Hajime Isayama is one of the most popular mangaka of all time, and yet aside from a few one-shots, his success is all due to his first and only running series, Shingeki no Kyojin, also known as Attack on Titan. It was only a few months ago that the series passed one hundred million copies sold, a feat made all the more impressive considering it did so within a decade.
Within this article, we’re going to go over Isayama’s experiences in the manga industry, his influences, and the success of Attack on Titan.
His penchant for drawing began when he was a child. In an interview with his parents, they explain that he would draw monsters a lot as a kid.
Although he would submit his works as early as his high school years, it wasn’t until he had already joined a manga school that he told them of his dream of becoming a Japanese mangaka. Although his father was less than receptive to the idea, his mother fully supported his attempts.
Isayama’s efforts wouldn’t go unnoticed. His first work would be a one-shot in 2006 called Attack on Titan. This would net him the ‘Fine Work’ award from the Kodansha Magazine Grand Prix.
The ideas behind it came from his own experiences in his life. The premise of the Titans in the story came from an experience he had when he was working at an internet cafe while dealing with a customer who had too much to drink.
According to a BBC interview he gave, the man-eating trait of the titans stemmed from his own thoughts of watching wildlife on his family’s farm. Although it is seen as monstrous and horrifying from the viewpoint of the humans in the story (as well as the audience), this horrifying element is merely influenced by animal nature and the circle of life.
Another part of the story that he tied from personal experience was the walls in the story; Isayama’s hometown of Oyama, Oita was surrounded by mountains.
Mountains aren’t as intimidating as the walls (nor do they hide such horrors as the walls either), but it was his wonder and wish to go outside and past these mountains that reflect the desire of the protagonist, Eren Yeager.
It should come to no surprise that Isayama would attempt to write for the most popular magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump.
The two would prove to not be a good match, however, as the magazine was, understandably, looking for works that would fit in the Shonen style of their other work. According to Isayama’s blog, he didn’t want his work to conform to popularity, and he never wanted to feel like drawing manga was just another job.
Attack on Titan Is Serialized
Although he would present his work to many different editors, almost all of them critiqued his work and art style (which I wonder if some of them regret now). Although he likes his own artwork and was happy it stood out since it would be more memorable that way, he did appreciate and learn from the critiques given to him.
And even though he faced many rejections, he didn’t give up on his dream. Thankfully, this worked out well for him! It would be Kodansha and their monthly Bessatsu Shonen Magazine that would offer to serialize the series.
Since then the series has catapulted to grand heights, with multiple spin-off manga, a live-action film series, video games, and of course, the wildly successful Attack on Titan anime adaptation.
The anime would find much praise in its animation from Wit Studio, and expand to cover four seasons, multiple OVA episodes, and three compilation films covering the first and second seasons.
Between the animation, music, and writing quality, the popular series has evolved into a work considered a ‘gateway’ anime for newcomers to the media. And if there are any developments with it, you can be sure that every anime news site will post about it.
From Influences to Estimated Net Worth
From personal experiences to other works, Isayama is very open about what has inspired him and Attack on Titan. The transforming aspect for example is not tied to tokusatsu, but instead is a common theme Isayama likes to write about. He admits it could also be related to his own self-conscious feelings of his body.
Eagle-eyed viewers (or maybe not eagle-eyed when the titans can take up most of a page) have noticed that the common titans are based on actual people, usually celebrities. Some of the body types of special titans are based on MMA fighters.
He also seems well-versed with famous Western shows, from Breaking Bad to Game of Thrones, both of which he had said have influenced him in how he would like Attack on Titan to end.
In case the last sentence gave you slight anxiety, it’s imperative for you to also know that in regards to his comment on Game of Thrones, he said this after binging six seasons of the show, which was everything at that time.
I don’t think we have to worry about his series ending like Game of Thrones did, which is further supported by the fact that he, like many others, disliked the ending.
You can breathe again.
Now, if you’re interested in his net worth, that’s actually tough to pin down. There are a lot of websites that give various answers, from 1 million to 40 million USD. The issue with this is that Isayama has never disclosed how much money he gets.
Everything is all estimation, compounded with the fact that his one work is a best-selling manga series.
Post Attack on Titan?
Only Isayama knows what he’ll make after Attack on Titan is over. He has stated before that he has ideas for the future, such as another story idea he has from high school, or even to open up a spa. For now, the series has entered its final arc and has an idea of what the final page will be. No matter what he does, I’m sure the world will watch with bated breath.
Attack on Titan may be his only work, but this doesn’t seem like a case of lightning in the bottle. Unless he’s managed to keep that lightning safe for over a decade now.
Although his various one-shots aren’t very accessible, his most famous work certainly is, and I’d like to end this article by letting you know how you can access it.
Where to Experience Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is available to read on Crunchyroll! They have translated every chapter so far released and made it available on their website if you have Crunchyroll’s Premium service. If you’re in the mood to buy the physical copies, you can find each volume released so far available to purchase or pre-order on Rightstuf.
Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll need to wait quite a bit for them to be compiled and released, and you’ll likely be around 10 chapters behind when they finally do come out.
If it’s the anime adaptation that you’re interested in, you have quite a few different options. The first season of the anime is available to watch on Netflix in the Japanese dub. You can watch all three seasons of the anime on Crunchyroll for free with the Japanese dub.
Lastly, you can watch all three seasons on Funimation with the Japanese or English dub. The only caveat here is that a majority of the third season’s English dub is only available for Premium subscribers on Funimation, but everything else is free to watch.