The revelation that Saki mangaka Ritsu Kobayashi lives a “total hikikomori” lifestyle and has never even met most of the assistants, editors and animators responsible for realising the mahjong nopan empire Saki has become has come as a surprise to many.
How do you work with your assistants at present?
The people who help with preparing my manuscripts all work with me via email.
I’ve never met most of them. I also confer with my editors over email, so I hardly ever meet them either.
For the anime version I occasionally see what they have prepared over there.
I also exchange data with Aguri Igarashi [female mangaka, best known for Bamboo Blade, who draws Episode of Side A] via email.
I spend my days alone at home drawing. I go out alone and walk around some times to take reference photographs.
Kobayashi’s combination of near total hikikomori status and a successful career (not something typically associated with the hikikomori lifestyle) has actually attracted some cautious praise, although it has also been pointed out that it may represent “a highly efficient work style rather than efforts to avoid human contact.”