Kouji Seo and Marcey Naitou recently sat down for an interview with Oricon, discussing the trials and tribulations of the romance genre and how they attempt to overcome them.
Love comedies lie at the heart of Weekly Shonen Magazine. Although such early hits as Ashita no Joe and GeGeGe no Kitaro leaned closer to the sports and horror genres respectively, the success of BOYS BE… and School Rumble in the 1990s and early 2000s engendered an editorial focus on romance that hasn’t quite let up since.
Two of Magazine’s latest love comedy series are Café Terrace of the Goddesses and Amagami-san chi no Enmusubi, penned by Kouji Seo and Marcey Naitou. Although both authors share very different profiles (one being a veteran with over 20 years of experience, the other a complete rookie) they both decided to take on similar stories this time around: harem.
How did this end up happening? Kouji Seo admitted in the interview that his last series Hitman had ‘a lot of old men.’ That was apparently ‘tough’ for him mentally, so he thought about doing a harem-type story where ‘lots of girls appear’ this time around, also wanting to try something new. Naitou, meanwhile, was encouraged to turn his one-shot into a proper series relatively quickly once it performed well in the reader surveys.
Tackling this subgenre does come with its own fair share of problems: Marcey Naitou remarked in the interview that he was ‘obviously scared’ to debut a love comedy in Magazine right now, given just how many are vying for supremacy.
What’s more, Seo finds it difficult to give every main character their fair share of the spotlight. ‘Each one of them is the real heroine, so I feel like I have to draw all of them equally,’ he said. That includes making sure that they’re all exactly the same size on color illustrations!
Tied into this is the importance of the main character, who plays an indispensable role in a harem manga: not only do they act as the audience’s point of view, they also make the members of the harem stand out. Kouji Seo went as far in this interview to say that ‘a work’s worth is decided by the strength of its protagonist.’
As a result, Seo chose a ‘mentally strong’ main character for his latest work, trying to make sure that he didn’t lose out to the ‘force’ of the five female characters. It was remarkably similar for Amagami-san chi no Enmusubi: Marcey Naitou said in this interview that since the three main characters were shrine maidens, picking someone who didn’t believe in God was useful in that it was the ‘complete opposite personality.’
That being said, Seo warned Naitou that one problem with doing this was failing to give the reader enough reason to believe that he could fall in love with one of the main girls. ‘If the protagonist is hated, then it’s no exaggeration to say that the whole story could fall apart,’ he added, drawing on his own experiences with A Town Where You Live.
Finally, Kouji Seo and Marcey Naitou talked about the eternal problem plaguing love comedies and harem manga in particular: what happens when a girl ‘loses.’ To circumvent this, both authors try to draw their heroines in such a way that they could ‘become happy in the future,’ although this isn’t likely to stop some passionate fans from flaming either one of the authors once a conclusion is reached. Be warned!
Considering just how important love comedies are to Weekly Shonen Magazine, it’s interesting to see what goes into making one of them. This interview with Kouji Seo and Marcey Naitou should go to show that even if harem series are usually not very well regarded, it’s not like they have no thought put into them.
You can read Café Terrace of the Goddesses and Amagami-san chi no Enmusubi in Japanese via Magazine Pocket.