Home Interview: Pom, Author of Senpai is an Otokonoko

Interview: Pom, Author of Senpai is an Otokonoko

Anime Corner had the chance to talk with mangaka Pom about his novel Senpai is an Otokonoko. The web novel which was originally began on the LINE Manga service has an upcoming anime adaptation by studio Project No. 9, slated to premiere on July 4.

The story follows Makoto Hanaoka, a second-year high school student who captivates others with his feminine appearance. When Saki Aoi, a first-year student, falls in love with Makoto she confesses her feelings, only to learn that Makoto is actually a boy who enjoys cross-dressing. Despite this revelation, Saki remains smitten and declares she will become his first love. As the story unfolds, a complex love triangle develops involving Makoto, Saki, and Ryuji Taiga, Makoto’s childhood friend, who also harbors feelings for him. The narrative explores themes of love, identity, and acceptance, as the characters navigate their emotions and relationships in a high school setting​

Q: How did you come up with the concept of your novel?
Pom: I wanted to draw female characters rather than male characters, so at first I was thinking of creating a love story between girls. But at the time, it was easier to get people talking about male-female stories, so I ended up making one of the characters someone who looked like a girl but was actually a boy. Delving into his character led me to the concept, “Let’s think about what it means to love someone regardless of their gender!”

Q: With Senpai is an Otokonoko, we see a diversity of gender identities, and many appealing and attractive characters, can you share more details about why you decided to include these characters in the story?
Pom: I didn’t really “decide” to include those characters. I initially drew Makoto as an otokonoko (cross-dresser) character, and other characters naturally appeared in the process of exploring that.

Q: What do you like the most about your main protagonist Makoto?
Pom: How he knows exactly what he likes and doesn’t feel the need to conform. Also, he’s the type where, if something goes wrong, he won’t pass the blame on others.

Q: What is your favorite scene in Senpai is an Otokonoko?
Pom: The scene at Makoto’s grandfather’s house. I love the situation of snuggling up at home on days with bad weather, so it makes me happy. I also like the scene of the dream he has there. I like stories where dreams and reality are intertwined, so it was a lot of fun to draw.

Q: Do you put some of your own character traits in your story?
Pom: There’s nothing that’s an exact match for me, but I’ll mix in aspects of myself in a kind of patchwork way. I don’t do it consciously; it’s like the traits just find their way in there.

Q: What message did you want to get through to your audience?
Pom: I don’t have a strong feeling about conveying something to the audience; as long as someone gets something from my work, that’s all that matters to me. However, through the process of creating it, I have come to think, that “you can perceive the same circumstance or subject in different ways, depending on how you think or how you interpret things.”

Q: As you said, your series is quite popular with many readers all over the world. What was the most inspiring fan reaction you got so far?
Pom: I try not to be too conscious of reader reactions, so I don’t have much to say there, but when I started drawing Senpai is an Otokonoko I started receiving more fan letters. It made me realize, “Wow, there really are people who see my work and feel something from it.”

Q: Are you excited for the anime? How involved were you in the production process?
Pom: I believe that people involved in animation know what’s best for the medium better than I do, so I will leave it to the professionals in the field as much as possible. I hope the team will enjoy it and do as they like with it. I hope that the people who are involved in this project feel happy working on it. I didn’t think about music or vocal nuances when I was drawing the manga, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it will turn out in the anime.

Q: In one of your previous interviews you said that you actually work for Joynet as an illustrator. How does that affect your creative process? Do you like the day-to-day routine?
Pom: I’m the type of person who doesn’t adapt well to changes in my environment, so I love daily routines! I think that from both a mental and physical health standpoint, I do better working for a company than working freelance. Setting a regular work schedule helps with switching my mindset, and when I get too focused on work and get tired, I can take a break and get some distance… I think doing it this way helps improve both my stories and my art.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring mangakas, authors, or illustrators who want to start their own series?

Pom: It has been 10 years since I started my career, and I have come to think that the most important thing is not how good you are at drawing, but your core values. I feel that it is very important and valuable to root yourself in something you love. I’m still in the process of creating my own values myself, but…. I think that those who pursue a career in this field are those who like to draw; your skills will increase naturally, so I think it’s okay not to worry about your skill level too much. I believe that if you have a variety of experiences and find many things you like, they will eventually come together in your art and lead you to your career.

You can follow Pom-sensei on X/Twitter for the latest updates on their work. The original comic is available on the Webtoon platform in English.

Special thanks to Blake Shuster and the team at Crunchyroll for their help in realizing the interview.
©pom, JOYNET/LINE Digital Frontier, Senpai is an Otokonoko Committee

You may also like

The comments are temporarily unavailable for maintenance.