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A New and Rising Manga Artist Who Depicts Unique Worlds on a Grand Scale

Mr. Junpei Kuwayama

In the last scene of "Wings Above the Earth," the hero Mito grabs the hand of Iruha, a young girl who has lost her family and friends. "Let's go, Iruha," he whispers. "Let's live together." To Mr. Kuwayama, the young boy Mito contains many parts that are a projection of his former self. "People say that they want freedom. But once they gain something that is important to them, isn't that when they first understand the meaning of freedom? I kept that feeling in mind as I created the manga."

Mr. Kuwayama loved movies ever since he was young. "That's why I joined the movie club right when I entered Waseda." He became too engrossed in shooting and had to be hospitalized for fatigue. "When I was receiving treatment, I had absolutely nothing to do, so I tried drawing manga." Time would fly by when he picked up his pen and started thinking of a story. "With movies, there are all sort of different rolls like directors and actors. But a manga can be created by one person. I realized that I could manipulate the actors and camera in any way I want."

Mr. Kuwayama made the transition from a reader to a creator. A friend introduced him to "Weekly Gangan" magazine. After that, an upperclassman encouraged him to participate in a comic event. When he found the publisher of "Weekly Gangan" at the publishers' booth, he ended up bringing in his own work. This was the start of a long, tough road. The work he created with the help of outside advice won an honorable mention at a contest put on by the publisher. He made his first step forward as a professional with his newest work "Wings Above the Earth."

"Waseda was pretty much my ideal school. I wanted to be somewhere that has power, and to meet all sorts of people." He says that, because Waseda is a place where people are creating things in a variety of fields in addition to manga, he feels that he must not be defeated.

Mr. Kuwayama has friends who have begun searching for jobs. "It would be a lie to say that I don't feel anxious...but drawing manga is important to me, and so I want to tenaciously hold onto that," he said bashfully. "I just don't want to look back and say 'I wish I had done that back then.'" He also strongly asserted that ability is the first necessary element to become independent with a single manga.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Junpei Kuwayama

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1989. Graduated from Kogyokusha Senior High School, and is currently a third year student of the School of Culture, Media and Society. Mr. Kuwayama is a member of Toru Takahashi's seminar. His work "Masquarade" won an honorable mention in the 13th Square Enix Manga Prize. He debuted as a manga artist in April 2009 with "Wings Above the Earth" in Fresh Gangan. He is currently hard at work on his next manga. He enjoys movies of all types, and is currently especially fond of Clint Eastwood movies.