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 second 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 the second half, we discuss the series’ cast of otaku characters, some behind-the-scenes of the manga’s production, as well as messages from Hirao-sensei to the fans. We are also planning a giveaway for an autograph board signed by Auri Hirao-sensei herself! Check the end of the interview for details.
Part 1 can be read from the post:
If you would like to read this interview post in Japanese, you can click on the link below.
The Yuri Times: Even if you only planned on writing a few shorts, it’s expanded well beyond that—nine volumes out already. …And it’s still going!
Auri Hirao: I’m surprised, myself. I really didn’t think it would get this long… I had envisioned maybe five volumes, at most. But when I got there, I felt like there was still so much left to say. I wanted to see my vision to its end. And thanks to all the support from readers, I’m able to keep it going.
We’re eager to see where the Oshibudo story goes, and so are your other readers!
Last time, we talked a little bit about inspirations for your indie idol group “ChamJam.” How about the cast of otaku characters? How did you come up with all of them?
Honestly, I didn’t have an image of how I wanted any of them to look beforehand. I just figured it out as I was drawing. Most of them were designed on the spot while I worked on Chapter 1.
Oshibudo may be about idols, but the fans are the real center of the story. That role reversal is something that really sets it apart from other series that existed at the time.
Right. When it first started serializing, I felt like I hadn’t seen an idol fan as a protagonist anywhere.
Nowadays, though, it feels like there are more and more series with idol fans as main characters. …Though with Oshibudo beginning in 2015, we’re certainly counting you as the first!
Part of my motivation back then was definitely wanting to see otaku celebrated in a story for a change. It really motivated me to draw.
It’s really bold of you to want to attempt something no one else had done before! You’re a real legend in the manga world, and you truly could have been the catalyst for all the other otaku-celebrating works we see today.
There have been more series lately revolving around the concept of “oshi”, that’s true. I love drawing manga, and I’m going to keep at it. If you want to talk legends, though… No one can compare to Osamu Tezuka-sensei. I’m a huge fan, myself.
Is it true that you won your first award when you were just in junior high school?
Yes, when I was fourteen. Since then, there have been times I’ve gone without having a comic to work on, or drawing much at all—but manga is something I love to this day. It helps to remember why I started in the first place—and to treat each and every project like my very first one.
As fans ourselves, something we really admire about you is how humble you still are despite having become such a renowned and successful artist. You’ve published not just Oshibudo, but so many other series, not to mention short stories and anthology entries…
Yes, I really have written a lot.
Having worked on so many series… I’m sure you’ve run into all sorts of problems over the years. That sounds like a lot to keep up with.
Where do I start? (lol) But anyway, when things do get hectic, I have my editor and assistants to keep me on the right track.
Well you know what they say—it’s the hard work that’s worth doing!
While I do work digitally sometimes, I drew Oshibudo completely by hand. A lot of the backgrounds, tone work, and such were done with the help of assistants at the studio. There have been ups and downs, sure, but our assistants are really great. The work can be difficult at times, but with the help of dedicated assistants, the joy of completing a project is all the more satisfying. While the production process can take time, we are all working hard and persevering through it.
It sounds like you have a great team to rely on. Well, let me just say—it’s really impressive that you’ve chosen to commit to drawing Oshibudo by hand, even when you could have gone digital.
Let’s talk about the English edition. The volume 1 and 2 are currently available as e-books, with the printed version of volume 1 scheduled to be released in June and volume 2 in August. We’re so excited! Oshibudo is such a wonderful series; it’s great that with TOKYOPOP’s digital version out and physical editions on the way, readers in English-speaking countries will now get to enjoy it as well! Before we wrap up, do you have anything you’d like to say to the fans?
Yes. Please know that your support really does mean a lot to me. I really do have a lot of fun drawing this series, so it’s heartwarming to see all the support. I really hope you continue to get joy out of reading it.
Hirao-sensei, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us!
As thanks to all our readers, The Yuri Times is hosting a giveaway: One winner will receive an autograph board signed by Auri Hirao-sensei herself!
Please complete the following form to enter the giveaway. We will send an email to the winner at a later time, so please ensure that you enter the correct email address.
Deadline: 2023/4/30, Japan Time
※This giveaway has been ended.
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!
This post was translated by korewa.