Noriko Aoki is better known as Tokyo Doll. I got to know her thanks to her activities as giving workshops for manga drawing and making bento. Time to talk about her activities!
AVO Magazine: Who or what is Tokyo Doll?
Noriko Aoki: Tokyo Doll is owned by a Japanese woman who lives in the Netherlands.
For Dutch people, I provide Japanese activities like:
– manga workshop
– Design and drawing activities for many type of clients. (Example)
– Japanese cooking workshop
– bento and kyaraben workshop
– Japanese translation
– Coordinate, advice, article about Japanese things. For example, official catalogue of Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam.
(On This time, I helped Wereld museum not only writing article but I also advised them, writing to Japanese companies, and introduced some mangaka to them.)
For Japanese people, I provide Dutch information for example
– Travel information of Netherlands. I have been writing serial article for 7 years in one of a biggest travel site in Japan.
– Sometimes Japanese TV or magazines ask me to coordinate their business travel, articles and reports. I take care of their hotels, set up interviews, and provide Dutch information.
Anyway, my activities can be compared to Yorozuya (We do everything or literally The Anything Store) of Anime/manga Gintama. I am a kind of Gintoki Sakata of Japanese activities.
AVO Magazine: Tell us how you first became interested in becoming a mangaka?
Noriko Aoki: I was born in 1965. Since I was a little child, manga and anime was already my environments because those are natural item in Japan. Most Japanese kids start manga-like drawing naturally. And I drew manga drawing since I was a kindergarten. I went to art school in Tokyo but it’s not Manga course. It is General design course. I debuted as professional mangaka of seinen manga magazine when I was an art school student. The situation went natural and I don’t have deep thinking about how to be mangaka or not.
AVO Magazine: How do you describe your style as mangaka?
Noriko Aoki: It’s my style. I take importance the story.
Many Dutch people misunderstanding that manga is a drawing style. Manga means comic that includes both story and graphic. Manga drawing without story is just a drawing, and not true manga.
AVO Magazine: Can you tell the readers what manga you have published in the past?
Noriko Aoki: I had serial manga for 4 years when I was in Japan. It was late 80s. I talked about it in an interview with Aniway.
I started manga again in the Netherlands. Recent manga is “the flowers blooming in the sky“. This was nominated in Dutch Manga Award 2015.
AVO Magazine: Are you working on a new story for a manga now?
Noriko Aoki: At the moment I haven’t touch yet because too busy until this Summer. I will start something after Summer.
AVO Magazine: You are not only a mangaka, but you also give workshops in manga, bento/Japanese food and Japanese culture at fairs and conventions. Why?
Noriko Aoki: Because it’s hard to make living expense just by design activities. Not only manga but also it’s typical situation for most artists.
Other reason is, there are too many fake information and fake taste about Japanese foods in here. 90 % of Japanese restaurant or catering are not authentic. Nowadays most people believes fake Japanese foods is real, and real Japanese foods are fake.
I really hate this situation and I am trying to introduce real general Japanese cooking.
In the past I was active as a professional mangaka in Japan (from the 80s to the early 90s), I worked for Kodansha, TakeShobo, Futabasha. After that, I’ve been active as a professional game designer, in the 90s till mid-90s, for the Super Nintendo and Game Boy, for instance. Bandai, Garou Densetsu, Kureeyon Shin Chan are names you should think of. And in the early 2000s, I’ve worked for Nokia as a User Interface Designer. If you look at how much money you earn performing these jobs, as a mangaka you earn the least.
Young Japan fans say they love my experience. But at the moment there are no jobs in the Netherlands for someone with my professional experiences. It’s hard to find a job.
AVO Magazine: Your workshops are, so far I know, always crowded. You are not only giving your workshops in the Netherlands, but also abroad. Is there a difference between the size and enthusiasm of interest between the different audiences you met in the different countries?
Noriko Aoki: I think not so much difference about audiences.
AVO Magazine: You are now living in the Netherlands for a while. What do you like the most about the Netherlands?
Noriko Aoki: Dutch pension system and day care system is much better than Japan. There are many problems in Japanese politics. Japan is not a fantasy land of Anime. It’s a country includes both good and bad.
AVO Magazine: Is there a mangaka you admire or something that inspires you? If so, who and why?
Noriko Aoki: Osamu Tezuka. He is a god of manga.
AVO Magazine: Were you ever surprised by fans of your work? If so, how?
Noriko Aoki: I recently got audiences who are age over 50 years old because I drew the manga of WW2 era.
This is a good sign. Because in Japan, manga is not for young people but also for all generation.
AVO Magazine: What makes you happy about being creative with drawing, cooking and holding workshops?
Noriko Aoki: If people glad at the result, I am really happy.
AVO Magazine: What tips would you give to those who are beginners to draw manga or making bento?
Noriko Aoki: About manga, need to study general art. About bento, think about nutritional balance of each ingredients.
AVO Magazine: What are your plans for the rest of this year? Where can we expect from you?
Noriko Aoki: At the moment, I haven’t think something new. I will update my status on my facebook page.
AVO Magazine: Do you have a message for our readers (in the Netherlands and Belgium)?
Noriko Aoki: Please buy my book the flowers blooming in the sky.
And have a nice day.