ICv2 had an opportunity to sit down with famed manga-ka Hiroyuki Takei at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about his collaboration with Stan Lee on Ultimo, which just launched in the U.S. in Shonen Jump (see “Lee and Takei’s ‘Ultimo’).


Do you feel Ultimo has more of a Japanese or more of an American sensibility?

It’s only been a short amount of time since the series began so I cannot quite say which one is coming out stronger.


What has the response been from Japanese audiences in terms of sales or popularity?

In the Japanese comics system in each magazine there’s actually a reader poll and readers decide which one is their favorite title.  Ultimo is usually on the top tier. In terms of the  graphic novel the very first volume of Ultimo came out in Japan on July 4th and within three days there has been a reprint request.  So far, a running start.


So far there only has been one volume of Ultimo.  It’s difficult to say because so far the feedback is only from the readers   If the series becomes a movie or something then I will really be able to know.


How has the Japanese audience responded to the fact that Stan Lee is involved?

By their nature the Japanese comic audience usually prefers to stick with the title instead of the creator.  People will be really excited about Spider-Man and Iron Man but it’s more for the property or the title and not so much on the name value of Mr. Stan Lee.  


How are the character designs for Ultimo different from what’s being done in American comics and from what you’ve done in your previous manga work?

In terms of Ultimo the motif of the series is very unique even compared with my own work in the past and also in the American comics industry.  Motif comes first and then the character design gets determined.  In terms of the influences, instead of saying the influence was from American comics, it was more so influenced by the original concept of Mr. Stan Lee.  So it’s slightly different.


Why do you think that superheroes are not common at all in manga?  They’re so popular here.

It must be in the difference between the tribe who grew up on agriculture vs. hunting.


For our interview with Stan Lee on Ultimo, click here.