On (Q): Thank you for taking part in this interview. Could you give us a quick self introduction?
Ayakase Chiyoko (AC): Hello! My name is Ayakase Chiyoko. I’m a mangaka based in Fukuoka prefecture, and I live with my husband and 6 cats. It’s a hectic day every day in the Ayakase household, but I love working as a mangaka!
Q: We saw on Twitter that you’re into the recently released “Umamusume” game. It seems to have exploded onto the scene. What makes Umamusume interesting for you?
AC: It’s a very well-balanced game with unique characters. There are many girls in the game, but they each have their own personality and they’re all super cute! The game has a game mechanic called “Inheritance”. By choosing a “parent” horse, you’re able to “inherit” certain skills and traits of the parents for the child. There’s a lot of RNG involved, but it’s really fun to breed different types of horses. However, since one session in the game usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes, if I get hooked on it, it takes away precious time from me to work on drawing manga.
Q: This interview and the “Ayakase Chiyoko Birthday Sale” coincides with your birthday. Do you have any plans for your birthday?
AC: First of all, thank you for letting me do a birthday sale! I won’t be celebrating much. I’ll just buy a little cake from the local bakery. As you know, in Japan, there’s a long holiday period called “Golden Week” from the end of April until early May. Before COVID, there was always some sort of doujinshi event held during Golden Week. This meant that any work I plan to release at the event has to be finished around the time of my birthday, so I haven’t been able to actually celebrate my birthday in a long while, since I’m always drawing manga. Hopefully, I get to take some time off work and enjoy my birthday this year…
Covid and Doujinshi
Q: How has COVID affected your lifestyle as a mangaka?
AC: Since I’m always working from home, COVID hasn’t really affected my day to day life. But supermarkets and restaurants closing early means that I had to change my schedule a bit so I can go grocery shopping earlier.
Q: You mentioned you’re from Fukuoka (Western Japan), and used to make frequent trips up to Tokyo. A lot of artists tend to use doujinshi events as motivation for them to release a new work. Has the cancellation/postponement of events due to COVID affected your work ethic / motivation to release new work?
AC: Yup! I am from Fukuoka! Fukuoka is famous for having a lot of delicious foods. Our ramen is especially popular! If you do have an opportunity to come to Japan, I recommend you visit Fukuoka!
As for events, while many of them were cancelled, that’s not an excuse for me to stop working. I have 6 cats to feed after all… But I’ve had to focus on online sales and change the way I create my works to appeal to online buyers with all the events being cancelled.*
*On’s Notes: In Japan, readers who buy online (digital works) tend to have different preferences to “book collectors” (those who buy works at physical events like Comiket etc).
Q: After this corona situation settles down, is there anything you’re looking forward to doing?
AC: I’m looking forward to traveling!! Since I work from home, even on an off-day, as long as I’m at home, I feel like I’m obligated to work. I’ve always enjoyed traveling and de-stressing during my trips, so I’m really looking forward to going on a vacation once travel restrictions are lifted so I can just chill
Ayakase Chiyoko as a Mangaka
Q: What got you into drawing manga ? Did you always want to work in Hentai, or did you consider general manga at first?
AC: I always enjoyed drawing since I was very young, so I assumed I was going to be working in the creative field either as a mangaka or an illustrator. I found myself working on hentai when a commercial hentai publisher found my drawings on Pixiv and offered me work. I didn’t seek out to become a hentai artist, but I’m not embarrassed about my job. In fact, I am very proud of my work and all the things I’ve done.
Q: In Japan, adult managaka have the choice to work as a commercial managaka for a magazine, or to “do it themselves” as a doujinshi artist. What made you decide to work as a doujinshi artist?
AC: I’m a bit of a “hybrid” in that, I release doujinshi while also working with commercial publishers occasionally. When I work on a doujinshi, it usually takes 2 to 3 months for me to create one title. But when working with a commercial publisher, you’re not really creating the work on your own. It’s like a two-legged race with the editor. So there’s a lot of redraws, ideas being scrapped etc, and it all leads to a lot of time and effort to create a work with the same number of pages. Compared to what it was like before, manga artists now live in an era where they can create and sell works on their own, without working with a commercial publisher. So I prefer having the freedom to create works based on my own ideas and preferences.
Q: In recent years, we’ve seen mangaka with hentai backgrounds work on non-erotic manga. Have you ever thought of working on non-erotic works?
AC: I haven’t ruled out on working on non-erotic works. Who knows? Maybe I’ll work on some non-hentai stuff in the future. I always draw what I want to draw, so if the opportunity presents itself, I might take it. But fear not, I love porn so I’ll always continue to draw hentai doujinshi.
Q: A lot of artists tend to stick to a particular genre which makes them a “NTR Artist”, “Vanilla Artist” etc. But you have a very diverse catalogue where you do lovey-dovey harem works while also releasing NTR titles. Is there a particular reason why you don’t stick to a particular genre?
AC: There’s a bit of overlap with my answer above, but I draw what I like to draw. Obviously, not everything I draw sells. Since each work takes 2 ~ 3 months to create, it’s an investment of time and money, so I make sure to make detailed plans and drafts of what I want to draw next. Fortunately for me, even if I jump around with many different genres, my fans always support me, and for that I am very grateful.
Thought process behind releases
Q: You’re known to release both full color works and monochrome (black and white) works. What’s the thought process behind determining which works gets a full color treatment?
AC: I don’t have any specific “rules” regarding which work I release as a full color work and which one I release in black and white. But it takes a lot of time and energy to create full color works, so it mostly depends on my mental capacity and whether I have the energy to pull it off.
And when it comes to printed doujinshi, printing a full color work will easily triple, quadruple, the printing costs compared to a black and white work. That definitely factors into our decision of how we approach our work.
Q: For foreign publishing, full color works tend to perform “better” on average compared to monochrome titles, based on our data. For your domestic sales in Japan, do you feel there is a difference between sales numbers for your full color works compared to monochrome works?
AC: In Japan, black and white works are the standard so full color works are still quite rare. Since full color works are popular overseas, that’s something I’d like to consider too for future releases!
Q: Recently your “3 vs 1 Volleyball” series has been doing well and each chapter ends in a way that strongly suggests a continuation. When working on a series like this, how far ahead do you plan your story? Do you determine how long a series will last based on sales data of each work or is there a particular story you want to see through to the end?
AC: Whether a work gets a sequel or not solely depends on how well it sells. And honestly, doujinshi artists usually don’t get reviews for their works. Without people leaving reviews about how they liked the work, the only way for us to measure the success of a work is through sales numbers. I can’t speak for other artists, but seeing my works sell well is the biggest motivator for me to keep working. Artists pour their heart and soul into each work, but that doesn’t guarantee that it will do well. I’ve experienced bad sales numbers for works I was really confident in, and that always hurts…
Drawing hentai with the hubby
Q: Your circle is quite unique in that you’re a wife-husband pair of mangakas working together. What’s it like creating hentai works together as a married couple? And if we may ask, what’s it like writing NTR stories with your husband, since a lot of your stories are about housewives being NTR-ed?
AC: Since we share a common goal of making good manga, it doesn’t feel awkward at all to work on hentai together. We get along really well both during work and in our private lives. But if there is a time when we butt heads, it’s when we’re coming up with the plot of a story. We both want to deliver a satisfactory story for our fans, but how we portray that story is where our ideas often clash.
Q: As shown on your Twitter, you absolutely love cats, and you have also adopted a lot of feline friends. How many cats do you have now and what made you start taking in cats to look after?
AC: I currently have 6 cats. 6 is a lot, but I have a “boss cat” that keeps all the other cats in line, so they all get along. I grew up in the countryside of Fukuoka, and according to my mom, I was 3 years old when I brought home a dog that was bloody and hit by a car, and also tried to get my parents to keep an abandoned kitten I found. My family ended up taking in the dog and kitten, and they lived a long and deeply loved life until they passed of old age. It’s because I grew up in that kind of environment that I continue to take care of abandoned cats.
Q: We’ve been sending royalties back to you from the sales of your officially published English works. If we may ask, how have you spent that money?
AC: I spent the previous royalties on 300kg (661lbs) of cat food to donate to cat shelters!! With the latest royalties, I plan to buy 1 ton (2204 lbs) of cat food to donate!
Q: Irodori Comics sends you the English version of your work for you to check before we release them. How does it feel to see your own work in a different language?
AC: It’s great to be able to read my works in English. I’ve never had the opportunity to see translated versions of my works, so it’s interesting to see the differences. It’s fascinating to see how women moan in English.
Q: Any final messages for foreign fans?
AC: Thank you for reading my interview! Thanks to Irodori Comics, I can publish my works all over the world! I’m happy that I’m able to connect with my foreign fans. My husband and I will continue to draw more and more doujinshi, so we hope you will keep supporting us! After all, we have many cats to feed!
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