Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p7

Thank you for so many comments! The feedback really encourages me to keep writing! =^-^=

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

Answers to questions from part 6: ^-^

Kyle: Did Konomi-sensei seem like a typical boss (compared to Nova bosses) or more… interesting?
A: Hmm.. I’ve had a variety of bosses in my life– from friendly and fun to really strict and scary. Konomi-sensei was more on the fun (and cute!) side!
Blayne: 1. THE G-PEN!! WHAT’S IT’S LIKE? HAVE YOU USED IT? (if you did, is it hard to get used to?) Any other pens and nibs used?
A: I have, LOL. Actually in Tenipuri, though, I Only used the maru-pen and liner pens. Marie used G-pens or Saji-pens when she inked the characters. 🙂
What are screen tones like, and where you taught to use them? (Heard you may need to apply it quickly.)
A: They’re actually pretty simple to use, and yes, you should apply them immediately or else I suppose the adhesive will dry out. I will include a tutorial at a later time! ^^
What’s the kind of paper used in the in process? Such as Storyboards, Manuscript, and Colour works?
A: In Konomi-sensei’s case, he used B4 and later A4-sized manga paper for all of his work, including color. Sketching and names were done on regular copy paper.
What sort of “Colouring tools” are used in making the colored pages?
A: Konomi-sensei used Copic markers and airbrushes for his color pages. Some of them were outsourced to a company that does CG coloring, though. All of the times that I did color work in Tenipuri, it was using Copic markers. ^^
And most fearfully of all… What does the “deadline syndrome” (I read about some Manga-ka, that stress over it) feel like? If you ever experienced it…
A: It wasn’t my work, so I never felt under immense pressure. But sometimes we definitely were pressed for time, so we had to work quick and fast. There were plenty of other sources of stress to deal with, though, as you’ll find out! ^.~
Elise: Someone should really make a manga about this whole being the assistant of Konomi-sensei!!! Anyways, did have you ever felt like maybe he liked you in some way?
A: I’ve thought about making one, lol. Hmm.. well, he said that I’m like family to him, so I guess we’ll leave the speculation at that. ^^ (Actually the thought of ever becoming involved with him is like.. well, like dating your brother! Ewwww, no way. XD)
Kari: those bunk bed look reaaaally small… how did you manage to fit in it?
A: LOL, they were just barely big enough for me! They’re meant for one person, though it wasn’t always just one person in them! ^.~
Kyle: At this point did you realize you had a job or did you think this was some kind of cruel yet strangely awesome Japanese interview joke?
A: It wasn’t until after Konomi-sensei invited us to a Tenimyu (the musical version of Tenipuri) show that I accepted that I was working for him for real. This was a few months from the time that I’m writing about now. 🙂
Lillian: Does Sensei have to go outside to go to his part of the house?? Did you ever get a tour?
A: I’m not sure if he has to go outside, or if there’s a staircase. I never did get a tour of the upper level. Some things must be kept private, I guess! I often saw a cat in the window upstairs though. (not Karupin!)
Ann: Was it weird sleeping with three other people nearby? How long did it take to get used to it? And did you ever chit-chat before you fell asleep, or did everyone quietly lie in bed?
A: It was weird at first, but I’ve had my share of sleepovers, so I got used to it eventually. I wasn’t able to sleep well until I brought in earplugs, though, since some of the assistants snore! o.o;;;;;;; We spent many a night chit-chatting away to the wee hours, though sometimes we went right to sleep, too. And sometimes one or two people would chat and the rest would sleep. 🙂
Su Su: By the way, everyone sleeps in the same room???!! O.o Male and female?? You have to stay there for 1 and a half year???
A: Yep! We all had our own beds, at least. ^^

Well now.. where was I?!

Oh yes.. I was just about to commit a faux pas!

It was actually rather stupid, really. I didn’t learn until later, but we were supposed to get up at a certain time! But hey.. I didn’t even know what “agari” (see last post) meant! If he’d said when to get up, I surely would have missed it.

So, finally, I had dozed off somewhere in the wee hours of the morning. The storm shutters (giant metal blinds on the outside of the house) were down for most of the time that I worked for TK Works, so I rarely saw the bedroom in the light of day.

Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention that TK Works was(is) the name of Konomi-sensei’s studio. I’d have you guess what the name stands for, except.. with the boss’s name being Takeshi Konomi, it’s pretty obvious, right? ^.~

When I woke up finally, after maybe an hour of sleep at the best, the bedroom was dark. But I could hear people rustling around, and some voices in the other room. I didn’t want to get up yet, though. I had no idea there was an “wake-up time,” I was still exhausted, and, well…

I just really, really wanted some alone time! I know that it should have sunk in by now, but really, I was still reeling. Roughly 24 hours ago, I had been just arriving at the train station nearby and struggling to call Konomi-sensei for the first time. Thinking that I was going in for an hour or so interview (maybe 3 at the very most, I thought!), it had somehow morphed into a surprise (for me!) overnight visit. What’s more– I still had today and part of tomorrow and.. who knew how long we’d really be there for! Wish that I’d bought underwear the day before (though I still didn’t know that’s what Marie had been asking me about).

I heard people leaving the room, but I stayed inside, all curled up on my bunk bed. I barely fit. Of course I couldn’t go back to sleep, there were too many things to think about. But it was nice having the few minutes alone in the dark.

It wouldn’t last, though. Eventually, Marie (sent by Kaiwa-san I have no doubt!) came back into the room. I, still wanting to remain undisturbed, faked that I was still asleep.

“Jamie?” She gently pushed on my shoulder. “Wake up.. You have to wake up now.”

There wasn’t really any helping it now, so I opened my eyes, and nodded. “Okay..” I didn’t really look at her. But I’m glad that she was gentle.

She left me alone, and so I finally made my way into the main room. A little slowly, mind you. “Ohayo, Jamie,” (ohayo = good morning Kaiwa-san said, as bright and cheerful as he had been all of the day before. I liked him. 🙂 But I am one of those people who can turn on in an instant– a morning person, I guess. 😉 I’m only grumpy late at night, or on the train. (XP)

Sensei wasn’t there yet, but all of the assistants were up and drawing or pretending to draw, chatting here and there. Marie was still inking, and Tamusho was still drawing shoes. I wonder what Kaiwa-san was doing besides watching me.

But anyways, apparently it was time for breakfast, and this time it was takeout from a place called Hotto Motto. Or, Hokaben as Kaiwa-san called it. I couldn’t figure out why at the time, but one day months later I asked, and apparently the chain store used to have a different name, Hokka hokka. Hokaben is also the generic name for a take-out bento.

“Wait.. can you eat rice?” Kaiwa-san suddenly asked me.

Of course.. ^^;; Who can’t eat rice? Well.. I’m sure there are some people who can’t for health reasons, but in general, I think that most people can eat rice. I’ve been asked this question in varying forms (can you eat sushi?, etc) over the years, though.

“Yes, I love Japanese food!” I replied with a smile. I’m pretty easygoing when it comes to food. I eat everything! Except for vinegar. I haaaate vinegar! (What do you hate? Tell me in the comments!)

In the end, Tamusho ordered the food over the phone, and he had to go and pick it up down the block, since they don’t do delivery. Lucky me– I got to go with him! YAY!

But there was one thing– I barely knew him, and it was awkward to be alone. I hadn’t counted on that.


More silence..

Then finally, he broke the silence.

“What made you want to apply to work here?” he asked after we’d picked up the food and were on our way back to the studio.

Now, that’s a hard question, and my Japanese wasn’t up to par. I did the best that I could. “I want to be a manga artist,” I said (and I really love Tenipuri! And I never thought that I’d really get in.).

“That’s really cool,” he said. But that’s where the conversation ended, because we had arrived back at the house. Tamusho knocked on the window next to the front door, and someone (never saw whom) came to the door to let us in.

The day passed much like the day before, without all of the surprises. I got some drawing advice from Kaiwa-san and sensei, and I tried out a maru-pen for the first time.

This is a maru-pen:

They cost almost $1 for each nib (3,000 yen for a box of 36), and I went through several every day in some of my busier times in the studio. Mangaka tools are quite expensive!

Also, Kaiwa-san and Marie started coloring the poster! They used Copic Sketch markers (many mangaka use these. So do I 🙂 ). I found out quickly that Konomi-sensei had boxes and boxes of these markers, AND there are specific colors for every character.

Copic markers:

There was a LOT of talk about Tenipuri, though. I guess it’s to be expected, since these are the people who created the manga, but still.. I had no idea that for most of the day, they would gossip on and on about the anime, the musical, the voice actors, and more.

As I wrote in my journal right after my visit:
“Working with Konomi-sensei and team is like.. spending days&nights locked in a room with a bunch of insane Tenipuri fans. 90% Tenipuri talk including gossip about Tenimyu and all kinds of random stuff and who is going to play together and what match and on and on… It is seriously like fandom x 1000. I had no idea that he was THIS passionate about his work. But everybody in there talks like an insane fan and it kind of rubs off. It’s hard not to get back into it, that’s for sure! ”

Talk like that happened a lot over the time I worked with him, but at the beginning it was definitely the most fervent. Really like being in a room with a bunch of mega-fans! (Maybe I just got used to it over the years, or we all got a bit tired of that talk, lol. I’m not sure which.).

Suffice it to say that despite all of the hardships of the previous day, and the stress of being in unfamiliar territory, it it was a fun day. We ended at about 2am, just like before.

And the next day, I learned a lesson: Even pros make mistakes.

Stay tuned for the next part! ^.~
This time, I’m upping the ante: 30 comments and I will post the next part of my true story! (Get your friends to comment, and spread it around in Tenipuri/anime communities!!)

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(2,090 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.


  • Sumire-chan

    Peas. I hate peas. And garlic. But what can ya do? My mom still forces me to eat garlic. T-T In all honesty, I absolutely can’t stand the stuff!

  • Nicole

    Must be pretty hectic. I would like to get those materials too but apparently the copic markers are pretty expensive… How can you get them at a cheaper price…?

  • Zhao Zo

    I hate vinegar too! The taste makes me abandon the whole food, so my famil members have to eat it up for me! But most of the time now,they try not to add in vinegar in my food! ^^
    Stay Awesome 🙂

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