He knew only about South Indian superstar Rajnikanth, when in Taiwan. Now, he knows the names of some Bollywood stars too and even likes them! “Rajinikanth is very popular in Japan (laughs). It was in the 90s, when I was doing my schooling that I heard about him. But my personal favourites are Shahrukh Khan and Kajol,” chuckles Shoei Emura.
After spending 13 years in India, the comic book artist is pretty much familiar with our nation, especially with the Indian style of storytelling, food and art. Recently present at the fourth Anime Convention to deliver a lecture on Japanese and Indian comic books, Metrolife interacted with the Japanese lad, who has been staying in Delhi for six years now and wants to create a niche for himself in the world of comics.
“Comics came in later. My area of interest was always Fine Arts, which ultimately landed me in Delhi,” says Shoei, who left Taiwan, as there was no Arts College there. “At the time, I had no option but to train myself by giving art tuitions to local kids,” he says.
Meanwhile, Shoei also applied to universities in the US for higher education but failed to get admission. “That is when I started questioning myself, my calibre and decided to change my field and started looking for other options.
Shoei explored all possibilities and India turned out to be very interesting. “Here, the education system is very different from the one in Taiwan. The best part is that people speak English. I was finally doing something reasonable in an unknown country.”
He completed his graduation from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and decided to freelance. “That is when I decided to design a comic book. My idea was to narrate Mahabharata in comics,” says Shoei, who is yet to bring the epic story to comic form. Instead, he came up with a new concept - Mice Will Be Mice.
“In 2008, I attended a workshop on French comics conducted by Sarai, a programme run by the Centre for the Study of Developing Society. When I got the idea for Mice... I had to keep Indian readers in mind while designing and generating the content. Therefore, the attempt was to develop something new and which the readers can directly understand,” says Shoei.
But the idea of Mahabharata comics is still being worked out, “Thanks to the workshop on the Indian storytelling art that I attended. I learnt a lot about Indian culture and some great stories. Since storytelling is a medium similar to comics, the workshop has been helpful. I hope to very soon work on the Mahabharata,” says the young artist.
Shoei feels that Delhi is an exciting place for creative people. “You always come up with new ideas and never get bored. And the best part is you can easily have some paneer ki sabzi, achaar and South Indian food everywhere.”