TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #1 : Past and Present of Akihabara with Ai☆Madonna

『TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai』#1 : 愛☆まどんなと語る、秋葉原カルチャーの過去と現在
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TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #1 : Past and Present of Akihabara with Ai☆Madonna

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Ai☆Madonna: Actually recently I’ve begun drawing a manga.

Julie: Oh?!?!

Ai☆Madonna: I’ve been working on it with Reiji Yamada. He came to my solo exhibition and liked my work, so we began talking about drawing something together and splitting the story and the artwork, and regarding each other with mutual respect, we’re in the middle of drawing it now.

Julie: He’s the influential manga artist behind the masterpiece B Virgin, right? Mr. Yamada’s got his own story structure and artistic style, and he seems like he’d be easy to get along with.

Ai☆Madonna: To be honest I’d never read his work! (laugh) It was interesting hearing stories about all these “mental health” (“mental health” girls) flocking to him.

Julie: He’s quite popular with guys as a manga artist, isn’t he. (laugh) Recently his relationship advice column for women was turned into a book. It’s a really deep and interesting read. The character all the “mental health” flock to is fascinating from a female’s perspective, and the fact that he’s a writer that’s also an expert when it comes to love. By chance are you two writing a love story?

Ai☆Madonna: He interviewed me on many different topics, and wrote that into the story with my name. You could say it’s kind of like a love story, or a yuri (girls’ love) story.

Julie: I see, so Mr. Yamada wrote the original story. And a yuri one on top of that! My favorite genre! Was it your first time to illustrate a manga?

Ai☆Madonna: It was the first time for me to seriously draw one! I’d been wanting to as part of my work, and had been thinking about it for some time, but hadn’t been able to go through with it until Mr. Yamada nudged me into finally doing it.

Julie: With Mr. Yamada doing the story and you doing the artwork, on top of it being a yuri story, it sounds like it’s really got everything going for it. I can’t wait to see it!

Ai☆Madonna: Mr. Yamada may be a love expert, but he said he’s not good at drawing erotic manga. So the left that part to me. (laugh)

Julie: Was there any part you found difficult to illustrate?

Ai☆Madonna: Naturally because each panel of a manga is made up of descriptive pictures, it can be hard to draw in a way that conveys what you want to the reader.

Julie: So the panel layout, then. I see, it’s like they say, manga is its own art form.

Ai☆Madonna: The pen you use to draw the main lines of the manga art was puzzling and also took some getting used to. By now most people around the world draw using their PC.

Julie: So you even had to change your medium. That must have been hard. When do you think it’ll be ready?

Ai☆Madonna: We were working on it so it’d be ready sometime this spring, but my progress on it has been delayed a little, so it’ll probably take until summer to finish it. Possibly longer. Or perhaps next year… But I’ll do my best so it doesn’t end up taking that long!!

Julie: I see. I’ll be waiting to hear the official announcement about it on SNS! Thank you for such an interesting talk today! It was really a treat to listen to what you had to say, as someone who has experienced Tokyo’s otaku mix culture firsthand.

Ai☆Madonna: The pleasure was all mine… Thank you very much!



I was feeling really nervous and hopeful about interviewing talented artist Ai☆Madonna, but our talk held the same friendly atmosphere as when we first met. Occasionally on the forefront, because you only know someone from the pointed expression of their work, you might be surprised to see how full of love their personality is. There’s something else I realized during our discussion, too. I got the distinct feeling that quietly capturing the city’s movement and trends is one of the marks of a great artist.

Julieによる秋葉原ストリートフォト(モデル:久保ユリカ 2013年)

Street photo at Akihabara by Julie ( model : Yurika Kubo, 2013) / Julieによる秋葉原ストリートフォト(モデル:久保ユリカ 2013年)

Related links
Julie Watai official site :
Ai☆Madonna official site :
Ai☆Madonna’s webshop :

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Julie Watai

After working at an idol in Japan, Julie Watai moved by herself to Italy, publishing SAMURAI GIRL in 2006 while working as a photographer for Italian publishing company DRAGO&ARTS. She quickly became an international Japanese pop culture figure, gaining a large following. After returning to Japan, she continued her work as a photographer, along with developing electronics as a hobby and iPhone apps, and has been remarkably successful as part of the Akiba-style geek culture, too.

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