Irodori Comics interviews Aiue Oka (Echizen & waon)
Irodori Comis (IC): Thank you for participating in this interview. Please give us a quick introduction.
waon (w): Hello, I’m waon of Aiue Oka. We’ve been working as a duo creating hentai manga since 2014. In terms of doujinshi, we have the “Hypnotic Sexual Counseling” series. We have published “Dreaming Maiden” and “Bullied” for commercial manga.
Echizen (E): I’m Echizen of Aiue Oka. Typically, an artist duo has one artist writing the story’s script and the other doing the illustration. But in our case, we work on the story, character designs, and illustrations together while individually managing our workload.
IC: What have you been doing recently?
w: We’ve been working on the manuscripts for our commercial works and our Winter Comiket title, as well as drawing up manga to post on various subscription sites. Also, I’m practicing drawing more under Echizen’s supervision.
In terms of my private life, I came down with COVID, and I’ve been bedridden for almost a month. I live my life like a hermit, so I barely have any notable life events I can tell you about. I’m sorry.
E: I feel like I’ve only been monitoring waon and managing our schedules…
Other than that, I’ve been working on stories scheduled to come out in the middle of next year.
Get to know Aiue Oka
IC: The two of you (Aiue Waon & Aiue Echizen) form the duo for “Aiue Oka.” Can you please tell us the origin of your duo name?
w: Our duo name is like a pun. It comes from how the Japanese alphabet is listed in order.
The bookstores here organize the books in order of the Japanese alphabet. So I thought this duo name would make it easier for people to find us.
(IC Note: The first six letters on the Japanese alphabet are A, I, U, E, O, and KA, which make up the duo’s name.)
E: This is a name that waon has chosen. To begin with, Aiue Oka was a name he used alone. We should have thought more seriously about the name. If only we had known that we’d be sticking together for such a long time…
IC: Where did the two of you meet, and how did you end up working together?
E: Our mothers knew each other, and when waon was a student at a vocational school for manga artists, his mother introduced us. I was already working as a professional manga artist then.
At first, I was giving him casual advice on his manga and doujin activities. Then it turned into me correcting his storyboards, giving him ideas to develop, retouching his sketches, and so on. The things I was doing gradually expanded.
w: Initially, I was writing comedy-themed doujinshi. But seeing how I don’t buy many general-audience manga titles but purchase a whole lot of adult manga and hentai games, Echizen suggested, “If you love them so much, maybe drawing adult manga will suit you better.” And that’s when I thought, “That makes sense.”
IC: Some circles have a “Writer / Artist” pair-up, but you two have a more unique workflow. How are tasks allocated between the two of you?
E: We start by getting waon, the master of sloth, to my place and planning our schedules.
I give him some ideas or prepare plots and so on to show them to him and get his opinions. Then we discuss the details, including the character designs, and once we’re settled on those parts, we move onto the illustration phase.
Factors like what pages I’m drafting, what pages waon will be drawing additional elements, what pages waon will be drafting, what pages I’d be fine-tuning the sketches, and so on are all decided based on the flow of that particular time. It’s hard to explain how we create the stories and illustrate the scripts because we do them in not-so-clear-cut allocations of tasks. The only two tasks that have been clearly divided between the two of us are line work for waon and coloring of skin and shadows for me.
w: I have Echizen give me suggestions of ideas based on my preferences, and I give my opinions on them, then we do the character designs. I think that’s how we’ve been doing our work.
If there is an idea that I want to develop, I draw up some characters and take them to Echizen as well.
The quality that differentiates us from other authors is that we correct each other to improve our quality of work. Still, especially in recent times, Echizen has been burdened with a lot more things to do than myself, so resolving that issue is one of the goals we have to work on.
IC: We often say hentai artists’ sexual preferences appear in their character designs. For the characters that you design, are they based on a mix of both of your preferences or the preferences of one of you specifically?
w: Well, you’re right about that.
If one can’t get hyped up, one will lose direction regarding character designs. I very vocally communicate my opinion to Echizen: “Isn’t it great when girls with strong attitudes or girls who are full of pride get humiliated, huh!” Anything other than girls with strong attitudes, Echizen fills up the missing parts for me.
E: As for me, I prioritize the harmony of the erotic situations and characters, so it’s more like putting puzzle pieces together. So I try to decide on factors based on what will be most suitable for the story’s content.
Sometimes we choose the story’s direction based on waon’s sexual preferences of “I like this kind of girl.” But there are other times that I direct him to illustrate certain types of characters based on particular situations in the story.
IC: Do you two hang out often when you’re not working together?
w: Yes. I don’t have many friends, so if I’m meeting up with someone, it’s usually Echizen.
E: Almost every day, we have our faces stuck to each other’s while we fight, play games, and work on our manga. In fact, we barely meet with other people outside the two of us…
waon has mastered the ways of hermits, so unless I invite him to go to the movies, illustration exhibitions, and other outings, he spends a whole year not going anywhere.
He barely exercises on his own either, so I take him out for walks outside from time to time so he doesn’t develop any illnesses.
Aiue Oka as a Mangaka
IC: Your works are often based on themes like hypnosis, revenge, and humiliation. Are these the genres you prefer to read for personal reading as well? Or do you have different preferences when reading for your own enjoyment?
E: Back in the day, there weren’t many hypnosis-themed adult manga titles, so I played hentai games to get my fill.
As far as manga is concerned, I read anything from adult manga to general-audience works.
w: I do love those three genres, but perhaps because I have luxurious taste in things, I can’t find works that hit the right spot for me. That has led me to read a lot of works that don’t deal with those three topics.
IC: Are there any artists you take inspiration from or enjoy reading works of?
E: Regarding hypnosis, I believe I’ve been heavily influenced by hypnosis-themed hentai games created by scriptwriter NATORI Ika. Regarding adult manga artists, I have referred to materials from authors such as Shiwasu No Okina and Takeda Hiromitsu, who have superb skills in both drawing and scriptwriting, for my studies.
w: Concerning the hypnosis genre, I’ve been influenced by NATORI Ika sensei. These are both hentai games, but I still play 催眠学園 (Saimin Gakuen) and 催眠術シリーズ (Saimin-Jutsu Series), created by him.
Regarding manga artists I’ve been influenced by, the list includes Takeda Hiromitsu, CARN, and many more artists I respect.
IC: Some hypnosis artists like to explain all the rules of hypnotism in their stories, while some artists have a “convenient smartphone” that does the job without much explanation. As a renowned hypnosis artist duo, do you have any rules you follow or some terms you strictly forbid yourself from doing when you write hypnosis-themed works?
E: I like it when there is an explanation of the hypnosis mechanism, but the goal of people reading adult manga is to masturbate. It’ll be troubling for them to have this long explanation at the story’s beginning, so we try to keep the explanations as succinct as possible in our works.
There isn’t a particular taboo we have in our works, but, for example, items like “a gun that can hypnotize people” and “a pair of glasses that can hypnotize people” that have magic-like elements give too strong an impression of fantasy-type settings. I feel that such an impression gets in the way of the audience feeling some sense of “reality” in our works, so it’s challenging to feature such items in our stories.
I think the question of “How could the author make this supernatural ability of hypnosis have reality and seamlessly establish it in the story?” is an eternal challenge that one must continue to pursue an answer for in the hypnosis genre.
w: I love those chaotic items that cut out the explanations for the hypnosis mechanisms, but I have to admit that the lack of reasons contributes to a lesser sense of immersion for the readers.
I don’t think human beings are thoughtless enough to say, “Great, I’m invincible now!” after gaining the ability to hypnotize others. I’m sure that once they obtain such an ability, they’ll try out their hypnotic power with caution to confirm it one step at a time.
In “Hypnotic Sexual Counseling,” the protagonist Hajime Tanaka already has the hypnosis ability from the get-go. We cut the whole backstory because we thought the process of him getting to the point of mastering his power would be pretty long. (We might depict it in the future once this series is completed, but I’m not sure.)
IC: Recently, you released a non-hypnosis title, “Gyarus Reap What They Sow.” Is this a new direction for Aiue Oka?
E: We had the idea, “Isn’t it nice when cute girls have sex with you while they’re disgusted by you?” and brought that idea to fruition. Perhaps if the protagonist was a handsome guy, the cute girls might have had sex with him enthusiastically, but I feel that it is a significant premise in our works to feature a “dull guy” as the protagonist.
There needs to be some kind of gimmick behind a dull guy (who’s not popular with women) getting laid with cute girls, and there is no way the ladies will be happy about having sex with this guy.
In “Gyarus Reap What They Sow” we used “penalty game” in place of hypnosis as the core concept, but the fact that “girls who don’t particularly like the protagonist accept having sex with him because that’s just how things are,” is a situation that is not too different from our previous works.
waon and I have been discussing that it would be nice to make “Gyarus Reap What They Sow” into a proper manga title in the future, eventually.
w: I think the basic flow of “a guy who doesn’t have good relations with women (that is, women do not like him and women have little interest in him) getting lucky in a sexual way just by a matter of accident” is the same as our previous works. I just love these kinds of windfall stories. While this is an entirely different genre, I’ve always loved the sexy windfall occurrences in romcom manga titles, too.
IC: Are there any genres Aiue Oka will never draw? Can we expect a wholesome romance story in the future? (Blackirean – Ecuador)
E: As far as I’m concerned, I think I will be able to draw something in the original romance genre. However, I believe waon’s dark side will start going wild in our attempt together, and I don’t think we can write a wholesome romance story… I’m sorry.
w: I think I would avoid any stories involving violent physical assaults or stories that are emotionally too heavy.
I don’t mind the idea of writing a wholesome romance story, but I have to say that my preferred genres get prioritized over the wholesome romance genre.
IC: COVID-19 postponed many physical events, such as Comiket, for over 2 years and affected many parts of the doujinshi industry. How has Covid affected “Aiue Oka” in the last 2 years?
E: This was the same for many other authors, but we never thought that the disruptions of the yearly schedule with the lack of Comikets and other events, leading us to not have any plans of event participation, could have such an unequivocal effect on our pace of creative efforts.
Not meeting with others and not having events to go to stagnated the progress of our creative activities.
The thing is that there is this mysterious energy that comes with Comiket that pushes us to go forward because we feel that since everyone else is drawing for Comiket, we have to work hard, too.
Not being able to go out to have meals outside, not being able to eat delicious food at night… Those factors were also challenging to deal with.
w: I have to say that not having events to go to brings my motivation down.
I’m basically a shut-in, so not having events hosted by our publishers on top of not having other events to go to makes the time pass by without me not meeting with the other authors, our readers, and frankly, anyone else.
I’m eagerly waiting for the day that everything will get back to pre-pandemic standards.
IC: Recently, many commercial manga artists have “fully transitioned” to drawing doujinshi, and it’s a little rare to see artists who balance both doujinshi and commercial manga. Why do you continue to do both? And what are the benefits of working with a commercial publisher that you cannot achieve on your own?
E: I wonder why that’s happening… We arrived where we are today thanks to the commercial adult manga magazines, so perhaps it is that I feel it’s a bit lacking humanity on my part to tell our editors, “We’re not doing commercial works anymore.” But more than that, simply having our works featured in magazines makes me happy. I feel like I’m a real professional manga artist when that happens, if you know what I mean.
We both want to do our best in commercial works and doujin works, but I don’t think we’re managing the balance between the two well, and that’s why I have meetings with waon every day to resolve this problem. I really want to do something about it.
w: One benefit of working with commercial publishers is that people will perceive you as a “commercial artist.” I believe there is considerable merit in being able to appeal to a large audience.
I think it’s great that we’re in an era where, thanks to the development of social media, authors can promote their works as individuals and make a living as self-published artists.
But I, as an author featured in commercial adult magazines and as a reader of such media who has fond memories of those magazines as well as individual anthologies derived from them, I really want all of the commercial adult magazine publishers to keep going forward.
The “Hypnotic Sexual Counseling” series
IC: How long will the “Hypnotic Sexual Counseling” series go on? Do you have an ending in mind already?
E: According to our initial plan, there was the Hiiragi Suzuka arc, the Training Camp arc, then the Student Council arc. It would only be about 4 or 5 volumes until we complete the series. We already have the ending decided.
w: As Echizen said, we’ve decided on what to do. However, the problem is that the series gets even longer when we come up with other stories we want to develop or new characters we want to draw. If only the speed of my pen could move faster…
IC: How does your “numbering system” work for this series? Sometimes you have clear 1, 2, 3, and 4 numberings, but you also have “[Character name] ‘s Case” chapters without the volume numbers, which are still fully fledged. How do you decide what chapter gets a “full number” treatment and what becomes a “side story”?
E: Regarding our numbering system, I feel we’ve completely messed up. I’m sorry that it’s so confusing.
The numbered volumes refer to the aforementioned “storyline we initially planned.”
The arc with the mother and the volumes where the secondary heroines take the main stage was created because waon said he wanted to do stories with those girls or because we published them as bonus volumes to the main story. We also published side stories because we had requests from our audiences.
I think, “We should’ve just numbered these volumes in a standard way…” but it’s too late now.
w: We differentiate the numbered and non-numbered volumes as “main story” and “side story,” respectively. I apologize for the confusing system.
IC: How do you develop character designs for the girls in your series? Do you plan the characters together, or is someone in charge of character designs?
E: Generally, we discuss with each other and decide on the character’s personality and her story, then we each sketch out some ideas and screen through our sketches. That’s how we do things most of the time. But occasionally, there are times that I request to waon, “I want to do a story with this kind of girl, so please create a design of her.” We often fight during our screening sessions.
w: The two of us decide together, but we’re doing character designs often based on Echizen’s suggested stories or situations. When we have a clear “This kind of character’s awesome, huh!” idea, character designs come up faster in many cases.
IC: Do each of you have a favorite character? And why? (Rubescent – France)
E: Arrogant characters like Izumi Nogami and Reina Kurashiki are easier to decide how they fit in the story. Furthermore, it’s also easy to determine what kind of play we want to do with them. That’s why I like them.
Because I’m one of the creators deciding on the girls’ parts in the story, they all kind of feel like my daughters, so I believe that I often see them all on equal terms without favoritism.
w: Reina Kurashiki, Reika Kurashiki, Sakura Miyajima, Tsubaki Miyajima, and Misao Takamine are my favorites.
The Kurashiki women, both mother and daughter, have strong attitudes, are proud, and look down on men. It’s nice to see these women have their minds melt through sex.
Regarding the Miyajima mother-daughter pair, I like seeing these cool, sophisticated Japanese beauties become the protagonist’s bitches in heat. I like the dramatic transformations of personalities that happen to the women of these two families.
IC: Will there be any chance of a return for popular characters like Sakura and Reina in the future? (Eden – USA)
E: Yes, the popular characters will return. Sakura has already had her ending, where her belly is swollen up from the pregnancy, but I’m thinking about going back in time to depict her at the end of her first trimester.
Also, I feel that featuring a harem is a necessity.
w: Yes, they sure will come back.
Also, Reina Kurashiki hasn’t had her finale yet, so I want to draw her story to the end.
Gyarus Reap What They Sow
IC: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. And thank you so much for making “Gyarus Reap What They Sow” free to read for your fans! Can you tell us a little bit about this new work?
And finally, do you have a message for your foreign fans?
w: While “Gyarus Reap What They Sow” is not a hypnosis-themed story, I hope the readers will enjoy the protagonist as he has a streak of lucky incidents because of his role in a penalty game that the girls are playing.
The penalty grows more hardcore as the girls try to make the following punishment worse than before. I hope readers will enjoy seeing the kinky penalty games the girls take part in, using the protagonist as their tool of torment. After reading this story, I also hope the readers will take their time to imagine what happens to all of the characters.
E: “Gyarus Reap What They Sow” was a doujinshi featuring a series of short episodes created to be released for a doujin event in May 2022.
We talked about how we wanted to do this kind of story, and I believe we did well in putting it together enough to have some fond feelings for the content. We eventually want to put this story out as a proper doujinshi.
At the moment, our speed of publishing works has gone down drastically, but waon is working like hell to improve his skills.
We will try our best to publish more projects next year, so I hope you can continue supporting our work.
IC: Thank you so much for taking part in this interview!
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