Interview and article by Ichibo Harada ＠HEW
Love of Kill, a suspense manga series published in Month Comic Gene, will be adapted into an anime series. The broadcast started on January 12th on TOKYO MX and other networks.
The story features two assassins - the cool bounty hunter Chateau and the mysterious Ryang-Ha. Its intriguing and suspenseful storyline has helped the series reach over 750,000 copies sold (as of December 2021) as it continues to pick up steam. It’s been around 9 years since the first draft of the story was posted to pixiv, and now it’s getting its own anime adaptation! We talked to the original creator, Fe, about how she went about writing the series.
Scenes from the anime surprised the original creator - “Wow, so that’s how you’d present it!”
── How did you feel when you heard your series would be made into an anime?
I was happy, but at the same time I thought, "Can you make a manga with a title like this into an anime?". I mean, isn't the title a little intense? (laughs) When I was just posting it to pixiv, the original title was I Just Want to Read a Manga About an Assassin Couple. When it was decided that the series would be published and sold, the editor suggested I change the title and it became what it is now. This version is really impactful, so I guess it helped catch the eyes of lots of potential readers. Around when the second volume was released, I remember that editor saying, "I doubt this kind of title could ever be made into an anime". (laughs)
── But it did indeed get made into an anime. As the original creator, did you have any requests when it came to the anime adaptation?
── The story is rich with foreshadowing, so I’m sure it would be difficult to cut things out. Director Hideaki Ôba apparently commented, “There are no monologues and minimal dialogue so it's a challenging work to adapt into anime, but that's also part of its charm.”
── I heard you previewed the first episode. How was it?
It's about the first "date" between Chateau and Ryang-Ha. Even though I'm the original creator, after watching the final scene I thought, "Wow, so that’s how you’d present it!". They used several different angles, like they had a bunch of cameras for the scene, and that really highlighted the difference between manga and anime. These two mediums can present even the same story in completely different ways, so I'm looking forward to watching the anime as a new viewer.
I planned for Chateau and Ryang-ha to be closer from the start
── When reading Love of Kill, I'm constantly surprised how things mentioned earlier in the story are connected to things later on. Had you already decided the backstories for both main characters when you started making the series?
── The title for volume 1 is "WHAT'S YOUR NAME?", so I assumed everything had been planned out from the beginning!
── So the story started to come along as you were writing it?
── But that's what makes Chateau appealing, right? Even when Ryang-Ha saves her, she just thanks him and plays it down.
I prioritize the illustration and setting first, then just start drawing
── I'm also a creator myself, but I feel it's hard to know how much I should plan out ahead before actually starting. If it's planned out too much, I get bored of it before I pick up my pencils… I feel it's hard to find the balance of deciding what you can ahead of time and letting the story just flow naturally.
── Touching on that a little, at what point do you feel that you can just get started writing?
── When you look at it that way, you've got an amazing talent for matching up the story like that! I've heard that there were some things that you couldn't include in the main series though. If possible I'd like to ask about those, without risking spoilers of course!
If we’re talking about things unrelated to the main story, there were things like "Boss was Chateau's first love", "Ryang-Ha has disguised himself as a girl at a Triads event"... Those kinds of small side stories come up in the voice-drama, so be sure to check that out.
I avoided monologues to give it a drama-esque tone
── Love of Kill has a fantastic serious tone, almost like a foreign drama series. Are there any dramas that influenced your work?
── How would you define a "drama-esque tone"?
I try not to use monologues. Even if the characters have some internal dialogue within their mind, I generally avoid having them just say their feelings out loud, like they do in genres like shoujo manga. It’s almost a challenge I’ve set for myself, although that might be an exaggeration.
── As a challenge for yourself, did you originally approach creating Love of Kill in a different way?
── So I guess Love of Kill was a way for you to create completely new characters in a way that you'd never done before.
And now it's getting turned into an anime. Life's crazy, isn't it?
── In contrast, what kind of characters had you been drawing previously?
About the popular "Catchphrase Rankings" bonus comic
── I love the bonus title page catchphrase ranking comic in the books. How did that come about?
The editor comes up with the magazine title page catchphrases, and they're just really good phrases so I wanted to include them in the books somehow. (laughs) They were too good not to use!
── I guess some fun banter with the creator will make the editor want to keep their skills sharp, right?
── "Keep a similar taste as the first editor" sounds like a secret sauce recipe being passed down... (laughs)
Why Fe continues to post to pixiv
── The first draft for Love of Kill, titled I Just Want to Read a Manga About an Assassin Couple, was initially posted to pixiv in 2012. Then your series started in Monthly Comic Gene in 2015. These days web manga getting printed copies is relatively common, but it was still quite rare back then, wasn't it?
── You mean pixiv Spotlight?
── I've heard that when you got the offer, you contacted the publishing company's support center because you thought it was a prank.
── You were an author as a side hustle until the first volume was released, right? At first, you thought it would be impossible to make a series while also working full time, but what made you change your mind?
── I'd say quitting your job to become a full time creator must be a big decision.
My editor at the time actually advised against quitting my job, saying that it's better to keep working for now. Full-time creators have pretty much no income once the series has ended. I don't have a really adventurous personality, so I was at a crossroads whether I should continue working or not. But once the first volume came out, I felt confident that I could keep going with the series, so I made the decision to focus on being a full-time creator. I was living with my parents, and I knew I would still be able to survive even when the series ends.
── You were also posting shorts about Chateau and Ryang-Ha on pixiv too. Along with your experience juggling a full time job and creating a manga, you must be a pro at keeping a schedule, right...?
The secret to loving your characters: Draw them a lot
── It's been 9 years since you first came up with Chateau and Ryang-Ha. What keeps you motivated to keep creating stories about the same characters for so long?
── What's the secret to loving your characters so much?
── Lastly, can we get a message for creators on pixiv who are aiming to make a professional debut?