GotNext: You've cultivated a very distinctive art style. Who are some of your primary influences? Who do you admire most in the industry?
Suzuki: I'm not going to tell you, but please let your imagination run wild and enjoy!
GN: You're not really known for manga. I know you've done some related stuff with Phantoms, and Hussan, but not a full-length manga. Is this something you've thought about doing for a while?
Suzuki: Yes, this is my first attempt at a full-length manga. I've always wanted to work on something like this, but the timing was never right.
Manga lets you express the outlook of the world you've created and craft a story all by yourself. As an artist, I find it to be a very attractive media. That also means I have a much heavier workload, and it's difficult to plan my schedule, but this was just perfect timing for me.
For a full-length manga serialization, I have the benefit of seeing the readers' response as I go along. I also like the fact that it's easier to make my work into a graphic novel.
GN: Most of our readers are probably more familiar with your art than your storytelling. Could you tell us what inspirations you drew from for Purgatory Kabuki?
Suzuki: The inspiration is right in the title. The story is an extravagant Kabuki story set in purgatory. The subtitle is "Aragoto* no Katana" focusing on katana or swords.
At any rate, I wanted to make an unprecedented and exciting action manga, so that's how I came up with the story.
[*Translator's note: Aragoto is bombastic, exaggerated style of acting often used for characters of superhuman strength in Kabuki theater]
GN: Were you surprised that an opportunity to have a full-length manga published would come from the West and not from Japan?
Suzuki: It was unexpected at first. But as we corresponded, I realized the project was moving in the right direction for me. Now, I think this turned out to be a stroke of good fortune.
GN: Has the fact that Purgatory Kabuki will be published in North America influenced the project at all?
Suzuki: Yes, I'm trying to create something something that only I, as a Japanese person, could.
GN: Purgatory Kabuki seems to be the first really epic story you've worked on. Has it been intimidating working on a project of this scope?
Suzuki: Yes, and I think being intimidated is a good thing. I can come up with something very different from short stories, because I spend so much time contemplating it.
GN: How did your relationship with Treasure come about? How much creative freedom did they give you?
Suzuki: Well, right now, I'm a freelance artist, so I don't have any particular relationship with Treasure. It was a regular work place. For creators, I think it's a good working environment in its own way.
GN: Have you considered doing your own manga based on any of the game properties you've worked on?
Suzuki: Not really. For me, a game is something self-contained. But if there is a project that develops the game into something more amazing, then I might think about it.
GN: Any chance we might see more of Phantoms some time?
Suzuki: If there is an opportunity, I would like to, because I personally like them too.
GN: Now that you've been inaugurated as a manga-ka, do you think you'll pursue it further?
Suzuki: Manga drawing is one of my media, as an artist. I will consider pursuing manga depending on the properties I work with, the environment, and the purpose.
Got Next would like to thank Shawn Sanders of DrMaster Publications for the opportunity, and the translation work. And to all you Treasure fanboys out there, we did ask if he was involved Treasure's new 360 game, and he said he couldn't talk about. Spin that any way you want. At least I tried.