Recently, Newtype magazine in Japan was able to sit down and talk with Misaki Takamatsu, the creator of the Skip and Loafer manga. During the interview, Takamatsu talked about the manga’s creation, the inspiration behind Skip and Loafer‘s lead pair, and the guidance Takamatsu provided during the creation of the anime.
Tomoyo Kurosawa, who plays the role of Mitsumi, commented on the manga, “There are not many works that draw in the audience without using dramatic tropes.” What was the inspiration behind this phrase?
Misaki Takamatsu: At first, I thought that since the comic magazine I was writing for was a young men’s magazine, it would be necessary to focus on a certain profession, or an unusual setting or ability, to have a hook in the story. However, the works with a forced twist did not go through, so my editor and I decided to consider a shōjo manga, a comic for girls. Many shōjo manga are based on school life, with romance at the core but without a clear goal, and are viable even if other elements are not prominent. I started with the idea that it would be good to do something like that.
How did the two charming characters, Mitsumi and Shima, come to be?
TAKAMATSU: I was also exploring a historical storyline during my wandering period, that is when I read [historical author] Ryōtarō Shiba‘s Sekigahara. I thought the relationship between Mitsunari Ishida and Sakon Shima in Sekigahara was cute. Mitsunari is smart but clumsy and overconfident, and Sakon supports Mitsunari while thinking he can’t help it. In fact, that is the basis of Mitsumi and Shima.
Oh, I see the similarity in their names.
TAKAMATSU: Yes, they are pretty much the same (laughs).
On the other hand, the story is also delicately woven as an ensemble drama of the classmates surrounding them.
TAKAMATSU: I think it became an ensemble drama mainly due to my experience during an educational internship in college. When I think back to when I was a student, I think I subconsciously categorized myself into a hierarchy or a genre and tried not to cross that line. Still, when I went to a junior high school for an internship, I could see that part of my life objectively. Some students contemplate various things regardless of their attributes, and even the type of students I used to think were scary seem endearing, which made me realize that genre classification had nothing to do with it. This work is filled with the feeling that I should have tried to talk to them without fear.
For example, Mika’s position is also exquisite.
TAKAMATSU: I felt that if others stopped reaching out to Mika, she could not lower the gun she pointed at others. That would be unfortunate since we would never get to see Mika’s cute side. I wondered what she would look like if she lowered her weapon. That’s what I was thinking about.
We heard you had witnessed the anime production process many times for Skip and Loafer.
TAKAMATSU: Yes, I attended as many sessions as I could, including meetings and recordings. Rather than wanting to give my opinion, I wanted to see it up close, as it might be the only chance in my life for my works to be adapted into an anime! (laughs). I was also happy that P.A. WORKS was located in my hometown, Toyama, and the director and everyone at the studio loved the work so much that it made me really happy as the manga’s creator.
I was prepared for the possibility that the group work could go in a different direction even if the staff members liked my work, or they might adopt a romantic comedy approach since the original work is relatively plain, but that was not the case at all.
It went without saying, but I told them at the beginning that since there are various types of characters, they shouldn’t make fun of what each character is trying hard to accomplish, and their personalities should not be belittled. I wanted to depict the fact that there are many different kinds of people in terms of gender, and I think I was able to construct a shared understanding of this without relying on exaggeration.
It was a team that could value the same things.
TAKAMATSU: That’s right. They carefully picked up on the tiny discoveries and changes in the characters’ hearts and minds. On top of that, the animation and visual effects are wonderful. For example, there was a brief silent scene in the manga which was made longer in the anime.
In the first episode, where Mitsumi and Shima are running to the entrance ceremony, I was moved by the way it was depicted with sounds and pauses, without words to explain why Shima became interested in Mitsumi. They are a really nice team, including the cast members. I have received the anime data up until the last episode, but I haven’t watched it yet because I do not want it to be over… I am looking forward to watching it together with you all.
This interview was first published in Newtype‘s July 2023 Issue.