(Full title of article: “V-Jump July Special Issue: Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 Oneshot Celebration! Special Chat with Manga Artist Tenya Yabuno-sensei and Screenwriter Atsuhiro Tomioka-san! -Ver. Digimon Web-“)
A translation of this Digimon Web interview from May 28, 2020, with artist Tenya Yabuno of Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 and head writer Atsuhiro Tomioka of the 2020 Digimon Adventure: reboot, commemorating the two works’ crossover chapter released in V-Jump in 2020.
(Part 1: V-Jump Web | Part 2: Digimon Web)
This month’s best-selling “V-Jump July Special Issue” features a oneshot chapter for Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01! This crossover story features the main character of Digimon Adventure:, Taichi Yagami. In commemoration, Tenya Yabuno-sensei and Atsuhiro Tomioka-san came to talk with us about some stories from behind the scenes of the manga’s production, and some secrets about the new anime!
Tenya Yabuno: Manga artist. Artist for Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, which was serialized in V-Jump starting 1999.
His major works include Inazuma Eleven and Pochi: Hurry, Hurry, to the Cape.
Atsuhiro Tomioka: Writer. Lead writer for Digimon Adventure:, which began broadcast in April 2020.
His major works include Dragon Ball Super, the Pokémon series, and the Inazuma Eleven series.
–Tomioka-san, you hold the role of “lead writer”1, but what exactly does that role entail?
Tomioka: That’s always such a loaded question (laughs). It’s not the kind of role you’d see in the world of TV dramas, so it’s not an answer you can come up with just like that. A lead writer has to take into account what various other people want to do, put it together into a proper flow for the entire series’s story, and write proper notes that outline how each character acts. Of course, the lead writer also writes their own parts of the story, and contributes to the excitement within. Digimon Adventure: is a long series that will be going on for a year, and there are five people writing on it. When each writer says something like “what if we had this character do this in the story?”, my personal stance is not to deny any of their ideas. Instead, we take those ideas and develop them further as per what the director and producer needs. That’s the kind of process I tend to value. My job is to expand the story into something that can be interesting (laughs).
Yabuno: So the role of the lead writer is to oversee the full story from a bird’s eye view?
Tomioka: Right. But in terms of making “pictures” out of the story, you need the director’s judgment, too. My job is to listen to what the director has in mind for the number of drawings, the production of characters, what emotional turns the protagonists will make, and arrange them into a story. So in other words, a story is a collection of ideas from many people, including the director, the producer, and the scriptwriter. The lead writer’s job is to hear everyone out and create ideas out of it, and it gets you very tired after all of the meetings.
Yabuno: It takes a lot of energy out of you.
–Yabuno-sensei, when you were working on V-Tamer 01, you were working in conjunction with the original writer, Hiroshi Izawa-san. How did you two create it together?
Yabuno: When V-Tamer 01 was being serialized, we had a lot of meetings, in fact we ended up meeting with each other around three times a month. We’d have meetings about what should happen next in the story, and we had meetings to share opinions on the script he’d written, and a meeting to share opinions about the name of the manga. The two of us, plus the editor, would have meetings for hours, and I think I ended up having to put more effort into it than I did any other manga. We weren’t a particularly big team, but we had a sense of being a proper team.
–Yabuno-san, what did you think about Digimon Adventure:?
Yabuno: There were a lot of tributes to the original, and I was thinking, Tomioka-san sure knows quite a lot about this. I was wondering how he managed to get all the information about it together, like, did he read up on materials from the original series?
Tomioka: The producer and director are intimately familiar with the original (laughs). I’m making it with the idea that it’s supposed to be “a new Digimon Adventure“. The characters are the same, but it’s set in the present day where the Internet is a regular aspect of daily life, and I’m putting thought into what sorts of incidents would happen in this kind of day and age, and incorporating elements that were not in the original series. There was also a direction to make the battle aspects more prominent. So, I’m paying proper respect to the content of the original series, but instead of reading old material and incorporating things from there, I’m focusing on making it a proper new series.
Yabuno: Of course, it’s on here, too, but I see Tomioka-san’s name a lot in a lot of different anime, so I initially thought it might be a pen name used by multiple people (laughs).
Tomioka: No, no, it’s just me (laughs). We’re talking about a full series, so I’m able to be so prolific because there’s also the producer and director and other screenwriters. The script is only just a bunch of sentences, so if I want to make it a large-scale scene, that kind of thought leads me to write in something extreme like “a huge aerial army flies in”. And then the people who have to draw it go like “hey!” and the director has to make adjustments. That’s why I think manga artists are amazing! Because it’s only one person drawing it, but they make it look so cool.
Yabuno: I wish Izawa-san were here to hear you say that. The first time I had a meeting with Izawa-san, he told me, “There are going to be thousands of Digimon in a line here.” And I just blurted out and kept pelting him with “guess who’s gonna be the one to draw those thousands of Digimon?!” (laughs)
Tomioka: Oh, that’s such a relatable feeling with the scriptwriting, too. Scenario writers like myself keep wanting to dream up giant armies covering the horizon, like those in Hollywood movies. That kind of thing is just way too irresistible to me (laughs).
–Yabuno-sensei, how difficult was it to draw New Taichi for the crossover manga?
Yabuno: Let’s see. Well, it was easy to draw him in motion. One of the bigger challenges for this one was having them interact, like having Agumon ride on Zeromaru’s head. It was something I’d been paying attention to since the beginning of the series, but I wanted to portray a relationship of “supporting a Digimon that wants to fight” instead of “making a Digimon fight for you”, so I focused on depicting Zeromaru and Taichi like a boxer and his trainer.
Tomioka: It really came out to me while I was reading the manga. Taichi does the thinking, and Zeromaru does the execution, and you have a strong sense of them being a proper tag team. Digimon Adventure: is also made with the image of “two acting as one”, so we intend to have this kind of scene appear in more and more fights starting from the fourth episode.
Yabuno: During our initial meeting, I was impressed by Volcano Ota-san (*note) saying the words “the unity of a horse and its rider”. Those words inspired me to have Taichi try riding Zeromaru during the middle phase of V-Tamer 01, which is one of its highlights.
Tomioka: The cover of Volume 4 of V-Tamer 01 really just does have Taichi riding on Zeromaru. I kept thinking about the picture on this cover, and I thought, “if it were Greymon, where would he ride?”, so I just wrote down “Taichi rides on top of him” and left it to the director (laughs). Once the picture was drawn, I remember looking at it and getting all impressed, “so this is where he sits!” We paid proper tribute to V-Tamer 01, and we dropped some other little nods to it in the action sequences.
Yabuno: Wow, I’m really happy to hear that. Because the manga was inevitably an alternate universe from the anime, there was always a feeling of being slightly detached from the anime, so I’m really grateful to see it come back in full circle from you, Tomioka-san.
Tomioka: All I’m doing is just following my personal style of putting in things I think are good (laughs).
–Please tell us about your expectations from the anime, and what you’re looking forward to.
Yabuno: We got to see Omegamon running wild in only episode 3, so I’m looking forward to seeing Digimon going even beyond Omegamon in the future.
Tomioka: I referred to New Taichi being based off V-Tamer 01 before, but I’m also paying close attention to the story. I’m using the existence of Angemon as a reference when putting the story structure together. And from here, the adventure in the Digital World will begin, friends will join the party one by one, and the highlights will be them clearing all of the missions they end up taking on.
Yabuno: The manga chapter I made was supposed to go along with the anime broadcast, and so I depicted the party as having five people (laughs).
Tomioka: Normally, the anime broadcast would have proceeded to that point by now…In any case, the journey that’s begun is a different one from that of the original series, and so I hope both older fans who have watched the original series and newer fans will be surprised by the ways we reinterpret things and enjoy it every week.
Yabuno: I’m really looking forward to it!
Tomioka: In the scene with Omegamon’s debut, there’s a bit of a connection to Takeru and Hikari, and we’ve put in a little foreshadowing for a bit of a mechanism that’ll lead to future developments.
Yabuno: Everything goes so fast in that episode, so if you watch it multiple times, you might discover something new.
Tomioka: That’s right. So if you watch it as it airs, you’ll enjoy it and think “oh, that’s cool!”, but we also hope you rewatch it and look back on things you might have missed to catch our foreshadowing for future developments, and ultimately enjoy the story. Our storywriting team is also building up on the ideas we already have by using what we’ve made as a basis. The production team is also having a lot of fun making this, so I hope it’ll be something everyone can have fun with.
–Thank you very much!
Be sure to also check the other side of this interview, “Ver. V-Jump Web”, where you can hear things about Taichi Yagami’s character!
*Note: Was the head of Digimon at Bandai Co., Ltd. from 1998. Currently belongs to Aoni Production and works as a voice actor.
- The role Tomioka has is, in the text, series kousei (シリーズ構成, lit. “series composition”).