The Yuri Times had an interview with Auri Hirao, creator of If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die, (released by TOKYOPOP), the first volume of which has just hit digital bookstores!

Over 1 million copies sold! This hit manga (with yuri elements) about idols and their die-hard fans—said even to have helped spread the use of the term “oshi”,—has wowed fans with anime and live-action drama adaptations, as well as a film adaptation coming this May, and is finally available to read in English!

In Part 1, we talk about Hirao-sensei’s history with art, her inspirations for the series, its characters, and more.

If you would like to read this interview post in Japanese, you can click on the link below.

The Yuri Times: Gokigenyou, Hirao-sensei! First of all, congratulations on the English release of If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die (“Oshibudo“, hereafter)!

Auri Hirao: Thank you.

It’s great that this super-popular series is finally available for English-language readers. Could you explain how Oshibudo came to be?

It was partially my publisher’s idea, actually. Before this, I had another manga series running in Tokuma Shoten’s Comic Ryu. They approached me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a new project, a daily serial webcomic. The original proposal was for 4-page daily shorts, so I drew as many as I could, about all kinds of things…and submitted them for review. Among the many topics were a few shorts about idols and otaku, and the editor in charge really liked those. The editor at the time, Ikai-san, really liked idols, so… They zeroed in on those right away.

So those sketches turned into Oshibudo!

Yes. Suddenly I was to do an actual series. It was a bit of a surprise.

Is there a reason you yourself chose idols and their fans as a theme? 

As I mentioned, the plan was to do something that updated daily, so I really did just write on every topic I could think of. I didn’t set out to write it. There was a lot of material, and idols and otaku just happened to end up mixed in. I really thought the topic would be covered in a few 4-page shorts and, then we’d move on…

What happened to all that other material you wrote, on the themes that didn’t get chosen?

Some of the other pieces were re-incorporated into Seishun no Hikari to Nanka (Takeshobo Comics). (*not licensed in English, no official title)

We’re a big fan of your work, actually, so we’ve read that one as well! Your stories are so gripping no matter the genre. It’s really impressive!

Returning to Oshibudo, I was really struck by the cast of idol fan and otaku characters. They were so realistic! I found myself relating to them constantly.

Well, I am an otaku myself, so… a lot of the inspiration was just conversations I’d actually had myself. For instance, Eripiyo’s proneness to nosebleeds is a nod to something that happened to a close friend of mine (laughs).

That scene was based on real life!?

If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan I Would Die Volume 1 Chapter 1 page 20 © Auri Hirao 2016

It was. They told me their “nose started bleeding” during a concert once, but they didn’t want to miss anything, so they stayed put and watched the show through the end…(laughs) It wasn’t just stories from friends, though. I did a lot of first-hand research in order to write this title. Including slipping into underground idol shows to observe.

Well clearly, it’s exactly because it’s based on lived experience and research that Oshibudo resonates so much with readers.

How about the members of Oshibudo’s fictional idol group, ChamJam? Was there a certain inspiration for any of them?

I just wanted to be sure to create a group where each member was really distinct from the others. When writing a manga, of course you want to make it as interesting as you can, so I thought it would be good to cover as many character types as possible. When it was time to brainstorm, the ideas just wouldn’t stop flowing.

Wow! You are really skilled at drawing manga!

I’m happy you think so. But I will say… Having to then actually be constantly drawing a group of seven members more of a pain than I anticipated.

If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan I Would Die Volume 1 Chapter 1 © Auri Hirao 2016

Is it true that unlike a lot of manga artists these days, you’re still drawing on pen and paper?

Yes, Oshibudo was drawn completely in analogue. I’ve loved drawing since the moment I first held a pen. I think I was about eight years old when I had done my first finished comics.

Wow, that young!?

When I was six or so, I had friends who were really into drawing manga. It put the idea in my head.

I think it’s wonderful that you’re still doing things by hand, in an age when almost every artist has gone digital.

I can draw digitally, of course, but I had decided from the start that Ohshibudo was a work I wanted to keep doing by hand. It takes a dreadful amount of time, but I’m keeping up with as diligently as I can.

This interview with Auri Hirao-sensei will continue in part two! In the second half, we discuss the series’ otaku characters, behind-the-scenes of the manga’s production, as well as messages from Hirao-sensei to the fans. We’ll also be sharing the special autographs we received from her.

Profile – Auri Hirao

Born in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. Winner of the 2nd annual Ryujin Award (Silver Prize). Her series If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die began serializing in 2015. It has since has become a nationwide hit, with a total of more than 1 million copies in print, a TV anime adaptation in 2020, a live-action drama in 2022, and a film version set to premiere in May 2023. The series is available in Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, and now English, gaining popularity overseas as well.

The interview conducted between Auri Hirao-sensei and The Yuri Times co-founder Ayumi Fujishiro in 2021 can be read in both Japanese and English inside Oshi Eigo no Nyuumon (ALC Press Inc.), available now!

Part 2 can be read from the post:

This post was translated by korewa.