Interview with Ootori Mahiro (Part 1)
Hello and welcome to our first Author Interview blog post.
Our first interview is with “My Harem in Another World” author, Ootori Mahiro. We hope to make these interviews with authors a regular thing on our blog. In Part 1, we will go over Ootori Mahiro's background and how he became a doujinshi author.
On (Q): Thank you for taking part in this interview. Could you give us a quick self introduction?
Ootori Mahiro (OM): Hello, foreign fans! My name is Ootori Mahiro. I’ve been a mangaka for 14 years. Born and raised in Japan (never travelled outside of Japan, actually), and I love cars and manga more than anything. I’ve been told that I’m a child in an adult’s body. While I’ve always been in Japan, I’m really happy that I can connect with you all, through my works.
Q: What have you been doing recently? Any hobbies you’re into?
OM: Can’t stress this enough, but I love cars. I have two cars: a Suzuki Swift Sport and a Madza MX-5 Miata. The Swift is an automatic, but since I love driving manual, my MX-5 is a manual.
I grew up on Initial D and Wangan Midnight, and I love to spend most of my free time driving. I often take my car out for a spin on the motorway or on the mountain pass, to come up with ideas for a new manga. (Don’t worry, I do drive slowly while my mind is preoccupied.)
Recently, I’ve been working out everyday. I’m still a skinny dude, but I hope to be as buff as Silvester Stallone one day! This picture is a work in progress. Stay tuned!
※ Image published at the express wishes of the author.
I always read manga before going to bed, and watch anime while I’m supposed to be working. I also watch a lot of foreign TV shows on Netflix. I was so hooked on Breaking Bad at one point that it completely took over my ability to focus on my work, and I couldn’t draw at all until I finished watching it to the very end.
For manga, I’m enjoying Dr. STONE, and for anime, Umamusume. I’m a sucker for any manga about cars. I especially love the “MF Ghost” series. I love action-heavy/ military-themed Hollywood movies. Anything with Stallone is great, so I tend to rewatch Rambo movies a lot. Not related to Stallone, but I absolutely love Black Hawk Down. I’m a big fan of Marvel movies and I went to watch Amazing Spiderman five times at the cinema. Really loved it.
I play a lot of action games like Ghost of Tsushima, SEKIRO, and Call of Duty. Once I start playing games, I can’t stop myself, so I plan out my schedule to dedicate days where I just play games. As long as the game is fun, I don’t have any favorites in terms of companies, countries etc. Like, Ghost of Tsushima. That was a phenomenal game. It felt more Japanese than what Japanese game developers would have made.
I also started watching a lot of streamers on YouTube. Recently, a lot of news related to cars and games are announced for the North American market first, so I really feel I should pick up English so I can keep up with the latest info. Unfortunately, there aren’t any Japanese subs for live streams.
Q: We’ve been in a Corona world for over a year now. How has Covid affected your lifestyle as a mangaka?
OM: Honestly, my work hasn’t really been affected, since I’ve always been working from home. But it’s definitely changed the way I socialize with others. I used to take the train if I wanted to meet up with friends for a drink. But now I drive to places in the safety of my car, which means no alcohol, unfortunately. I have a daughter in elementary school and her curriculum and schooling has really been affected. So I’m more worried about the effect Covid has on my family, than it does on me.
Q: After all this Corona stuff settles down, is there anything you’re looking forward to doing?
O M: U-S-A! I had plans to go to America last year since you (Irodori Comics) invited me to one of the events you guys were planning to attend. But the whole Covid situation put a damper on those plans. Once it’s safe to travel again, I’d love to visit the States and have an opportunity to meet my fans.
I’d like to rent out and drive around in a Chevrolet Camaro with a bottle of Jim Beam in hand.
Q: What got you into drawing manga ? Did you always want to work in Hentai, or did you consider non-erotic manga at first as well?
OM: I used to work in a factory assembling cameras. But it really wasn’t for me, so I saved up and went to a vocational school for manga drawing. After graduating, I worked as an assistant to a mangaka for three years. I tried pitching my works to publishers for non-erotic content, but had no luck at all. Then one day, I was approached by an adult magazine publisher, and I’ve been working on hentai since then. So it’s not like I started out with a clear goal of becoming an ero-mangaka. But I do love my job and how layered and deep hentai manga can be.
Q: What’s your favorite manga? Are there any manga that has left an impact on you?
OM: Well obviously, Initial D and Wangan Midnight are my favorite manga. Those works were what got me into cars in the first place. And it’s a bit of a humble-brag, but “Car Life Car Sex”, which I wrote, is a really good manga too. I spent a lot of time and effort drawing cars in that book.
As for works that had an impact on me, after 10 years of drawing porn, I actually had an opportunity to work on non-erotic works, where I released “Black Lily and White Lily”, a yuri work. I felt like I was able to achieve the dream I started out with, to work on a non-erotic manga, so it holds a special place in my heart.
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 author. What made you decide to work as a doujinshi author?
OM: The “freedom”, definitely.
There are merits to working with a commercial publisher. There’s less risk involved. Artists get paid a “manuscript fee” before they start working on a title, and they receive “print royalties” before their printed books hit the shelves. So in terms of guaranteeing a stable job, it’s good to work with commercial magazine publishers.
But in exchange for that guarantee, artists give up a lot of freedom and their ability to make their own decisions. For example, I actually wanted to create my “My Harem in Another World” series while I was working for a publisher. But the publisher said that “Isekai Harem works don’t sell”, and therefore I wasn’t allowed to work on it.
Being a doujinshi author means that there is no one to tell you “No, you can’t do that”. You’re free to make whatever you want. Of course, that does mean that you bear the risk of creating that work as well. If it doesn’t sell, that’s on you. In a worst case scenario, you might spend a long time making a work which no one buys.
The final straw that made me quit being a commercial hentai author, was when my publisher didn’t publish my “Car Life Car Sex” work digitally. I saw that digital distribution of works was the future, so I kept pushing the publisher to release my works digitally. But they were afraid that digital sales will lead to a decrease in their physical sales (their bread and butter), so they only considered digital sales as something to do once people stopped buying printed books.
But not all hentai fans can just buy printed books. They might live away from bookstores that handle adult content. They might not live alone and can’t have porn lying around the house. So there’s definitely demand for digital releases and for localized foreign releases as well. But as long as an author works with a commercial publisher, those distribution decisions aren’t for the author to decide.
Since I wanted the freedom to be able to decide how I sell my works, I made the choice to become a doujinshi author. And by doing so, I have the lovely opportunity to sell my works to foreign fans as well, with the help of Irodori Comics.
When a commercial publisher prints your books, they sometimes add fancy high-gloss to make the book look more luxurious. It increases the printing cost, so none of my commercial works ever received this treatment, but when I printed “My Harem in Another World Season 1 Anthology”, I forked out the money to add high-gloss to my books as a memento.
Q: In recent years, we’ve seen mangaka with hentai backgrounds work on and release non-erotic manga. Have you ever thought of going back to doing non-erotic works?
OM: Not at all. Through “Black Lily and White Lily”, I was able to tick off my bucket list of having released a non-erotic work. For now, I just enjoy being able to draw what I want to draw. Although I’d like to maybe work on a car manga one day. I’m fairly confident in my abilities so I think I’ll be able to sell okay no matter what genre I try to tackle.
Q: What do you think the adult doujinshi market will be like in 10 years?
OM: Doujinshi is a world where you can make it if you have the skills and discipline to persevere on your own. I believe that authors who can do that will move to doujinshi, while authors who prefer to have a helping hand will stick with commercial publishers. Those who dare, will reap the rewards.
I also think a lot more “foreign creators” will be part of the industry as well. There are many talented foreign artists too, so I’d love to see their works do the rounds among Japanese readers.
That wraps up Part 1 of today's interview. Check out Part 2 here!
If you’re interested in Ootori Mahiro’s works, you can check them out here!
We even have a “Ootori Mahiro Starter Pack” bundle where a lot of his works are available for discount!