The Story of Iqura Sugimoto
Iqura Sugimoto author of Nana Maru San Batsu and Summer Wars is best known for her story and artwork for Variante; a story about a young girl, Hosho Aiko whose family was slaughtered, including herself. In Variante, during the autopsy of her corpse, Aiko miraculously returned to the land of the living – with the aid of a monstrous inhuman parasitic left arm replacing her left arm.
Normally writing under the penname Mao Kuon having published female-oriented works (BL, shounen-ai), she wanted a fresh start as a rookie with Variante as its serialising magazine Dragon Age is male-oriented. A series with a female protagonist instead of the typical male-focused story was one of her main reasons for switching.
Having created doujinshi (self-published fan comics/art) when she was younger she gained valuable practice in exploring her ideas on paper. The effect of this is apparent in the artwork of Variante which is very stylistic and clear. Creating such doujinshi had another important side effect – her favourite doujinshi, based on Tales of Destiny (the Tales Series RPG) started her career as a commercial manga-ka. Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are other RPGs she likes to play.
Battle scenes and technicalities pose a problem for her as she is not very familiar with them – her work as Mao Kuon certainly gave her little scope to explore these in depth. Certain battle scenes in Variante are hard to decipher as the different actions all seem to blend together making it difficult to make out each character. While maintaining a consistent level of detail, the series cannot be considered science-fiction as it lacks the necessary elements – explanations, albeit fictional, of the chimera living in Aiko for instance.
The name Iqura Sugimoto is related to salmon eggs, which is her favourite food. Born in Hokkaido, her mother would send her salmon-egg (ikura) related food products to her whenever possible. Her editor (Variante) has praised her ability to stick to a tight schedule along with her exceptional ability at Pachinko.
As her deadlines draw closer, she frequently asks her assistants to bring their favourite bands for her to listen to. She is proud fan of rock and metal music having cosplayed as a member of the Japanese heavy metal band Sex Machineguns at one of their concerts. With a full-time job serialising manga-ka and a young daughter she has little time to indulge such luxuries now.
After giving birth to her daughter she has realised that the life of each character in her stories is important and valuable – more than they were before. She believes that in other manga and the related branches of fiction some characters are killed without any apparent reason – something she wished to change as deaths in her stories will never be meaningless.