In the realm of webtoons, there are many popular and beloved stories covering a huge number of genres and styles. unOrdinary, a manga-style webtoon about a high-school populated with teens with special abilities, is among the most popular of all.
unOrdinary tells the story of John, a homeschooled young man who arrives at Wellston Private High School seemingly the only student lacking in some spectacular powers; the series has run for dozens of weekly episodes with no sign of slowing down. This magical teen drama is written and illustrated by uru-chan, a very prolific creator whose knack for storytelling landed her a spot on Webtoon through a contest. Fans everywhere have been clamoring for more unOrdinary ever since.
uru-chan has actually designed an exclusive unOrdinary pin featuring Serafina in the July Loot Anime crate. (Click here to get a preview of the pin on uru-chan’s Instagram!) We recently spoke to her about her creative process and much more…
Tell us a bit about your background as an animator. Did you study art or was it a self-taught skill?
I’ve been drawing manga/anime style for about 15 years now. I never studied art officially, but it’s been a passion of mine since I was a kid. When I was still in school, I would practice drawing as soon as I got home by copying screenshots from my favorite anime.
Growing up, where did you take the most inspiration for your storytelling, whether it’s from manga and anime, other forms of comics, films, books, and so on?
It started off with manga and anime. But now, most of my inspiration comes from Chinese Wuxia Drama and from current events.
When you set out to start writing unOrdinary, what are the main themes of the kind of story that you wanted to tell?
UnOrdinary started off as a way to poke fun at anime stereotypes. The main character looks basic, while all the background characters look like main characters. But as the story grew, I wanted to write about themes relating to discrimination, mental health, and the abuse of power.
What is your favorite memory of the experience of winning the LINE Webtoons contest with unOrdinary?
Probably just seeing that unOrdinary had made it into the top 4. I had been anticipating the results for the entire week, so it was a huge relief. I went out for a nice sushi dinner afterwards 🙂
The webtoon community is an incredibly creative and diverse space, what have the biggest challenges been to navigate it and keep creating new content?
For me, the biggest challenge is maintaining the workload. It’s always a 60-80 hr work week, and it can get extremely exhausting especially after several straight months of uploading. I have to thank my readers, because seeing their excitement each week motivates me to continue creating.
You’ve brought John to a different place than you’ve stated you originally planned for him. Is he the most interesting character for you to write, or do you have other favorites?
John is my most fun, yet most difficult character to write. I figured out where I wanted to take his character at around Episode 4. My goal was to focus on his psychology and make his transformation seem as natural as possible.
Arlo is my man. He’s not exactly a fan favorite, but I enjoy writing him because he and I think alike.
The fan base for unOrdinary is vast and incredibly dedicated. How rewarding has it been to have a comic that allows for constant feedback from the audience, and does it make your process easier or harder?
It’s been amazing! I absolutely love how involved and opinionated the readers are! This is the best I could ask for, since most of the time in unOrdinary, there is no correct answer. It’s always fun to read through the discussions that go on in the comments. Overall, the feedback has been very helpful.
Who are some of your favorite superheroes from other comics and manga?
I really like Spider-Man and Iron Man. Maybe I have a thing for brains and sass.
Can you pinpoint one or two episodes of unOrdinary that you’re proudest of, and why?
Episode 105, where a bit of John’s backstory is explained. I loved this episode because it hit me emotionally and tied everything together well for John’s character.
The other is Episode 112, where John beats up “green-buns” Juni. I had a lot of fun crafting this episode, and the result got many mixed reactions from the audience, which is exactly what I was aiming for >:)
You’re soon going to reach your 150th episode of unOrdinary. How long do your see the Wellston Private High School saga going, or is this unfolding more organically as you go?
Yes, it’s very exciting! I never knew I’d have it in me. For now, I have plans for at least another season. I think the story will go on for at least 300 episodes.
You can read unOrdinary over at Webtoon, and in the meantime follow uru-chan on Twitter and Instagram!