The Yuri Times had an interview with Ayu Inui sensei who is the creator of If We Leave on the Dot released by Shodensha Publishing/MangaPlanet! This is one of the monumental manga to boost the Shakaijin yuri genre and even brings readers who usually don’t read yuri into this. Ayu Inui-sensei has shared so much about its backgrounds and even the draft note with us. This interview column splits into two parts, so don’t miss both of them!

The Yuri Times: Gokigenyou, Ayu Inui sensei! Thank you very much for this opportunity and congratulations on your release of If We Leave on the Dot English Edition. We are very excited to have this interview!

Ayu: Thank you! It is my pleasure. Actually, this is my first time having an interview and I can’t speak English… Would it be okay?!

Don’t worry, Ayu sensei! Not only in Japan but you have so many fans overseas, so we will release this in both Japanese and English. We hope your fans enjoy this article.

Good to hear that. Please feel free to ask anything! I brought my sketchbooks that I used for planning If We Leave on the Dot.

Wow! Thank you so much! You used two sketchbooks to plan four volumes of If We Leave on the Dot! Such a well planner!

I have never created a serialized manga before. If We Leave on the Dot is my first long manga that I worked on so… After my 2nd Doujin manga was released, I received an offer from an editor of Shodensha Publishing.

What a surprise! When did you start drawing?

I have loved drawing since I was little. I am an only child so I remember I always enjoyed drawing when I was in kindergarten and started copying manga when I was in primary school. I knew there were “Doujin” activities such as Comic Market and Comitia when I was around 10-11 years old, but I was living in the countryside so I was not able to join any of them.

I used to post my works including fanfiction manga on the Internet community but I felt I was not good at it, so I drew only illustrations and fanart. I started job hunting when I was in the 4th grade of University, one day I suddenly asked myself — “Why don’t I create my original story and join Comitia? I will not have much time to draw which I truly love once I start working!” I didn’t find my job at the moment though (lol).

I thought I should give it a try before it’s too late. Also, as long as I have an experience, I felt it would be easier to join anytime in the future. I found that creating an original story instead of fanfiction manga was a lot more fun when I was creating my first Doujin manga She “Falls” in Love.

Deciding a concept, drafting a plot, creating rough drafts… all the process made me excited! Before I started creating Doujin manga, I thought I would not be able to continue drawing once I became a full-timer, however, I was actually able to continue creating manga even after graduated from my university.

Drawing manga became the top priority in my life, therefore, I quit my first job in less than a year because I could NOT leave the office on the dot! (lol) I couldn’t release any original manga at Comitia due to too much overtime work while I was working as a new graduate…

Haha. That’s really funny! The artist who draws If We Leave on the Dot used to be an employee at the company where required to work overtime.

Although I quit my first job, I still needed to survive, so I found a company that doesn’t require overtime. I have more time to work on my original Doujin manga, but I even draw manga in a fully packed train on the way to the office because I really love drawing manga.

You are so passionate! Your pen name for Doujin is “Ayu” and the circle name is “Inu Ha Sakana” (Dog is Fish), right?

Yes. I started using “Ayu” as my pen name when I was around 10-11 years old, so I don’t remember why I chose “Ayu,” but I really like it so I continue using it until now for Doujin manga. As for my circle name, it is named by my ex-girlfri…

Wait, sorry, excuse me… I understand you have a girlfriend now? And you even have a serialized essay manga about you and your girlfriend’s daily life on Comic Yurihime… Is it ok telling us about that?!

Haha! That is totally fine! Kon san (Ayu Inui sensei’s girlfriend) is the one I love now. She is very kind and open-minded. Anyway, it is very difficult to change the circle name so there is no choice for me but to continue using the name which my ex-girlfriend gave me. (lol) If you are planning to decide your circle name, please pay utmost attention…

How about “Inui” part…?

It is named by me, don’t worry! (lol) When If We Leave on the Dot on Manga JAM by Shodensha Publishing is confirmed to be released, my editor suggested having a kind of surname because there were too many “Ayu.” The editors from Shodensha Publishing are amazing and very supportive. I could draw and finish my first long manga If We Leave on the Dot, because of them! I always appreciate and feel very lucky to have them.

How did you start planning If We Leave on the Dot?

When I self-published my second original manga SUNDAY. 1:00PM at Comitia, the editor from Shodensha Publishing emailed me. She casually asked me to have a dinner meeting so I happily said “I would love to!” because I thought I could have a free dinner. (lol)

She offered me to draw original manga on Manga Jam, and also promised that at least one volume of the comic will be released which I didn’t expect at all. It was such a surprise for me. I couldn’t understand what was happening at the moment but she asked me if I had any ideas what to draw. I couldn’t think properly but I tried to find something from my note on my smartphone which I wrote down on whenever something came up. I told her “How about a romance between two women at the office? Love starts growing from Post-it communication?”

She liked it and requested to submit a plot to her, then the story concept of If We Leave on the Dot was finalized smoothly. However, it was quite difficult to decide the title. I suggested such as Vanilla at 5pm because 5pm is a kind of important time for office workers, Until it becomes love, and Until the Love Sweeter but they didn’t ring a bell with me and my editor.

The title should show it is about two grown-up women at the office, and their love grows slowly. In the end, my editor who really understands my concept suggested to me Teiji Ni Agaretara (If We Leave on the Dot) and I really loved it. I even used this phrase in the beginning of the first chapter!

memo1 page 6 If you finish on time in Japanese is Teiji Ni Agaretara

The editor had found your amazing talent early and supported you to release If We Leave on the Dot for four volumes.

I had never thought that I would get an offer from Publishers, therefore, I deeply appreciate my editors and editorial team. There were some editors involved with my project, but when the last volume was released my very first editor contacted and thanked me. It was really touching and made me cry.

There were a lot of difficult situations I faced while creating this, because it was my first long story manga I worked on, but I always had them supporting me. I found that I can express feelings in many ways and dig in the characters’ personalities, because there is no page limit compared to self-publishing Doujin manga. I learned and gained my experience a lot through If We Leave on the Dot.

Read Part 2

We have asked her a lot about the story, background and characters of If We Leave on the Dot, therefore, we need to split in half and end at this point. You can read the second part from this page.