Famous manga artist, Kōji Ōishi revealed that playing Elden Ring made him think about overworking in the manga industry and has opened the conversation about overworking.
As countries have recovered or continued to combat the difficulties of the pandemic, the stresses of life have not been simple or easy. This week (Monday, March 14, 2022), the creator of the Lycopene the Tomatoy Poodle (Tomtatoipu no Rikopin) manga, Kōji Ōishi announced that they would be on hiatus with the controversial claim they posted on Twitter: “I definitely wasn’t playing the hit game Elden Ring.” His comment was made jokingly, but the trend of overworking has recently been talked about more constantly in the media due to many circumstances.
Ōishi explained how the life of a mangaka (manga artist) is always a struggle, which is similar to how a Tarnished person is in Elden Ring. “When I manage to land an attack on the enemy, I have a tendency to get carried away, thinking, ‘I might be able to land one more hit.‘ But then I’d be the one taking damage. It’s said to be a difficult game, but the key to victory is watching your opponent carefully and not taking on more than you can chew.”
The stigma around a mangaka’s life as being one that a person sacrifices their sleep and devotes their time to their serialization deadlines of their manga are real. Ōishi expanded that “it is not uncommon for manga artists to sully their manuscripts with their own blood and for their assistants to white it out” and added that the pandemic situation has given him the opportunity to shed light on “the prevailing trend of romanticizing overwork.”
While the manga industry has suffered from many artists burning out, the voice acting industry for the anime industry have recently reported low pay from Crunchyroll and their voice actors. Voice actress Sara Secora (SMITE, Log Horizon) said in a tweet, “Anime companies, specifically Funimation/Crunchyroll, are owned by a major corporation like Sony. They easily have the funds to allow their actors to make a living wage, yet they are not hard pushed to do so because so many actors are willing to take lowball rates.”
Much of Secora’s argument, along with fellow voice actors Michael Schwalbe (Boruto) and Stephanie Sheh (Naruto, Bleach), elaborated how the toll on their voices can be damaging—especially taking into account the yelling in anime like Dragon Ball Z. Even Japanese voice actors like Atsuko Enomoto (Pokémon, Detective Conan) had voiced their concerns on Twitter as well that since 1998.
While Ōishi and the voice actors’ claims may seem to be two different issues, the health and safety of both the manga and anime industry seems to have been a rising concern in recent years. He stressed that a healthy body helps provide a healthy spirit, and that pushing oneself too hard would more likely make things more inefficient. This is like when I tried to beat an Elden Ring boss repeatedly with no sleep and my belly grumbling.
Ōishi added how having free time as a mangaka had been near to impossible, “My pure feelings towards my readers are so strong that I spend so much time on trial and error and go overboard. I hope you can think of my hiatuses as something along those lines.” While Ōishi’s view of the manga industry could be juxtaposed to Elden Ring‘s plot, it could also be related to the problems with the video game industry.
Recent controversies have been under the spotlight and pushes for unions have been formed in big companies like Activision Blizzard and Raven Software. It has begged the question, will unionization be the new wave for these hard-working, undervalued workers in the industry, or will the industry continue to treat their workers like the Tarnished in Elden Ring?