Japan Expo Paris - July 11-14, 2024
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Ken Akamatsu

There is hardly a more eclectic figure than Ken Akamatsu. Successful mangaka who redefined the genre of romantic comedies, creator of an online manga reading platform, and now a senator in the Japanese House of Councillors. We have the pleasure to welcome him as a guest at Japan Expo!

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Ken Akamatsu, a Jack-of-all-trades

Ken Akamatsu is born on July 5, 1968, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, but moves from city to city during his youth because of his father's job. While entering middle school, Ken Akamatsu starts watching the TV program Shumi Kouza Maicon Nyûmon (Hobby Lesson: Introduction to Microcomputers). He grows a passion for PCs and learns to code by himself. In high school, armed with his PC-8001 mk2, he develops an Action RPG that gets published by a software company. The creative process fascinates him, and he becomes passionate about storytelling: cinema, anime, manga, novels... he starts to analyze any way a story can be told. He produces an 8mm short film and a few short anime at university but does not see a future in these fields. He published several doujinshi at Comiket, and in his eyes, the Eldorado is in manga. When he leaves university, he interviews to become a publisher and, at the same time, wins the Weekly Shônen Magazine's Newcomer Manga Award. The slightly lewd stories full of cute girls Ken Akamatsu draws are exactly what the magazine is looking for to face its competition. The chief editor of Shônen Magazine convinces him to become a mangaka and not an editor and offers him to create a work where his love for computers would marry his talent to draw girls: thus begins the serialization of his first manga A.I. Love You.

In 1998, begins the serialization of Love Hina, a series that had a massive impact on the romantic comedy genre. This series, which has 20 million copies in circulation in Japan to date, is such a success that it has completely changed the image of Weekly Shônen Magazine, whose romantic comedies, including a large cast of girls all with different personalities, are now an integral part of its identity. The manga is also a forerunner through the important use of digital tools for its production to facilitate the creative process. The anime adaptation is also successful, and sales of DVDs and CDs, as well as the creation of a website, pioneered a culture of promotion for later animated works.

For his next work, the editors ask Ken Akamatsu to create a work similar to Love Hina, but he wants to work on another genre: battle manga. The result of this crossbreed is Negima! Magister Negi Magi, where schoolboy romances alternate with magical martial arts tournaments.

Authors' Rights Advocacy

In 2010, he creates J-Comi: an online manga publishing platform for out-of-print titles. It is the result of multiple frustrations: on the one hand, caused by readers' comments saying they discovered Love Hina by buying second-hand volumes or on pirate sites, on the other hand by his inability to find titles he wants to read. His solution? To offer a more convenient option that readers would favor, a 100% free online reading platform.

In 2022 Ken Akamatsu was elected as a senator for the Liberal Democratic Party in the House of Councillors of Japan, making him the first mangaka to become a member of the government. As a senator, Ken Akamatsu continues to defend the causes that were close to his heart as an activist, mainly the protection of authors and freedom of expression.

See you at Japan Expo Paris from July 13 to 16, 2023, to meet Ken Akamatsu during his conferences and signing sessions!