Keri Kusabi | Manga Artist Interview
The interview with Keri Kusabi, the artist known and loved in and outside Japan for their extremely emotional and dramatic BL omegaverse series “Wails of the Bound” is now on the website! Learn more about the creator’s career path, hobbies, favorite BL settings, and more.☺️
“I love to paint!”, “I want to be good at drawing!”… When did you first feel that? How did it all start?
I started drawing at a very young age in kindergarten. But the first time I thought about becoming professionally good at it was after I’d entered high school and had to decide on my post-graduation career path.
What was the first character or manga you drew?
It’s a work called “Can’t get enough” that’s included in the first volume of the “Wails of the Bound” series.
When did you feel the urge to draw BL manga?
There were some anime and manga I used to love, so I think my otaku activities – that’s what drew me to the field of manga production. Until entering the university, I was pretty satisfied with just watching/reading it, but I had many uni friends who were incredibly good at drawing, so I was inspired by them a lot, too.
Is your manga usually born from the story?
Or do characters come to your mind first?
It depends on the story, but in many cases, I’d say that characters are born first. A thought like “Oh, I wanna draw a couple like this!” just pops up in my mind, and that’s how it all starts. For instance, speaking of the “Wails of the Bound” series, the characters came first.
What are the moments you enjoy the most when creating manga?
When it comes to manga since I can freely modify and add my touches to whatever part of the work, whether it’s the world-building, colors, or characters’ individuality, I truly enjoy the feeling of being able to manage and control the whole creative process.
Also, maybe it’s not quite related to the creative process itself, but I feel extremely happy whenever I see how bright and joyful fans’ faces get when they look at the characters’ illustrations or goods during the events.
What is the most challenging part when creating manga?
I would say it’s plot and storyboarding. Also, since it’s pretty hard for me to make myself draw anything (even if I have to) when I don’t feel mentally and physically well, having to face a blank screen in such moments is quite exhausting.
What parts are you most particular about when creating characters?
I think the parts I’m most particular about are gestures and clothes. Each character’s personality comes out in the clothes he’s choosing, through his gestures and habits.
I also pick image colors for each character because it helps when drawing or creating goods.
What do you prefer to do when drawing manga?
When I need to concentrate on drawing, I prefer to listen to music or some game streaming. Sometimes I have some movie or TV drama in the background.
What does creating manga mean to you?
I usually present my work to the public with a feeling like “…I’ve made the dish. For me it’s not bad, what do you think?. So I would say that for me, creating manga means leaving a mark on someone’s heart, whether it’s some joyful emotions or a sense of despair or sadness. I always create my works hoping they will touch someone’s heart and remain there.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Music, TV drama, games, shop windows, CMs, or billboards.
What works have you read/watched/listened to recently that have left a deep impression on you?
I’ve been into one game recently so let me mention it. I cried a river over a scenario of one particular TRPG that tells a story of a world where live humans and androids. I have a weakness for sorrowful and tragic interspecies bonds.
Is there anything you have been obsessed with these days?
TRPGs. It’s a kind of game where you’ve got a scenario, and each participant creates their character. The characters act based on their characteristics, and the choices they make during the game affect the direction and outcome of the game. It’s like an improvised theatre, emotionally shaking and fun. Although in most cases something unpleasant happens with the characters, to me, that’s exactly what makes such games even more exciting.
Out of all BL character types, what is your favorite one?
A strong bottom is my favorite (the one that can make the top come with just his butt).
What is your favorite couple pairing in BL?
I like quarrelsome couples and couples with younger tops.
“If I weren’t a mangaka, I would be…”
It’s pretty hard to imagine, but because I was in the drama club and like to sing, I would probably become a performer. Anyway, regardless of the tools used, I would probably choose a type of activity through which I could express myself.
As a reader, what are your favorite story settings?
As a reader, I like rom-coms and stories with happy endings. But my favorite ones are the bittersweet stories and those with Merry Bad endings (a kind of story with an ending that may seem tragic but the characters themselves are happy). I like stories of people who no matter how many enormous scars it might leave on them, keep trying to find their way out of the pain and darkness (that may even seem too much for readers), not losing hope to reach the light.
What do you think about the rising popularity of BL outside Japan?
I’m very happy! May the BL network be even wider! I think that each country has its own background and trends, and I’d like to read and watch as more as possible.
Please leave a message to your fans.
“Hello!” to those who already know me, and “Nice to meet you” to those I meet for the first time. If you’re reading this message right now, that means you’ve probably learned about me from somewhere, which I’m very thankful for. I’m very grateful for being so lucky to meet so many people around the world.
As a manga artist, I’m always nervous about how readers would feel about and react to my works. I’d be really happy if you enjoyed any of my manga stories, characters, or anything else!
Thank you very much for having read the interview!