☆ life

Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p28

To see a list of all of the posts in this series, click here. (*^-^*)

The tale of the 31 mysterious boxes!

Did you miss me? I am back again, with more assistant-mangaka real-life story for you! *^-^*

You know something? I’ve never really believed in myself. Here and there, sure. But never that sort of unfailing, unwavering belief in their own complete awesomeness that some people seem to have.

..Do they even have it, or are they just really good at faking it? Maybe that kind of self-assuredness doesn’t exist at all. I have, however, through experiences like these, learned how to try, and how to put myself out there and accept whatever the results will be. Maybe that is all we can really do.


This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, and it was still a problem when I was working for Konomi-sensei. I was always worrying that I wasn’t good enough, even though I’d had praise for my uniform designs, my awesome tennis shoes (okay, they were pretty awesome), and I’d had the chance to look at other submissions and realize that, hey… I wasn’t chosen for this job just because I was a white girl and they took pity on me.


When I last left off in the story (I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d forgotten, since it’s been three months), I had a serious case of broken-heart disease thanks to Tenimyu cast member T, my best friend in the studio (Su-chan) had been unceremoniously fired with a phone call, and I’d been offered a second job… as a host of a new tv show! My emotions were all over the place, and when I walked up to K-sensei’s studio on February 19th for another ten-day stint holed up inside, I was pretty much falling apart.

Sitting in the studio drawing leaves a lot, lot, lot of time to think. But, thankfully, there was a distraction waiting when I walked in…..

COLOR PAGES! YAY! We had just gotten the first part of chapter one back from Shueisha, and I got to see my drawings, colored in by some mysterious person.

(You can’t see them well thanks to the sound effects, but those are my shoes, baby!)


Or so I’d thought. Kaiwa-san and Tamusho informed me that they had been called in during our time off and asked to color them all.


I don’t know how I was supposed to feel (grateful?), but I had low enough self-esteem as it was, and I was also being tugged first one way, then another by everyone under the sun. I kind of wanted to cry, thinking that I wasn’t called in because I simply wasn’t good enough.

The pages looked neat. Of course.

(So much pretty is here.  *____*)

But I still wanted to cry. ;__; I still don’t know why Konomi-sensei only called Kaiwa and Tamusho in. Was it because Kaiwa makes a lot more money than we did (we poor ones guessed that it was around $5,000/month. Not bad for an assistant), and because Tamusho was a guy and sort of nerdy, so they thought that he might not have a girlfriend? (Actually, it’s true. He didn’t. I was sure to keep up on that.)

Well, the pages did look nice and all, so alright. It’s not like there was anything that I could do to change the fact that I was being snubbed (maybe), so I sat at my desk and tried to draw stuff. I wasn’t getting very far.

That evening over dinner, I told Sensei about the job offer from the tv studio, and he said, “YES! I WANT TO SEE YOU ON TV. Can you believe it?? Our J, on tv!!”

I suppose that was supposed to make me excited, but I just felt a little bit sick, and scared. The next two days dragged on, while my thoughts again turned to what had happened with T, and how I wasn’t supposed to be feeling like this since I had known what I was walking into. Damn my heart. We worked, and I was going so slow that I thought I might be fired, until on the 22nd a few strange things happened…

On the morning of the 22nd, Sensei came into the studio just after we had finished breakfast and announced to the air, “get ready to go out!” and then, ten minutes later, piled us all into his car. From there, we drove about ten minutes to this park on the beach. We hadn’t seen the sun for a few days at this point, and I was sort of wallowing in despair, but even though it’s freeeeeezing cold in February in Japan, it was THE BEACH.

(Sensei took this picture of me on the beach. We were finally out of the house!)

The beach makes me happy. ♡ Thank god we went to the beach, because it was exactly what I needed. ♡

We also went to a greenhouse that was in the park, and played with stray cats outside.

Not a bad start to a day, really. But it was about to get even better. Soon after we got back to the studio,the doorbell rang. Tamusho went to answer, and came back with a giant box. And then another giant box. And then another giant box.

There were 24 giant (about 1 cubic meter on average) boxes in the first delivery. And 7 more that came half an hour later.

What, oh what could be in these boxes?!

That is 31 boxes, stuffed to the brim with packages and envelopes of all sizes! Red ones, yellow ones, white ones, ones with drawings and hearts on them, weird, leaking ones, soft and squishy ones.

And they were all. full. of. chocolate.

What? Chocolate?

Valentines day had just passed, right (It was the 22nd of February)? In Japan, there is a tradition that on Valentine’s day, girls are supposed to give chocolates to the boy that they have a crush on.

Now do you see where I’m going with this?

All 31 boxes were filled with Valentine’s day chocolates from fans, lovingly addressed to the boys in Tenipuri!!

Let me reiterate. That’s 31 CUBIC METERS OF CHOCOLATE (and letters) addressed to the characters in Tenipuri!!

Four hours. That’s the time that it took the six of us to open every single envelope, tally down who the chocolate was addressed to, and throw it back in a box. Or in the garbage if it was handmade (YOU NEVER KNOW. I’m a fangirl, too, and I know the depths that some fans will go to. Plus, who knows how long it had been since those brownies/cookies/hand-decorated cake had been in the mail. I sort of feel bad about it..) Or, if it was particularly delicious-looking, leave it on our desk. Those fancy-looking packages would periodically disappear into:

A) Someone’s mouthB) A better hiding place
C) Konomi-sensei’s hand 🙁

It’s hard to remember now what was my favorite, but it might have been the girl who baked a series of strange cookies in tin foil tins. Each one had a character’s face drawn in frosting, and she had included a note that said, “please don’t eat these!” How very courteous of her. 🙂

(This looks like a fried fish, and has a sticker saying that it’s a fried fish, but there was actually chocolate inside.)

There was a wide variety of chocolate, everything from expensive sets of chocolate balls painted to look like planets (so pretty!), to chocolates with real flakes of gold in them, tons of rice crackers, body wash (?), a bottle of champagne (!), and there was one girl who was really, really, really really REALLY in love with Atobe, because she’d sent over 200 identical letters, each with a tiny piece of chocolate inside (postmarked separately!), all addressed to Atobe Keigo. (I did mention that some fangirls can get a bit obsessive, right?)

We eventually stopped opening her letters because we already knew what was inside.

There were thousands upon thousands of chocolates. 186 packages addressed to Konomi-sensei, one addressed to “Konomi-sensei’s assistants” (awww!), 1097 packages addressed to Atobe Keigo (thanks in part to his biggest fan ever), 403 to Yukimura, 349 to Chitose, 238 to Sanada, 144 to Eiji… and the list goes on!

We took them all down so that we could tally them up and print this story in the back of the first tankoubon when it came out months and months later. Kaiwa-san even drew a picture of us all opening the boxes in the studio.

(Look at all the boxes! And that’s supposed to be me, sitting at the desk that says “JLL” on the top. I’m saying “Ooh! American chocolate!” Which never actually was said, but.. :P)

(The top 5 recipients: Atobe, Yukimura, Chitose, Sanada, and Konomi-sensei, aww)

It was crazy. It was insane. And with 31 meters of chocolate to eat myself through, I can’t say that I was depressed anymore.

From my diary at the time: I have eaten so much chocolate I should be ashamed! But I’m not!
I cant remember what day it is, though..!


Aaaaaand… until next time! I will be back soon with a post, and this time you can count on it! 😉

(966 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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