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Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p10

Part 10, banzai!! (*^ワ^*)

I’ve been writing this for a long time! And there are still many, many more stories to tell~

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

Here are answers to questions asked on part 9:

Haze: As you got the chance to know your mates more, were you able to find out if they also aspire to get a manga on their own like you do, or are more into building a career as an illustrator, which is what an assistant is tho?
A:Oh yes definitely! We had a lot of time to get to know each other. And yes, all of the members there aspired to be mangaka themselves. ^^ Some of them even had editors assigned to them from different magazines, although they weren’t able to get published yet.

Haze: Were they also self taught or some actually studied in some art or design school(I know most are self taught, but just curious)?
A: Two of the assistants had actually went to art school (one went to a mangaka school), and one was self-taught. ^^ Me, I went to an art school too, but it didn’t teach manga techniques, so I don’t know whether I’d be considered self-taught or not, lol. Some of the things that I learned in my architecture class actually came in really handy for my assistant days. ^^

Shannon: Were you nervous about what to wear?
I don’t know if your wardrobe was already super cute at the time, but for me, I would be worrying when I showed up to work thinking: “Is this cute enough? Professional-looking enough?” Or did everyone just wear jeans or sweatpants, since you’re sitting for hours just drawing?

A: My wardrobe wasn’t cute at all, but I didn’t really worry about my time in the studio. Everyone wore track pants and t-shirts (we changed if we went outside together– then I put in some effort!), so I didn’t have to worry at all. ^^

Kyle: Could you say/explain Japanese jokes, or explain what the Japanese find funny? But should you talk about Japanese jokes you’ve heard or how they respond to some western jokes, or their humor culture?
A:Oh my.. this is a really, really involved topic. The sense of humor in Japan is definitely different from the US, and most of it is pun-based or body-humor based (also toilet humor is big, even with adults!). I’d say the Japanese are funny, but mainly to other Japanese, or people who have the same sense of humor. It’s a cultural thing. I’ll try to write a post about it sometime. 🙂

Shannon: Is sensei looking for new assistants? XD
A: Even though you said you were kidding, I figured that I’d answer anyways! At the time of writing this, he isn’t seeking new assistants, but you can check this webpage for updates!

Kate: Must be kind of weird to spend so much time with your co-workers, they must have become kind of like a family to you, ne?
A: They did! They’re me Tenipuri-family ^^

Kari: i wanna know about when you finally got paid though! lol.
A: I totally forgot to mention that I actually got paid both times! It was a very low amount, though. Very, very low, although it went up over time 🙂

Ranchan: Was this a normal practice (ie, did Sensei usually take the entire staff out somewhere every so often – not including mealtimes)?
A: In the beginning, we weren’t working on the comic yet, so he took us out a lot. But over time we became more and more busy, so we only went out once in a blue moon, even to eat. ;_;

Ranchan: So, you went over there for basically an overnight stay, went for a 2-hr drive, went golfing, and then were told “see you next week”. On your way back to your apartment, what was going through your mind when you realized that’s pretty much what happened?
A: I was like, “……. :D!! I just got paid for playing golf! This job is awesome!”

Mouri_shin: How long did that drawing end up taking you?
A: Oh man, I don’t even know. Let’s just say that it took a long, long time. Mostly because I was nervous and wasn’t exactly sure what they wanted in terms of style/ability.

Angel: I was just wondering, did you have issues when you first used a g-pen?
A: I still haven’t used a G-pen very much (I didn’t use it in Tenipuri). But I do use it at home when I draw. I’d say I’m not very good, since I always end up with wobbly lines and scratching the paper! There is a learning curve, and I think that nobody is good at using it straight away. It takes practice! ^^ Tell your friend that the more he practices, the better he will get!

TK: From the way it’s written… did you quit your teaching job before you knew if you were hired? If so.. why?
A: Actually, yes I did. It was pretty much a leap of faith. Also, if I had the teaching job, I couldn’t have done the assistant job. So I went on instinct, and I’m glad that I did! =^^=

Rachael: I was wondering if Marie’s name is pronounced as まりえ or as it’s pronounced in America.
A: It’s pronounced in the Japanese way (though it’s not her real name). ^^

Mizu: Huh, so he’s a golf fan?
A: He is! I looked on youtube, but I couldn’t find a copy of any of his interviews. If I do, I’ll link them here! In a lot of them, he talks about how much he loves golf.

Denise: Were you somewhat nervous when Konomi-sensei drove you guys around for two hours for breakfast?
A: Nope! Sensei doesn’t come off as dangerous at all, so no need to worry. Sometimes I think he’s just a bit whimsical is all!! (A trait we have in common!)

Denise: And can I just squee~ about Sensei loving golf? Is that the reason why Yagyuu does his golf and then tennis thing?
A: I have no idea… but probably, lol!

Blayne: Two hour drive?! Going golfing?! Hey- what’s going on? I didn’t think he’d have the time… Oh, is it because he draws for a monthly magazine?
A: I doubt he has the time now, but in the beginning, we weren’t working on the manga yet (we started in December), so there was a lot of free time!

April: By then did you still have no idea how insane work would be when production actually starts?
A: Not a clue!

Miri: Does it make you feel emotional looking back on them?
A: It does. Sometimes moreso than others. ^^

Ann: Did Sensei always pay for meals when you ate out?
A: Yep, every time! I didn’t know it then, but it’s actually standard for the mangaka to provide meals during the work hours! :O I wish every job did that!

Ann: On average, how many days would you stay overnight at the studio at a time?
A: It varied hugely! The shortest we stayed was 2 days, and the longest was 2 weeks! 2 weeks without going home even once! Near the end, the average was 5-7 days, then a two day break or so, and come back for 5-7 days.

Jamal: lmfao why were you gonna ask him was he gay ??? did he seem gay ? and did you ever find out if he was or wasn’t?
A: LOL maybe it was just me, but… Well, Tenipuri has basically no female characters, and there are a number of shower scenes and scenes with guys in sweaty, sexy poses. I kind of thought that if he liked drawing that, he must be gay. I don’t think that he’s gay anymore, though, but he could have been hiding it. XD He just knows what his fans like!

November 3rd finally rolled around.

Tenimyu. Or, in it’s longer version, Musical Prince of Tennis. Back in 2009, it was kind of a phenomenon. It helped launch hundreds of careers for cute little teenage Japanese boys. It was also a big factor in what made Konomi-sensei into a millionaire.

For me, I was a single girl who loved Tenipuri and also loved slash/yaoi, and the idea of a bunch of boys playing tennis on stage, singing, and dancing was just so bizarre.

So naturally, I was a huge fan. I’d been a huge fan for years. I even had my own favorite cast members (it was more about the cast members than the characters themselves).

And the idea of going to the musical with the creatorI was almost more than I could handle. Inside, it was all I could think about. That, and that I had to DIET! If there was even the slightest chance of meeting those legendary boys, I had to look my best. (Girls, tell me you wouldn’t do the same 😉 )

To be honest, I was actually told at the time not to talk about this on my blog. But I figure that since a few years have passed, and none of those actors are in Tenimyu anymore, that as long as I don’t name names I’ll be okay. (It was because the agencies of many of the Tenimyu actors were really strict at the time, especially when it came to girls interacting with any of them in any, even an innocent, way! Don’t rat me out, guys! 😉 )

I don’t remember anymore how much I succeeded with my diet, considering that we only had a few days between coming home from golfing work and going to the musical, but I’m sure that I tried my best. I also went shopping, and ended up picking up a sparkly black kind of poncho-ish top. I thought that it looked really sophisticated (and I had nothing else aside from t-shirts!). So, I was all ready for the musical by Monday, and trying to pretend like I wasn’t.

In reality, just going through my normal every-day routine of showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, studying, etc, was really hard for me. I just wanted to daydream about my future as the best friend of XX actor! (nobody in particular, any of them would do, lol!)

So, Monday finally rolled around, and at about 8 in the morning, a mail finally came through on my cell phone from Konomi-sensei about the musical. When and where we were supposed to meet. I was trying to be nonchalant and cool, so I didn’t reply right away (rest assured that I had kept my cell phone on the pillow next to me all night just so I’d be sure to hear the chime!).

Apparently, that was the wrong decision, since about 20 minutes later a phone call came though. I looked at the screen: Konomi Takeshi-sensei.

Oops. Guess he was waiting for my reply!! When I answered, a bundle of nerves, he asked if I’d understood everything in the email and whether I was going to be able to come or not. (Of course I was! I was secretly bursting inside with anticipation!) But I just told him “yes,” trying to keep the my voice from wibbling.

“Your name will be written down at the special visitors entrance, so just ask there. If there’s any kind of a problem, you should call Watanabe-san,” he said. (Watanabe-san, if you remember, is the editor of Shin Prince of Tennis, and the guy who first called me to schedule an interview with Konomi-sensei.)

“Wait. You haven’t met him yet, have you?” he asked suddenly.

“Not yet,” I replied, getting more nervous by the second.

“Don’t worry, he’s a really nice guy” Sensei replied. I’m sure that he meant to sound assuring, but I don’t think anything would have calmed me.

I got Watanabe-san’s number and said goodbye after confirming the plans, and finally went back to bed.

Of course, I couldn’t sleep a wink. Eventually I just gave up trying and got ready and headed off to Ikebukuro early.

You might think that this is an excuse, but all of the pictures that I took at the time (there were a lot!), were lost when my hard drive crashed last year. So, even though I wanted to post a picture of at least me alone, I couldn’t! (I’m so sorry! I really am!)

This musical was the senshuuraku, or last performance of this run, and it often included a special performance or message at the end, so it was, of course, completely sold out. What’s more, when I got the venue an hour early, the area near the concert hall was totally and completely packed with hundreds of girls waiting to go inside. I was armed with a glossy photo of the favorite actor of a friend of mine, my camera, my purse, and a giant black marker, just in case there was the slightest chance that I’d be able to get his autograph for her. I had no idea whether I’d get to meet him (or anybody) at the time, but just the thought made me feel giddy.

I didn’t want to be that weird girl who went inside early and revealed her giggly fangirl side to the entire world, so instead of going in early, I met up with another friend. She had brought along a Japanese friend of hers whom also wanted to get an autograph (of, coincidentally, my very favorite actor at the time), so I took her photos too and after chatting for a while, the time had come.

It was time to go inside.

*doki doki* (the sound of a heart racing frantically)

This assistant thing was still pretty new to me. Plus, we hadn’t yet started the manga. So, honestly, even though I was treated as a member of the team when I was escorted by a smiley and friendly Watanabe-san in through the staff door, past the stage where a bunch of the actors were practicing, past rooms full of boys half-dressed and in various states of makeup, most of them laughing and appearing to have a good time, up an elevator and to a room where Konomi-sensei and the other assistants were waiting, I still felt like kind of an impostor.

It felt a lot like I was a fan stuck in an artist’s body. All I’d been until then was a fan. Then, suddenly one day, I was working with Konomi Takeshi. And now, suddenly I was being led around like a VIP to the musical. Sure, I had passed a test of sorts, and I had been through a lot int he last few days, but did I really deserve my dream coming true?! (Just had to score a touch on one of the actors now to die a happy girl, right?)

In the room, I sat at a little round table with Kaiwa-san and the other assistants, while Sensei had his hair done at a table nearby. I hadn’t known for sure beforehand, but apparently Sensei was going to go on stage afterwards and make the first official announcement about the continuation of the Tenipuri manga!

More *doki doki* It wasn’t me who was going to be on stage, but I felt nervous all the same.

Marie and Tamusho were quiet, but Kaiwa-san was a ball of energy as usual and chatted up the staff members, Sensei, and me about anything and everything Tenimyu. He was a fan too, even though he’d been with Tenipuri since before the musical ever started. He finally got me to open up a little bit (if he could be a fan, then it was okay for me to be too!), and he admitted that he hoped that he’d be able to take a picture with his favorite cast member, Hiroki Aiba. Aiba played Fuji, and Kaiwa-san was a huge fan of Fuji.

Kind of riding on the wave of excitement, we made a pact: I’d find a way for him to get a picture with Aiba if possible, and he’d take a picture of me with Ryoma’s actor.

Ryoma was my favorite character, and the actor who played him this time was just adorable enough to want to be put in my pocket! It had actually become a bit of a running joke by this time, that whenever someone mentioned his name, Kaiwa-san would chip in with, “the one who goes in your pocket, right Jamie?”

At least, since the boy was 14 there was no suggested sexual innuendo. ^.~

Finally, finally, the time rolled around to come out of the room, and Sensei in the lead, we headed to the front stage…

Sorry to leave off there! But stay tuned– I’ll post the second part of this adventure in Tenimyu tonight!!

(If you’d like to learn more about the musical, you can check here or here.)

(1,317 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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