Attack On Titan | Who is Hajime Isayama?
From a small town dreamer to a global sensation, follow the remarkable journey of Hajime Isayama, creator of the iconic manga "Attack on Titan!"
Hajime Isayama is a Japanese manga artist known for creating one of the most acclaimed manga in the past decade – Attack on Titan. This humble man has done what many kids in Japan dream about, become a mangaka. But he went beyond that - he became one of the best.
This article will cover Hajime Isayama’s journey of reaching the highest of the highs in the manga industry and becoming a worldwide sensation.
Hajime Isayama's Early Life
It was a beautiful day towards the end of the summer of 1986 when on the 29th of August that year Hajime Isayama, one of the best mangaka ever, was born. He grew up in Hita, which is a very humble and small town in the Oita Prefecture in Japan. A beautiful town surrounded by mountains that would later be one of the inspirations for Attack on Titan.
Being a manga artist in Japan is something many kids dream about, and Hajime was not too different. Hajime Isayama’s story of becoming a famous mangaka began when he was in elementary school. He watched his friends draw manga in school, and though he enjoyed watching, he believed he lacked the skills to draw manga himself.
However, this dream persisted throughout the years and Hajime has continued to practice and improve his manga drawings. In an interview for Jounetsu Tairiku, his father explained how he found Isayama’s drawings and according to him, they were so bad that he couldn’t support his son in pursuing this career. He simply didn’t believe that Hajime could become a mangaka.
The Development of Hajime Isayama’s Career
Isayama’s school friends who were passionate about manga stopped drawing to focus on their adult lives. Hajime, however, couldn’t live a typical adult life and was determined to make a living in the manga business.
He started to submit his work to contests when he was in high school. After he finished high school, he joined a manga designing school called Kyushu Designer Gakuen to learn more about this field and improve his drawing skills.
While this school was close to his town, Hajime knew that if he wanted to become a big name in the industry he had to move to a bigger city. And so, in 2006 when he was 20 years old, he did just that. He moved to Tokyo to work in an internet cafe, bringing him closer to both manga publishers and fans.
That year, Isayama sent his first short Attack on Titan manga to apply for the Magazine Grand Prix, a competition held by a publishing company called Kodansha Ltd. They liked his work and awarded the young mangaka with the Fine Work award.
The Chief Editor of Kodansha gave his praise saying, "When he was 19 years old, he brought the manga and I was so impressed by this image. Although the level of drawing wasn’t extraordinary I could feel him pouring his soul into his work from this image."
Swimming With the Big Fish
After making his first steps into the manga world, Hajime Isayama submitted his work to Weekly Shonen Jump but was denied for being too dark and mature.
This well-known publishing company, famous for titles like One Piece and Naruto, would be a dream come true for Hajime Isayama if he could work for them. They proposed changes to fit the Shonen style, but Isayama chose to remain authentic and published his work in Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine instead.
A year before releasing Attack on Titan, Hajime Isayama got recognition by Weekly Shonen Magazine Freshman Manga for Hearts Break One and Orz. Being recognized as a promising talent in the manga industry, he began to write history; one of the biggest manga of all time started its serialization - Attack on Titan.
Attack on Titan was released in 2009 in Basatsu Shonen Magazine. Isayama continued to receive many awards for this piece of work, he started getting worldwide praise and his popular manga became one of the most-watched anime in the entire world. Sorry Isayama's Father, but you were wrong.
Hajime Isayama’s Inspirations For Writing Attack on Titan
The inspirations behind Attack on Titan date way back to Isayama’s childhood and his time spent in the city of Hita. Hajime said that since he was younger he had little self-confidence and felt like he was behind in everything. This, along with the goal of becoming a mangaka, fueled his desire to break free and venture into the world beyond.
Hita, a quaint and less-than-modern town nestled amidst mountains, provided the backdrop. Hajime infused his longing to depart, coupled with the town's ambiance, and projected them into Attack on Titan through the walls of Paradis Island and Eren’s dream of being free.
Next, the creation of human-eating creatures was inspired by “Jurassic World” and a manga called “Hell Teacher Nube”. This was a popular manga from when Haijime was growing up, which featured human-eating monsters. He found the monsters both terrifying and fascinating. Both “Jurassic World” and “Hell Teacher Nube” share the same concept which he later decided to use in his own work.
Game of Thrones' Influence on Attack on Titan
Hajime Isayama is a big fan of George R.R. Martin’s worldwide sensation, Game of Thrones. While he didn’t read the books, at the time when he was interviewed, Hajime said that he watched the entire 6 seasons of the TV Show and became a huge fan.
Game of Thrones’ influence on Attack on Titan may not be evident at first glance. However, there are some scenes and characters in both worlds that the fans found very similar. Some of these are:
“Children of the Forest”, which is the title of the 111th chapter of Attack on Titan may have gotten that name because of Game of Thrones’ Children of the Forest.
There are a lot of Titans that share a resemblance with characters from Game of Thrones. Especially in Chapter 96.
In Chapter 110, in a flashback scene, Zeke transformed many people into Titans and there was one Titan who looked way too similiar to Joeffry Baratheon to be a coincidence.
Isayama continued to share his admiration for the series in many interviews in the following years. The degree to which he loves the TV Show, and have emphasized his love of it, gives significant merit to this theory. The cameo drawings are a fun way of showing love for another person’s work - he probably couldn’t resist doing it.
From Zero to Hero: Final Thoughts on Hajime Isayama
Living in such a small town as Hita didn’t offer many opportunities for becoming a manga artist in Japan. Despite this and all the other challenges he had to face, the young boy, Hajime Isayama, remained resolute in his dreams and he didn’t even think about giving up on them.
Hajime Isayama's life story stands as a powerful illustration of the adage that perseverance pays off - to persist until success is achieved. While this sentiment might sound clichéd, he accomplished what countless others attempted and failed; a significant portion of his success can be attributed to his unwavering perseverance.
He didn’t care what his father or the publishing companies thought about his work. Hajime only cared about what he believed in and he had a clear vision of what he wanted to create.
Now at the top, Hajime Isayama has set the standards for many new mangaka who will look up to him and Attack on Titan as a huge inspiration.
In an interview for Jonetsu Tairiku, the author gave the fans some hope for an upcoming manga with an unclear answer, saying:
"Yes, I do. But…I don’t know until I actually start drawing it…I think the possibility for me to not draw a new work is quite high. A long time ago, I didn’t know if I had the resolve to live a life like this…However, a lot of things happened, and I talked to many others, then I knew I wanted to draw manga.“
What sets Hajime Isayama apart from other mangaka?+
Hajime Isayama's journey stands as a testament to persistence, transforming him from a small-town dreamer to a globally recognized mangaka.
Where did Hajime Isayama grow up?+
Isayama was born in Hita, a modest town in Japan's Oita Prefecture, surrounded by mountains that would inspire his work.
How did Hajime Isayama start in manga?+
He began as an elementary school student watching friends draw manga. Over time, his passion grew, despite initial doubts about his skills.
What challenges did Hajime Isayama face early in his career?+
His early drawings faced criticism, yet he continued to hone his craft. Isayama persevered until his works were recogized.
Are there references to Game of Thrones in Attack on Titan?+
There are many similarities in the show. For example, "Children of the Forest" is a chapter title (a clear nod to Game of Thrones), there are Titan resemblances to characters, and even a possible Joffrey Baratheon Titan in Attack on Titan.
How did Hajime Isayama progress through his career?+
Hajime Isayama advanced by entering contests, attending manga school, and relocating to Tokyo. He gained recognition, won awards, and ultimately birthed the global phenomenon "Attack on Titan."
What inspired Attack on Titan's setting and its themes?+
Hita's mountains and Isayama's childhood struggles inspired Attack on Titan's setting. Influences like "Jurassic World" and "Hell Teacher Nube" shaped its themes of fear and fascination.