Interviews

Kenyan Mangaka: Nikita Mugi

I hope you’re all having a lovely 2016! After a (longer than intended) break for the holidays, The Wondercores are back! We hope you missed us as much as we missed you 🙂

We’re starting off the year with an interview with Nikita Mugi, yet another talented Kenyan mangaka (we featured Shin a couple of months ago). This interview has been in the works for weeks but unfortunately life and then the holidays got in the way. Sincere apologies to Mugi-san for taking so long to publish this! 🙁

Let’s get started!

About Mugi

Well, my name is Nikita Mugi, but I don’t have a mangaka name yet. Since my first manga was called Fushigi, a few people I knew started calling me Fushigi-san or Fushigi Mugi, others Mugiwara Boy (One Piece reference). In short I just prefer the name Mugi.

If I were to describe myself, I would use one word, and that is proud. But not cocky; I’m kind to people but I am strict about time and other issues. I started drawing cartoons when I was in primary school. I was competing with a friend of mine called Eliud, to see who can draw better, I think he stopped but I loved drawing more and more till I got better, all that got me to animation, so that’s what I study now.

kenyan-mangaka-6How did your journey with Japanese culture start?

My journey with Japanese started like a lot of people I’ve met: through anime. The first anime series I ever watched was Samurai X. It was being aired on STV at the time, I think. It was English dubbed so I didn’t know it was anime at the time but I realized that later on. Then later on in school I stumbled on a boy like 5 years old in kindergarten. He had a water bottle with Dragon Ball Z characters, they looked so cool and at the time the internet wasn’t available since it was like 1999, so I just forgot about it.

Back in high school was when I stumbled into a guy wearing a shirt with Dragon Ball Z characters, he was a complete stranger but I walked to him and asked him what cartoon that was. He said he didn’t know and that he bought it for like 50 shillings somewhere. So I went to a cyber cafe and started to Google about this character with spiky hair. The image search mislead me to a picture of Renji and Byakuya from Bleach. Though they looked different I started watching it. And that’s how I got reunited with anime, and Japan.

So I think it was the third Bleach opening called “Ichirin no Hana” that got me into Japanese music. Because back then, I was thinking like all the other Kenyans who think Chinese people and Japanese people were the same, haha 😀 So I got to know the lyrics of the song and realized that Japanese is so similar to my native language Kikuyu. So the music culture there interested me a lot.

Do you participate in any anime- or manga-related events?

kenyan-mangaka-7I’ve attended a lot of events but rarely participate in any of them. I love anime and manga, but not to the point where I am an otaku, because I had a Japanese friend on Facebook, we used to Skype often. Her English was terrible but bearable just like my Japanese at that time, so we taught each other during the process. She asked me if I was otaku, I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked her the meaning. She said in Japan being called otaku is not necessarily a good thing, because it meant someone is weirdly obsessed with something and if you go publicly and proclaim how you’re an otaku, people would give you a weird look. So she asked me some questions about some anime, like the deep anime stuff no one knows, like the blood type of certain characters in a certain series. 😀

How did you get started with manga?

I never studied how to draw manga, though in high school I did art. It helped me to some extent but not that much because drawing just came naturally to me. When I was a kid, that’s when I decided to draw manga but when other kids were talking about how they want to be doctors or pilots, I said artist and people thought it was strange. It did not bother me though because I am faithful in what I’m doing, most of my friends who wanted to be doctors are doing something different with their lives. I never considered anything else.

When I was in school I was an excellent liar. When I was like 11, I convinced a few friends of mine that my mom’s car had a small pool inside the boot and that we would swim in it when going home. (Why you ask? Because duh, autopilot, that’s why.) That was when smart phones were not even invented but some of them bought it, there were a few skeptics of course but basically what I learnt was that most good stories are just based on good lies. Even at home I would make up these random stories which were all lies and even if people knew that I was lying, they would still sit and listen to my stories, so I felt like I needed to show spread my stories to a lot of people, and I saw that’s what mangakas also do.

kenyan-mangaka-4What’s your manga inspiration?

Well, there are a bunch of manga artists that inspire me. Akira Toriyama, Tite Kubo, Eiichiro Oda and, Masashi Kishimoto. All manga artists inspire me because of their work ethic, and commitment to entertaining people. Akira Toriyama once said that he had to sleep I think it was 2 hours in 6 days, just to complete a chapter. And even though Bleach was cancelled like 5 or 6 years ago, Tite Kubo still does the Bleach manga because there are still fans. There was a time he was sick like for weeks hospitalized, but when he was discharged, he immediately went home and first thing he did was draw his manga to compensate for all the weeks he was missing.

Ever had a case of writers’ block?

Yes. A creative block is something I assume every artist has. When I get it, what I usually do is listen to music, and I have different genres for that, if I have a block I listen to a lot of JPop, and some anime openings and endings to remind me why I am drawing.

That’s it for now! Check back in soon for the continuation of Mugi’s story! 🙂

*** All pictures featured in this post are courtesy of Nikita Mugi. ***

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Mbithe is a software developer at Andela and loves all things tech! You can probably find her sitting barefoot somewhere writing beautiful code while singing along to really loud Japanese music. 🙂

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