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Manga author with ‘zero’ drawing talent to launch Japan’s first fully AI-drawn manga

Rootport, who spoke through a cat avatar to protect their anonymity
via AFP News Agency

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    A Japanese manga author who said he has “absolutely zero” drawing talent is set to launch a science fiction manga title entirely drawn by artificial intelligence. 

    The author, who uses the pseudonym Rootport, used the viral AI tool Midjourney to create “Cyberpunk: Peach John,” Japan’s first fully AI-drawn manga. 

    In an interview with AFP News Agency, Rootport spoke using a cat avatar to protect his identity. He shared that it took him “a minute or so” to generate images for the story’s main antagonist, using text prompts such as “pink hair,” “Asian boy” and “stadium jacket.”

    The 37-year-old writer, who purportedly has experience developing manga story plots, was able to complete the art for his over-100-page book in just six weeks. He noted that such an effort would require at least a year for a skilled artist to finish.

    “It was a fun process, it reminded me of playing the lottery,” Rootport was quoted as saying. 

    The book, to be released by publishing house Shinchosha on March 9, has sparked discussions over the impact of AI on jobs and copyright in Japan’s multi-billion-dollar comic book industry. 

    Some lawmakers in Japan have expressed concerns over the rights of the original artists as such tools create art by sourcing large amounts of copyrighted material from the web without permission.

    Netflix recently faced backlash online after releasing a Japanese animated short that used AI-generated backgrounds, with critics condemning the short film’s creators for not hiring human animators.

    One of the most prominent critics of AI-produced art is Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki, who expressed his disdain for the medium in a 2016 NHK documentary series by Kaku Arukawa.

    I am utterly disgusted. If you really want to make creepy stuff, you can go ahead and do it. I would never wish to incorporate this technology into my work at all. … I strongly feel that this is an insult to life itself. I feel like we are nearing the end of times. We humans are losing faith in ourselves.

    Despite the concerns, Rootport defended the AI image generators and commended them for paving “the way for people without the artistic talent to make inroads” in the manga industry. 

    Manga artist Madoka Kobayashi, who has been in the industry for over three decades, similarly considers AI to be a “great companion” rather than a threat.

    While Kobayashi avoids directly using or copying from computer-generated images, she says AI can “help me visualize what I have in mind, and suggest rough ideas, which I then challenge myself to improve.”

    Famed mangaka Eiichiro Oda, creator of the manga series “One Piece,” also recently asked AI to provide inspiration for the next installment of his series.

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