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[ICON] Yukari Ichijo - Master Shojo Manga Artist

Yukari Ichijo - Master Shojo Manga Artist
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Master Shojo Manga Artist Yukari Ichijo Interview “I wanted to create a dual between a rich and poor girl – battling it out on a level playing field”

Hot on the heels of the movies “NANA” and “A Song to the Sun” comes another music-filled film titled “Pride”. This is based on another Yukari Ichijo’s manga series that depicts the rivalry between Shio Asami – born to a wealthy family blessed with natural talent and beauty, and Moe Midorikawa – a poor girl with an alcoholic mother. The two from different worlds are drawn together by a common dream – to become opera singers – but are caught up in fierce rivalry. The original story “Pride” is by master shojo manga creator Yukari Ichijo, who also wrote “Yukan Club” which was turned into a TV drama. 2008 marked her 40th year as a manga creator and we spoke to her about the inspiration behind “Pride”.

As the original writer, were you particular about how the story went?

Due to the fact that the saga had to be compacted into just 2 hours she didn't seem to have much attachment to the story.
“I'm aware that when a manga is transferred to the cinema or TV media the original story has to change. The only thing that I was particular about was that I didn't want the characters' personalities to change.
When I first saw the script that they worked so hard on, some of the characters just didn't seem right so I gave my input.
I suppose turning it into a movie or TV is like giving your darling daughter up for marriage – if she is happy, I’m happy. But if she is treated badly by her new husband, I would tell her 'run back home to mummy!'(lol)”.

Why did you choose opera as the stage?

オペラという題材を描こうと思った理由Ichijo sensei was quite “humbled” by the support she got from professional opera singers who though that it would be a good thing to promote opera. You may think that she was an opera fan, but the truth is that she wasn't.
“At first I wanted to write the story where a poor person enters the domain of the rich and do battle. Ballet is not necessarily the domain of the rich, so I thought about equestrian horse riding or opera.
But if it was horse riding I think it would be a bit far fetched for a poor girl to say “I want that horse” don't you think? I didn't want to write scenes where the horse breaks a leg and had to put down, and the pinnacle of the sport is the Olympics. It is too sporty and gentlemanly.
I wanted a professional in the entertainment world. And when I was thinking about it I came up with the world where 'popularity is everything' (lol) - somewhere where you can make it to the top through hard work. Sometimes it might not be fair play but to get to the top anything goes. It just had to be opera.”

What has given you the drive to write manga for forty years?

40年マンガを描き続けられた原動力とは?Ichijo sensei celebrates her 40th anniversary in the industry. What is the drive behind her passion for manga?
“I get tired of things quickly. Just doing the same thing is boring. Take fishing – you can't get good at it if you are impatient. If you can't catch anything you have to change the lure or point. It's the same as that. I have found a way to keep going without getting bored. For example, the main character goes overseas, finds a new rival, I am always changing the situation.
When I was writing 'Sina no Shiro (Sand Castle)” I got bored with the “girlie world” and I decided I wanted to do something with 'battles and action like in a shonen manga'. That is how I came to write 'Yukan Club'”.

Did cultural differences influence “Pride”?

Shio and Moe come up with the lines “Don't you have any pride?” and “I already got rid of that -it's useless”. You even chose the title “Pride”. Were you influenced by culture? To which sensei immediately replied “Yes!”
“The only influence can be culture don't you think? Japan has Japanese pride, other countries have their own pride. It is their individual pride that makes for a rich culture.
After watching “Pride” myself I realised something – it reminded me of a Korean movie. I think Koreans will enjoy this movie and I hope they go and watch it.”
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Movie “Pride”
Release: 17 January 2009 (Sat)

Shio Asami is the daughter of a late famous opera singer who grew up in a wealthy household. She is blessed with natural beauty and talent, however, her father's company suddenly goes bankrupt and her dream to become an opera singer is in tatters. At the same time Moe Midorikawa, who lives in poverty with her single mother, works hard at her part time job and dreams of becoming an opera singer. In an attempt to win a study trip to Italy they compete in a singing contest held by Takashi Jinno, the owner of Queen Records. Shio is trapped by Moe and misses the prize. Later, to earn a living Shio works as a singer at “Prima Donna”, a nightclub run by her university class mate Ranmaru's mother Natsuko. But Moe comes to work at the same club...

Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Original Story: Yukari Ichijo
Distribution: HEXAGON PICTURES+Synergy
Movie site:

“Pride” manga series in magazine “Chorus”
The latest 10th volume goes on sale from 19 January 2009 (Shueisha)
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3 posters signed by Yukari Ichijo

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