The debut of Tsukasa HÔJÔ
Tsukasa HÔJÔ was born on March 5, 1959, in Kokura, a town in the Fukuoka prefecture that has merged with others and is now called Kitakyûshû. Even as a child, he loved drawing and often practiced. However, this passion soon left him. But no matter, Tsukasa HÔJÔ found other interests. During his teenage years, he devoured novels and films, important influences that would continue throughout his career as an author. At that time, the budding artist was far removed from the world of manga, which he read occasionally.
He got closer to that world in high school when a friend suggested he join the manga club. Together, they created a fanzine presenting unfinished stories. At the time, he felt it was impossible to make money drawing manga every week and thought instead about working on his lifelong passions, painting and cinema. Tsukasa HÔJÔ went on to study design at Kyûshû Sangyo University, where he joined the fanzine MOW. It was then that he discovered that the Tezuka Prize offered one million yen to the winner, prompting him to enter the competition in 1979 to use the money to finance the production of a film. He sent Space Angel to the jury. Tsukasa HÔJÔ won second prize in the competition, entitling him to a grant of 200,000 yen, which he used to buy a projector. This event enabled him to meet Nobuhiko HORIE, who became his editorial manager and offered him the chance to make his debut in the Weekly Shônen Jump, Shûeisha's flagship magazine, which Tsukasa HÔJÔ admits he had hardly ever read at the time!
Cat's Eye, first success
Things began to take off for the author in 1981: after publishing a short work, Third Deka, based on a story by Kazehiko TOKAI, he embarked on his first flagship series, Cat's Eye. The manga was published between 1981 and 1985, spanning no fewer than 18 volumes.
In 1983, Tokyo Movie Shinsha produced an animated adaptation of the series. In France, the trio of the Chamade sisters (Kisugi in the original version), burglars as skillful as they are endearing, were soon discovered on TV screens as they set out to steal works of art that belonged to their missing father in the hope of finding him. The series is a hit in France, where it is known as Signé Cat's Eyes.
City hunter, the consecration
In 1985, Tsukasa HÔJÔ stopped drawing Cat's Eye and moved on to his most cult series, City Hunter. The two short stories before serialization were published separately in a short-story collection. The manga thus debuted in Weekly Shônen Jump magazine, where readers discovered a rather dark story with plenty of humor but as dramatic as it gets. City Hunter deals head-on with murder and drugs, and the magazine's young readership didn't particularly take to it. Tsukasa HÔJÔ decided to kill off the character of Hideyuki Makimura, Ryo Saeba's partner, to introduce Kaori, her younger sister, and an essential character right from the start of the project. As initially anticipated, the manga shifted more towards comedy, with a diversity of gags that work wonderfully between the tandem of protagonists: City Hunter took off and became the success it is today.
Studio Sunrise adapted City Hunter into an anime series in 1987, and French audiences discovered it soon enough under the name Nicky Larson, with undeniable success. City Hunter has since spawned numerous adaptations, with several animated films in the 90s or, more recently, City Hunter Private Eyes, approved by Tsukasa HÔJÔ and released in theaters in France in 2019. Live-action films have also seen the light of day, with Jing WONG's Niki Larson starring Jackie CHAN in 2002, and French director Philippe LACHEAU's Nicky Larson et le parfum de Cupidon, released in 2019, which made its way to Japan, where audiences have been able to discover it in cinemas since November 29.
In 2001, he brought back one of his cult characters: Ryo Saeba. He published Angel Heart in Comic Bunch magazine, a remake of City Hunter he did himself on his own. In 2010, the magazine ceased publication, but the 33-volume manga had not said its last word. It immediately rose from the ashes under the title Angel Heart 2nd Season in the new magazine Comic Zenon, where 16 volumes were published until 2017.
The mangaka goes behind the camera
Tsukasa HÔJÔ helps young mangaka to learn the profession. He worked for the first time as a director on the film Angel Sign, an anthology of five stories adapted from silent comics from around the world. These works were presented at the Silent Manga Audition, the largest international silent manga competition, of which the artist is a member of the jury.
See you at Japan Expo Paris from July 13 to 16, 2023 to meet Tsukasa HÔJÔ during conferences and signing sessions!