Torikasa filming story
I've been wanting to talk about my process for drawing this comic for a while now, and this blog felt like the perfect place to do it! Besides process stuff and background thoughts on each scene, though, I also have a couple of other half-drawn comics I wanted to show, because I'm still not sure if I'll finish them or not.
I'll divide this by sections for each art post I've made about it, so here goes an index:
Concept poster for the movie, whose title I still haven't decided.
I really enjoy all the enstars events about acting plays and recording movies and dramas (and I of course loved Togenkyo!) because the whole idea of characters acting out different is super fun to me! I'm a huge fan of the fake-dating trope too, and this is kind of adjacent to it. Since it's something I really like, it was a matter of time til I wrote something with it
This comic (my longest one to date!) actually started with this drawing:
link to tumblr
On tumblr, I tagged it as "#theyre recording a drama together and tori was cast as the heroine because of his togenkyo role#and tsukasa isn't too happy with it at first But...........#it would be a scene like. something something who wants such a bratty and insincere heroine #and then suddenly. he does see something sincere #ive been thinking abt tsukasa who's really excited about getting a knightly role in a movie #and then he finds out Who the heroine is #and oh with these settings there's always the Dilemma with the romance scenes i love thinking about those"
I'd say about a third of this story is the "fake dating" part. The second crucial third is also my love for the concept of "a heroine". It's more expanded on in the following posts so I won't go too deep into that yet, but it's been here since the very beginning of the story! Tori's role in the aforementioned Togenkyo event (and his card, which is in fact named Becoming the Heroine) was a big inspiration for this.
1: Acting can be difficult in more ways than expected
The first actual installment of the story directly links with that first drawing. The first page is set before it and explains the setting a bit: they're recording a movie that has some romance scenes, and Tsukasa is having a hard time with it. Then, some time after that something happens and Tsukasa suddenly becomes very good at acting. Tori doesn't realize what happened, but we will see Tsukasa's PoV on it later.
I've never thought too hard about the plot of the movie. What I had in mind was something similar to Enchanted (2007) but lower quality. I said "the bad guy" here but I still have no clue who that is supposed to be (maybe some kind of time-travelling evil warlock?) but I guessed it didn't matter much, because that was not the point of this comic at all. Later on, though, I regretted a bit not thinking it that much, because it would have been cool if I had introduced other characters since the beginning and have some other familiar faces play roles like a friend of Tori's in-universe or the aforementioned bad guy.
For that reason, I never thought about the context of that quasi-proposal scene that they're recording in this comic either, I just wanted to draw a kneeling scene like that, because I really like them. The vague original idea was that it should be a scene near the end where the main character is faced with the classic isekai conflict of whether to return to their world or not. The "wait for me" that Tsukasa alludes to should then be something like "I'm leaving, but wait because I will find a way to come back here after that too", but I wrote it while having in mind that typical romance setting where a character has to go away somewhere else and the other is asked to wait for them. This happened, for example, in Whisper of the heart (1995) and Our love was always 10 centimeters apart (2017), which I found rather stupid, so I wanted it to not be like that.
I have this really long note in my phone where I write down ideas for comics and drawings as soon as they occur to me, with varying degrees of detail, and I resort to them when I don't know what to write (both this story and this blog entry were written on my notes app first!). So, before this comic was written there was a note that read "scene of making someone look at you and they're blushing and that makes you blush too", which I probably wrote down after reading the hundredth romance manga where something like that happened. I thought something like that could fit the comic's theme, so I added it! As an extra, that original note continued with "Tsukasa is about to leave, but Tori grabs his arm and tells him to take responsibility!" which is another romance manga classic.
2: What makes a good heroine?
For this second comic, I wanted to show a bit more of Tsukasa's point of view, and expanded on that first image that started this idea. It then shows what happened in the time between the first and second page of the first comic, what was it that changed Tsukasa's mind on Tori's adequacy for the role, and allowed him to act properly.
As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy the concept of heroine, a female main character who is kind-hearted and strong, even if she has a rough exterior.
The panel where Tsukasa lists the traits of a heroine mentions two main ones: their strength and their honesty.
Strength in this context is not about physical strength but will to reach one's goals without giving up. For the two first drawings there I wanted to show Tori working hard to become an idol. The smaller drawing was a self-reference to this Requiem comic from a while ago, while for the other one I used the training scenes in Watashi, Idol Sengen as reference. It's a really fun song, and its general vibe and lyrics rather remind me of Tori! Finally, the third drawing is Tori's Jingle Bells unbloomed CG. It's one of the most important Tori events, and I thought it would be a good representation of a difficulty Tori has successfully overcome.
The heroine's conflict with honesty is one of my favorite common themes in manga; there's always a line or two about not being able to be honest with one's feelings, the contrast between what she says out loud and what she's truly feeling, and then the moment in which she is sincere. For this, though, I didn't go down the romance route that much. Instead, I redrew Tori's EP:Link 3*, to represent the scene where he asks Wataru to stay with fine, by Eichi's side. It's one of my favorite moments. It really shows Tori's growth as a whole and I thought an emotionally-charged scene such as that was perfect to convey that sincere aspect of Tori's personality.
The scene then cuts to Tori and Tsukasa getting back home from school. Tori answers what he thinks of his role. It was something I realized after the first comic, that the role I had set for Tori was quite similar to Togenkyo's heroine, who gave shelter to the protagonist for a while. It felt fitting still, to follow a type-cast for Tori, and for him to be somewhat against it yet resigned, kind of like he was in Togenkyo. Tori's final line is of course a line from his first solo song, Little Little Prince Star. I originally considered referencing Watashi, Idol Sengen for this too, with the line as long as people remember my name but decided the solo was a better choice. Finally, the last two panels are once again from the quasi-proposal movie scene from the previous comic.
3: And then they never talked about it again
This third comic is longer than the other two and has a more sequential story that leaves some things unresolved.
Before anything else, I want to mention the lovely fic that Tort wrote based on this part. It's very cute, and does an excellent job conveying their feelings, so please check it out! It's fantastic ♥
Fandom: Ensemble Stars! (Video Game)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Himemiya Touri/Suou Tsukasa
Characters: Himemiya Touri, Suou Tsukasa
Additional Tags: Inspired by Fanart, Unreliable Narrator, Awkward Kissing, Yuzuru appears briefly, The awkward kissing turns into actual kissing and then BOOM, Making out to release your pent up feelings, Unresolved Romantic Tension
"People on TV kiss all the time, and that doesn't mean they have to get married.~ Besides, we barely get along as it is, I'm surprised we've come this far already. There's no need to complicate it even more by overthinking this little detail."
Tsukasa considers me for a moment, those lavender eyes hiding behind his short eyelashes, and in that moment I can't tell what he's thinking at all. I know I've said before we don't get along, but the truth is, during the filmings for this movie it's been easier than ever to pretend as if we can behave normally to each other.
"...I suppose you're right, Tori-kun. There is no such thing as the threat of feelings, not between the two of us."
inspired by a lovely ToriKasa comic by @llirisdemar on Twitter.
Twitter's image limit is one of my greatest enemies and I tend to stress over planning things that need more than 4 images. It's important to know where is the best place to space it into 2 tweets to get people to actually click on the thread to read the entire thing. Putting some sort of "cliffhanger" usually does the trick, but for this one I just hoped the beginning was compelling enough, because I was rather confident that the second half could do well on its own too. I decided to use the format to divide the chapter in two parts: the first two pages serve as an introduction and the next three are a single scene. Earlier in the planning stage, though, I considered making it even longer: I had half an idea in mind where they'd ask Wataru for acting tips and he'd make them go on a date. But I decided that would be a bit too long, and overlapped with other things I wanted to draw too, so it's an idea you might still see in the future, but somewhat reworked.
In Togenkyo, the script was updated several times to fit the actors' personalities as they were filming, because it wasn't a very high-budget production (for example, since Eichi turned out to be “surprisingly” good at his villain role, they gave him more lines). I thought that would be a nice thing to implement here too, to show that they had clearly improved at the romance scenes, and everyone around them could tell. The comic begins wit a summary of some movie scenes. For the first one I imagined a cooking scene, where Tori was supposed to be tying Tsukasa's apron, while trying to make sure he didn't make too much of a mess in the kitchen. The actual drawing, though, ended up with an unclear silhouette and you can't really tell what he's doing, but I liked the ambiguity of it (hugs are also great!), so I left it as is. Then, there is the movie's final scene. In the original pre-Tori-intervention script, he was supposed to wait until Tsukasa showed up for their date (in a way, it was still a hero-rescues-princess scene), but Tsukasa is late because he is fighting the villain. However, what ends up happening is that Tori takes action, via throwing his shoe at the villain's head, and actually rescuing Tsukasa himself. The shoe's heel breaks, so Tsukasa carries him back home.
I set some limits for myself while drawing this (no shading or too much coloring for example, just enough so that the drawings somewhat stand out in a social media feed) because I knew I wouldn't finish anything if the style was too complex. For that reason too I mostly avoided backgrounds and left the setting up to interpretation, but sometimes it really felt necessary to know where was a scene happening, and I feel like some parts really could've used more backgrounds so I kind of regret it now. I've been toying with the idea of coloring this more in the future and adding those backgrounds (maybe release a PDF?) but I'm not sure yet. The vagueness in setting, though, sometimes led to problems due to a lack of planning. This was one of those times.
In my first idea, this whole kiss rehearsal scene was going to happen on the film set itself, and they were going to sit in a small bench with no backrest. Soon afterwards, I realized there was no way they'd make out in public, so I drew the backgrounds to be a dressing room. But of course, the dressing room wouldn't have a bench like what I had thought at first, it should be a couch, so I had to redraw the panels accordingly to make it clear that it was one, even if it wasn't very visible in the third page. But it couldn't be a couch with a too-tall backrest, or they wouldn't be able to see Yuzuru when he walked in. At first they were going to be in a more scandalous pose too, with clearer silhouettes, but then it would really have been covered by the backrest, so I kind of neglected their poses in the end. Now maybe I would have arrived to a different solution (make it so the door Yuzuru walks through is directly in front of them? have a longer build-up of Yuzuru walking in?) but I think this got the feelings across well enough.
4: Opening night
The fourth (and maybe final) comic took me ages to plan and finish, it went pretty much like the "It's so over" graph.
I had the idea for the first page more or less clear as soon as I finished the previous comic, and even though the panel distribution was a bit different, it pretty much stayed the same as that first concept. Almost everything else about this comic, however, has changed a bunch with time.
Before this one, I had two other comics planned.
The first one was going to be about Tori waiting for Tsukasa to call him, set shortly after their make-out rehearsal.
The caption for the prior comic, and then they never talked about it again, is a pretty strong sentence. I felt a bit bad about it and considered taking it back, make them talk before the opening night and not stretch the awkward tension that much, but decided to stick to it in the end because I felt the movie's premiere was the best place to conclude what started with it.
This comic would have had Tori fussing over his phone in case Tsukasa called him, and some more exploration of their families' situations, because I'm really interested in their enemies-to-lovers Romeo and Juliet setting (I even considered getting Wataru into the story too! I want to see his opinions on torikasa).
This comic was condensed into those panels from Tori's conversation with Hajime, because I felt like at least some insight into Tori's feelings was necessary, given that the final comic was mostly his pov.
The second one was Tsukasa's side of things, and it unfortunately ended up completely discarded.
This one would have started with the already-mostly-finished page shown here, and the text in the bottom-right corner would have gone to a second page (that would've shown a flashback of them making out again).
For this one I had much fewer ideas, which is why I discarded it in the end, but I really wanted to show that first page because I found it funny, and it was the main thing that inspired me to write this post here. I wanted Tsukasa to consider his next action here, but I didn't really know how he should do it.
At one point, since I did more or less have a clear conclusion for Tori's, I was about to put them together for a ~5 page comic, but I really didn't know how to end it and, although funny, it felt a bit too much like an intermission and not quite interesting enough.
With this laid out, I had a more clear idea on what their stances would be. Tsukasa is usually the one who is most worried about his family's reputation, whereas Tori is more confident in himself and his own choices. This time, I wanted to turn that around, and have a confident Tsukasa and a doubtful Tori, because this time it's not just about family, but love too.
Tori's doubts and his insistence on Tsukasa making the first move come from that preconception he has that Tsukasa would prioritize his family's reputation, and since Tsukasa doesn't say anything about their make-out session, he decides it's not worth it and brushes it aside. Since this comic focuses so much on his feelings, I don't think I quite pictured it well, but I imagine that in the time between this one and the last he really did not think that much about Tsukasa and truly gave up on it after not too long. However, Hajime is in love with love. He gets a bit too invested in people's relationships (like with Mitsuru and Maguro's) and tends to project on others. Tori knows this, which is why he didn't tell him anything, or he'd be forced to confront his feelings.
On the other hand, Tsukasa is to me a romantic at heart, so his confession couldn't be a simple "I like you", it would feel underwhelming. I struggled a lot with paneling that conversation they have outside, and changed things a lot. Originally, I wanted the comic to have one page less, but there wasn't enough room for a proper confession that way, so I expanded it. I think I would still change some things now in terms of panel sizes for a proper hierarchy (bigger panels for more important things), but it's not too bad I hope.
Tsukasa is canonically somewhat obsessed with Tori, even if he isn't too aware of it. He usually knows what and how Tori is doing, and has him in mind more often than one might think. This was also shown in the discarded comic too, with him thinking about Tori a bit too often. And, as opposed to Tori who tried to deny it, he decided to take action. I wanted him to admit how much he thinks about Tori in the confession itself, and again hint at how long they've known each other- The roses gesture is an old-fashioned classic, but it fits someone as traditional as Tsukasa.
This comic took a long time to (for now?) complete, but I'm really happy with the result in the end! I'm glad I was able to finish it, I had never made a long comic with an ongoing plot like this. I hope you enjoyed the cute moments, and thank you for reading this far! I'll be sure to update this if I ever add more to it.