Masami Kurumada (車田正美 Kurumada Masami?, born December 6, 1953) is a Japanese manga artist and writer, known for specializing in fighting manga featuring bishōnen and/or mahō shōnen. He is famous as the creator/author of popular manga, such as Ring ni Kakero, Fūma no Kojirō, Saint Seiya and B't X. His male protagonists are a reflection of the classical and modern society's archetype of the true men. The male characters in his works often display very masculine qualities and traits, and pursue to achieve courage and manhood perfection through sacrifice, selflessness and true heroism. He has won the best success award with Saint Seiya and the best inspiration award with Ring ni Kakero.
Kurumada's first work was Otoko Raku, which earned him an award in a manga contest for aspiring mangaka, and became assistant to professional manga artists. Some time later, he debuted as a professional mangaka in 1974 with his manga Sukeban Arashi, and achieved his first hit 3 years later when he started writing and drawing Ring ni Kakero, which brought him recognition as a popular manga author, and lasted 5 years, and he considers it his favorite creation. A practicer of the martial arts in his younger days, the influence this has exerted on his various works is worthy of mention.
Also, in the same manner as many manga artists today, Kurumada employs the revered Osamu Tezuka's Star System manga technique, which is essentially resorting to the use of a stable cast of characters in his various works (characters keep the same appearance and personality, but sometimes the author gives them new personalities and different roles than in previous works). Because of this, the main characters of his works most of the time bear a resemblance to Takane Ryūji, the protagonist of Ring ni Kakero. The main characters of his subsequent works have almost the same appearance and personality of Ryūji, specifically Kikukawa Jingi (Otoko Zaka), Kojirō (Fūma no Kojirō), Seiya (Saint Seiya), Takamiya Teppei (B't X), Shō (Silent Knight Shō), Tendō Aoi (Aoi Tori no Shinwa), Kenzaki Rindō (Ring ni Kakero 2), among others. Besides Kurumada, other renowned manga artists that resort to the master Tezuka's technique include legendary authors Leiji Matsumoto, Monkey Punch and Shōtarō Ishinomori, and lesser authors such as Clamp. Clamp was heavily influenced by Kurumada's works, and they began their career as manga authors creating doujinshi based on Kurumada's characters. It is also known that anime adaptations aren't much to his liking, he prefers manga. He agreed that his works Fūma no Kojirō, Saint Seiya, Ring ni Kakero and B't X were adapted to anime, to follow the long-time tradition of popular manga having an animated adaptation.
His drawing style is very classic, reminiscent from the manga/anime aesthetics more predominant in the '60s and '70s, albeit a constant flaw in his art is an inconsistent trace and proportion unbalance. He often draws his characters as if seen from a low perspective. His drawings can sometimes seem rough, but the improvement in his artistic technique is evident when comparing older works to more recent ones. The detail in his drawings is painstakingly executed, and his designs for his characters' attire in some of his works, is elaborate, rich and elegant. His coloring style is almost exclusively realistic, unlike the vast majority of mangaka, who often resort to the use of non-natural colors for the hair or eyes of their characters. His stories are moving and inspiring, though they tend to suffer from plenty of plotholes and understimation of details, which lead to loss of plot coherence and discontinuity tends to creep into his storylines.
Certain graphics elements characteristic of his style can be found all over his works, mostly during fight sequences, having become widely known. Fans have created terms to refer to them such as Kurumada-ochi (車田落ち Kurumada-ochi?), meaning "Kurumada Fall", which designates the typical head-first falling characters, and Kurumada-futtobi (車田吹っ飛び Kurumada-futtobi?), meaning "Kurumada Launch", which refers to characters that are projected high into the air by opponents, to name a few.
A recurrent theme in his works is friendship, courage and sacrifice. Masculine virtue and qualities, honesty and honor are also traits often found in his characters. Female characters in his works mostly play a much lesser role, but several ones with key roles can also be found, such as Kojinyama Rei (Sukeban Arashi), Takane Kiku (Ring ni Kakero) and Kido Saori (Saint Seiya).
Kurumada has stated in interviews that he obtains some creative influence from yesterday's authors considered masters of the manga medium today, such as Hiroshi Motomiya, Sanpei Shirato and Mitsuteru Yokoyama. He specially considers that Motomiya's works had a very strong impact and influence on him..
Kurumada also draws inspiration from universal knowledge and folklore, such as Greek mythology, Japanese and Chinese mythology, Buddhist and Hinduist doctrine, Trascendental philosophies, and classic works of literature, such as Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, to name a few.
His interest in boxing, wrestling and martial arts is well known, and he maintains close relations with renowned personalities of those circles. As he states in his website, he likes to drink with friends and to practice photography while jogging..
Unfortunately, during his career, several of his works have suffered from a decrease of popularity that led them to be cancelled by his publisher, and some have failed to capture an audience. Among his works that have been cancelled due to failing to attract fans: Otoko Zaka, Silent Knight Shō and Aoi Tori no Shinwa. His works that suffered popularity decrease: B't X (which he successfully concluded without facing cancellation), and Saint Seiya. In Saint Seiya's case, Kurumada was forced by Shueisha, his publisher, to finish the manga after the Hades Arc, in 1991. He put his manga in hiatus after he finished the mentioned arc, and resumed it in 2006 with Saint Seiya Next Dimension. The popularity decrease of his manga Saint Seiya affected its anime adaptation as well, the anime back in 1989, was in pre-production of the episodes that would adapt the Hades arc of the manga. Because of low popularity, the project was suspended and remained so until 2003, when it was resumed and the Hades arc of the manga finally was adapted to animation. The episodes that adapted the two final volumes of the manga were aired in between May and August 2008, finally leaving Kurumada's manga completely adapted to anime.
In 2004, Kurumada celebrated 30 years as a professional mangaka, and that same year two of his older and best known works experienced a resurfacing. The original Ring ni Kakero was adapted to anime, 27 years after its manga debut, and as mentioned before, the Saint Seiya anime adaptation was resumed in 2003 and an attempt to start the Zeus Chapter was made with the release of the Saint Seiya Tenkai-Hen Josō ~Overture~ movie in 2004, which was planned to continue the story with the subsequent release of OVAs, but due to discrepancies between Kurumada and Toei Animation, the project failed and was abandoned, although Kurumada still plans to publish the Zeus Chapter, written and drawn by him, in manga form; in the near future.
Kurumada's works have had influence on manga authors and related media. Worthy of mention is Yudetamago's Kinnikuman, Clamp's Magic Knight Rayearth, Koichi Tokita's Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Hajime Yatate and Ryuichi Hoshino's Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, Hiroshi Kawamoto's Shurato, Yoshihiro Togashi's YuYu Hakusho, videogames such as the World Heroes series, among others. References to his works by other authors can be found in the mentioned videogames and in popular manga, such as Kosuke Fujishima's Aa! Megami-sama, Kenjirō Hata's Hayate no Gotoku, Chika Umino's Honey & Clover, Tite Kubo's BLEACH, and their respective anime adaptations, among others.
French director Louis Leterrier has cited Kurumada and his manga Saint Seiya having great impact on him since his youth.. In 2010, Masami Kurumada was contacted by Warner Brothers to collaborate in a project for Leterrier's mythologically themed motion picture Clash of the Titans, remake of the original 1981 film. Kurumada authored promotional illustrations depicting pivotal scenes from the film.
His fans are usually referred to as "Masamists"..
-His manga works listed chronologically and their duration: .
- Otoko Raku (Simple Man, 1974)
- Sukeban Arashi (Delinquent Storm, 1974-1975)
- Mikereko Rock (1975, short story)
- Ring ni Kakero (Put it all in the Ring, 1977-1983)
- Mabudachi Jingi (True friend Jingi, 1979, short story)
- Shiro Obi Taishō (White-Belt General, 1979, short story)
- Jitsuroku! Shinwakai (Authentic gathering of Gods, 1979-1981)
- Fūma no Kojirō (Kojirō of the Wind Spirits Clan, 1982-1983)
- Saigo! Jitsuroku Shinwakai (Final Authentic Gathering of Gods, 1983)
- Raimei no Zaji (Lightning Zaji, 1983, short story)
- Otoko Zaka (Man's Hill, 1984, cancelled unfinished)
- Saint Seiya (1986-1991, 2006-ongoing - unconcluded, resumed by Kurumada with Saint Seiya Next Dimension)
- Aoi tori no Shinwa: ～BLUE MYTH～ (The myth of the Blue Bird, 1992)
- Silent Knight Shō (1992, on hiatus)
- Kyōfu Taiken (Dreadful Experience, 1993)
- B't X (1994-2000)
- Akaneiro no kaze (Crimson Wind, 1995)
- Shin Samurai Shodown (True Samurai Shodown, 1995, manga adaptation of SNK's videogame)
- Evil Crusher Maya (1996)
- Ring ni Kakero 2 (Put it all in the Ring 2, 2000-2009)
- Fūma no Kojirō : Ryūsei Ansatsuchō (2003)
- Saint Seiya: Next Dimension (2006-present)
- Saint Seiya Episode G (2002-present, commissioned by Kurumada to Megumu Okada)
- Saint Seiya Lost Canvas (2006-present, commissioned by Kurumada to Shiori Teshirogi)
- Raimei-ni Kike (Listen in the Lightning, 2006-present)
- Burning Blood (1996, artbook)
- Saint Seiya Encyclopedia (2001, Artbook and character data collection)
- Saint Seiya Sora Kurumada Masami Illustrations (2004, Artbook and issues data collection)
- Saint Seiya : Gigantomachia (2002, a non-canonical sidestory novel co-written by Hamazaki Tatsuya and Kurumada, illustrated by Kurumada.)
-Anime Adaptations of his works:
- Saint Seiya (1986-2008, 145 episodes)
- Fūma no Kojirō (1989-1990, released as 13 OVA episodes)
- B't X (1996, 25 episodes)
- B't Neo (1997, complementary to B't X, 14 OVA episodes)
- Ring ni Kakero 1: Carnival Champion (2004, 12 episodes)
- Ring ni Kakero 1: Nichibei Kessen Hen (2006, complementary to Ring ni Kakero, 12 episodes)
- Ring ni Kakero 1: Eidō Hen (2010, complementary to Ring ni Kakero, ongoing)
- Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas (2009, animated adaptation of the spin-off work of the same name, 10 OVA episodes to date.)
-Anime Movie adaptations of his works:
- Saint Seiya : Gekijōban (1987)
- Saint Seiya : Kamigami no atsuki tatakai (1988)
- Saint Seiya : Shinku no shōnen densetsu (1989)
- Saint Seiya : Saishū seisen no senshitachi (1989)
- Saint Seiya : Tenkai-Hen Josō ~Overture~ (2004)
- Fūma no Kōjirō: Fūma Hanran-Hen (1992)
Live-Action adaptations of his works:
- Saint Seiya Musical: A short-lived adaptation of the Sanctuary arc and the Poseidon arc from Kurumada's manga for the musical theatre, 1991.
Out of all of them, Saint Seiya is his most famous work in the western world but not in Japan, its popularity there is surpassed by that of Ring ni Kakero (1 and 2), which is the longest of Kurumada's works, at 51 collected volumes. Saint Seiya, is collected in 28 volumes to date, and has been resumed by Kurumada with Saint Seiya Next Dimension, the continuation to his original manga, ending the hiatus the work remained in since 1991. the third longest is B't X, collected in 16. As stated before, Anime adaptations have been made for Saint Seiya, Fūma no Kojirō, B't X, and Ring ni Kakero, all closely follow his source manga works. Saint Seiya videogames have been released for old consoles such as Famicom/NES, and more recently for PlayStation 2. Recently, Ring ni Kakero has also been the theme for Pachinko game machines.
Currently, he is working on Saint Seiya Next Dimension (a prequel and continuation to his classic manga series in which Hades recalls his fight with the previous Pegasus Saint in the 18th century). Recently, it was revealed by Kurumada and Akita Shōten that Next Dimension holds a canonical status in the universe of Saint Seiya, and it is also its legitimate continuation. He recently finished Ring ni Kakero 2, in 2009, after a successful run of 9 years. A live-action series of Fūma no Kojirō was released on Japanese tv. He recently started working on a new manga series Raimei-ni Kike.
He also has authorized two manga authors to write and draw sidestories for his manga Saint Seiya, specifically Saint Seiya Episode G, written and drawn by Megumu Okada, and Saint Seiya Lost Canvas, written and drawn by Shiori Teshirogi. Since these two works aren't authored by Kurumada, but only authorized and supervised by him, the events depicted in them and the characters created for them are still considered non-canonical, unlike Next Dimension which holds an official canonical status..
Kurumada had most of his works published by Shueisha, in the prestigious Shūkan Shōnen Jump manga magazine. After Kyōfu Taiken, he began publishing his works with Kadokawa Shoten, in their magazine Gekkan Shōnen Ace. In 1995 he resumed his relations with Shueisha and began publishing with them again, and his latest works and the current ones have been published by that company to date, excluding Saint Seiya Lost Canvas, published by Akita Shoten in the Weekly Shōnen Champion manga magazine, Saint Seiya Next Dimension, published in the Shōnen Ace manga magazine and Raimei-ni Kike, published by Akita Shoten in the Champion Red manga magazine.
During the course of his career, Masami Kurumada has written the lyrics to many of the songs used in the anime adaptations of his manga series. A CD compiling the songs was released in December 2005 with an extra song to Otoko Zaka, the CD is called Kurumada: The Complete Works.
The following songs are included
- 01. いかなる星の下に～Ｗｅ’ｒｅ ｆｅａｒｌｅｓｓ ｗａｒｒｉｏｒｓ～
- 02. 星よ流れるな～Ｓｔｏｐ ｔｈｅ ｆａｔｅ～
- 03. 少年記 Ｉ～ＢＵＲＮＩＮＧ ＢＬＯＯＤ～
- 04. 少年記 ＩＩ～Ｌｅａｖｅ Ｍｙ Ｈｅａｒｔ～
- 05. 風の戦士
- 06. あの日風の中で・・・
- 07. 君を守りたい
- 08. 信じる心
- 09. 光を探して
- 10. いつか聞いた風の歌
- 11. 風に向かって走れ～ｓｔａｎｄｉｎｇ＆ｆｉｇｈｔ～
- 12. 名も無き野の花～ｆｕｌｌｆｉｌｌ ｙｏｕｒ ｄｒｅａｍ～
- 13. 純情ケンカチャンピオン～ｏｎｅ ｗａｙ ｂｏｙ～
- 14. いばらの旋律～Ｍｅｌｏｄｙ～
- 15. 覇道のディスタンス～Ｄｉｓｔａｎｃｅ～
- 16. 「明日への闘志」
Though, after the CD was released Kurumada wrote the lyrics to the intro and ending song of the credits sequence of the 'Inferno' stage of the Hades arc of the Saint Seiya anime adaptation (Episodes 128 to 145).
- "Megami no Senshi"
- "Pegasus Forever" by Marina Del Ray
- "My Dear" by Yumi Matsuzawa
Also, he wrote the lyrics to the ending theme of the second season of the Ring ni Kakero 1 anime adaptation, in 2006:
- Shining like Gold ～思い出の欠片～ (Omoide no kakera)
For the final episodes that completed the adaptation of the Hades arc of his Saint Seiya manga to anime, a new song for the credits roll was composed with Kurumada authoring the lyrics. The episodes aired in mid 2008
- "Kami no Sono - Del Regno"
- "Masami Kurumada describes how he created his manga Saint Seiya (Spanish)".
- "Masami Kurumada's interests".
- "Louis Leterrier mentions Masami Kurumada and Saint Seiya as a influence for his work (in Japanese)".
- "Masami Kurumada's fans called Masamists by his site's hit counter".
- "His works listed in his website, profile section".
- Saint Seiya Next Dimension: Canonical continuation of Saint Seiya. Retrieved on 2009-2-7 (in Japanese)
- "Next Dimension: Canonical continuation of Saint Seiya (japanese)".
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