Jump Festa is an annual expo held by Shueisha, the company behind Naruto, DBZ, Bleach, and One Piece manga in Japan. At Jump Festa ’16, the team at the American Weekly Shonen Jump had the opportunity to sit down with Naruto author, Masashi Kishimoto. The expo was held in December 2015, but the interview just came out very recently. Take a look at it below!
Shonen Jump: In a word or two what does Shonen Jump mean to you?
Kishimoto Sensei: [laughs] That’s difficult! Let’s see… Jump is good.
SJ: What about manga?
Kishimoto Sensei: Manga is good… Wait a minute… Manga is a broader category than Jump…so manga is something that can be good. but manga can also be boring. [laughs]
SJ: Is there something that you are really into or excited about recently?
Kishimoto Sensei: Hmm… Hmm…
SJ: For me, it would be Star Wars…
Kishimoto Sensei: Well, I am into Star Wars. The other day I bought a Star Wars book, kind of like film notes or stories about how it was made. It’s being sold around the world. I’m going to read those kinds of things and get excited about it before I go see it.
SJ: So would you say Star Wars too?
Kishimoto Sensei: Something recent, right? So yes, I guess it would be Star Wars. And actually, my wife just bought a Yoda plushy at Costco…I haven‘t seen the movie yet, but I want to real soon.
SJ: Is there something you are excited about for 2016?
Kishimoto Sensei: Yes! Next year. we’re going to have a baby. The due date is in April.
Otsuki [Kishimoto Sensei’s Japanese editor]: So you’ll have to ﬁnish up your manuscript by March then. right? [laughs]
Kishimoto Sensei: Now that you mention it, I guess you’re right.
SJ: Which of your characters would you want to hang out with at a New Year’s party?
Kishimoto Sensei: Hmm. .. I think Jiraiya would be fun. He’s one of the few characters who drinks, and he seems the type that would know good bars to go to. And since minors can’t drink…
SJ: Have you ever had dreams about your manga characters?
Kishimoto Sensei: Not really. I don’t dream about the actual characters. I do dream about the manga itself though. There have been a number of times when I dreamt that I had ﬁnished that week’s installment, even though I hadn’t actually ﬁnished it Then I’d wake up the next morning feeling totally disappointed. Also I’ve had dreams where my editor is chasing after me.
Otsuki: Which editor would that be?
Kishimoto Sensei: Yahagi, my first editor. [laughs]
Otsuki: I knew it. [laughs]
SJ: How does it feel when you come to events like Jump Festa and see so many fans?
Kishimoto Sensei: I’m very happy, but I do get nervous in front of fans. But now that the series has concluded. I don’t have that sense of responsibility. I feel free. And to be frank. there isn’t the pressure of having to make it good. So today, I’m not feeling that nervous. For the past few years. I felt a kind of pressure, where it felt like fans were saying, “Hey, you’re going to finish that thing off pretty soon, right?” But now I don’t feel that pressure.
SJ:There are a lot of fans out there who read your manga in English. Do you have a message for them?
Kishimoto Sensei: It’s a very Japanese mange, so I thought it might be difﬁcult for people from other countries to understand in English, but I‘m very happy that you‘re reading it. Naruto has already reached its conclusion, but please continue to support my work.