What is Gensakusha (原作者)?
A gensakusha is the scriptwriter for manga. Typically, a mangaka both writes and draws their own manga series. But not all mangaka can handle both tasks simultaneously. Some lack drawing skills, while others are not good at storyboarding. The mangaka is responsible for the manga’s scenario, storyboard, composition, and art. Taking all those tasks is monumental, especially with tight deadlines. There are instances where the plot scenario and art have separate tasks. A mangaka can collaborate with a gensakusha or the other way around. The gensakusha gives the manga artist a sample text or sketches to work with. The other way would be the manga artist sending the designs and the gensakusha building the manga’s structure.
The gensakusha writes the manga’s scenario while following the mangaka’s original plans. The manga artist influences the flow of the manga’s dialogs. The spaces in manga limit speeches from the characters. However, the manga artist still follows what is written on the gensakusha’s storyboard. A gensakusha’s involvement depends on the mangaka. Their job varies with other artists and assistants working in the manga series. The others would deal with the manga’s plot, script, storyboard composition, lettering, and marketing. The job of a gensakusha is similar to a film screenwriter. They determine the manga’s perspective, character settings, and plot.
There are successful gensakusha in the manga industry. They have experience working with popular artists. For instance, the series Death Note and Bakuman have Obata Takeshi as the artist and Ohba Tsugumi as the writer. Another famous gensakusha is Okamura Yoshiyuki, a.k.a. Buronson and Fumimura Sho. Buronson worked with talented manga artists such as Hiramatsu Shinji, Hara Tetsuo, and Ikegami Ryoichi. He worked as a writer for classic manga like Doberman Deka, Fist of the North Star, and Heat.
Gensakusha (原作者) is composed of 3 kanji: 原 gen or original, 作 saku or create, and sha 者 or a person of mastery and traditional authorship. It roughly translates as the original author of the manga.
A Brief History
In the early days of the manga industry, it is expected that a mangaka can both write stories and draw artworks. The demand for manga also increased as years passed by. This puts tremendous pressure on the mangaka. Manga publishers decided to adapt the workflow of television and movie production companies. When gensakusha was introduced in the manga industry, the mangaka’s load lightened. The division of labor helped the mangaka to focus more on the artwork. Publishers hired several assistants to draw pages. Then they looked for professional gensakusha to create the storyboard. Most gensakusha are assistants of the mangaka. Since then, gensakusha has become a widely recognized profession in the manga industry.
The role of a gensakusha is important in the manga industry. They can approve everything about their manga series. They can decide on the manga’s overall structure. This kind of dynamics between the artist and the writer is common in Japanese manga or anime production. Since the beginning of the manga industry, the number of gensakusha has increased. They eventually direct the manga series as the manga artist follows their storyboards. A manga series produced by a team of an artist and a gensakusha have interesting results. There are some tasks where a single person can’t complete. The result is usually impressive as two creatives combine their works.
原作者, Pixiv Encyclopedia, https://dic.pixiv.net/a/原作者, Retrieved 10 April 2021
Entry Details for 原作者, Tanoshii Japanese, https://www.tanoshiijapanese.com/dictionary/entry_details.cfm?entry_id=24895, Retrieved 10 April 2021
isuzu76, Mangaka, https://nihonmangaworld.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/mangaka/, 6 August 2013, Retrieved 10 April 2021
漫画原作者, ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/漫画原作者 , Retrieved 10 April 2021
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