Lately when someone asks for recommendations of something wholesome to watch my go-to answer is Sasaki and Miyano. The anime, released back in January 2022, has become a form of media comfort food for me. The series is based on Sho Harusono’s manga and is adorably self-aware of the genre it’s a part of. Miyano, a boy who reads boys’ life, slowly introduces his upperclassman, Sasaki, to the stories he loves. As they grow closer to one another they start to wonder if there’s something more than friendship and manga between them.
From the ongoing manga to the upcoming film, it’s a good time to be a fan of charming, slow-burn stories. Recently I got the chance to talk with Harusono about all things Sasaki and Miyano. Harusono shared how it felt to see it so vividly animated, what it meant to create something where sharing manga was a way for characters to bond, and what a certain blond-haired upperclassman thinks about the boys finally exchanging phone numbers.
Did you always know you wanted to create manga? [Since when have you wanted to create manga?]
Sho Harusono: As I child, I read a manual on how to draw manga that came in the appendix of the shojo manga magazine I was following at the time. I wanted to create manga after that.
How did your work first get published? What did it feel like to see your work in print?
Harusono: My first commercially published work was Sasaki and Miyano. I was drawing only the scenes I wanted to draw in a four-panel format for fun. My editor at the time saw them and asked if I wanted to publish them commercially, and they went from serialized to printed. Until my work was serialized, I half-doubted the offer I received and wasn’t sure if it would really be published. (I was at the office when my work was first uploaded. I checked the website during lunch and celebrated internally, “They were telling the truth!”)
I received a sample before the comic went on sale and experienced the joy of my work actually being printed, the realization that I’d drawn so much, concern that it wouldn’t sell, and panic and anxiety over whether or not I’d be able to meet my next deadline.
What got you into boys’ love?
Harusono: I definitely became interested after watching the BL anime my friend recommended to me. Up until that point I was picking up series I became interested in after seeing ads and continued reading them if they were fun but had no particular attachment to BL. While playing some anime in the background while working, I was moved by a voice actor’s performance in a certain scene, so I rewatched the anime from the beginning and sympathized deeply with the character’s feelings. I was hooked after that. Without that voice actor’s performance, I may not have gotten into BL.
What inspired you to write a story that focuses on two boys becoming close over manga that they share?
Harusono: When I was a student and even after I started working, my friends and I would lend each other CDs and manga. It became a normal part of communication for me, so perhaps that’s why it became their primary form of interaction.
How did you react when you found out that Sasaki and Miyano was becoming an anime series?
Harusono: I wondered if it was a prank. Similar to when I first received the offer to serialize my work, I doubted it would happen until it started airing.
Early on in the series, Sasaki tells Ogasawara that the story he read couldn’t have worked unless it were boys’ love. Is that something you relate to when it comes to creating, reading, or watching boys’ love?
Harusono: I suppose. I believe all works, not just BL, don’t work without the elements that form them. How essential those elements are to the work is important, but I believe sometimes those elements are what enable the author to create their work.
Despite being familiar with boys’ love and even identifying the tropes with other characters, it takes a while for Miyano to realize that he himself is in the middle of his own boys’ love romance. Can you talk a bit about this and how you decided that Miyano would be oblivious to his own situation?
Harusono: Miyano thinks of manga as distinct from reality. At the start of chapter 1 of Sasaki and Miyano, he says, “this only happens in 2D.” Between that thinking and his serious and careful personality, he can’t believe it’s actually happening to him and denies it. So unless Sasaki clearly communicated his feelings, Miyano would continue thinking it’s impossible, and I don’t think Miyano himself would’ve developed romantic feelings.
Even after Sasaki tells him how he feels, Miyano sees what’s happening to him as reality, so he doesn’t project the stories featured in manga onto his own experience or assume what happened in manga should happen to him, too. Also, he carefully considers their relationship so he can respond honestly in his own words to Sasaki’s feelings. What happens in the story is the result of that.
One thing I really like about Sasaki and Miyano is that Sasaki gives Miyano time to process his feelings. The two of them remain friends as Miyano figures out what it means to be in love. Can you talk about how you decided to have these two maintain their friendship while working through their feelings for each other?
Harusono: Thank you. Given Miyano and Sasaki’s personalities, the story naturally went that way. Despite the anxiety and uneasiness Sasaki felt, Miyano was thinking about him during that time, so I think he enjoyed it for what it was.
Neither Sasaki or Miyano really stress that much about having feelings for another boy. Instead, we see Hanzawa worrying about the both of them because of what he’s seen his brothers go through. I really like that we get this perspective from Hanzawa. What made you decide to approach the concern over this sort of relationship this way?
Harusono: Explaining this would require me to unveil over 10,000 words of unreleased plot relating to Hanzawa Masato, so the details will remain a secret…
There are all kinds of people in the world, and I believe I wanted to depict a small group of them. I’d like to write more about Hanzawa’s story another time if I have the opportunity, so I’d appreciate it if people could wait for that.
One of my favorite things the anime does is have effects to illustrate when Sasaki and Miyano are flustered around each other. Were there any specific things the animation team did when adapting your work that you really enjoyed?
Harusono: I liked how their eyes and movements were animated. Showing the other person reflected in a character’s eyes or showing their eyes wander was vivid and beautiful and unique to animation, and I’m struggling to figure out how I can incorporate that into a monochrome manga. Also, the depiction of hands and fingers cut off by the edges of the panel and all kinds of movements become even more emotional when animated with the addition of the concept of a before, during, and after, which significantly increased the excitement.
Is there anything you’d like to see more of if the anime continues? For example, I know that there’s an entire manga being released here in the U.S. that focuses on Hirano and his roommate, Kagiura. I also know an anime special is being released, is there anything else you’d like to have the anime touch on?
Harusono: I’d be happiest if the anime covered scenes readers say they want to see. I believe sales need to be higher for the series to be animated, so I’ll do my best to create a fun and interesting series.
What message or feeling do you hope your audience takes away from your work?
Harusono: People should enjoy the works they like and enjoy their own personal fun time.
Just a fun question to end things on, how happy is Hirano that Sasaki and Miyano finally exchanged phone numbers?
Harusono: Hirano: “Took you guys long enough!!”
Sasaki & Miyano: “Sorry.”
Generally, Hirano is someone who hides his embarrassment, so he’d rather mediate than let their relationship turn sour. Despite his grumbling, he’s always willing to talk (lol).
Thank you for the interview!
Be sure to check out Sasaki and Miyano right here on Crunchyroll!
Briana Lawrence is the Senior EN Features Editor here at Crunchyroll. When she’s not writing she’s taking care of her three butthead cats and playing Hades for the 100th time. You can check out her writings and her book series over at her website and give her a shout-over on Twitter.