To answer some of the questions from last time:
Stacey: So at that point you still had no idea that you would be sleeping and taking showers there too?
A: Not a clue! Seriously, none! I thought that it was really strange that we had a shower/beds. What kind of job has that?
Aya: What’s the biggest difference you had now and then with your Japanese?
A: I think the biggest difference is the speed at which I speak. I can just talk and talk and talk (not accurately, mind you!), and words that used to feel like tongue twisters are now much easier to say I’d say that sometimes I even feel more comfortable speaking japanese, regardless of the fact that I can’t express myself as well.
Keep the comments and questions coming! I’ll answer all of your questions in the next installment!
So now.. where were we?
Chief Assistant Kaiwa-san had just introduced to me. We’d talked and suddenly, the doorbell rang again.
Actually, it’s more like the buzz of an intercom than a normal doorbell. Pin-pooooooooon! I didn’t notice it until later, but the door buzzer operates an intercom system in the house. After it’s pressed, a video of the entryway pops up on a video monitor behind Konomi-sensei’s desk, and he can press a button to talk to you, or to unlock the door. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Though actually, it’s actually the same kind of system that you get in some of those nice gated apartment buildings. =^^=
Pin-poooooooon went the alarm, and Sensei buzzed it open. This time, a girl came in. She was short, with thick lips the kind that Angelina Jolie would die for, and shoulder-length hair. “Konnichiwa!” she said while looking in Kaiwa’s direction. Obviously she didn’t notice me.
That is, until Kaiwa cut in just as Sensei was starting to speak, “Here is our new girl! Her name is Jamie, and she’s from America. .” Kaiwa has a way of speaking where almost everything sounds like he’s laughing, or at the very least while he’s happy. I never once heard him sound annoyed, even the time that he was so stressed out that he resorted to smoking in the studio bathroom. (He doesn’t smoke, and the studio is non-smoking. This is a taste of what’s to come.)
Marie turned her head, and went kind of stiff. “H.. hi,” she said quietly, with a bit of a hesitation.
Is she just shy? I had no idea at the time. Maybe. We had little chance to find out, because the doorbell rang again, and a few seconds later in came a tall, thin boy with curly hair.
And so I had my first meeting with the three other assistants. The last guy, Tamusho, was polite and friendly, though, like Kaiwa-san, he seemed pretty surprised. His version of surprise was an, “Oh.. hello ” Instead of a booming hello and million questions like Kaiwa-san.
Here is what I was looking at:
Marie, Tamusho, and Kaiwa-san. My new (maybe) coworkers.
If I had to describe my first impressions, I would have to say:
Konomi-sensei: HOT. Very nice and friendly. This is a mangaka?
Kaiwa-san: Most outgoing guy I’ve ever met. Think maybe he never stops smiling/laughing. Super-friendly, super loud.
Marie: Quiet but cute! Seems friendly.
Tamusho: A bit quiet but friendly. Smiles a lot, has a funny laugh.
Kaiwa-san had been working on Tenipuri for 6 years, and Marie for two. Marie’s main job was inking the characters (Sensei only drew them in pencil), as I would find out later. Tamusho had just started a week ago, so he was a newbie like me.
During the next hour, I continued to work on my picture, with Sensei and Kaiwa-san both occasionally wandering over to my desk to watch me.
If you’ve ever drawn with someone watching before, you know how unnerving this can be! I could barely get up the nerve all through art school to draw knowing that someone would be occasionally glancing over my shoulder.
On top of that, I mean, here was one of my heroes not just watching me draw, but having interest in it, and evaluating it! Based on this, I might get this job (or not!)!!
Sensei also ‘hmmm’ed a lot.
While he was not watching me draw and ‘hmmm’ing to himself, Sensei gave Marie a job to do: inking this:
Tamusho was put to work drawing the shoes.
At the time, Shin Tenipuri hadn’t even started yet. The name hadn’t even been decided yet. This was going to be a special poster printed in JUMP SQ (a monthly manga magazine, brother magazine to the famous Shonen JUMP), along with the announcement of the new series. Inside, I was jumping up and down, ecstatic that I’d seen Sensei’s artwork, in the flesh! His original drawings!!! Kya~~~~~~!!
Kaiwa-san divided his time between doodling, joining Sensei to watch me (!!!!), and advising Tamusho about how to draw tennis shoes.
And then, suddenly, about an hour into this, just as I was wondering how long this interview would last, sensei announced, “Let’s go to the convenience store!”
Ummm, okay. ^o^; I followed everyone’s lead and put on my shoes, left through the front door, and stood in front of the house waiting for Sensei. I carried my purse, though I was the only one.
It turned out that I didn’t need it! Sensei took us to the convenience store across the street (7-11!), and told us to pick out whatever drinks we wanted.
Yay! Free drinks!!! I still had no idea that I would need drinks for more than just tonight, so I only selected one tiny little bottle of coca-cola. It seemed rude to get more.
“Are you sure that’s all you need?” He asked me.
But that’s all everyone else seemed to be getting, so I nodded yes.
After he’d paid and we left the store, he started off down the street in the wrong direction. I’d soon learn that this was a typical Sensei-thing, but at the time, I just followed along blindly. I said before that I’m shy, PLUS my japanese was pretty bad, so I didn’t talk much.
Ten minutes later, we’d arrived at a department store attached to the local train station. Sensei was talking about getting snacks, and finally I asked Marie the thing that I had been wondering for a while now.
“Um.. when do you think we’ll be done today?” I said in a small voice. She looked at me for a moment, and I thought that maybe I’d made a mistake with my japanese.
Her eyes went a little wide. “You mean.. you know that we’re staying over, right?”
“H.. huh???” Hey wait. I have to work tomorrow! My real job, the one that pays the bills (english teaching)! I didn’t say it, but it’s probably more because I was in shock than anything else.
“You didn’t know? Didn’t Watanabe-san (the editor) tell you on the phone?” Marie looked really concerned now. She was so nice! I was panicking internally.
“No, I don’t think so!” I thought he hadn’t. I was pretty sure that he said ‘two or three hours,’ not ‘two or three days’!! I was fairly sure. But then again, my Japanese sucked!! I still am not sure to this day whether I misunderstood, or he didn’t relay the right information.
“Hold on,” Marie said quietly, and then she walked over to Sensei and told him the same thing– that I had no idea that I’d be staying over.
He had the same reaction as Marie.
Oh god, I felt SO EMBARRASSED. And SO STUPID. And SO WORRIED! I had responsibilities at work, my japanese sucked, and to top off everything, I had absolutely NO supplies that I’d need to spend the night! No change of clothes, no clean underwear, no brush, no toothbrush, no contact solution..! At least, I had stuck some makeup and deodorant in my bag in case I needed to freshen up…!
BUT NO WORRIES! Sensei, the owner of the super-rich car and creator of a multi-billion yen manga franchise was here to save the day! He got out his wallet, took out 10,000 yen (about $100), and gave it to Marie. “Help her get what she needs,” he said, and promptly took the guys away, leaving us two girls alone in the department store.
I was so embarrassed! On top of kinda-sorta panicking! It still was only barely sinking into my head that I was going to have to stay overnight! Looking back, I realize now that I’d never even been given a choice. It was just “you didn’t know? Here, buy what you need.”
It didn’t get any more embarrassing when Marie next said, “Well… I guess we should look for underwear.”
But that was only because I DIDN’T KNOW THE JAPANESE WORD FOR UNDERWEAR! (She said shitagi, which is literally under-wear, but the only words I knew at the time were the more otaku-ish pantsu, from the English
“Shitagi,” she repeated.
So, we wandered over to the clothing area (underpants were on the next floor up, so in other words, not here). I wonder what she thought as I guessed that maybe she’d meant, like, pajamas, or something. Maybe. I bought track pants.
Actually, I’m wearing those same track pants three years later, as I write this. ♥
After ringing up the purchase, she said, “Um, so how about some shitagi?”
Oops, I’d guessed wrong.
Next: My first night in the Tenipuri family!