What impression did you get from Sunday GX magazine?
Ohkawa: The truth is that I didn’t know its contents, so I took a look at it when the commission was finalized. The first impression I had was that there were a lot of works with many screen tones and gradients, all of them had a lot of ink on the pages but, at the same time, a clean print, without the screen tones becoming blurred. Then, I also realized that most of the series had a frantic pace.
That’s why the editor told you that he wanted a character that could become the muse of the magazine…
Ohkawa: Yes, that’s right. And thinking of creating a divine character, we saw that the most appropriate thing would be to turn around the image of the magazine completely. That in the pages of our series the white would predominate, that would have an unequivocally feminine touch. We cared more than anything about creating a story that people who had not read this magazine so far, including the girls, would like.
Have you already decided the content of the series by the time of the first meeting with the editor?
Ohkawa: We discussed it between the four of us, facing the watchful eye of the editor. We talked about the main lines of the argument, we drew some sketches and then we made various changes and corrections, without any particular objection by the editor.
Igarashi: Maybe he didn’t dare, given the rhythm we were carrying it (laughs).
Ohkawa: Yes. Occasionally we asked him what he thought about this or that, and he was nodding at everything (laughs). In broad strokes we had the story ready in two or three minutes, and the character design in about twenty minutes at the most. We were only doubting a bit when it came to the protagonist’s hairstyle. We did not know whether to make it short or long. And it wasn’t a minor matter, considering that character should be the image of the magazine.
Nekoi: The image of the goddesses has changed over time, and unfortunately in our time there is no clear and defined image.
Mokona: A long hair would give us less room for variations of style, although the truth is that we can always invent all the unreal hairstyles we want.
Ohkawa: That would cost us less to draw her hair, but we disliked the fact that the set looked unnatural; so we strived to create a hairstyle that, after all, could be reproduced in reality. We wanted to find a new type of heroin, one that we hadn’t conceived until now: a little awkward one (laughs).
Mokona: We didn’t see very clearly where the matter had to go, but our eyes opened when someone suggested that it could be something like “Anne Of Green Gables with a backpack at a train station”. The characters begin to take shape when you define their costumes.
Ohkawa: Although to be exact, Kobato’s reference was not so much Anne Of Green Gables, it was like Mary Poppins. At first we wanted to add some element of Comet, a manga character from the 1960s, but we gave up because she did not quite fit the profile of the clumsy girl we were looking for.
Where did Ioryogi’s character come from?
Nekoi: Originally it’s just a doodle of mine (laughs). But as more and more visitors to our official website sent me messages of thanks when we added a new illustration of him, I thought that sooner or later he could appear in one of our series.
Ohkawa: If we added him in Kobato, it’s because we needed a partner for the protagonist. We already knew that since the first meeting we talked about before. Although not to be confused. The Ioryogi that appears in Kobato is not the same as the one on the website. It is a kind of parallel existence.
It has been half a year since the publication began. What sort of response have you received?
Ohkawa: It’s still early, because no compilation volume has been released yet, but it seems that there are many readers who enjoy the relaxed tone of the series.
Igarashi: To the point that some readers prefer Kobato (Temporary) to our other series such as X or XXXHOLiC.
Ohkawa: In Kobato (Temporary) we have slowed down the rhythm of history on purpose. At first we wanted each chapter to be autoconclusive, but as we drew the first one, we realized that we were risking too much. Maybe we could cure the suffering of a character in each chapter, but I don’t know if the readers would feel so relaxed. That is why we decided that the development would be slower, so as not to make the readers dizzy and also because that would allow us to describe more calmly the character of Kobato and the scenes of daily life next to Ioryogi.
Could this be the work you wanted to do, as said in the interview of Volume 7 of Wish?
Ohkawa: It’s pretty close to it. It is the story of two characters who are always together and not much happen to them.
Nekoi: Kobato and Ioryogi hang out talking to each other.
Mokona: Maybe it would be better to say that one hangs out and the other starts to growl (laughs).
Ohkawa: It is certainly not the most appropriate content for a monthly magazine, but since neither the editor nor the readers have complained about it, it is better for us (laughs).
Mokona: In the manga it hasn’t been a week yet.
Ohkawa: In fact, what the editor asked us was not so much a “goddess of the magazine”, it was like a character “that readers can fall in love with”. And I suppose that from now on we will continue working on that more romantic side of it.
Igarashi: Although I don’t know very well how we will introduce a love story in a manga like this (laughs).
Ohkawa: And to that I have to add that I’m not very good with this kind of topic, but I will try and see what comes out (laughs).
Translated from Spanish by Chibi Yuuto.
Interview originally published in CLAMP No Kiseki vol. 12 (Kodansha), page 23, released on August 22, 2005. Original text available upon request.
If you found mistakes in this translation or would like to contribute with translating other interviews, please contact me.