☆ anime/manga,  ☆ being a mangaka,  ☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life,  ☆ photos

Living Tall in Japan, part 1

Here it is, the inevitable first post to every new blog– the self-introduction! =^-^=

This is me↓↓

To get started, a little bit of random information:
♥ My full name is Jamie Lynn Lano.
♥ I’m 6’1″, or 186cm to everywhere not in the US, or not a Wizard.
♥ I’m a Leo (my birthday is August 5send me presents!).
♥ I was born in Washington state, but later lived in California, Arizona, and of course Japan!
♥ I have a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Animation from The Art Institute of Phoenix.
♥ My blood type is B+. It is the perfect description of my personality: Be Positive!
♥ My passions are manga/comics, animation, photography, drawing, writing, love, and friends.
♥ I have a sweet, adorable kitty named Sansa that I adopted in Japan.
♥ My next stop on the world tour of living spaces is Honolulu, Hawaii! *^o^*

My little brother and me, when I was about 6 and he was around 1.
The short version of me:

One of the houses that I grew up in. It had a pool and fireplace but no A/C. Still, POOL.
I was one of those kids. I loved cartoons. Not loved with the same excitement that most little kids get, but loved with an intense passion that super-glued my eyes to the TV every Saturday morning. My first crush was, no kidding, Sonic the Hedgehog. And, this happened when I was in high school, but I threw a fit once (I bawled, refused to eat, and then called the tv station demanding a repeat showing) when ABC moved Sonic’s airtime up an hour early and I missed Blast from the Past, part 1. IT WAS A 2-PART EPISODE! You would have, too! Don’t lie.

I mean, back then, you couldn’t just download an episode that you missed. There was no bit torrent, no rar, no youTube, no Netflix (There was AOL and dialup, though. Um, yay).

So, in my sophmore year, I met a new friend, Rachel, who introduced me to something that was airing on a cable tv channel right then. You know it all now, but it was new to me and the US back then.


Sailor Moon.

Me and Rachel right before the Science Olympiad. Nerds. 🙂
I was hooked on Serena’s adventures, and every single weekday, I drove Rachel home from school and we watched it together, until there was no more to watch (they had only dubbed through Sailor Moon R at the time). Then we watched the reruns. She also introduced me to ElfQuest, which introduced me to the art of roleplaying and posting art online for others to see.

It was a downhill spiral. I was obsessed. Rachel and I rented tape after tape of anime from the local comic shop, and when that wasn’t good enough anymore, we requested 4th gen fansub tapes and laserdisk recordings from the local fabsub distro (if this makes no sense to you, be grateful that you live in a time with the internet).

We heard that Sailor Moon actually had 200 episodes, and painstakingly spend several hours downloading a 1-inch wide, 2-minute pixellated clip of Sailor Moon’s final battle. Those were the good ol’ days………. (not really). I paid $25 for two episode-videotapes of Ranma 1/2 dubbed in English, with money earned at the library.

I didn’t know any Japanese, but I still watched hours and hours of raw anime recorded on blurry tapes, and discovered my LOVE of shoujo romance with the Marmalade Boy anime (72 episodes and a movie on 19 tapes). Actually, Marmalade Boy’s manga was originally published in Ribon magazine, and THAT is the actual reason for my adoration/desire to be published in Ribon.

When I moved to Phoenix for college, I met even more anime fans. So, so many!! I even became president of the anime club of the school  next door to mine. Yeah. I was THAT obsessed. 😀

A few friends from the anime club at the Japanese gardens in Phoenix.
My friends and I cosplaying from Hunter x Hunter at Anime Expo.
I was studying animation, but as it turned out that I didn’t actually have a passion for making animation. It’s painstakingly boring, and if I was going to do such a thing, I only wanted to do it for my own projects. I didn’t want to be paid to bore myself to death by repeatedly drawing characters that didn’t belong to me.

But that meant that I was about to earn a bachelor’s degree in animation that was going to be completely useless to me.

What to do? I was stuck, wondering what I should do, and as graduation grew nearer, I started talking more and more to a certain friend online. Her name was (and still is) Eda.

Eda was teaching English in Japan right at that moment. Another online friend, Ami, had also done it in the past.

You mean…. that I could go to Japan and live there for a year (and work)?!?!! It seemed too good to be true. Live in the land of anime?!?!?! NO WAY!

I had to have it. I applied to the only choice that I had which would pay my way, and that was the JET Program. I didn’t have any money. Not enough to fly to and set myself up in Japan.

It was a pain in the (you know what) to apply for JET. You had to fill out long applications and write essays. You had to get sealed recommendations from professors and personal contacts. I was shy (except around the anime club and my best friends), so asking for recommendations nearly gave me a few panic attacks. But I did it, and I sent it in. Then, I waited.

A few weeks later, I got the reply letter in the mail. I opened it with trepidation.


My heart was broken. I got really angry, and crumpled the letter into a ball, refusing to believe it, and curled up on my bed, crying for hours. How could I not get in? I thought that I was the perfect candidate. I had great grades, a huge interest in Japan, and I even knew a few words, like kawaii and kakkoi.

Later on, at some time, I confirmed that yes, I really had been denied, and after some weeks, the rejection finally sank in. But I wasn’t about to give up. What other options did I have? How about the company that my friend Eda works for?

They were called Nova. When I looked them up, it turned out that they were holding an interview session in Phoenix in one week! My heart fell, though, when I saw that you have to sign up at least a month ahead of time.


Or was I? I called the number on the website and was connected to a few people. They liked my initiative, and I was given a slot in the interview session!!!!! Heart pounding, I attended, my hair freshly dyed red, wearing the same pinstripe pantsuit that I was going to use for my graduation.

“You’re going to get a lot of stares, being so tall and with red hair in Japan. You’ll also be very lonely,” the man who interviewed me told me.

“I can handle it,” I assured him. “I’ve always been tall, and I moved here to Phoenix on my own. I’m used to moving around.” And so, there we have it. I was told that I had the job on the spot, and a few months later (and a plane ticket courtesy of my Grandmother– I love you even though you never use the internet!), I was jetting off for the mystical, mysterious land of Japan.I had NO idea what I was in for.

I’d never been to another country, and I naively expected it to be pretty much like my own.

The flight to Japan.
September 16, 2004, my plane touched down at Narita airport, and I was so nervous that I had to sit down in the first bathroom that I could find in the airport just to control my breathing. I was finally here.

Stay tuned for part 2!

(1,680 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.

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