Manga Industry Ripples
New services, which are part of a recent adoption of AI technology in a variety of fields allow anyone to create high-quality pictures. AI eliminates the need for advanced knowledge. Along with the hopes that this democratization will bring, there is also fear of creators losing jobs and issues related to copiesright.
The suspicion that illustrators were using AI generated images has sparked fierce online debate and attacks.
What do Japan’s manga creators have to say about this issue, in which ideas about artists’ respect are mixed up with the possibility of revolution? I would like to share some of their opinions in this article.
Morita Takashi: “AI images are of high quality.” Some people publish amazing works. Diamonds are rare and valuable, so if they are made easily, their value will plummet. It must have been difficult for analog artists when digital art became mainstream. It must have been the same thing even more than a decade ago when photography and films first appeared.”
Morita’s manga, a reimagining by Morita of the legendary Lupin who appeared first in books written by Maurice Leblanc in France, has been a huge hit since its release in France last year. The French translation sold over 100,000 copies as of December 2022. The series has sold 400,000 copies worldwide. It is currently publishing a story based on Leblanc’s 813.
Omar Sy has been interviewed about Morita Takashi’s Lupin manga. ((c Morita Takashi).
Morita says: “Technological advancement has enabled many people to do what only a small number of people were able to do previously.”
The emergence of new technology has had a profound impact on the world of creativity. The National Diet Library’s digital archives, for example, make it easy to find materials that once would have taken a lot of time and money to collect. Digital technology has made it possible for me to write articles that I would never have been able to publish in another era. In music, and in other fields, the same phenomenon is evident.
Anyone will be able, with AI image generation to turn their knowledge and experience into manga. It will definitely expand visual expression. Morita says, “I’ve tried out many different ways to use AI and I must admit that I feel it’s less limited than I anticipated.” “Although, I’m only referring to its current stage.”
AI is limited by the fundamental question of what expression is. AI images are of a very high technical level. Is technique enough to touch people’s heart? The important thing, however, is not the method of creation, but the purpose. Morita believes that people are required to create a purpose. He also enjoys the works where he can feel the presence of whomever is drawing them.
Morita was invited in March 2023 to France where he took part in numerous interviews. Morita was asked, “Why as a Japanese manga writer, do you feel such an emotional attachment to Lupin?”
AI is a tool that can only be used to create outputs based on images already in existence. The output is heavily influenced by chance, but the creator’s personality still comes through. The user has to repeat the procedure until they get what they want.
I told Morita that Sherlock Holmes, Lupin’s British competitor, is still marked almost like a royal endorsement. Lupin is also a revolutionary hero from France and a rebel who opposes the privileged classes.
Morita laughs, “So I must support the democratization expression.” “Joking apart, I have personally benefited from many types of technologies. It’s not fair to dismiss a new technology because it is in my territory. I believe the map of the sector will be redrawn and I hope that many people, myself included, will apply AI to create a richer, more diverse world.
What about the concern that AI could steal jobs from creators? An editor who works at a major publisher of manga says: “I don’t think it will affect people working as professionals with a strong fanbase.”
This veteran editor has been involved in Comic Market for many years, where the emphasis is on self-published work. He is a producer on several hits that were adapted into animation. Here he is anonymous as his opinions do not reflect his company, nor his editorial team.
He shares the same attitude as Morita. The editor said that the AI-created artworks he saw at Comiket were extremely high-level and, if it had been 10 years ago, he would have asked to be introduced to this artist.
The ultimate goal for professional manga artists, however, is to create pictures that no one has ever seen before. AI art on the other has a built-in sense of déjà vu. While it’s a great resource, it’ll take more time for it to reach the hearts of people and replace working creators.