Before I had even met him, I knew he was going to be our rival. When we first started out our team, Shujin and I were in a convenience store and looked through the latest copy of Shonen Jack. The Tezuka award was given to him–a fifteen year old? Suddenly, everything I had ever drawn before seemed like a waste of space, like an eyesore. I felt my stomach drop and had this itching sort of feeling in the back of my hand, anxious to beat him. I wanted to get better, to defeat him at his own game. I also had the desire to rip up everything I had ever drawn and throw it away or burn it. I felt contempt at the praises I had received before, they were all lying. If they weren’t lying then they weren’t experienced enough to understand what’s good and what isn’t. I felt angry at myself for spending the last few years of my life playing video games and wasting my time when I could’ve honed my skills some more. I could’ve gotten better by now, way better, I could’ve had something serialized. But I didn’t. I couldn’t go back and change that no matter how hard I tried. I wish I had been the genius that Eiji was.
But then I had actually met him. I discovered he was on a level way above my own. He, who had been drawing his own life, could crap out storyboards as if it was like breathing. He was the complete opposite of me and Shujin. He definitely had quirks. He was quite an oddball. He often screeched and just seemed a little bit out of it. I was sort of jealous of that. I wanted quirks too, something to distinguish me from others, something that helped me be different and a better artist. At the time it made a lot of sense. Now I know that I have my own characteristics that make me stand out too. I don’t need to change myself, I just need to better myself. Instead of being Niizuma Eiji, I need to be Mashiro Moritaka.