☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here ☆
JUMP was coming. But first I had to sign my contract for the new job, and then I had to pack up. After work, I rushed over to finish one, and then went over with my friend Andrew to sign up for Japanese lessons.
Some wards give free beginning Japanese lessons to foreigners, taught by volunteers, and, well, this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I had been studying on my own, but it still wasn’t cutting it. Surely, this would help me advance more quickly!
And then, the day came. Wednesday, April 27th, 2005.
Eda and I met my student Yuko in Shinjuku, and she called us a taxi. I had brought my sketchbook, and so had Eda, but I really, really didn’t want to show anything to any editors. The thing was, it was embarrassing. I only had little doodles in there. Yuko had told me that she’d give us a tour and introduce us to the editor of the manga that she worked on, but I hadn’t taken that to mean that we would be given an evaluation.
Until two days beforehand, that is.
It wasn’t enough time. I had a full day of work, and then business to take care of with the new job, and showing something to an editor was important. I wanted to take my time, in that case, and make a manga. Make something worth his attention. But this opportunity wasn’t going to come again, so I just brought what I had (which were mostly doodles of Tenipuri characters and Tenimyu boys).
Yuko hailed a cab from Shinjuku station, and we soon arrived at the Shueisha building.
She took us in through the employee entrance at the rear, getting us guest passes from the guard. It felt so illicit… we weren’t employees. And did we even deserve to be here??!?!
Inside, we went up the elevator, and when we stepped out, it looked like any other office building……………
……I mean, if any old office building had posters from JUMP anime lining the walls! 😀
The inside looked like this:
I was far, far too shy to ask to take pictures of the insides of the offices, but they looked just like those images from the Bakuman anime (the manga is AWESOME, by the way. I haven’t seen the anime yet).
It felt like we were walking into holy ground. If that makes any sense. If there is any religion that I belong to, it’s the religion of manga. I worship the ground that manga walks on. In manga, I found something that I’d never experienced, for all of my years reading Western comics. I found comics that told stories that I really, really wanted to read, in endless variations and genres.
So, anyways, the manga that Yuko worked on was published in Young JUMP, so she introduced us to her editor from that department. Susumu Obana. He didn’t speak a word of English, and I spoke very little Japanese. Eda was almost fluent, and of course Yuko had a decent grasp of English, so they both translated for me.
We looked briefly around office, and then we sat at a round table outside. It was there that I had, for the first time in my life, a chance to look at a real, raw manga page. The actual page, right there.
It was from a manga called Tough. I’d never heard of it, and this style of fighting manga wasn’t really my style, but I was in awe. Right there, in front of me was manga, in its purest form.
Real, live manga. I could have died.
Then, uh, he asked to see our sketchbooks. Obana-san was polite, and he praised us. He said, though, that he’d have to see manga pages to give us anything close to a real evaluation, because a lot of people could draw pretty pictures, but drawing a manga was a whole different talent.
I hadn’t really expected anything different.
If he was disappointed in us, he didn’t let on, which was nice of him. 🙂 In fact, he decided then and there that the four of us would go out to dinner. He took us to a rather expensive thai place nearby, and together, we passed a few hours, as people who all love manga can do without even trying.
Oh, and dinner was on Shueisha.
Obana and me. He was really nervous to take a photo… that, or I scared him. Probably a bit of both. 😛
I was very sorry to leave. It had been a stressful night, but also a magical one. I felt blessed to have been given a look, even such a small one, into the inner workings of manga, and it was the first time that I wondered, truly, if maybe a foreigner could be a mangaka.
And you all know where that led me, three years later. 😉
Well! Stay tuned, because there is quite a bit more to tell before this story is up!
Love you all, and see you tomorrow!! <3