After Harukana Receive, manga artist Nyoijizai’s next series is all about the allure of the silver pole.

Part of what makes the Japanese comics industry so special is the immense variety of genres. Sure, at any given moment there’ll be several science fiction or fantasy series on the best-sellers list, but there’s also room for romance, slice-of-life, and sports manga too.

Sports manga aren’t limited to just major mainstream athletics like baseball and soccer either. For example, manga artist and writer Nyoijizai is the creator of Harukana Receive, a manga centered not just on volleyball, but on beach volleyball. Nyojizai’s currently serialized manga, though, is about an even more niche sport: pole dancing.

Silver Pole Flowers follows two college students, Hana Uesaki and Karin Takamine (whose given names both include kanji characters for “flower”), as they enter the world of pole dancing. Hana takes the artistic path of traditional pole dancing, while Karin follows the emerging discipline of pole sports, with a stricter focus on athletic prowess.

▼ Video preview for the Silver Pole Flowers manga

Our ace reporter Mr. Sato knows a thing or two about pole dancing himself, so he sat down with Nyoijizai to talk about his latest work

Mr. Sato: I know you must be busy at the end of the year, so thank you for taking the time to meet with me. As soon as I found out about Silver Pole Flowers, I knew I wanted to talk with you.

Nyoijizai: I’d been wanting to meet you too, Mr. Sato.

Mr. Sato: Wait, what?

Nyoijizai: When I first started researching pole sports, I read several of your articles on pole dancing, and they were very informative. ‘I could really learn a lot from this person’ I thought.”

Mr. Sato: Wow…I’m honored to have been of help. So how did you decide to make a manga about pole dancing/pole sports?

Nyoijizai: I’d been interested in the topic for some time. It’s fascinating how it’s one sport, but with two distinct fields. In order to learn more, I actually started taking pole dance lessons at the start of the year, but the class was suspended when the coronavirus pandemic first hit, and then I got busy with work and haven’t been able to go.

Mr. Sato: Has drawing pole dancing scenes presented any special challenges for you?

Nyoijizai: The tricky part, definitely, is that there’s just not that much reference material available. There’s a lot of stuff about it that’s hard to research, and that’s the biggest challenge.

▼ Nyoijizai’s custom illustration of Hana for Mr. Sato

Mr. Sato: Yeah, it’s still a minor sport, so you can’t just turn on the TV, flip through a sports magazine, or go to a general sports website and find out what you want to know.

Nyoijizai: And then there’re the poses. Some pole dance techniques involve such complex posture and grips, and it’s a challenge to draw them.

Mr. Sato: I totally understand! Sometimes I’ll look at videos of other pole dancers, and when I try to do the same moves, I end up thinking “Wait, what did they do with their right hand for this part?” or things like that. Sometimes their techniques seem superhuman.

Nyoijizai: Pole dancing really is a difficult sport to convey in illustrated form.

Mr. Sato: Reading Silver Pole Flowers [which has 18 chapters so far], I feel like both of the lead characters are really compelling. Their dialogue seems so meaningful, and realistic too. Is there anything in particular you keep in mind while writing their parts?

▼ Hana (left) and Karin (right)

Nyoijizai: When writing characters, I make sure to remember that their actions should reflect their life experiences up to that point. So for this series, for example, I need to form a solid image of Hana and Karin’s lives, and filter their choice of words through that image when they’re speaking.

Mr. Sato: So it’s like the way they live their lives influences how their conversations unfold?

Nyoijizai: Exactly.

Mr. Sato: Silver Pole Flowers started serialization on August 1, and the first collected volume just came out this month, but what are your hopes for the series going forward?

Nyoijizai: Well, this is my first time to do a weekly series, so for now, I’m just focusing on making each chapter as good as it can be.

While Nyoijizai is keeping his eyes on the week-to-week narrative, Mr. Sato can’t help but keep his fingers crossed for an eventual anime adaptation. Partly because he’d like to see wider recognition of the artistic and athletic merits of pole dancing (he still often has to explain to people that no, the pole dancing he does isn’t a sexual thing), but also because Silver Pole Flowers is simply an enjoyable story.

Silver Pole Flowers is available on the Comic Days, Magapoke, and Sports Bull apps/websites (with free previews of the first chapter), and its first collected volume is available in both paper and Kindle formats through Amazon Japan here.

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