Weekly Shonen Jump Interview
 Weekly Shonen Jump (WSJ): Since One-Punch Man was already a successful Webcomic, how did the collaboration with Murata Sensei come about? And was it strange seeing your work drawn by someone else?
ONE: Murata Sensei just happened to find my website and became interested in One-Punch Man. I had always been a fan of his, so I jumped at the opportunity to work with him. I get really excited seeing my work transformed into something with so much passion and amazing art.
WSJ: What inspired you to draw a bald average looking superhero like Saitama?
ONE: The world is full of cool looking heroes, so I didn't think that was something I wanted to write about. Plus, I believe that heroes coolness comes from their spirit and not their looks. I don't think how a hero looks is that important.
WSJ: Which would you rather be doing: saving a cleft chinned brat from a rampaging crab monster or getting great bargains?
ONE: If it's possible to save the kid, I'd rather do that.
WSJ:In the U.S., webcomics are already quite popular. How are webcomics received in Japan?
ONE: It used to be a small thing that was enjoyed by amateur creators and fans and was seen as just a hobby. But now even casual fans are starting to read webcomics. I think it's thanks to Murata Sensei.
WSJ: What are the advantages and disadvantages of drawing webcomics as opposed to traditional print manga?
ONE: I think a major advantage is that you can quickly upload fixes if needed. Being able to do this as often as necessary even after something has made it to the public isn't possible with a print version. I can't think of any disadvantages. Lately, I'm not even feeling that there are fewer readers than Print.
WSJ: How do you think the success of One-Punch Man will set a precedent for other Webcomics?
ONE: There are more and more examples of popular webcomics, so I think that trend will continue.
WSJ: In addition to One-Punch Man you also have to other web comics, Makai no Ossan (Old Man of the Demon World) at Tonari No Young Jump and Mob Psycho 100 at UraSunday. Can you briefly talk about these works and also let us know if you have any other projects going on?
ONE: One-Punch Man is something I originally started just to entertain myself. So, I just do whatever the heck I want with the characters. With Makai no Ossan, I create it while thinking about how the daily readers are reacting to the story. I put in tons of characters so that fans would have more to look forward to. In contrast to One-Punch Man, the main guy in Mob Psycho 100 is emotionally weak and delicate. So the side characters act as a support for him. The series are kind of opposite, but they are both extremes, making them easier to create. Regarding my schedule, I've been given some amount of flexibility, so it isn't that difficult.
WSJ: What advice would you give webcomic artists?
ONE: I'm in no position to advise other people, I would recommend creating a website that is easy to navigate.
WSJ: Any last messages for your international fans?
ONE: I'm so happy that an international audience is reading One Punch Man! I get really excited when I receive comments from fans in foreign languages. The series is just going to get more exciting, so please, stick with it until the end. Thank you so much!
ONE: Sonic's last appearance was just a joke on the popularity poll (means he'll show up again)
ONE: A fight between Genos and Sonic is inconclusive
ONE: While the most popular one in their world is Sweet Mask, King is rather high up as well.
ONE: Puri-Puri-Prisoner could've defeated the Giant Crow that crashed into King's home.
ONE: The origin of Boros' name is from a game ONE played.
ONE: Genos is rather powerful even among the S-Class heroes.
ONE: The situation against the Monster Association would've changed if Metal Bat was around. Metal Bat wasn't joking when he said "He could take care of a dragon level threat".
ONE: Deep Sea, Sky, Subterranean Kings are around the same level
ONE: King's height is 187 cm
ONE: If Tatsumaki was in perfect shape, then against Golden Sperm it would be victory.
T/N: It's hard to interpret the nuances from a single quote, but what ONE said was "タツマキが万全なら黄金精子に勝てる" He never specified how much difficulty she would have, but he did use the term "万全" (literally "ten thousand completeness"), a phrase that means "in perfect condition" shape, so having that emphasis would imply medium difficulty.
ONE: Golden Sperm is equally strong as Ossan (main protagonist from Makai no Ossan).
ONE: Mob against Tatsumaki is usually Tatsumaki, but if he gets serious, I am not sure. (Mob is the nickname of Shigeo Kageyama, the main protagonist from Mob Psycho 100.)
ONE: Zombieman needs 15 min to recover a cut off arm. He'll die if you reduce him to mince meat. There's the rumor that he's the physically weakest amongst S-Class heroes, but it hasn't been confirmed. It would be difficult for him to defeat Deep Sea King.
ONE: If Saitama wasn't there, the damage done by Marugori will increase and his disaster level will be upgraded to dragon
Volume 9 Reference Book
ONE Interview from 2012
――Congratulations on your debut in a commercial publication. Your web comic One-Punch Man was what led to your professional debut. Tell us about that process.
ONE: I had stopped updating One-Punch Man in February of 2010 due to getting a job, but then in spring 2011 I announced on Twitter that I had quit my job, and from there I was contacted by various people, which is what led to where I am now. Thanks to all of One-Punch Man’s readers, this web comic enabled me to go pro.
――I think that web comics are one option for getting your foot in the door professionally, as was the case with you. What are your thoughts on the possibilities of web comics in that regard?
ONE: I think it’s another effective option, besides the traditional way of going pro after winning a manga award. Series like Hetalia: Axis Powers or Hori-san to Miyamura-kun that were ranked high on the WCR (Web Comic Ranking) received print releases, and Diary of a Chinese Wife got one too after getting popular on the web. Apparently some manga editors check out web comics that have made a splash, and I think they probably look at sites like WCR or Neetsha. Those two sites have rankings, which makes it easy to judge what’s popular.
――What do you suppose is appealing about web comics, as pieces of work?
ONE: For readers, the fact that you can read them for free is huge. Also, since some web comic artists use Twitter and other such communication tools, thanks to the internet they feel very accessible; I suppose that’s another key point for some people. For creators, the appeal lies in the lack of restrictions: you can draw manga that you wouldn’t be able to draw in a commercial publication. There’s nobody to stop you, so you’re free. This all ties into what I guess you could call a sense of crudeness and lack of polish, an amateurishness which for some reason gives web comics a unique charm.
Encountering web comics for the first time
――What led you to begin drawing a web comic? How long have you wanted to be a manga artist?
ONE: I had decided I wanted to be a gag manga artist from the time I was in grade school. I was a fan of Crayon Shin-chan, and at the time I wanted to draw that sort of manga. For me it wasn’t a case of simply trying to be a manga artist and testing the waters to see if it was worth a shot. Rather, my thought process was to decide right off the bat that I was going to be one, so the rest was just a matter of effort. I guess that’s how I decided my whole future while still just a kid.
――What kind of student where you?
ONE: Well, I liked to draw manga, obviously. In middle school and high school I enjoyed using my notebook paper to draw manga full of funny lines of dialogue and character interactions, rather than cool faces or cute girls or anything like that. I guess what I found interesting about it was being able to turn my own wild ideas into pictures and create stories.
――What sort of response did you get from friends when they saw your manga?
ONE: I kept drawing manga from grade school onward, but never told anyone else about it, not even once. In grade school everyone else was into soccer or whatever video games were popular at the time, so I guess I was afraid of looking uncool if I drew manga. From middle school to college, I’d have friends who read manga, but didn’t know anybody who drew manga themselves, so I felt embarrassed about it. In the end, I went my entire student life without showing my manga to anyone or even telling people that I drew manga. But then, my parents got angry at me a few times when they found out I had drawn a gag manga called Middle-Aged-Man Man in my notebooks. In fact, I filled up about 50 notebooks just with manga. But what hurt the most wasn’t getting chewed out for goofing off. Rather, it was having something I loved to do be rejected.
Afterwards, I decided that instead of getting made fun of or rejected and losing my motivation, it was better to just not show anybody, and so I kept on drawing manga all by myself. Although having said that, it also felt really fun to store up so much “forbidden fruit” inside my notebooks. Back then I only drew manga about my crazy ideas, and never copied anything from real life. I think if I had drawn things from life back then, I’d probably be a lot better at drawing today…
Even in college things didn’t really change; the manga clubs and whatnot just didn’t feel right, so I didn’t enter them. And then I thought maybe there were other people out there in the same boat I was, so since I didn’t have a laptop at the time, I went searching for “aspiring manga artists” on mobile phone sites. This was what led me to encounter web comics for the first time.
The secret behind the birth of One-Punch Man
――What sort of sites did you visit searching for “aspiring manga artists”?
ONE: People who were like me at the time, aspiring manga artists in their teens who didn’t own laptops, would post their illustrations up on these mobile phone sites. Back then there were thousands of sites like that, and seeing them all I was seized with the desire to have people view my pictures, so I made a site of my own.
At first I didn’t put up manga, just funny pictures. For instance, even if I drew a person, the back of their head would be really long, or they’d have a really wide forehead, or an unbelievably huge cleft chin (laughs). While I was drawing stuff like that, my site’s visitors increased to about a hundred. At the time there were lots of people imitating popular manga, trying to make pictures that were likely to sell, so I guess because of that I stood out from the pack.
As I got more readers, I figured that it was about time I show them a manga, but camera phones weren’t as advanced back then as they are now, so the images were too small to read any of the lines. While I was looking around for a good solution, an aspiring manga artist friend of mine who had put his manga up on mobile phone sites told me that all I had to do was put the pictures and lines on pieces of paper about the size of your palm and photograph them close up.
――And from that was born a series called Sun Man (currently unavailable). That was the first time you showed your own manga to others. How did it feel?
ONE: It felt great to finally fulfill my dream of showing my manga to others. Before then some of my pictures had included panels with stick figures, but after I started posting manga up on my site I stopped doing that. I kept on posting manga to my mobile phone site for a little while after that, but I realized that I was never going to get good at manga if I just kept on drawing ones that were the size of the palm of your hand, so I stopped. Later that same friend who had told me how to draw manga for mobile phone sites started making manga with his laptop. Web comics are really easy to read up on a big PC screen, and I thought it was just perfect. And so, One-Punch Man became the first web comic I made on the PC.
Overcoming days of conflict to make his professional debut
――At the time of its debut in July 2009, One-Punch Man was hosted on Neetsha, a site for posting manga and novels. These days it’s up on your own personal site and gets about 20,000 visitors a day. When did it start gaining in popularity?
ONE: Roughly from Chapter 5, which went up about a week after Chapter 1. At the time, Neetsha’s yardstick for determining a popular series was if it got 30 or so comments with each update, but I just kept getting more and more comments, so that by the time Chapter 30 went up in October I was getting about a thousand comments per update. This was in large part due to other web comic artists like Oshan Manabu creator Takusu Totsuka-san or Kendo creator PD-san both showcasing One-Punch Man on their blogs, and also thanks to it being featured on blogs covering 2chan threads and whatnot.
――What did you think of the constantly growing response?
ONE: The truth is that One-Punch Man was originally simply a way for me to practice using a manga-creating software called “Comics Studio”, and I uploaded it intending for it to be only a single chapter long. But I was happy to see it get a bigger response than I had anticipated, so I quickly drew up Chapter 2. And then lots of comments came in saying “put up the next chapter soon!” So I figured I would draw this thing properly, and came up with the plot all the way up to the final chapter, which I’m still following even now. Though I hadn’t expected that initial response, afterwards I’d draw certain parts specifically to get a reaction from readers, and it felt great to get lots of “LOL”-type comments.
Once lots of people were reading it, I’d get offers to have it showcased in a Recruit web comic anthology and things like that, and I even learned that manga professionals were aware of it; I could really feel the series expanding.
――But then in February 2010, just as One-Punch Man’s popularity was on the rise, you announced that you were putting it on long-term hold. You said this was because you had gotten a job…
ONE: Due to family matters, I decided to get a job for a year. But my plan was to not goof around and just save up as much money as I possibly could, then quit. That way, the year after that I wouldn’t have to bother with even a part-time job, and could focus on drawing manga full-time. I intended to spend 365 days doing nothing but manga, and if that didn’t lead anywhere, I’d give it up.
――I imagine you faced some very difficult struggles during this period.
ONE: Not being able to draw manga was hell. During that year I tried as much as necessary not to think about manga. On the flip-side, I also sometimes thought that I might calm down once a year had gone by. Even though work was tough, my boss was nice, and I wondered if I really needed to take the risky path of giving up my job.
But thinking it over, in the end it had to be manga. My schedule didn’t even allow me to draw manga on my days off, so I passed each day with no time to express all the story ideas that popped into my head. I decided to give it a real shot, rather than just gloomily go on working my whole life, and so I quit my job.
――Which brings us back to the start of the interview. Due to your high profile, you ended up being contacted by a publisher. Will you continue to update the One-Punch Man web comic even after your professional debut?
ONE: I’ll keep on drawing it. The web comic is something I do as a hobby, and messing around with my home page is always fun. But above all else, there’s plenty of readers who look forward to updates. I’m very grateful for that.
――Finally, I’d like to ask you what web comics mean to you.
ONE: I think they’re the best place for saving people unable to show their manga to anyone, as was the case with me. You can draw a web comic even if you’re not that great, challenge yourself, and if it doesn’t work out you’re free to quit anytime at your own discretion. Also, in my case it enabled me to meet up with ambitious friends aiming to go pro. I encourage anyone in the same situation I was back then to try out drawing a web comic.
One Punch-Man: Hero Perfection Q&A
 Question: What did Saitama do before he became jobless?
Murata: Didn't ONE-sensei depict this in his picture diary on his old homepage?
ONE: He was working part time in a convenience store.
Murata: In that picture diary there was a robber entering the convenience store. Despite that there was a man pointing a knife at Saitama, all Saitama did was wonder where the barcode was. He thought the knife was one of the merchandise.
ONE: Since long ago he always had that unperturbed character.
Question: What is the meaning behind those black lines under Sonic's eyes?
ONE: At that time I read a lot of Eyeshield 21, so I thought of dropping a reference to an american football player.
Murata: Eeh!? So that's how it was!
ONE: Yep, that's a reference to Eyeshield's Gaoh! Rather than it having some deep meaning of absorption of light it is only there to add some flavor to him.
Question: How did Saitama made a living before he became a pro hero?
Answer: By living very frugally with his savings.
Murata: What does this mean?
ONE: He made a living doing troublesome part time jobs. By living frugally to the utmost while spending as little of his saved up money and living off vegetables given to him by people he saved.... It's the lifestyle as advocated by the slow movement, isn't. By the way, after Genos gave him money his standard of living hasn't changed all that much with Genos moving over.
Question: When Genos moved over to Saitama's house he was carrying an incredibly big backpack. What are the contents?
Answer: Parts and the daily necessaries.
ONE: He came with a basic full selection of parts and necessary daily goods.
Murata: There were also parts in there for housework, doesn't it!
ONE: There's no need to visit Dr. Kuseno's place every time when his wrist break down, because he got his own spare parts at hand. Dr Kuseno's Lab is there In case for a big reparation job, a drastic upgrade or an examination.
Question: Did Hammerhead, the leader of the Paradise Group, find a job in the end?
Answer: No comment
ONE: I can't tell, but he is still doing his best in job searching! I'll say that for now...
Murata: On ONE's Sensei previous homepage you had drawn a scene depicting Hammerhead undergoing a job interview!
ONE: During the previous popularity contest I had everyone one by one say thank you like messages, but Hammerhead sure said some strange things.
Murata: When he goes "Your company's corporate vision is..." he would be shocked by the interviewer saying "That is enough".
Question: Did all the housework responsibility fall on Genos after he began living together with Saitama-sensei?
Answer: That isn't true
Murata: Is it like that Saitama saying that he doesn't need to do it, but Genos does it anyway on his own accord?
ONE: That's the image I am going for~. Before Saitama is able to say he is going to do it Genos has already done the cleaning and the dish washing on his own accord.
Murata: A scene wells up where Genos is saying he has powerful parts for housework.
Question: What kind of a girl is Metal Bat's sister?
Answer: She is a strong willed girl
Murata: Ah, you are interested in it!
ONE: She gives off a feeling of a strong willed girl. Even if her brother is a S-class hero she doesn't feel the need to boast about it to the other schoolkids. Whether he is a hero or a brother at the time she is always in contact with Metal Bat.
Question: Does Saitama have any weaknesses in sports?
Answer: He has.
ONE: I think running is his specialty. But he isn't good at sports like table tennis, football and etcetera where technique is required because Saitama hasn't practiced them.
Murata: When is going to shoot the ball is going to disappear. Even if his power is incredible in terms of control and other technical aspects he is no match for a pro, isn't he.
ONE: And it feels like he is poor in team sports. When Saitama's pinned down I feel that he will lose his motivation to play sports at all.
Question: In which scene did Murata sensei put his passion the most in?
Answer: The first story of Saitama.
Murata: At the time when I was drawing the first story I felt troubled that I didn't capture the whole being of Saitama. I felt a desperate sense of duty to draw it absolutely well.
ONE: So that's how it is...!
Murata: I had to redraw it many times... After that comes the final clash between Boros and Saitama. I put a lot of incredible effort in drawing it.
Question: If ONE-sensei or Murata sensei entered the One Punch Man world what kind of hero rank would you be? Teach me about your hero name and such.
Answer: ONE-sensei: Trash collecting man. Murata-sensei: Sakuga Nebukuro (nebukuro = Online handle name of Murata, means sleeping bag)
Murata: The C-Class Sakuga Nebukuro! (Drawing Sleeping Bag) Something like that. He can fall asleep by just falling down, he can draw pictures when he's sleeping. That sort of thing. What about ONE-sensei?
ONE: That's for certain a C-Class. There is no chance of victory in a battle against a mysterious being. About myself... how about "Trash collecting man"? Something like, he earns points by picking up and gathering trash.
Murata: But ONE-sensei, you and Saitama take after each other. Both of you began from doing your hobby!
ONE: Nono, that isn't true at all.
Question: During Genos school period what kind of person was he?
ONE: He wasn't all that different compared to now.
Question: When did Genos got his piercings?
ONE: After he became a cyborg
Question: Who is Atomic Samurai modeled after?
ONE: No one
Murata: Kyuzo from "Seven Samurai"
Question: Where does Sonic procures his weapons?
ONE: He buys them from the weapon shop.
Question: What was the disaster level of Boros?
ONE-sensei's answer: Greater or Equal to Dragon...
Question: Is Tornado's hair naturally curly?
ONE: It's a natural perm.
Garou vs Boros
 ONE: Garou or Boros, who would win? Before, Boros was definitely the stronger one, but Garou is now a near-perfect monster. I don't really know. A good match . . . I do believe Garou is stronger in close combat where things like punches and kicks can generally be avoided.
Sugoi Japan interview with ONE and Murata
 So ONE, what made you start writing web comics?
ONE: Initially, I was uploading pictures of my manuscripts through my phone camera onto a free website. But writing the scripts for cellphone screens were way too small, and if my hand shook even a little bit while I was taking the picture, the words blurred. It was just as I was thinking that this was going to be too hard to continue when a friend of mine asked me, "Hey check out my comic on Nitosha (the website ONE currently posts Onepunch Man)."
When I looked at it, this site had thousands of freely available web comics, it was made for a computer screen it was easy to read, and it was no different than comics being published in magazines. I decided that this was a great opportunity so I bought a PC, a tablet, Comic Studio (manga drawing program), and started working. It was a lot easier to read than when I was taking pictures with my phone, so I decided to start off with Onepunch Man. It was my first try so I had trouble understanding how to separate the panels haha.
Even though you were in such a clumsy state, I heard that Onepunch Man was popular from when it first started.
ONE: The biggest reason was that there were already thousands of people reading manga on Nitosha already at the time. As I continued with my updates, apparently there were a lot of comments about Onepunch Man. Until then, I haven't even shown my manga to my close friends so getting feedback from other people in general was a new experience for me. Not only that, people were telling me "I want to read more" and "When's the next update?" so I got excited and kept on drawing.
And this is where Mr. Murata read these updates which eventually led to the currently publishing remade "Onepunch Man" correct? Were you regularly reading web comics before then?
Murata: Nope, I knew their existence but I never actually read any. Around the time when Eyeshield 21 was ending, I saw a Tweet and blog post by Akiman (an illustrator) saying "Onepunch Man is really good." I got interested and took a look, which led me to pull an all-nighter reading the entire thing. I thought "Web comics are really great!" and started reading a whole bunch of them, but in the end Onepunch Man was the most enjoyable to read.
ONE: I realized Mr. Murata was reading it when he Tweeted "Onepunch Man got updated." But that was also around the time where I got a job and had to take a hiatus....
Murata: After about an year Mr. ONE tweeted "I'm thinking of quitting my job to become a manga artist, but my peers are stopping me."
ONE: In my mind it was already decided, but because my peers were against it, I was starting to wonder what I should do. That was when Mr. Murata contacted me.
Murata: When I first started reading One-Punch Man, I was already hoping I could one day work together. But I was already under a contract with Shonen Jump, so I thought it would sound too fishy if I just asked "Want to work together?" But then I saw the Tweet and thought "Crap, Mr. ONE is going to stop drawing manga!" and contacted him immediately.
In the end, Mr. Murata chose to work with Mr. ONE regardless of his contract with Shonen Jump. What made you ultimately decide?
Murata: Around that time, I was actually really sick. I broke out in a hive, my inner organs were infected, and I couldn't breathe well with my windpipes swelling. I was in the hospital when I thought, "Ah, I guess people die just like that." If I'm going to die, I want to do something I really love to do. I want to draw manga with Mr. ONE. That's what I thought. If I was going to do it, I wanted to create a manga that didn't change Mr. ONE's original manga. I just tried to contact as many publishers that would fulfill my wish, regardless of my contract. It was thanks to my editor who contacted "Tonari no Youngjump" (the publisher that Murata writes Onepunch Man right now) that my dream came true. The deciding point was that I had already previously contacted Mr. ONE about working together, and that we were going to write with published books already in mind.
What was the charm that drove Mr. Murata to this extent?
Murata: It was just simply how strong of an impact Saitama leaves on you. It's hard to relate when the setting is about "a main character who's too strong that he became bored." But Saitama is not only a super hero, but he also embodies the common man, so readers can relate to him. Plus, there's this slight cuteness to him. All the other characters are also appealing, and they're all placed efficiently to draw out Saitama's appeal. But they're not there only for that purpose, and each character has their own soul. Although the big reason for web comic readers to read these series is that they're free and easily accessible, but you can't get absorbed in every free comic. It's hard for even professional artists to write a comic that makes you read it all the way through in one sitting. When I pulled that all-nighter, I realized that this work has enough power to rival the best of the pros.
Is there anything you try to keep in mind when you draw Saitama?
ONE: Well.... what I think is cool is a hero that stands up against someone who seems stronger than you. If you knew you were strong, you can just show up regardless of how evil the enemy is , but what's important is if there was someone clearly stronger than you hurting a child, can you stand up against it? I feel that that mentality is what defines a hero, and I thought that zeal would draw readers including myself. Saitama himself wants this zeal as well, but because he's so strong he had this drive taken away from him. But instead, he understands people's feelings, and he can lend his hand to the weak. I'd like to treasure this part of his.
When Saitama always finishes off enemies in one punch it's really exhilarating and feels good, but on the other hand, isn't it hard to make a new kind of development that still ends in the punch every time? Is there something that you keep in mind when you're creating these plots?
ONE: To be honest, I never actually thought this was hard..... It was when someone else pointed this out to me when I realized for the first time, "Is this setting too hard for me to continue with?" But in the end, even to this day I hadn't thought that writing the plot was hard. Thinking of a plot that involved a lot of thinking and cleverness for the main character to get over any obstacle requires a lot of experience and knowledge, so I think it's a bit too hard for me. In Saitama's case, all I have to do is have him show up to punch the problem away so I don't have to think too much about it. In the world Saitama lives in, monsters show up frequently, so he gets to utilize his strength to the fullest, so I can feel comfortable making my plot. If anything happens, I can always count on Saitama. The story will be interesting as long as he's on the move. The difficulties Saitama encounters are for the most part really common problems like making it to the next supermarket sale, and since I solve these problems myself, it's easy to write about them. The only hard part is to make his allies seem not too weak.
I agree that even if there are many different appealing heroes and villains appear, by having a stable character like Saitama in the middle, the story development gets more exciting. Is there anything that you Mr. Murata keep in mind when drawing the characters?
Murata: Just trying not to lose any of the characters' appeal. I basically revamp the artwork of the original Onepunch Man, so the only thing I have to think about is emphasizing the characters' appeal. In reality, an artists job starts before he even starts drawing. It's important to know what the character's good parts. If you don't understand that to the core, there's no point in drawing the character in the first place. On the flip side, as long as you understand the character's appeal, there are so many scenes that come into your mind to draw that appeal out. So the only thing I care for is if I can accurately grasp Mr. ONE's characters' appeal.
So that's why Saitama is drawn so exquisitely while capturing his original artwork.
Murata: I actually started off drawing him really cool looking (lol). I was thinking that if was working as the artist, I should make everyone look as cool as possible. In that process I was making Saitama look handsome, or adding stars in his eyes, but I scrapped all of it. In the end, those things don't matter to Saitama's nature. His appeal isn't in his looks, so I thought that if I didn't take Mr. ONE's original design Saitama would end up a completely different character. I had a lot of fun working on this. I've been drawing manga for a quite a while now, but I realized that I hadn't fully grasped even the basics yet.
ONE: By utilizing my original design, it added even more to the "gap" that I was drawing. I was trying to make Genos and Sonic look a lot cooler than Saitama to add a gap between them, but Mr. Murata's meticulous drawings multiplies this gap. For example, in volume 3, there's a scene where Sonic is blowing up the city with his shurikens, and Saitama goes behind him and knocks him out. The face Saitama makes has such a blank look that makes you doubt that it was actually Mr. Murata that drew it (lol).
By adding dynamic action scenes, the gap becomes even wider doesn't it?
ONE: I get mesmerized every time I see Mr. Murata's manuscript. The villain designs are just fabulous. When the Sea King changes form, you get that feeling of despair that no can win against him just from the artwork. When the invader’s huge spaceship came down, I thought it had as much of an impact as a finale (lol). Every time there's a time where it seems like there's no chance, there's an even bigger impact from Saitama's fighting action, so I can't complain about anything. It's like watching a movie.
The reason why this series has hit the top rankings of manga on the NYTimes is how close the characters feel, and how dynamic the action scenes are. Do you get to come in contact with foreign responses?
ONE: I get English comments on my Twitter and my website and it makes me really happy. Usually they talk about how they're a huge fan, and then they end it with "Hurry up and write more." (lol) I think it's also huge that Onepunch Man is published on the English version of Weekly Shonen Jump. Although it's the same company, Shonen Jump and Tonari no Young Jump are two different branches so this move itself was pretty rare, so I'm very grateful for it.
Murata: I get English replies on my Twitter as well, so I try to read it using Google Translate and I try my best to reply. After publishing on Tonari no Young Jump, the first person to cosplay Saitama was someone from abroad. It was a picture that went around on the web of two brothers in Laos who wore a handmade outfit and a cardboard cutout of Saitama's face. I started to really recognize the existence of foreign fans from there on out.
I feel a strange connection to Mr. Murata coming back to Shonen Jump after English translations of his work coming out. I heard that comic sales in the US are affected by the anime adaptation, so wouldn't the anime that's airing right now start to affect sales?
ONE: The quality of the anime is really great. It's absolutely amazing.
Murata: I'm amazed every time. There are textures and scenes that are impossible in the manga. For an example, when Saitama is fighting the Underground beings. That's the only part where Saitama is using his full strength. Although it ends as a dream, it's because of it that allows the scene to become even more extravagant. In the anime, it was depicted a lot more extravagantly, so I was moved. It was a bit salty that I couldn't do the same too.
On a web comic that no one knew Mr. Murata's drawings were added, the anime is aired around the world, and there are more possibilities yet to come. It might not be too far off from a Hollywood film too.
Murata: I wonder. But as I said before, my job is to just take Mr. ONE's original Onepunch Man and think about how I can express its appeal. I'd like to only think about that and focus on my job.
ONE: I also want to think about how I can make my work even better. I'd like to continue with what I've been working on over these years, rather than step up my pace because it got so much attention. Of course, I would be really happy if it increases in popularity, but it was a series that gained attention without trying to gain any in the first place, so I think it's important to maintain that.
 ONE: When I was in my teens, I drew "Sun Man" (Taiyou Man) on blank sheet of copy paper and upload it on a small home page; I made the last boss too strong and couldn't defeat it before I disbanded the home page.
ONE/Murata 2015 Joint Interview
--Today I’d like to ask you two to provide the “definitive edition” of the story of One-Punch Man’s birth
ONE: I’m much obliged.
Murata: Yes, thank you very much.
--ONE-sensei, tell us how you began drawing One-Punch Man.
ONE: Well, I wanted to try drawing manga digitally; that’s how it all started. There was this place (*1) online for posting up manga, and lots of people submitted their stuff there, so I wanted to submit something too. I bought a PC and some tools for drawing pictures digitally (*2). I tried out drawing 15 pages, and uploaded it with my PC for the first time…that was One-Punch Man Chapter 1. I didn’t have any real plans for continuing the story, and just posted it up without thinking of what to do next. But perhaps because I submitted it as “Chapter 1” it got a great response…OK, maybe not “great”, but a decent response. So I figured I might as well try drawing a continuation of the story. That’s when I really sat down and worked out how the story would continue, which made me realize this could turn into quite an interesting manga. And that pretty much brings us from Chapter 2 right up to the present.
--Where did you get your ideas?
ONE: To start with I simply tried to draw the sort of manga I’d want to read myself. I’ve read loads of Shonen manga throughout my life, and am particularly fond of battle manga. Generally speaking those types of stories are all about growth, meaning that by the last chapter the main character has grown stronger than anyone else and lives happily ever after. So I wondered what would happen if I started the story off with the main character already in peak condition. That became my jumping-off point.
--So it’s a complete 180 from existing Shonen action manga?
ONE: Which makes it fun for people who have already read lots of those typical Shonen manga. It’s like they’ve run the first lap, and this is their second time around.
Murata: Yeah, it’s really exciting for Shonen manga aficionados.
ONE: I also love it when a series creates friction between drama and humor. With One-Punch Man I wanted to try doing that through the worldview itself, rather than through specific plot points. The series is set in a dangerous, monster-infested world, but since Saitama’s there you don’t really notice just how bleak the world is. I think it’s that friction between Saitama and the rest of the world that makes things interesting.
--Murata-sensei, what do you think makes One-Punch Man so appealing?
Murata: It all boils down to Saitama’s appeal. In some ways, Saitama is incredibly similar to Son Goku from Dragon Ball (*3). It was Dragon Ball that first got me started reading Weekly Shonen Jump, so I find those similarities particularly appealing. Dragon Ball’s Goku (*4) is a very memorable protagonist: he does whatever he wants, fights strong guys…he’s only after excitement! He goes through life full of spirit. Even when the world’s in peril and he’s surrounded by chaos, it doesn’t bother him one bit. Like when Piccolo’s reincarnation entered the Tenkaichi Budokai (*5) and if Goku lost the world was doomed, even then Goku himself simply fought to win the tournament. After he beat Piccolo, he didn’t care that he had just saved the world, he was just happy to finally be crowned tournament champion. It’s that sort of detached easy-goingness, the sense of operating under a completely different logic than those around him. This type of aloofness, of doing things at one’s own pace, really screams “hero” to me. That’s what Goku and Saitama have in common. Another similarity is that they’re simply the strongest guys around. When things are looking hopeless, the moment they show up you know things are going to be OK (laughs).
--How did you find out about One-Punch Man, Murata-sensei?
Murata: I follow this illustrator called “Akiman” (*6) on Twitter, and when I heard about One-Punch Man on his blog, I read the entire series overnight. I got a bit frustrated, because I realized I had become a manga artist precisely to draw something like this (laughs). At the time I was in sort of a dead-end career-wise, and (my apologies to Ootagaki-sensei [*7]) thanks to my incompetence things weren’t going very well with Donten Prism Solar Car (*8)…It’s safe to say I ended up causing Ootagaki-sensei and the readers a lot of trouble. Back then, I viewed my job simply as illustrating the stories given to me. But really, isn’t an illustrator’s job to visually convey the charm of the characters? You’ve got to understand what makes the characters appealing, or otherwise you’ll have nothing to show the readers. Once I read One-Punch Man, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. I sent ONE-sensei a message right away, asking if we could meet. I told him point-blank I wanted to work with him…
ONE: I was surprised to get a message from Murata-sensei. Frankly, at first I thought it might be a prank…
ONE: It was a real shock! (laughs)
--Did you two hit it off?
Murata: Yeah. I was so nervous about meeting him that I ended up being 30 minutes late (laughs). By that time I was already starving, so first I suggested we go get some yakiniku. (laughs)
--What did you talk about at the yakiniku restaurant?
Murata: I asked “hey, why don’t we do a one-shot together first?”
--Your first collaboration was Earth Monster.
ONE: With Earth Monster, I made storyboards so that Murata-sensei would have something to work off of, and to give us something to show the editorial office. I took it as an opportunity to make something really flashy, the sort of thing I could never draw on my own. I stayed within manga contest regulations (*9), so it was probably around 31 to 45 pages.
Murata: But I wanted to use bigger panels, and expanded it to roughly 60 pages.
--So you submitted Earth Monster (*10) to the editorial office as a one-shot?
Murata: Actually, wasn’t Cockroach Busters (*11) the one we ended up showing to Young Jump first?
ONE: That’s right. Before that we showed it to your then-current editor at Weekly Shonen Jump; I think we made about four copies.
Murata: At the time I had an exclusive contract, so I felt obligated to draw it for Jump, but it wasn’t really panning out…And while I was wrapped up with that, I came down with gastroenteritis.
ONE: Your wife found you and called an ambulance.
Murata: I couldn’t move at all…That’s when I started thinking that if this exclusive contract was going to keep me from doing the work I wanted, then I had better do something about it. I called ONE-sensei from the hospital and told him “I’m terminating my contract, so how about we get a bunch of different one-shot manuscripts together and shop them around at different companies?” And that’s how things went.
--How did you end up at Neighborhood Young Jump?
ONE: Several different people had approached me with proposals for commercializing One-Punch Man. The question was, would I handle the illustrations myself, or get someone else to do them? Although personally I thought Murata-sensei was the best man for the job…Later there was discussion about me trying to draw a revised version, but after drawing about two chapters worth it became painfully obvious it would never sell. At that point Murata-sensei asked if he could take a stab at it. He redrew the first chapter with a felt-tip pen, and it blew me away. From there we started thinking about the best place to distribute this out to the world. With Murata-sensei’s connections we hooked up with an editor at Young Jump, and this led to the plan to run it in Neighborhood Young Jump, on condition that it be drawn by Murata-sensei. I thought it was incredible of Murata-sensei to publish this manga on the web rather than in print form, and I was sure everyone else would be impressed with it too. So with that, we made our proposal to Young Jump, and it began.
--Murata-sensei, were you in any way reluctant to publish the series online?
Murata: Back when I was doing Eyeshield 21 (*12), I had never read any webcomics, and my thoughts towards them didn’t extend much beyond “eh, doing one might be interesting”. But when this proposal came up, I had by then read ONE-sensei's One-Punch Man, so I felt like publishing on the web had real merit. For instance, with a weekly magazine each issue disappears from stores when the next one comes out a week later, but on the web people can read the previous chapters too. And since it’s available to the entire world, it seemed like a good way to gain a larger audience. Viewing something published online on my monitor, I was amazed at how pretty the lines were (laughs) (*13). But since up until that point I had only ever worked with lines on paper, I had absolutely no skills at making them look pretty on monitors...So me and my staff went through a lot of trial and error. That's what made it so interesting! Mastering a new field was a lot of fun.
Another advantage of drawing on the web is that you can make corrections. With Eyeshield 21, I was always pressed for time, which didn’t leave room for much trial and error…I’d question if what I was drawing was really up to snuff…then realize it wasn’t. But even after a chapter ran in Jump, there still wouldn’t be any time to fix it, so it would just remain as-is forever. This happened all the time, and really stressed me out. Online though, I can fine-tune things until I’m satisfied. Particularly the characters’ faces. I mean, when anyone other than ONE-sensei draws Saitama, he ends up a different character. Though at first I was real keen on putting a Shonen manga spin on him.
--I hear there were a lot of rejected Saitama faces.
Murata: That’s right. It wasn’t until I had drawn a good number of pages that I finally got the hang of his expressions. It was when he and Genos are listening to Sneck’s lecture at the Hero Association, and he’s noisily chewing gum. The moment I saw this bored-looking Saitama, a lightbulb went off in my head (laughs). I realized that because Saitama is so strong, for him everything is always boring. This made me want to redraw the whole thing from square one. Me and the staff had by then learned the ropes of drawing online and were really into it. I told them that this was the first step in what would be a historic manga; I was drawing in a daze of ecstasy.
--How do you two work together during the writing process? Does ONE-sensei create new storyboards?
Murata: With the main storyline or anything else where I’m going off of ONE-sensei’s original, I’m generally given free reign with page distribution and whatnot. But I’ll ask ONE-sensei if I have any questions.
ONE: That’s right.
Murata: For the main storyline, the dialogue stays pretty much the same. But with side-stories, sometimes I’ll try adding in scenes to ONE-sensei’s storyboards, or change the dialogue up a bit. In such cases, I’ll always ask ONE-sensei’s opinion. We’ll go back and forth fine-tuning it…and sometimes it’ll just end up reverting back to how it was in the beginning (laughs).
ONE: Murata-sensei always shows me whenever he thinks up new scenes or dialogue to add. For instance, with the A-Class hero Spring Mustachio, my storyboards just had his name and general appearance. He talked a bit and got beat up by the monster, nothing more. I didn’t plan to highlight what weapons he used or anything like that; that part was really cut short. But the storyboards Murata-sensei came up with featured him using his weapon against the monster, showing off his fighting chops so that the monster looked even more impressive by comparison. It was fantastic!
Murata: When I heard his weapon was a fencing (*14) rapier (*15), it reminded me of that cool swordsman from Wheels on Meals (*16). Sometimes it’s fun to add in more action like that.
--On the flipside, has ONE-sensei ever given you pointers on how to draw something?
Murata: On occasion. For instance, during the big showdown with Boros. Since I felt this was the heavyweight championship of the universe, I tried to make it as flashy as possible. However, midway through when Boros starts losing ground to Saitama, there were places where he appeared clownish…ONE-sensei pointed out to me that the reason Boros is popular is because he always retains his dignity, even against Saitama. That made it all click for me, and I redrew things from square one. When it comes to the storyline, characters, and dialogue, all of that flows from ONE-sensei’s head, so I constantly check in with him.
--Thank you very much. Finally, what do each of you consider a “true hero”?
Murata: "Even if you’re the strongest around, not letting it go to your head”, I guess. Abiding by your own rules. A true hero never waivers.
ONE: I agree; someone who never waivers. A true hero is someone who follows their dreams to the very end.
ONE X Natsume X Suzuki
 Super heroes revealing one after another, action packed, audience captivating TV anime, One Puch Man, is releasing its blue ray and DID on Dec. 24th! It's a super popular super-power comic (sic. the article said comic rather than manga) combining the star of web comics, ONE, and the super genius of JUMP, Murata Yuusuke. Now, we will interview the original author, ONE, along with Director Natsume Shingo and Scriptwriter Suzuki Tomohiro and ask them about the many different aspects of the anime version of One Punch Man.
"No matter how many times I watch it, I'll completely forget that I have anything to do with its creation and just simply enjoy it. It's the best. (lol)"
--The first question is to Director Natsume and Mr. Suzuki. It has be some time now since One Punch Man has started airing. How is the response so far?
Natsume: Ever since I started seeing the animators really working hard on the different sections, I felt that this will become a high quality animation. However, hearing positive reactions from the audience also makes me happy. Just couple days ago, we heard praise from the author ONE. That is the biggest responce we've received (laugh). Able to hear praise from the original creator is gives us pure pleasure.
Suzuki: Looking at Director Natsume turning my scripts into animation and watching the final product is the most impactful thing to me.
--When first hearing about adaptation into anime, did you feel more anticipation or anxiety?
ONE: There was certainly both anticipation and anxiety. Becoming an anime does not necessarily mean that the images will flow better than the manga, so I kept wondering about how would it work out. However further cooperation has dissolved all of my worries (laugh). It has been far better than I imagined it being.
Natsume: When we first met up, I sensed a strong bond on teamwork between Mr ONE and Mr Murata, and I was very nervous about whether I can break into that team, how I will be received, and I was worried that I would be disliked in the beginning.
Suzuki: Normally when we meet up, the Scriptwriter will sit face-to-face to the director, but this time Mr ONE and Mr Murata was sitting next to each other and I sat on the other side next to Director Natsume. This is quite rare and left a really deep impression for me. Somehow this formed an unique balance, and I thought it worked out great.
--After starting to work on it, what turned out to be the most difficult aspect?
"The most challenging part was how to put the world view created by ONE and Murata into moving scenes."
Natsume: The most challenging part was how to put the world view created by Mr ONE and Mr Murata into moving scenes. First of all, Mr Murata's high quality illistration was a big hurdle. Content wise the facial expressions of the characters are also quite unique to Mr ONE's style. How to recreat them was difficult. This work is filled with unique characters that react in unexpected ways, so grasping their individual peculiarities was a lot of work. And then there was Saitama's facial expressions. The original work was able to express the emotion change with the minute amount of change in the drawing, and copying that was very difficult.
Suzuki: The hard parts were all carried by the director, my work didn't have much of the heavy lifting. But the pressure was high. Being responsible for such a popular work and moreover animating an still continuing work gives me a lot of pressure when first creating the blueprint for the series.
--Mr ONE has also attended the scenario planning meet ups. How does it feel to participate in the animation process?
ONE: It is the first time I was involved in anime production, so I was quite nervous. When I first heard from the editor that I can attend the meeting, I immediately begged them, “please definitely let me join.” But right before I went, I started thinking should I really be going (laugh). I was thinking is it okay for someone who have never been involved in anime production to interfere, but I was welcomed with a warm atmosphere. It was my first time actually attending the meeting, learning about the production process, and experiencing so many people contributing their ideas and thinking about the story, so I everything was really exciting and interesting.
--In that meeting, what precisely did Mr ONE ask the animation to achieve?
Natsume: he wanted to add more jokes in the story to widen the breadth of the characters.
ONE: primarily in the nuances of the action scenes.
Natsume: In the fine details, there were a lot of unclear part, so talking through that was really helpful.
Suzuki: Whenever it was necessary to add original elements for the story to fit into the 12 episode slots, it was very helpful to able to directly ask permission at the moment. Also, I think it was during the first meeting, Mr ONE said, “I want things I say to not always necessarily interpreted as correct.” I was very grateful for hearing that during the creative process.
Natsume: It was really reassuring. When we are struggling in the creation process and don't know what to do, having advices from the original author was very helpful. We also talked about many funny things which warmed up the meeting. For example, thinking up names for the new monsters. The name for the character SUPER CUSTOM YO649Z MK.II in episode 1 was made up there.
Suzuki: and then Mr ONE said, “at that moment I want there to be some kind of special technique,” (I think still referring to episode 1) and we all tried to come up with ideas …
Natsume: I remember that part. When being rejected, immediately responding gives a comedic feel to it (by comedy, it referred to something called oogiri, which I'm not familiar with)
--What do you think makes the protagonist, Saitama, attractive?
"Saitama's charisma lies in that he can say obvious things in an obvious manner"
ONE: Saitama's attractive because, even as the person drawing, he seems like a reliable person. No matter what dangerous enemy there might be, it will be fine as long as Saitama is there (laugh). In the first place, One Punch Man was something that I just threw onto my personal home page, and people who saw it recommended it to others and the work slowly gained popularity. The fact that we're at this point today in the animation process owes a lot to Saitama being a charismatic character.
Natsume: Having power yet doesn't act as if he is important and stays consistently human is what makes him charismatic. Normally, having power changes people. But that doesn't happen to Saitama. Being normal and unchanging is his charm.
Suzuki: They all took the good points, so I don't have much to say (laugh). Besides those things mentioned, I feel that Saitama's charisma lies in that he can say obvious things in an obvious manner. There's also an aspect that he doesn't get the atmosphere of the situation. That's what makes him act like a normal person. His simplistic words and actions blows away the serious situations. That's what makes it thrilling to watch.
--The way the heroes and monsters are named is also quite unique.
Suzuki: The monster that showed up in episode 2 is called ground dragon, but that's just a mole. If mole (usually written in katakana) is written in kanji, it would be 土の竜 (literally ground dragon). If you then turn each character into English separately, it turns into something quite awesome.
Natsume: Also appeared in episode 2 is the armored gorilla. Even just gorilla by itself seems strong, and adding armor to it just made it better (laugh).
--In the characters that you named, Mr ONE, what would be your favorite character?
ONE: It will be the crab lante that appeared in episode 1. I am often asked why use the suffix “lante”. Actually when I was in the lower grades in elementary school, there was this movie called Godzilla vs. Biollante, and the giant plant monster in it was called Biollante. Biollante was my favorite monster out of the whole series, so I often subconsciously add lante to the end of monster names (laugh). I also quite like the name of asura beatle from episode 3.
"In the sense of speed and action, the anime's action scenes far surpassed my own imagination."
--There is a lot of heroes and monsters in the anime. What is your favorite character?
ONE: I think my favorite after all is Saitama. Besides that, my favorite hero is King, and my favorite monster is the Deep Sea King. Specially when the Deep Sea King became larger in the story, it was very fun to draw it.
Natsume: I also like Saitama the most, but Silver Fang has been growing on me recently. It slowly changed during the animation process I guess. He gives advices to Genos, and his mature, adult responses to everything is also great. How he first appears was cool, and I also like how he doesn't really care about anything deeply.
Suzuki: Mine would be the license-less rider. I have really liked him even before this was animated. I can't be Saitama or Genos, but I can become License-less Rider (laugh). He feels reachable. I like that even if I can't become a hero, I can become him.
ONE: I like License-less rider too. However, he sort of does too much as a character. Every single character has a shadow of my personality in them, but how License-less rider always marches forward with justice and is able to face opponents stronger than himself I don't find any of it in myself (laugh). In this way, I tip my hat a little to the character stuffed with something I don't have.
Yamada Reiji’s Young Sunday Interview
For a link to the interview transcript, see Yamada Reiji’s Young Sunday Interview.
 Murata held a lecture about how to be an animator/mangaka for a relative who didn't really know how famous Murata is. So the event, which was planend for 90 people was upped to 150 and Murata promised to sign all the OPM books people would bring.
He was a bit late and explicitly banned any sort of recording, no matter if it's video or audio. He was wearing a kimono which his uncle made for him, so after introducing himself he advertised his uncle's shop. Afterwards he allowed people to ask questions, so here we go:
Q: Who's your favorite character in this hit manga at the moment?
Murata: I like everyone. Every character ONE sensei creates is attractive in their own way.
Q: Except of the black tights (he meant Garou's shirt/Fubuki's outfit) what else gets you excited to think about? (Unsure if it was about the incoming anime or what he likes to draw)
Murata: About the incoming 233333 battle scenes. (This is a reference to his uncle's shop which is called 2333)
Q: How do you eat so much at night and gain weight but lose it all again?
Murata: Such is life as a serialized Mangaka lol.
Q: What sort of stuff would you like to do with OPM?
Murata: Well, you see about the animation. I recently tried to do it myself with that Genos Meteorite Shot. My editors helped me a lot with it to make it look smooth.
Q: Hmm, I see, so if my brat wants to be a mangaka like you, will you support him?
Murata: I've dealt with the older generation and now teach my assistants all I have. Hand drawing, post-processing, the technology to make a gif, all of it. What's needed in this new era isn't what your editors want, but what you want to draw and if you can draw it with modern technology which makes my teachings moot for your child. If he wants to draw, let him, I won't stop him nor will I give him advice. Pray, my friend.
Q: How can I draw cool intense stuff like you?
Murata: You need references and understand the difference in perspective between things near and far from the central points.
Q: I've heard you've been influenced by Toriyama...
Murata: Sure. Especially the fight scenes. I actually believe Goku and Saitama are a bit alike. Both are too strong for ordinary people. [He talks about his influences a bit completely going offtopic] And then you need to know that all the characters that are created by ONE Sensei have a little of him in them. It isn't a wonder that most of their character reflect his.
Great thanks to the following people for providing the translations
- Fan and ultimateking from http://nerieru-scans.com/
- Taka from One Punch-Man subreddit
- Jpneseman for Sugoi Japan interview with ONE and Murata translation
- recordinggames for the Sun Man twitter translation
- Herms for ONE/Murata 2015 Joint Interview
- shiningTeeth for ONE x Natsume x Suzuki Interview
- Kawausokappa from Mob Psycho 100 subreddit
- Weekly Shonen Jump interview with ONE
- ONE interview from 2012
- One Punch-Man: Hero Perfection (Japanese)
- Sugoi Japan interview with ONE and Murata (Japanese)
- Sun Man (Japanese)
- ONE/Murata 2015 Joint Interview
- ONE X Natsume X Suzuki
- Yamada Reiji’s Young Sunday Interview