☆ life

Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p36

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

Now that I’ve said that, I have to add in..


Luckily, I’ve already passed the scary story of the one and only Valentine’s Day that I spent in the studio. I almost, but not quite made it to the next one, as I quit in January. But we’re not quite there yet!

There were thankfully no more changes in the schedule, and we got in bright and early on a warm, sunny spring day. It was full-fledged May, the sun was bright the air almost warm, and our deadline was just a week away.

But of course we weren’t about to get to work, no.

We arrived to a fairly clean studio (one of our tasks is to clean up before leaving, so we generally clean, tidy, vacuum, take out the trash, etc, before leaving), and to everyone’s surprise, Koko-san had shaved his head! I don’t mention him a lot, but Koko-san was the latest assistant to join us, replacing my beloved Su-chan, and actually used to work on the first Tenipuri series. Do you remember him now? This will be important later, I promise. 🙂

Here are Koko-san and I.. I blacked out his face but you can see what his old hair looked like. It was actually quite a bit longer than that the last time we had seen him. But want to see what it looked like later? Read on!

To my utter surprise, Sensei was waiting for us and announced, “I think that we should clean up outside, too!”

Wait… outside.. like the front of your house? Apparently the filming would take place inside AND outside of the studio. And so, we got to work outside, literally pulling weeds from the front of the house and polishing the fence and drainage pipes. ‘We’ meaning us assistants only, of course. (I can’t wait until I have my own assistants!)

Tamusho, Koko-san, and Kaiwa-san cleaning out the weeds.

Marie polishing the pipes.

Once the outside of the house/studio was spic and span, we retreated inside, and this is where Tamusho announced that he had researched about this show online! It was called Sakiyomi Jan-BANG! and aired every Friday evening around dinnertime on TV Tokyo. It was a hugely popular show that featured behind-the-scenes looks at manga. The theme this episode was Behind the scenes at Tenipuri.

Also, the hosts– ‘talent’ Minami Akina and the comedy duo America Zarigani, were really popular tv personalities. I’d never heard them, since I don’t really pay a lot of attention to the Japanese comedy/actress scene (actors are constantly recycled, and a lot of Japanese humor escapes me), but from then on, I noticed Akina’s face on a zillion and one magazine covers. Seriously, she was on, like, everything, even porny manga magazines!

Waiting for the producers…

Well, we had the studio clean, and now I was getting what the program was all about, more or less. So, the producers came in to speak to us shortly, and we were told that they’d be filming around the studio, wanted to get shots of all of us working, and then they would have Akina color in a part of the manga herself, get her reaction, and then move on to play a little game. After that, we would move to a tennis court and film Sensei playing tennis. Only sensei, apparently, which means that we’d all brought tennis clothes for nothing. Oh well! (It’s probably better that way, since I can’t really play tennis!)

Well… the producers left and the idea was that the actors would ring the doorbell and Sensei would answer it, but while we were waiting for the ring, Sensei suddenly had the “brilliant” idea of having me answer the door and surprise everyone with my foreign-ness! ^^;;;;;;;

“You’re used to being on tv, Jamie! You HAVE to answer the door!” he said.

Umm… well. I was embarrassed and had NO idea what to say, but how could I refuse? When I answered, the hosts were accordingly surprised, and we actually took so long at the door while they tried to figure out how to speak English to me (because in Japan, I’m a foreigner, so obviously I can’t speak Japanese. Never mind that I work in a Japanese environment. This is just the culture, and yes, it’s frustrating, but changing that stubborn mindset is not easy to do). Akina literally thought that I couldn’t speak Japanese, at all, and was shocked when I did. I mean, come on…….

I don’t know, maybe she was acting? Anyways. She was really, really tiny. Wow. We took so long that Sensei actually came to check in on us, lol! And thankfully, I could retreat to the studio and try to remain inconspicuous. BUT when I sat down at a desk, everyone was shocked that I was actually an artist!

Akina said that she thought that I was Sensei’s wife! ToT

Artist > wife. ARTIST > WIFE!! Why would you even assume that I was his wife instead of an artist, come on?!?!?!!

I know, I know, maybe I’m being a little bit oversensitive, but Japan is a very isolated country (mentally. Physically, there are plenty of people from foreign countries in Japan), and a lot of people honestly find it surprising when someone who doesn’t look ‘Japanese’ can speak Japanese, or can do something ‘japanese’ like draw manga. Heaven forbid, also, that it’s a cute (ymmv) white girl.

*coughs* Okay, enough complaining! At the time, I kept my thoughts to myself and just answered their questions cheerfully. Akina moved on, watching us draw, and when she got to Koko-san, she laughed and called him Baldy-kun! Thanks to Akina, and Koko’s good sense of humor, the nickname stuck his entire time with us. XD;;

Akina coloring in part of Ryoma’s hair. We told her that it was a real manga page, but it was just a photocopy, because nobody wanted her to mess up when we had such little time.

Everyone playing a quiz game.

I kept sneaking photos during the filming, and actually ended up getting told off by the staff after a while. Boo. I don’t think I’ll be bold enough to put them in the book, though, since that would probably be taking it a little bit too far. But you can see them here! 😀

We moved to the tennis court, and then, yay, dinner on Shueisha!

The staff was like NO FILMING!! and frowning at me. But I took a few pictures anyway. Bad me. 🙁

I uploaded my only copy of the video for you! Sorry about the quality, but want to watch? ;D

When we finally got back to the studio, it was evening, and we tried to get some work done, but Sensei was like, “Ahhhh, I’m so wound up! Can’t work!” And we were dismissed for bed, deadline looming. It wasn’t MY manga, so I shouldn’t have cared. I really shouldn’t. But it was partly my manga, and I had a pride in it, I mean…. rarw!

The neglecting-work didn’t stop there, though! Nope!

The next day, we started working bright and early in the morning. Finally! But this only lasted until early evening, and guess what happened then?

I’ll only give you one guess. But I’m sure that you can get it!

Sensei’s like, “let’s go play!” orzzzzzzzzzzzzz

We went to get ramen at a favorite place of his. And then we spent the rest of the warm evening bowling. Alright, getting paid for bowling isn’t too bad!

My smile really said, “Nooooooooooo let’s go back to work….”

Kaiwa-san and Sensei bowling.

At least I wasn’t the worst one. XD Only the second-worst.

That was it for that night. But to my utter surprise, we went back to work the next morning, Sensei actually showed up and hung around all day, actually working, and we blew through 32 pages in three days! We ACTUALLY FINISHED ON TIME! In my diary, I wrote this in huge letters, because I was THAT surprised.

AND, I finally actually got to draw PEOPLE! For the first time, I got to draw people in the background! I was getting a lot of compliments for my work, too. Things were going well, plus T had responded to my mails at Dream Live the other day. Ahhh, so this is what it was like to be happy.

Compared to the last month, when it had taken us 20 days to get through 32 pages, we had just finished 32 pages in five days, two of which were spent playing. On top of that, there was one more thing going on…

Sensei was going to record a single! While we were working, he brought in the music and practiced. He even asked for our suggestions, and my help on the English lyrics.

I don’t know how we did it. This was by far the best performance we ever made on this manga. Maybe it’s a testament to what we were truly capable of when we had a boss that worked consistently. If all of our work time had been like this instead of sitting around alone and aimless in the studio twiddling our thumbs, I don’t think that I would have ended up blowing up at him that coming summer.

So, we got out of the studio on Friday, and the next day, armed with two months’ worth of paychecks and my friend Eda, I schlepped out into the world of Apartment hunting for the fifth time since arriving in Japan.

I tried and tried to get an apartment in the area that I wanted (Kichijoji, within 3 minutes from the station, with good light), but there was nothing, nothing, nothing within my budget. Not even a tiny little room without a closet, for less than $1000/month. So I settled for living about ten minutes away by train, and another ten minutes away by foot from my station, on a really minor line. But for the trade-off in convenience, I got a nice-sized place (for Japan). There was no a/c, so I would have to use a space heater in winter, and boil to death in summer unless I coughed up money for one, but I felt like I was getting a decent deal. I had a huge kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom. I think that this is actually my favorite out of the 8 apartments that I lived in in Japan, and the only one that I felt was even remotely worth the money. 🙂

Here’s the kitchen… you’ll see more later!

So, rented a car, and had a few great friends help me, and schlepped my things over just in time to catch Sensei’s recording on Wednesday…..

Which will come tomorrow for you! 😉

(809 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.


  • Alesand

    For fun, when it was assumed you were Konomi’s wife, you could have admitted so then say that each artist there was also his wife, thus making you all his harem. Imagine the reactions to that!

  • hirami

    (what the heck, that word “schlepped” exists in English XD
    always funny to see those half-half-Words. Like Engurish-words in the japanese language..)

    Enjoyed the report and the video 😀
    wow. Her “coloring”. I bet she needed a fkin lot of skill to do that :’D *cough cough*
    So Konomi-sensei does play tennis? Is he really good at it or just got a lucky hit for the video? 😛

    Seeing you in the Video makes me proud 🙂 Kinda like, “look you japanese people, you might think we are all stupid foreigners, but we’ve got badass awesome ones too!”

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      I think I’ve always use schlepped, my whole life, even before I came to Japan. 😀

      Haha, and yeah, she was so nervous! It was sort of cute, even though we were all thinking, “it’s not even real…” Later on, when the chapter came out in the magazine, it had a note on it saying, “Akina colored in this spot!!” But it wasn’t true, since we didn’t have her color on the real page. XD;;;

      Yeah, Sensei used to be a tennis instructor before he wanted to become a manga artist, so he’s really good! 😀 And thank you for the sweet comment! 😀 Yes, foreign people can be mangaka too! I will set out to prove it!

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve realised I have SO MANY QUESTIONS. But… I’ll try and stick to a theme.

    How long does it normally take to draw a manga page? You mentioned once that you spent 10 hours on a background. How is it possible to ever finish a chapter? >.< Can you reuse the background for multiple scenes or do you have to redraw from scratch?

    Also, how do you all decide who draws which part of the scene? Does Konomi-sensei sketch it out and direct you? Does he mainly draw the characters?

    …. if I missed or forgot these answers from earlier episodes, I'm sorry! Feel free to tell me to push off and look back through your entries.

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Yes, one thing that I talked about early on (you probably don’t remember it, which means that I should mention it again), is that we would draw backgrounds on a sheet of paper, and then put them into a folder (later on into a binder). When we need a complicated background that already exists, we photocopy the drawing and then paste it onto the panel in the manga with rubber cement. Then, using the light table to see through it, we cut out around where the character was drawn, and voila! The rubber cemen comes off easily. 🙂 Perhaps I should do a tutorial!

      We have one girl (Marie) whose job it was just to trace his drawings of the characters, and to draw the little background characters. Then sh passes on the pages to either us, if Sensei specifies that he wants a panel drawn by us, or Kaiwa-san, who is the head assistant, and he delegates from there. Sensei has the book of background drawings always sitting on his desk, so if he wants to use one of those, he’ll usually write it on the page. When he needs some other design, he’ll either speak to us personally (like, he asked me to design the training building, for example), or indicate that as well. Before any page is considered finished, he has to personally check it and approve, and yes, sometimes he made us redraw things. Sometimes even things that we’d spent a lot of time on. Sensei mainlly draws the characters, and the panels and dialogue. The rest is just roughly indicated by a few lines and/or notes written on the page.

      Actually, your questions have been very helpful! I sometimes leave things out because they seem very intuitional to me, and I wouldn’t expect anyone to remember most of the old things that I’ve written. I need to know what people whom are reading want to know more about, so that I can include it. 🙂

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