The manga streaming platform recently launched a new manga based on the strategy game chess called BLITZ. Since chess was created in India and as Indians and chess fans we were keen to learn more about the manga. Thus, we reached out to BLITZ Manga Creator, Cedric Biscay & Artist, Daitaro Nishihara, for an interview with Animehunch.
Here’s what we asked them:
1. What inspired you to choose chess as a sport to make a manga on? Were there other sports manga & anime, or manga in general that also helped inspired you?
Cedric Biscay: As I am a big fan of sports manga such as Captain Tsubasa, Slam Dunk and others and I had the wish for a long time to create this type of manga. That said, obviously there’s a lot of competition in the manga market, so I had to find a sport where I could find good inspiration for stories and chess has a huge potential worldwide. I live in France and American football is not widely played or popular here, although Eyeshield 21 was a hit here.
That’s what I have always liked about shonen manga. Whatever the topic is, the Japanese mangaka are able to make it addictive.
Daitaro Nishihara: I am influenced by various parts of many manga. It is hard to pick just one. But if I may say so, it would probably be “Berserk“. Although not reflected in BLITZ, I am very inspired by Berserk’s characters, scenes, and the way the frame layout is presented.
2. Garry Kasparov’s influence in the manga is seen from the first chapter and how Tom inherited many of Garry’s moves. How did Garry become involved in this project and how did you develop a lead character that could challenge Garry’s genius and intellect in chess?
Cedric Biscay: To me, Garry Kasparov is like a superhero. During my childhood, I remember about some stories heard at the radio regarding the games with Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer it was the ultimate man vs machine. I respect him a lot and I immediately contacted him when I thought to make a chess manga. Of course, I did not know him, so I simply contacted his company with some very basic pitch materials, then I received a reply for a first meeting in Paris and he has greenlighted everything at that time including his appearances in the story.
He was extremely nice and down to earth, and I was very excited for his involvement and support. The lead character of the BLITZ manga, Tom, has a personality very far from the chess’ high standards especially because he is not good at concentrating.
For me it is interesting to show how one can succeed, step by step by i any activity by dedication, practice and willingness to learn.
Daitaro Nishihara: In my opinion, Tom is a bit presumptuous to challenge Garry’s genius and intellect in chess when they only just met. However , I can say without a doubt that Garry becomes a shining star guiding Tom. And it is nice to see how Tom recklessly faces the difficulties and takes on challenges. I want him to remain a character who faces any challenge without fear.
3. Garry has mentioned on the official website that manga has gained traction around the world. Are you working on releasing an anime counterpart to BLITZ as well?
Cedric Biscay: Having an anime of BLITZ would be great. We are not working on it directly, but I do believe the international exposure of the manga series will generate the interest of potential producers and studios. We already had several offers but we are still waiting for the right situation to develop.
4. As mentioned in the manga, Chess is a game that challenges a player’s mental capability to strategize. Will this lead to Tom, the protagonist of the manga, to implement his own moves and strategies combined with Garry’s moves and strategies? How do you see his character progressing?
Cedric Biscay: Well, I do not want to spoil the story too much but of course BLITZ is not a manga someone who simply uses of someone else’s abilities. Tom has his own journey and starts playing from scratch. Whatever the situation there is a way to move. A solution.
That’s the story of Tom and Harmony in this manga. It is interesting to follow a guy who is totally out of his league when he begins but he gets better and better. So yes, in the upcoming volumes of BLITZ, readers will be surprised about how Tom will manage things about “Caïssa”
5. Chess was first created in India and then it travelled the Silk Road and reached the rest of the world. Are you planning something for Indian audiences as well considering chess has such a massive following in India?
Cedric Biscay: I noticed this immediately. The main antagonist is from India and readers will see him appear for the first time in volume 2. I would love to see BLITZ published in India. I do not know that country well, but it is quite fascinating to me and I know they have a deep rooted love of comics and manga there.
6. What have been the most challenging parts about developing this project? What was the workflow process for BLITZ? Can you tell us how you both worked together?
Cedric Biscay: To me, the fact to have an international team is actually more challenging than having authors and artists in the same country and sharing the same language. There is a lot of exchanges with translations, we mainly use Japanese and English, but sometimes I need to use French and then ask for a translation when I need to explain something in more detail.
The process is as follows, I wrote the general story outline for BLITZ, then for each volume, I separated the story into chapter and worked with a Japanese writer, Tsukasa Mori, on it in order to add more details and aspects to make the manga also resonate with fans of the genre, especially in Japan. Then once the story for a volume is ready, the artist, Daitaro Nishihara works on the storyboards. I am always impressed about the quality of his work.
Once the storyboard is ready, we finalize the dialogues and then Daitaro can finalize the drawings. Of course, I am giving just a simplified overview but the whole follow-up is done by the Shibuya Productions team both in Japan and Monaco.
Daitaro Nishihara: There are many characters in BLITZ and since parts of the story focus on the team aspects of chess there are often many characters in a single scene, which can be challenging. But I enjoy bringing Cedric’s vision to life and look forward to readers discovering Tom’s Journey to become a chess grandmaster.