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Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p8

To everybody who is cheering me along in writing these: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Your cheering me on is really what is keeping me going. =^-^=

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

First off, let’s answer tthe questions from part 7 ^-^ :

Steph: Anyway, how much Japanese did you know when you first went there?
A: You can find the answer in my posts about my past here. ^^
Su Su: How was your Japanese before and after working as a manga assistant? How much did you improve?
A: As I said before, it was pretty bad, but I could do basic conversation. As for the latter, it will come clear through this series, so stay tuned!
Kyle: Did drawing manga help you learn Kanji by proximity to the other mangaka, and the characters actual usage of it in the stories?
A: Not really, but reading manga sure helped me! I read manga now for practice all of the time.
Katie: Where in America did you come from before heading off to Japan?
A: You can find the answer in my posts about my past here. ^^
Scott: I was wondering though, while working at the studio, how did the approval process go? Like, how did you know when you were done with your task to Konomi-sensei’s liking?
A: Good question!! Basically it goes: Personal approval → Kaiwa-san → Sensei. Sensei always had the final say. Which makes sense, since it’s his manga after all!
Helene: Aren’t you at all sad that you had to quit working for him?
A: I was at first, but not anymore. I’m glad to be free of it now! =)
Jamal: How did you learn to speak and read Japanese ?
A: Lol, everyone wants to know! Alright, I will make a post about it soon ^^
Gregory: Does Konomi-sensei ever ask his assistants about the plot? Does he use assistants as sounding boards for his ideas on what to write next?
A: He does sometimes, yes. ^^I think mainly when he’s stuck or not sure.
Sally: What do you know about copic caio markers, are they any different from standard copic markers aside from the price?
A: Sketch and Ciao markers have a brush tip, which the regular markers don’t. I pretty much only use the brush tip myself!
Denise: Was it hard for you to adjust to the TK Works schedule?
A: Yes! Yes yes yes very hard! As you’ll find out soon 🙂
TK: It would bother me to find out an illustration I’d admired for it’s coloring job, thinking the original artist did it, was done by someone else – because no credit was given :\ Or is it given on the image?
A: That’s one of the things about being an assistant– pretty much all of your credit goes to the artist. But then again, you are working for them, so..
Perky: Any really fun gossip? Not the really personal stuff of course, but silly stories that you can share about any of the TeniPuri/Myu/Seiyuus/characters?
A: I have so many stories!! But it’s hard to decide what is okay to tell and what isn’t. I will have to decide on a case-by-case as I go along basis! I may tell some without naming names, if it’s funny or interesting. ^^
Perky: I must ask, did Konomi-sensei ever say anything about Inui?
A: Oh yes! Mainly that he loves using Inui for gags.
Aya: Q1. Was it hard to use the maru-pen at first? Q2. What time did you wake up in the morning?
A: Q1: It was very frustrating. I still don’t like to use it, actually. LOL Q2: It varied based on the day. A common time was probably 10 or 11 am. ^^

So, shall we go now! =^-^=

When I left off, it was the end of my second day in Konomi-sensei’s studio in Chiba.

The first two days had been hectic (the second not so much a shocker as the first!!), but I can’t say that I was getting used to it quite yet. Thankfully, my “real” job teaching english at Digital Hollywood University in Akihabara had graciously agreed to let me off the hook for the rest of the week. Actually, my close friend Adrian who had gotten me the job there, and my boss Joe, were more than supportive. (By the way, they run a great business selling anime figurines here: http://tokyo-hunter.com/)

“Go for it! This is the opportunity of a lifetime!” they told me when I relayed the situation over my cell phone. They were right, of course. If I didn’t take this opportunity, I would have never forgiven myself. It’s little moves like this that shape the rest of our lives, right?

So, here came day three.

I woke up around 10 am with everyone else this time. No oversleeping faux-paus this time for me! And so the day continued.

Me: practicing on the same picture. Tamusho drawing shoes. Kaiwa-san and Marie coloring in most of the pictures, but leaving the skin and the sky bare.

As I mentioned before, they were working on this:

A note for fans: Did you know that there are specific marker colors designated for specific outfits?

For example, B95 is the color *always* used to color in Hyoutei’s uniform jerseys. R29 is the shade of red used for the U-17 Jerseys. (The official Copic color chart is here.)

So, the day passed. It was kind of boring, actually, until around midday when Sensei came in to see how things were going.

First-off, he had Kaiwa-san copy the drawing of the racket handle that Ryoma was throwing into the sky. (Do you see it on the top right-hand side of the drawing, sticking out from the top?)

He gave one copy to me, and one to Marie, and asked us both to color it in. Whichever he liked, he would use!

!!!!!!! WHAT?! USE MY WORK???!!! ALREADY??!!

Little lowly me, who was just here for a (very extended) interview? This was seeming more and more like work and less like an interview. Even though that’s what it was (I was not the last person to go through that process!).

But in any case, although inside I was ecstatic, I was also thinking, “ME?! I’m not worthy!!”

I wasn’t ready, mentally. Not at all. But, after comparing our pieces for a few seconds (really, it all happened so fast!), he chose Marie’s.

Oh well. Ready or not, it would have been cool anyways. Maybe, just maybe, he sensed that it might give me a heart attack and decided to hold off for the moment. ^.~

It sure was a nice break from having to draw the same old landscape for hours and hours. By the way, it’s not apparent in the end product, but the colored handle was cut out and pasted on top of the finished picutre 🙂

After that, Konomi-sensei ended up airbrushing the sky and the red metal posts on the picture with the NOISIEST AIR-COMPRESSOR EVER!

After that, all that was left was the skin. As assistants, we were allowed to do a lot of color work over the time that I worked there, but Sensei always did the skin himself. Maybe because it’s a pride thing, or maybe he just likes to do it… I’ll never know! 🙂 I never once colored the skin of a character in a final piece, and I don’t think that any of the other assistants did either.

So there we were, working quietly for once, when, “Aaaaaaaaaack!” A big exclamation came from the BIG DESK AT THE FRONT.

We were all curious, but only me and Kaiwa-san rushed up to the desk right away. “Ugh, I made a mistake,” Sensei said, and we turned to look down at the drawing.

Right there, through the middle of Ryoma’s hand (the far away one), was a giant black streak.

It seemed that while he was coloring, the flesh-colored marker had picked up some of the ink used for the lines and stretched it across the hand. ACK! I was panicking internally. What was he going to do?

I mean, white out might fix a mistake on a black-and-white paper, but you can’t color over white-out with markers! All that work, gone to waste!

.. But far more important…. PRO MANGAKAS MAKE MISTAKES?!

Somehow, I had assumed that pros didn’t make mistakes like that. That’s why they were pros after all (and I was not)!

But, this was my first lesson in: Honey, pros make mistakes. All the time, actually.

Shimatta. (“Shit” in Japanese)

Nobody actually said that, but that’s what I would have thought if I could think in Japanese yet. Instead, Kaiwa-san said, “No worries, I’ve got it covered.”

And, he did. He took the poster, traced the hand onto a piece of photocopy paper and had Marie ink it. Then he cut it out with an x-acto knife, pasted it on top of the ruined hand with some simple rubber cement, and returned it to Sensei.

It was like someone had just erased the mistake altogether! You couldn’t even tell that there had been a horrible coloring mistake underneath.

It was a huge revelation to me. You know what saying about how people are afraid to try in case they fail?

I think it’s like that. There were a lot of things that I was afraid to try, in case I made a mistake. In case I didn’t get the outcome that I wanted. But from that moment on: not anymore. Whatever I could do, I would give it my best try, I decided. 🙂

And, well, soon after that, things were drawing to a close. Sensei let us go home. I lingered probably a little too long, trying to get some chatting time in with him (I can’t remember for the life of me what we chatted about). I wasn’t sure whether this would be my last time meeting him or not, but I REALLY hoped not. I wanted to continue this job. I wanted to continue it SO BADLY.

Eventually, Tamusho and I left. We were the last to leave, and he had to show me the way back to the station. I don’t really remember what we were chatting about, either. Because, to me, I was kind of living in a dream.

I’ll leave you with some more of what I wrote in my personal journal right after I got home:

So… basically I’m in a bit of a tryout phase. Work with everyone several days a week (staying over) in these marathon sessions and if I am good enough, then I will be hired to staff in the future. Right now there’s not much production going on, it’s mainly practice even for the staff that was already hired from before. So if I fight and fight hard, then I will be able to become a part of the regular staff! I’m so happy!! But everything is changing,I really have never done something like this before and it means that I’m having to quit my regular job teaching. Yeeps, but I am really happy about that!! As if I would be sad about leaving a teaching job. ESPECIALLY when I have something this awesome to go to instead!! :3

*kirakira* I’m so happy!!!! And Konomi-sensei is going to work with me on my japanese. He can’t speak a lick of english, btw. There was subtle jab in there that I won’t elaborate on, but basically my level will go up and fast the more that I go there! I am looking forward to next week already! Though I have homework.. who ever knew that speed lines were this complicated?! I didn’t, but GANBARIMASU!!

PS: I have Konomi-sensei’s cell phone number and email aaaahn~ ♥ I guess that it’s just normal for an assistant to have it, but I am really happy about that :3 :3 *dork* I wish that I could introduce him to everyone that I know!! But he is super-busy..

(I was just a little bit excited ^.~ Remember, I was a HUGE fan of Tenipuri back then!)

Next time: You got called in and paid to do WHAT?!! (with some pictures) Now that’s living the life!

35 comments and I’ll post the next part! So get commenting (please)!! (*^o^*)/

(1,725 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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