• Parent Category: Featured
  • Written by Theodore Mak

Retsu Tateo (館尾冽) Interview


Retsu Tateo (館尾冽) is a female Japanese mangaka best known for her illustrations in Full Metal Panic!  She has followed the main story of series as closely as possible by collaborating with the author of the original light novels, Shoji Gatoh.  Tateo-san is also the artist of her own manga, Endless Eden.  At this year's Sakura-Con in Seattle, we had a chance to talk with Tateo-san discussing how she started working on Full Metal Panic!, her experience illustrating the series, and of course, her mascot frog.



T-ONO: How do you like Seattle so far? Have you had the chance to explore a little?


Retsu: I had a chance to visit the markets and the very first starbucks and that was enjoyable. Also, these two days, the weather has been very nice so I am glad.



T-ONO: We can’t help but notice you seem to be a big fan of American movies is that true?


Retsu: Yes (It’s True) *laughs*.



T-ONO: Are there any particular films, actors or actresses that have influenced your works?


Retsu: There are a lot of great movies I like such as Untouchable and The Usual Suspects. I’ve also watched a lot of American movies based on American comics.

好きな映画はいっぱいあるけれども、中でもアンタッチャブルやUsual Suspectsとかも好きだし、もちろんアメリカンコミック原作の映画もたくさん見てます。


T-ONO: If you could adapt any film into manga form, which would you do?


Retsu: It’s already have been developed into a movie from a comic; however, I would want to draw my own perception of Kick-Ass *laughs*.



T-ONO: Can you tell us how you got started into drawing manga.


Retsu: Since I was little, I drew a lot of pictures. There wasn’t a particular thing that made me want to become a manga artist. Drawing was just natural for me and I never diverted from that path.



T-ONO: Can you tell us about your mascot, the frog?


Retsu: *laughs* I like frogs and snakes, the sort of things that girls don’t usually like. Frogs have a certain comical aspects to them and I felt that kind of fit me somehow which is why I chose a frog as my mascot.



T-ONO: Have you found any frog goodies yet in Seattle?


Retsu: *laughs* I found something at Pike Place Market. I’ll probably go back and buy it.



T-ONO: What was the item?


Retsu: I like very realistic frogs rather than cartoonish ones. I found a large realistic frog which is the sort of thing that I really like.



T-ONO: What kind of equipment/techniques/medium do you use when drawing manga? (tablet, pencil/paper, scanner, etc.)


Retsu: Normally I use normal pencils. When I draw rough drafts, I use mechanical pencil that has color. I also use a brush pens. I rarely do lines digitally because the sense of my drawing changes when I’m drawing them.



T-ONO: What do you mean by sense of the drawing?


Retsu: The style, texture, feeling.



T-ONO: Probably your most recognized title you’ve worked on is Full Metal Panic! How did you first get involved with the project?


retsu-tateo-tessa-sketchRetsu: Before Full Metal Panic!, I drew manga and doujinshi. An editor saw those and approached me saying there was an entertaining novel that they would like to turn into a manga. They asked me if I would draw it and I said yes.



T-ONO: Was this when you were just getting into drawing or finalized work?


Retsu: I was already drawing manga and had them published. The editor saw and read those published works. These mangas was different genre from Full Metal Panic! which surprised me when they offered me the chance.



T-ONO: How much control and freedom were you given working on Full Metal Panic!?


Retsu: There are long story arcs and short story arcs (typically comedy called one-shots). When it comes to the long story arcs, I didn’t want to miss out any important points so I made sure I follow the original story arc. However for the short story arcs, they told me I can pick out any of them from the original and write them how I felt like so I had much more freedom on those.



T-ONO: Did you work with the author Shoji Gatoh or the original character designer, Shiki Douji on the manga adaptation?


Retsu: No, I didn’t directly talk with them while I was creating the manga. However, Gatoh-san told me if there was anything in the original story that I didn’t understand, call him. So I did call him a number of times.



T-ONO: Did you design any characters that were not illustrated in the novels?


Retsu: When it came to unimportant characters, I drew them as I like. However they were all really unimportant characters after all *laughs*.



T-ONO: Which of the characters was the hardest for you to adapt or draw in Full Metal Panic!?


retsu-tateo-kaname-sketchRetsu: That’s a difficult question, but I would have to say the main character, Kaname Chidori, because she is the main character and I had to draw her to look very cute and cool depending on the story. I was nervous because I needed to draw her all the time and felt like I can’t mess up a bit every time drawing her.



T-ONO: How about adapting the mecha designs? Were those difficult?


Retsu: Yes, it was extremely difficult. I would divide the work up between me and my assistant. I always wanted someone that was good at drawing robots, but that never happened. *laughs*



T-ONO: Was that your first time drawing mecha?


Retsu: Yes, it was. I love watching robot animes, but this was my first time drawing them. It was a difficult task for me.



full-metal-panic-savageT-ONO: We couldn’t help but notice that the Savages mecha looked like frogs. Can you comment on that?


Retsu: *laughs* Everyone says that! I get the sense that they included that mecha so I would be able to draw it since I love frogs so much.



T-ONO: The anime series began after your manga was first started. Did that have any influence on your art style as the manga went along?


Retsu: No, I don’t think it did and that’s how I feel it should be. There’s the original, the anime, and the comic. I think that they should all be separate and all made interesting in their own way. So I don’t have the sense that it influenced my style.



T-ONO: If you had to pick one, which of the characters in Full Metal Panic! do you like the most?


Retsu: The character that I like the most is Lt. Cmdr. Andrey Kalinin. However, the one character that’s the most enjoyable to draw is Kurz Weber.



T-ONO: Endless Eden seems to have stopped somewhat abruptly. If the series was to continue, can you share where you might have wanted to take the story or continue with?


Retsu: I got some different work and I wasn’t able to continue both series at the same time. So, I took a temporary break from it. The readers keep telling me to continue the series, even the editor asks me if I have any intentions of starting the series again. So when I get the time, and if the story expands in my mind, I would definitely start the series again.

エンドレスエデンはほかのお仕事が入ってしまったので、同時には続けられなくなってしまったのでいったんお休みにしました。ですが、その後も読者の人たち からもまた連載してくれとずっと言われ続けて、編集さんからもまた続きを描くつもりはないのですか?て言われているのでもうすこしお話が膨らんだら是非続 きを描きたいと思います。


T-ONO: Are you working on any current or future projects that you can discuss?


Retsu: I’m planning on writing a manga about Japanese history which is quite fun. As for future projects, there are two of my original works that might be published in magazines, but I don’t know when that will be. One of them takes place in America. *laughs*




T-ONO: And finally, any message you would like to say to your American and English speaking fans reading this?


Retsu: Thank you for reading Full Metal Panic! even though some of the story lines are difficult to understand. *laughs* I want to thank them for accepting Full Metal Panic! It would be great if more of my works gets published in America.



T-ONO: Thank you very much.


Retsu: Thank you.



Interview conducted by Roger Lee, questions by Theodore Mak, translation edits by Arthur Arends, article intro by Kevin Yen
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