Overfiend’s tentacle master, Toshio Maeda

Overfiend’s Toshio Maeda talks to Helen McCarthy

Toshio Maeda

Nineties anime fans couldn’t avoid Toshio Maeda. Legend of the Overfiend, based on his 1983 manga Urotsukidoji, was the most controversial anime of its day, an epic tale of reincarnal angst stretching across centuries of sex, death, and rebirth.

Overfiend

A string of Maeda anime headed West: Nightmare Campus, La Blue Girl, Adventure Kid, Demon Beast Invasion. More Overfiend anime were made in Japan specifically to meet Western demand. For two decades, Maeda was the king of tentacle porn. Some critics, myself included, saw more in his work. His epic story arcs repeat cycles of Wagnerian scope, peopled by gods and monsters, doomed heroes and fragile innocents.

But in 2001, Maeda lost the use of his right hand in a motorbike accident, sustaining broken ribs, a punctured lung and damaged back. While he recovered, his lifetime earnings, and his wife, disappeared. With nothing to fall back on, he explored new ideas: women’s erotic manga, fan visits to his home, sales of original art, and a chatty trilingual website.

“I learned a lot through the accident. I felt Karma came and got me. I was a bit nouveau-riche, aloof towards ordinary people. When I started my career from scratch, I was poor but aspirant… I don’t understand why I buried such things. Then I thought I would be nothing but disabled. My life now seems to be the icing on the cake.”

Overfiend

Slipping into Shakespearean mode, he asks: “What is man or manga artist in the first place? If his chief good and market of his time, be but to sleep, draw and feed? A beast, no more!” adding with a laugh “Could be a Demon Beast!”

Maeda was born in Osaka in 1953.  “I started reading manga around four years of age. When I was six, I enjoyed one silly gag comic. I’ve forgotten the title, but it was so surreal and peculiar. At 11 or 12 I believed I was a born cartoonist. In junior high school I drew my manga on real professional paper, and used Chinese ink and G-pens, because I wanted to be different from other amateur wannabes.”

His family had other ideas. “My grandfather was a carpenter, so my mother pushed me into a vocational high school to study architecture. It totally didn’t make sense! I didn’t want to be an architect, I wanted to be a manga artist!”  Unsurprisingly, he cut classes. “I was a smart aleck, always talking back to teachers and grown-ups. Of course, I thought I was more than just a pretty face!”

He laughs at that, describing his teenage self as “owlish, with four eyes. I was a cocky, snotty brat. I ran away to Tokyo when I was 16, right after I was kicked out of high school.”

Ashita e Kick Off

An editor friend helped him get started. He drew other people’s stories like 1977’s Ashita e Kick Off, but before long he was writing his own scripts, moving into adult manga. Bored with existing X- and R-rated material, he decided to make something new: Urotsukodoji.

To begin with, the epic cycle was only sketched out in embryo. “I made a rough story-line, not the fussy details. I believe that you shouldn’t design the whole thing beforehand; it would spoil the development of the characters and flexibility of the story. Once you’ve built up the characters, they can knock about in your manga without your manipulation.”

The cycle’s sudden end was also unplanned. “The editor in chief didn’t understand SF manga, so he asked me to stop doing Urotsukidoji. That’s why the endings were so abrupt. In the anime, the scriptwriter kept the ball rolling, which doesn’t mean I really appreciate the rest of the story lines.” Despite the rise of erotic anime in Japan’s home video market and Maeda’s undoubted popularity, the publisher didn’t even try to get the manga animated. “The studio approached me. The publisher didn’t do anything about it. They underestimated the power of anime.”

Overfiend

Pressed for his views on Overfiend the anime as a version of his work, Maeda says “I like the first series because it followed my story line, and I can’t complain about the next one. My favourite producer, Mr. Yamaki, made those first two series. [Yasuhito Yamaki also worked on Maeda’s 1999 Demon Warrior Koji anime] I don’t want to make any comment on the rest.”

Maeda didn’t reap the benefits of international success. “The company that released my anime overseas played dirty and dodged paying me. The money from my anime sales was chickenfeed. That’s why I still live in a leaky chicken shack.” He pauses to assure us he’s kidding, but “Mostly my meal tickets are from manga, not anime.”

Maeda obviously loves comics – including Western comics. “My favorite comic artist is, or rather was, Gil Kane. He influenced my art style a lot. He passed away in 2000 and I really miss him.” Other influences on his style are surprisingly nostalgic and romantic: “I think I like classics in any form… I love black and white romantic movies. In those days, handsome actors fell in love with stunning blonde bombshells in motion pictures. I love 19th century posters with a nostalgic feel, both Japanese and western.”

What will British fans make of the forthcoming re-release of Legend of the Overfiend? “I just have my fingers crossed that they like it.” And as for new work: “Now budgets are tight and we’re facing a crisis in making anime, because of piracy and infringement around the world. I keep in touch with certain producers, including Mr. Yamaki, to discuss new work, but it might be live-action, not anime. I’m just waiting to see which way the wind blows.”

He finishes with a quotation from English poet Robert Browning, reflecting on his own rebirth:

“Grow old along with me! / The best is yet to be, /The last of life for which the first was made.”

And, for fans old and new, an invitation: “Just come and have fun with my website http://www.urotsukidoji.jp/

Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend is available on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment. The disappointing sequels are available in the UK from Revelation Films. Follow Toshio Maeda on Twitter as, what else, @Tentacle_Master.

Top 6 Fairy Tail Fights

Top 6 Fairy Tail Fights

By Mitchell Lineham Fairy Tail is home to a lot of epic fights, but only a small handful have made our list! In this list, we highlight our favourite battles from each of the five main members of Fairy Tail + a bonus one.  Natsu Dragneel vs Jellal FernandesUnable to...

Meet Black Clover’s Black Bull Guild!

Meet Black Clover’s Black Bull Guild!

If you’re looking to get a quick run-down on the members of Black Clover’s Black Bull guild, then look no further! GuildsThere are nine main guilds in Black Clover making up the Clover Kingdom’s Magic Knights, and they all serve the Magic Emperor exclusively, on...

What is Black Clover?

What is Black Clover?

One of the big, new Shonen shows on the block, Black Clover reached popularity around the world as a manga, by author Yūki Tabata, which began serialisation in 2015, and it is currently at 25 volumes. It was adapted into an anime shortly after its debut, with its...

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising comes home!

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising comes home!

PLUS ULTRA!My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising comes home this Autumn! We're extremely excited to share that My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising will be coming to DVD, Blu-ray, and Steelbook this October! But that's not all, we're thrilled to be bringing Season 4 Part 1 to...

6 Reasons Why You Should Play Fairy Tail

6 Reasons Why You Should Play Fairy Tail

With over 300 episodes and 2 movies, Fairy Tail has become one of the most popular Shonen series to date. With this in mind fans have been craving a video game for years. Finally, the time has come to jump into the shoes of some of the most powerful spell casters the...

Fairy Tail Zero and The Final Season Come To The UK!

Fairy Tail Zero and The Final Season Come To The UK!

Manga UK are bringing you even more Fairy Tail this year! There will not only be more Fairy Tail Collection releases coming to Blu-ray in 2020 but Fairy Tail Zero and Fairy Tail The Final Season are coming to DVD, Blu-ray, and Download To Own as well! See below for...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This