Insight: A Vicious Cycle

Hi this is Shoji again with the blog post for this week. Today I wanted to talk a little about Natsuya Uesugi’s series graphic noiz and the ideas of #MeToo and how that came through in the series and also talk about the cycle of abuse and how that can impact a person.

graphic noiz tells the story of Shiro Ijima the bestselling writer and his pursuit to make the Fissure novel into a manga with the help of indie manga artist Noiz. The two get into a a relationship and the story follows their antics as they dance around each other and creating the manga. But there is a deeper story underneath the first premise. Shiro was abused by his mentor Katsuhiro when he was 19 years old and creating the manga Dawn. This dynamic affects Shiro’s behavior and paints his relationship with Noiz. This damage that he endured affected his personality and made him the cold, hard, arrogant and angry writer he is now in the story. We will talk to Natsuya a little today and understand what drove him to include this in his tale.

Natsukoarts: This is Natsukoarts Design Studio and I am talking to Natsuya Uesugi today about MeToo and the character Shiro Ijima from graphic noiz. Welcome Natsuya.

Natsuya: Thanks for having me.

Natsukoarts: So I wanted to get your ideas about the whole MeToo movement and what it means to you. I know in the past you told me that it was something that you resonated with and I wanted to learn more about why you made Shiro an abuse victim in the story graphic noiz.

Natsuya: Yes, it was important that I shed light on the trauma of sexual abuse especially in light of MeToo which I have been following. It was important for me to bring Shiro into the dialogue. Even though this is a work of fiction graphic noiz there are parts of the story that are based in reality and I will not tell you which parts but they are important to understand as the story progresses. I will not get too deep into my history but Shiro resonates on a deep level with my experiences.

Natsukoarts: That is interesting. Tell me a little about Shiro’s experience in the story.

Natsuya: Shiro was a manga artist in Japan for the manga series Dawn which was his first published writing and art. He had a mentor named Katsuhiro Watanabe who took him under his wing and helped him get the manga published. All the time this was going on Katsuhiro was manipulating Shiro and using him as well as sexually abusing him. This was a disaster for Shiro’s emotional health and stunted him as well as made him lose a publishing contract for Dawn once the abuse became pervasive. It virtually ruined Shiro’s career at the time he was 19 years old.

Natsukoarts: Why did you want to write about abuse in the story and how did it shape Shiro’s personality?

Natsuya: Shiro is a hard arse most of the time and arrogant. He uses this to push people away and keep them at arm’s length so he does not get hurt. He trusted Katsuhiro totally and he was devastated by his mentor. He does not want that to happen again so he shields himself behind a hard exterior and hides behind his money. But deep down Shiro is lonely and has been severely damaged by Katsuhiro.

Natsukoarts: So what about the MeToo movement inspired you?

Natsuya: I wrote graphic noiz before MeToo came out so that was not the driver for the story. The backstory for Shiro with Katsuhiro abusing him has a root into my past and I wanted to explore that a little bit. I won’t get into it here but it was important that I show Shiro’s story and how it shaped his personality. Shiro is damaged. He hides behind an arrogant exterior but inside he is timid and shy and still hurt by what Katsuhiro did to him. This does not just “go away” it has implications to every day life and I wanted to show how it affected Shiro even though he is a successful writer with multiple award winning books.

Natsukoarts: So what about abuse did you want to highlight?

Natsuya: I wanted to talk about how the manipulation and lies and how this affects the personality and does not just stop once the abuse stops. It has a profound effect on how the abuse victim carries themselves in life and interacts with the world. Shiro hiding behind his writing is one of the ways he stays outside the world. He can write about characters while keeping himself safe from social interactions by not engaging in them for fear of getting burned.

Natsukoarts: What was your inspiration behind Shiro? I know that is a more personal question but you know I am going to pry…

Natsuya: Well, I guess I will get into it a little bit. I had my own experience with abuse with my piano teacher when I was growing up. It shaped my personality and caused me harm. I base Katsuhiro on that experience a little bit. I don’t want to go into it any more than that.

Natsukoarts: What do you think about MeToo?

Natsuya: I am glad those who have experienced abuse have been able to come out and show their voice and get recognition. We should not hide. Those who perpetrate abuse should be held accountable.

Natsukoarts: I agree. What do you want to send as the message using graphic noiz as the backdrop and Shiro?

Natsuya: I want to say to those who have been abused that you are not alone and should speak out against those that abused you and should not be silent. We need to have more stories out there about those that have been through this situation and survived.

Natsukoarts: Leave me with a few thoughts before I wrap up on this topic.

Natsuya: Never let your abuser have the power. Speak out and get help for you. The abuser is wrong no matter what they say. I try to portray this in graphic noiz and Shiro is just one voice in this journey.

Natsukoarts: Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your inputs.

Natsuya has a good point about not letting the abuser win. Abuse can take many forms, sexual abuse being one of the more damaging though physical abuse and battery are just as important to call out. The abuser is never right though they may use manipulation and projection to blame their victim and make them feel as if they caused the abuse or are the reason for it. This is not true, the abuser is the one that is trying to make themselves feel better by being abusive and holding power over another. This is never right. Reach out and take care of yourself. Know that you are worth it. You are beautiful.