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SMA8 Interview #11 – Kaji Pato (Excellence Award Runner up)

Vivi Vivi 13/02/2018 19 min read
Kaji Pato is a prize fighter! Though his “ring” might be a studio and his “gloves” a G-Pen, this Brazilian dynamo embodies all the essential qualities that guarantee glorious victory after glorious victory. Determination, focus and the ability to learn from past mistakes are the driving forces of this manga creator, earning him a well deserved Excellence Award RP.  Kaji Pato joins us for a sparring session, to discuss his work, SMA8 and his ambitions for the future. Round 1…*ding* *ding*   Hi Kaji Pato!! Hi!     ABOUT YOU

“I was always drawing”

  Where did you grow up City or Rural? Anything the world should know about? I was born and raised in Sorocaba, a city in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. It’s a real nice mix of urban landscape and spots of calming nature. Unfortunately, most of the people in my city do not appreciate art, which was difficult when I was younger because I was often bullied for my love of drawing. When that happened, I would rush home and draw to forget.     If a friend from the SMAC!ommunity visited you for a sightseeing trip, where would you take them? I would take them straight to a Brazilian restaurant!! (laughs) If there is one thing that makes me proud to be Brazilian, it’s our food! Have you ever tried feijoada? It’s delicious!     What’s is a typical day in your life like? I work as a professional illustrator, so a typical day consists of drawing, drawing and drawing! On the rare occasions I’m not drawing, I spend time with my girlfriend, watching anime and playing card games like Magic the Gathering.  

Kaji has published in Brazil his own comic book titled Quack! That tells the adventures

of Baltazar Dumont and his partner a talking duck.

  What is your favorite movie/music/games? My favorite movie is ROCKYYYYY BALBOAAA!!!!! With music, i’m constantly moved by Brazilian rock songs. I find them very inspirational when drawing manga. I also love anime songs, especially Hajime no Ippo…can you tell that I am a boxing fan? (laughs)     What do you like to do when you are not drawing manga? I’m generally homebody, but I do manage to get out for movies or long walks, exploring the nature around Sorocaba. But to be honest, most of my time is spent drawing manga, reading manga and writing manga…I’m addicted to it! When I’m not absorbed in drawing, I like to watch interesting videos and lecturers and discuss with my girlfriend and friends. I also like to meditate and study spiritual disciplines, which greatly interests me. Learning how to control and focus my breathing helps calm me down and focuses my mind.  

The stress to created something is heavy so Kaji started meditation and is loving it!

  How did you discover manga? Through Anime!! When I was young, we had a channel here that just played anime and I was hooked! I then found a magazine in a bookstore with an article about Brazilian artists creating manga, with characters like the ones in the anime I’d come to love. At 13, I was already passionate about drawing, and once I discovered manga, there was no going back.     What attracted you to manga? There is no other form of sequential art that comes close to manga, it has the best narrative of all. I love how the reader can really feel a character’s emotions. For example, we could never eat the delicious looking dishes in Shokugeki no Soma, but we can understand how good, or bad they are through the characters reactions. Manga is the perfect way I can express myself, improve and show people what moves me.  

“I just want for at least one person to say, “I love Kaji Pato’s work””

  Why is manga important to you ? Ever since I first discovered manga, I was determined to become a mangaka. A goal I have been dreaming about ever since that first, fateful day in the bookstore. I have read millions of manga, and with every chapter, I constantly wondered “when will I be this good?!”     Was there an artist or story that inspired you to become a manga creator? Yoshihiro Togashi sensei is a god!! My favorite manga by Yoshihiro sensei is Hunter x Hunter. Though it deals with dark and heavy subjects, the manga always delivers a message of friendship and hope. His works use follow a very interesting narrative, as if he’s building a game. I train and study this hard because I hope Yoshihiro sensei will read one of my stories!     Is manga popular in your country? It’s very popular! Brazil has the biggest manga and anime event in Latin America called “Anime Friends”. The event is always sold out because we love manga so much!     What kind of environment do you work in while you’re drawing manga? My room is a quiet and calm place, when my sister isn’t playing violoncello in the next room that is! (laughs) I draw everything digitally. Using only my notebook and tablet.    

Kaji said he has Enrico on his table, can you find him?

    What challenges do you face creating manga? The biggest challenge is maintaining focus. I have a very disorganized mind, which makes me very anxious when creating manga so meditation and playing card games really helps to keep me calm and focused. Similarly, it’s a challenge to keep from getting distracted! Working for long periods can be difficult as I’ve started to get back pain. But above all, it’s being a mangaka in Brazil. Illustration is not something that is valued or appreciated here.     ABOUT YOUR WIN   How do you feel about winning the Excellence Award? I was soooo happy!! I felt like I hadn’t applied the suggestions in the Taiyo and Mochi videos very well, I could definitely have done better, but I learned a lot. Next time, I’m aiming for the Grand Prix or Runner Up prize!     How did your family react? It was early morning when the results came out so I was trying not to scream. My girlfriend was with me and she hugged, more to suppress my joyful screams than anything! My Mother started to panic uncontrollably, thinking I would have to move to Japan!     How did you find out about SMA? Max Andrade, my friend who attended the Master Class. He told me about a Brazilian  guy who had one SMA twice, called Ichirou. We are now firm friends too.     What were your thoughts on the theme? As soon as I saw the theme, I knew right away that I wanted to explore sports, but struggled to know what, how and why. After talking with several people, and researching a lot of videos, I suddenly remembered a Brazilian sporting hero… Ayrton Senna. After watching many videos of the F1 legend, I decided to focus on Formula 1 to reflect Senna’s fighting spirit.     What was the inspiration for you entry? Before I settled on the Senna idea, I was taking inspiration from the conflicts in my life at the time. My relationship with my girlfriend wasn’t going very well, though I wanted to show how much I loved her through my manga. She was my muse for previous works, so it was easy to place in the lead role for this story too. I wanted her to face a hard decision, either win or save the life of her rival, me! Both the manga and my real life both had happy endings I’m please to announce. My relationship has improved so much and I won an award in the world’s biggest international manga competition! I am very, very happy!     How long did it take you to complete? It took me around a month to write and draw the story. Drawing the cars and the race scene was very fun!     THE FUTURE   What are you working on at the moment ? I’m currently working on my series “QUACK” here in Brazil. It’s a story of an adventurer and his duck friend who is always reprimanding him for his outrageous behavior. I really like these two characters, especially their love/hate relationship. I’m also working on concept designs for a Brazilian animation, some freelance work and developing ideas for SMA8!!  

Kaji Pato is working hard preparing for the final of his Quack series this year!

    Where do you see your future career in manga ? I hope to, one day have my own big series where I will be able to support myself. I’m not in this for the money, but if I suddenly become a millionaire, I wouldn’t complain (laughs)! For me though, it’s all about telling my stories. I spend around 6 – 10 hours on my freelance work which makes focusing on my stories difficult, but I keep determined. I’m always evolving, always studying and improving. It’s a fight, in a country where the market is hard and manga is viewed as an afterthought when up against Western style comic artists. But it’s a fight I’m willing to win, with persistence and strength!  

“…think long term, everything will be worth it at the end”

  What advice would you give to someone that wants to do something similar ? The most important thing is to think long term, everything will be worth it at the end. Keep learning, keep improving in your spare time. Money comes and goes but learning, and the skills gainer will be there forever.     Anything you’d like to shout to the SMAC!ommunity? Hey! My name is Kaji Pato and I am really grateful to be here! Dreams can be very hard to realize, but not trying at all will achieve nothing. So fight on and keep dreaming! Mine is to make manga and I promise this won’t be the last time you see me here!   Thank you Kaji Pato!   Becoming successful in any creative endeavor requires determination, focus and above all, the will to fight for your dreams! The encouraging words of Kaji Pato will ring true with a lot aspiring manga creators, especially those who have experienced setbacks, yet still keeping their goal in sight. We hope you carry on fighting Kaji Pato, the SMAC!ommunity will cheer you on every step of the way!   SMAC!ommunity, do you have a creative itch you’re dying to scratch? Are you overflowing with story ideas? If yes, then start drawing for SMA9 round TODAY!!   Do you want to join the world’s biggest manga community? Start drawing for the SMA9 round TODAY! SMA9 is the first time we’ve offered THREE themes to choose from! If you feel like a challenge, why not pick two, or all three themes! Make manga your language too! You have until March 31st, 2018 to say “HELLO” to your new friends! Click the banner for more details on how to enter…     Twitter – @SmacViVi Facebook – Vivi Fabbri Smac Banner photo by Iwao