A New York City evening with mangaka Natsume Ono

New York City manga fans recently had an opportunity to meet Natsume Ono, the author of not Simple, Ristorante Paradiso, Gente, and House of Falling Leaves. The titles just listed are works that are available in English, and from those works, Ristorante Paradiso and House of Falling Leaves have been adapted into anime. This event took place at midtown’s Kinokuniya. There was an author talk, and then book signing. Since there were so many fans, everyone was allowed only one item to be signed.

Due to the author’s camera shyness, there was a no photo policy, but the table where the talk was conducted was filled with her manga in English and Japanese, so I snapped a photo of that. The author talk was conducted by Megumi Sato of Samurai Beat Radio, and the event began slightly early since the space was packed with appreciative fans.

I didn’t have my recorder, but with my iPad I spent the event tapping away at notes, so this entry is going to be summing of my notes. Natsume Ono was physically petite, and looking at her, you definitely wouldn’t believe that she is over 30. She was a soft spoken women with long wavy hair and glasses. She was dressed in an outfit that was of typical Japanese fashion, that a friend commented probably won’t be as popular in the U.S. (Simple orange toned shirt dress with a olive green leggings).

This was Natsume Ono’s first appearance at Kinokuniya, but not her first time in New York City. Her prior trip to New York City was to conduct research for a not translated manga titled Coppers, that depicts the New York Police Department.

Her inspiration for Ristorante Paradiso came as she was studying abroad at Italy. In Ristorante there is the mention of food a lot, so Ono mentions that she wanted to draw about everyday life. Eating provides a ready setting of conversation and what she wanted to depict. Family is also a very important part of her writing.

Personally, she loves her father, so there was a dango experience in her life.  One time when her father was not traveling with her and her mother, he personally arranged for dangos to be delivered to the ryokkan where they were staying at. So on the phone, he mentions that he wanted to share the same dessert at the same time they were having it.

She has a sweet tooth, but also likes alcohol, and potatoes… (french fries, and the U.S. has so many different type of fries). She is also a fan of Hill Street Blues, and REM. In a typical work day, she starts early, but as the day goes longer…she would end up drinking alcohol, then working some more, with finally falling asleep. (Typical salary man behavior as Megumi comments). There are typically no established days that she gets to take off with nothing to do, but if there are things to do with friends and family, off she goes.

She has drawn a version of something similar to herself in La Quinta Camera, and this is a work that would be translated/released around July. Ono is set to have a new series at this time in the Japanese version of ikki, the work is untitled. But is set in Edo featuring two men around Kawasaki Temple. She wants to eventually experience writing fantasy or a manga work with lots and lots of characters.

By this time the audience question segment came on, and there were questions about what inspires her. She stated that she was very impressed by the anime adaptations, since it went beyond her expectations. When inquired about Ristorante Paradiso and the many gentleman’s appearances. She confirms to female sequels in the audience that she has a thing for reading glasses.

After the audience questions, a line began for her book signing, and I am very impressed. She drew for every fan a depiction of their favorite character. When it was my turn, I request for a picture of Gigi, and I got this cute image of him eating. I also got a postcard depicting images of the Ono Kuma, (Natsume Ono’s mascot). I was pretty happy, and ended up also with another autograph image of Claudio, a friend of mine was great to wait on line for me. (Can I just say that I really liked Ristorante Paradiso a lot, when I first watched the series.)

Now several days later, I am still feeling happy from my experience at meeting Natsume Ono. I am crossing my fingers here, Natsume Ono as a writer has also written several bl manga, under the name of Basso. So I spent some time trying to think about any publishers that would snap up her older works. Kodansha USA maybe for her Coppers work, or what other publisher in the United States would want to publish her bl-works? DMP?

May 29, 2011 EDIT: Samurai Beat Radio has actual audio podcast of event, so here check out Part 1 and Part 2.

3 thoughts on “A New York City evening with mangaka Natsume Ono”

  1. Thank you for sharing the experience. I have one question. Regarding her favorite TV series, what I heard was a police drama about NYPD Emergency Service Unit. I think she was referring to True Blue http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096718/ instead of Hill Street Blues. Although Hill Street Blues is much more popular than the former. My memories may not be reliable. Thanks.

    1. Thank you for the comment. Sorry for the late response. I actually ended up with listing it as Hill Street Blues, since it was a show that was mentioned as she liked in at Toronto, though NYPD ESU also might be the same response. Lots of shows do end up talking about it. At this point, I really would wish that Coppers would be released here. ^_^

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