tomino, who allows me to visit the hospital and take photos. Depending on the story, I interview medical professionals working within a specialized field. For example, with stories involving cancer treatment, I consult with the pharmacist for accurate depictions of cancer drug therapy. I also regularly read pharmacists blogs and observe their professional social media activity.
QUESTION 2: How do you approach designing a protagonist? What’s your goal in making them interesting?
The character isn’t a “super-pharmacist”, but a realistic young woman who goes through the same struggles as the rest of us. I didn’t know much about the profession when I started the manga, so I knew it would be difficult to create a unique pharmacist character. I also wanted the readers who weren’t familiar with the job to know more about pharmacy. As for appearance, most characters wear white coats so it’s difficult to show their individuality via their clothes – so I made her hair the most striking feature. I also like the “dumpling head” look.
QUESTION 3: What kind of stories did you want to create when you first started? How have your creative goals changed?
Most revolved around daily life with an added “touch of mystery”. I liked to depict small, yet significant fluctuations in people’s emotions in slightly different settings. Honestly, I prefer dark, yet simple stories. But in Unsung Cinderella, I try to create a “crisp” atmosphere as much as possible. By saying I like to write simple stories doesn’t mean I write for simple magazines, it means I want as many people to enjoy reading them as possible.
QUESTION 4: When laying out the page, how do you build up tension in dramatic scenes?
I am always aware of making the manga easy for the reader to follow when crafting the structure of the story and laying out the pages. As for building tension …having a good balance of art and “camera work” with tense moments in the story always seems to work.
QUESTION 5: What was your initial response to the idea of making manga about a pharmacist? How did you tackle it to make it entertaining?
The first time my editor approached me with the idea, I had no knowledge about pharmacy at all. I had no knowledge about the medical professional at all, even in manga so I thought it was impossible to develop a concept around pharmacy and I would drown in technical information. But I began to balance the realistic and accurate medical setting with human drama and the lives of the people who operate in this field. So, I keep writing with this balance as I explore these concepts further.