This interview was given by Tite Kubo on 16th March 2013, 12:45-13:45 o'clock at the "Leipziger Buchmesse" in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany (booth E600, "The Black Sofa"). Questions were collected among the users of Tokyopop Germany's forum and asked by publishing director Dr. Joachim Kaps via an interpreter (oral translator). Kubo's answers were told to the audiance by the very same interpreter. If I phrased something in a weird way you did not understand, please notify me. I will try my very best to clear up any missunderstandings. Please bear with typos and poor grammer (especially syntax and consecutio temporis), since English is not my native language.
Joachim Kaps: "Have you ever expected BLEACH to become this popular?"
Tite Kubo: "It was never my intention to create a manga that becomes popular. I merely started drawing a story I wanted to draw."
Jo Kaps: "Is there any character that is particularly difficult to draw?"
Kubo: "Ichigo is very diffucult."
Jo Kaps: "What's so difficult about him?"
Kubo: "Pretty much everything." (*laughs*)
Jo Kaps: Then, would you say you made a bad choice in designing him this way?"
Kubo: "Well..." (*makes a broody face*) "I'm always wondering why Ichigo has so much screen time."
Jo Kaps: "Because he is the protagonist?"
Kubo: "You might be right." (*laughs*)
Jo Kaps: "Speaking of desing, would you ever desing characters for another medium that is not Bleach? Like characters for someone's video game?"
Kubo: "That would be very difficult for me, since I'm not good at guessing what other persons have on their mind regarding the matter in question. It might be easier if their mindset was close to mine."
Jo Kaps: "When coloring pages, do you use anything besides copic markers?"
Kubo: "Well, I sometimes sneak in a little bit colored pencil. I do, however, not use personal computers, since I lack experience in using them."
Jo Kaps: "Many readers are wondering why you tend to draw minimalistic to no backgrounds and focus on the characters instead."
Kubo: "Backgrounds distract the reader from what's going on inside the character. Whenever I leave backgrounds out, this is to allow my readers to see the heart of the character."
Jo Kaps: "Besides manga, you also enyoy listening to music. But if you had to choose one of them..."
Kubo: "I could never give up manga." (Audience cheers for him)
Jo Kaps: "Some resourceful readers found out that you listen to music while drawing. Do you really?"
Kubo: "I do."
Jo Kaps: "And the music matches the scene? Like something calm when the character is deep in thougth or hard rock when there is a battle?" (Audience laughs)
Kubo: "Sometimes. The music is rather to support myself than something I choose to match the situation. One time I might listen to calm music when drawing a battle, the next time I might listen to hard sounds."
Jo Kaps: "Many mangaka have assistants that take over a part of the workload. Do you have any assistants?"
Kubo: "Yes, I have four."
Jo Kaps: "How do you distribute work?"
Kubo: "My assistants do [...] and the backgrounds." (Note: He said something else, but I could not unterstand the interpreter. It was something about lines.)
Jo Kaps: "Is there anything you would never allow an assistant to do? Something you absolutely want to draw yourself?"
Kubo: (*smiles*) "Explosions and other effects. They mirror a character's emotions."
Jo Kaps: "BLEACH is full of different languages. Quincys utilize the German language, the Arrancar name everything in Spanish. Fullbringers use English terms. Why?"
Kubo: "As for the Arrancar, I think that Spanish sounds very passionate and a little erotic, so it matches their wild lifestyle. German sounds cold, harsh and methodic, something that matches the straight-forward methods of the Quincys. I would also like to use French at some point, because it sounds very elegant. But I can't figure out a good way to include it into the story."
Jo Kaps: "I think it's about time for some drawing, isn't it?"
Kubo: "Alright. What do you want me to draw?"
Kubo's companions pick four people from the audience, each one may choose one character from BLEACH. Post-timeskip Hitsugaya and child Nel (audience complains, wanting to see adult Nel) are picked first, Kubo draws them like this: Crying Nel is clinging onto an irritated Hitsugaya's left shoulder. Hitsugaya stands in 3/4 profile, his head turnded towards Nel. The next pairing is Ulquiorra (leading the audience to boo at the girl who picked him) and Yoruichi (audience applauds in agreement). Kubo draws Yoruichi in the bottom right corner, having jumped down from one of Hueco Mundo's giant red pillars and still falling, looking back over her right shoulder with a stern face. Ulquiorra jumps after her, his right hand extended towards Yoruichi's back. [Note: The drawing process was recorded and will most likely be made availible via internet.]
Jo Kaps: "Now that was quite something. Let's come back to topic. When other BLEACH-related media besides manga is created (movies, merchandiese, games), are you involved in the process or do you have no time for this?"
Kubo: "I'd like to get involved. Sadly, I just don't have the time."
Jo Kaps: "As far as we know, you are a passionate gamer. Have you ever played a BLEACH video game? Which was you favorite?"
Kubo: "I played all of them, but I cannot name a favorite. Those games' names sound so similar to each other, I can't distinguish between them." (Audience laughs)
Jo Kaps: "BLEACH got several Rock Musicals, which is totally amazing. We know that you have seen at least one of them. What were your feelings?"
Kubo: "That was a strange situation for me. Those people on the stage were a mixture of human actors and fictional characters I created. It was a very weird feeling."
Jo Kaps: "Let's talk a little bit about the contents of BLEACH. Your German readers would like to know if they will be given more information about Ururu."
Kubo: "Ururu will stay a mystery. I might, however, change my mind, if revealing her background would benefit the story at some point."
Jo Kaps: "How about Grimmjow? Will he appear again?"
Kubo: "His fate will be revealed when the time has come." (Audience moans unpatiently)
Jo Kaps: "Why do Kaien and Ichigo look so much alike?"
Kubo: "That's what the manga in Japan is about right now."
Jo Kaps: "Well, that means we will also know in the forseeable future. Why is Aizen still alive?"
Kubo: "He is still necessary for the story."
Jo Kaps: "After Kaien died, why did Ukitake not choose a new Vice Captain for such a long time?"
Kubo: "Neither Sentaro nor Kiyone wanted to take that position, so they carried out the Vice Captain's tasks together als two 3rd Ranks."
Jo Kaps: "Is Ichimaru dead or does he, like Grimmjow, still have a chance to reappear?"
Kubo: "He is dead." (Audience groans in disappointment, me being the loudest one to complain) "It was the best for him to die there."
Jo Kaps: "You introduced Kugo Ginjo as the first Substitue Shinigami. Why having him as the first one, and not Ichigo?"
Kubo: "The way of turning a human into a Substitute Shinigami had to been known at the point Rukia turned Ichigo into one. How would she have known of the whole procedure, if she was the first person to ever turn somebody into a Substitute Shinigami?"
Jo Kaps: "Are there any stories you wanted to tell, but couldnt?"
Kubo: "Such an untold story exists for pretty much every single character, most of them were scrapped to to time issues. There is, for example, the story of what Grimmjow did before Aizen captured Hueco Mundo. I have this one all fleshed out, but could never tell it."
Jo Kaps: "Reder request demanding a new artbook arise more constantly now. There are lots of new pictures and characters, but no artbook to show them. Are you, by any chance, planing to release a new one?"
Kubo: "My editorial office recently began asking me to do so, and they ask quite frequently. I would love to make a new artbook, but there are timing issues preventing me from doing so."
Jo Kaps: "Thank you very much, Kubo-sensei."
Since several important questions I wanted Jo to ask Sensei were not asked in favor of stupid questions no one actually cares about, I bugged the staff of Tokyopop Germany about Kubos schedule and if there was time to talk to him personally. Initially a staff member told me about the possibility of Kubo answering questions right after the official interview. It did not happen. However, I talked the staff into giving me a ticket which allowed me to get Sensei's autograph on a shikishi. When I asked that aforementioned staff member if asking questions would be possible this time, she shook her head. "Don't bother trying", she recommended to me. But since Kubo's interpreter was present when he signed the shikishi, I tried. I have to admit, much to my shame, that due to lots of impatient fans waiting behind me and due to my heart hammering at 150bpm, I totally forgot about Buzzbee and only could ask two questions, which were about Äs Nödt (since I love this magnificent Bankai-stealing un-smile freak). At first Sensei was a bit startled by my sudden approach "Sensei, onegai!" (his reaction was kind of cute, though), but then he kindly told me that:
Äs Nödt is male. (Much to my personal disappointment)
His epithet, abbreviated as "F", is indeed "The Fear".
It was a real hassle to get close enough to Sensei to get this information, so I hope you can derive any kind of benefit from the interview and those two answers Sensei gave me.