☆ life

Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p18

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

“Design me an awesome new uniform, you guys!” Sensei had said.

So we did what we had to do, and broke out the copic markers.


(Copic markers are professional markers. A lot of mangaka use the ones with brush tips, and sensei had a cupboard full of them!)

This is where the differences in personalities of us assistants came into play. Su-chan and I, who are the kind who reaches for the stars, and never say die, jumped into it. We scribbled all over our pages, churning out one design after another. All sorts of hilarious combinations!

Most of them were hideous. Mine especially! Su-chan moved her chair to the other side of my desk and we colored facing each other. Whileas meanwhile, Kaiwa-san stopped at one page.

Which, he threw away.

Tamusho stared at his in frustration and said in a quiet tone, “I don’t know about this..” He saved his one page of designs and went back to practicing his speed lines. Tamusho was always very studious, and he was amazing at drawing speed lines. He was my savior in that arena!

Then Marie, after staring at her paper for a long time, colored for about five minutes and then tucked her design quietly underneath a stack of scrap paper on her desk. She went back to practicing inking.

I didn’t really think that any of my designs would be good enough, and honestly, I’d imagined that Sensei would come up with a design of his own and use it, so I let my imagination run wild, and Su-chan did the same thing.

“You know, Atobe seems like the kind of guy who would have a lavender uniform,” she told me quietly, looking up. She pushed a paper across the desk where she’d colored him in lavender.

“Even better,” I giggled, “he would have flowers, too!” I filled in one of my Atobes with yellow flowers on a lavender background.

“Perfect!” Su-chan giggled in response. “And,” she replied, uncapping an orange marker, “Jiro needs some orange stripes.” She drew diagonal stripes over Jiro. We went wild.

In the end, we had two large stacks of designs. Most of which were complete nonsense. There was one that I’d put a lot of thought into, though. During the anime series, I had really liked the color scheme of the Senbatsu team.


(The anime senbatsu team uniforms.)

While considering something in the same color scheme (red, white, black), I thought, “hey, it should have a logo too…” And then, “OH! If it was an international team, then what about something based around the international flag?!”

After a while, this was born:


(My designs. The real thing.)

I’d only colored in Ryoma, and trying out a different style, Atobe (that’s why Atobe looks different). The rest of the characters were blank.

Not much time passed, before Sensei announced, “Okay guys. Let’s see whatcha got.”

Now, here’s something about me: I’ve said it before, but I’m shy, and I don’t have a lot of confidence in my drawings. Moreso at the time, because I didn’t have much experience professionally. So I really, really, wanted to keep them to myself. Especially since I couldn’t seriously imagine Sensei wanting to use my drawings. Aside from the one, I hadn’t been too serious about them, and I had not spent a lot of time on each one. It was just a pile of stupid scribbles.

But grudgingly, all of us aside from Kaiwa-san grudgingly handed over our papers.

Sensei hummed and hawed as he flipped through the pages. It was SO nervewracking!!!! I have no idea how it was for Su-chan, but for me, I just wanted to slink off to the toilet and flush myself down that white porcelain bowl. How could I let sensei, a famous artist who had become a millionaire drawing a manga worshipped around the world by adoring fans, see these scribbles?!!

I did, though, and it was a good thing that I did.

Not too long later, while we were working, or pretending to work in my case, Konomi-sensei finally spoke up.

“Jamie,” I looked up at the sound of his voice. “Did you design this logo yourself?”

He was holding up my red, white, and black design with the logo based after the Japanese flag.

“Yes….” I squeaked out. I’m not sure how I could even talk, my heart was beating so fast. “I based the letters around the red sun on the Japanese flag,” I said.

And then, to my utter delight (or horror?) he smiled. “The hi-no-maru. Just as I expected of you!”

“You’re more Japanese than the Japanese!”


(The Japanese flag.)

It was the first time that I’d been told that. Me? Japanese?? I was loud once I got to know someone, and extremely adventurous, and I hated speaking with the “polite” speech required of the Japanese people when speaking to their bosses (called “keigo”). To me, everyone, no matter how awesome, is still just a person, and I thought that speaking in keigo was putting someone on a pedestal.

Of course, I still put people on pedestals. A very few people, like Sensei, but there were some. I still didn’t like using keigo, though. Those kinds of things made me very unlike a Japanese person.

But I was also painfully shy, especially at first. On the internet I’m pretty outgoing, and once someone knows me, I’m very outgoing (probably too much), but at first, I am really, really nervous.

Maybe that shyness makes me seem Japanese.

I’m not sure. But after that, Konomi-sensei and the others told the same thing many times, and Japanese friends nowadays tell me the same thing. I’ve also been told that I have a “gentle spirit,” so that might help to explain it.

Anyways, the next words out of his mouth both thrilled and scared the bejeezus out of me. “I love it! Let’s go with this,” he said.

Hey. Wait. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaattttt???????!?!?!?!?!!

I must have looked really dumbfounded, staring at him like that. This wasn’t supposed to happen! There was no way. NO WAY. That I was good enough to design something little, much less a huge element of the series like the uniforms!!!

“Jaime, that’s so cool!” Marie glanced at me shyly. “That’s your design!”

I couldn’t answer her either. Luckily, Sensei saved me, “Can you finish coloring in the rest of the team?”

I managed somehow to nod, and the final result was the picture that you saw above.

When I turned that in, Sensei handed me another 2 sheets of paper, this time old drawings from Tenipuri with Ryoma standing in the center. “I want you to draw a bigger version here,” he said.

This is what happened:


(I kept a photocopies of these!)

After I’d turned it in, and Sensei was conversing quietly with Kaiwa-san, making notes about the design, I didn’t wait and started looking through copies of old manuscripts.

I didn’t feel much more worthy, but I did have a direction: I was looking for a picture of a character in a polo shirt. Any character. I felt like I needed to do better picture of the inner shirt.

What I found, photocopied, and eventually colored in was this:


(I kept this one, too!)

Sensei and Kaiwa-san were still talking quietly when I offered up this paper, slipping it onto his desk next to the two of them.

“This is the inner shirt design,” I said.

Sensei and Kaiwa-san both looked at me, then at the paper. “The jersey is different than the jacket?” he asked? I guess he hadn’t noticed.

“Yeah, see it’s red in the original picture,” I said timidly.

“Hmmm,” he said, and looked back at the picture.

He hates it, I thought. I knew it. I should have just stopped at the first design. I turned around to go back to my desk, thoroughly intimidated, when Sensei stopped me.

“This is pretty good.” I turned around, and my mouth fell open, I’m sure. “This is it. We’ve decided.” He held the first and last pictures out to Kaiwa-san, grinning.

And I’ll never forget the words that he said next. I can’t remember our celebratory dinner that night, although we did go somewhere, but what he said then will stick in my head forever:

“Fax these to Watanabe-kun,” he said. “And then make copies for everyone here.” Then he turned to me.

“We’re going to announce the new designs at JUMP Festa next month,” he said. “Your drawings are going to be shown on the big screen.”

I can’t adequately describe how I felt at the time. Completely elated, yet completely petrified, maybe. I thought that I might die, that’s for sure.

It was a huge, huge honor. And hugely, hugely terrifying.

Stay tuned for the next post: Jump Festa 2009 is about to start, but??!!

Comments?? \(^o^)/ How would you have felt in my shoes?

(914 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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