☆ life

Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p20

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

We returned to the studio on a bright, sunny winter day. It was cold. December in Japan is really, really cold, and really dry. Two nights before, us assistants had received an email from Sensei saying, “All right, the day after tomorrow you guys should come in to the studio at noon.”

“Bring dress clothes to wear to JUMP Festa,” he said.

Two day’s notice. Alright. I mean, sure. The job was still sparkly and new to me, so I didn’t mind the crazy schedule.

It was a week until JUMP Festa was set to begin, and I was pretty excited. I had gotten the photos from my friend, and had them in hand.

Sensei was delighted to receive them. And this, this is where the real work started.

We all got our first real drawing assignments. Up until then, everything had been for “practice,” and all of the backgrounds that we had been drawing were of the “may or may not be used” variety. It didn’t feel official, at all. Except the uniforms, of course. But those still felt a bit like a dream. Like it wasn’t real.

This, however, was.

The picture that Sensei handed me was pretty small. It wasn’t even that complicated. Just a few buildings in a blue sky. But my feelings weren’t small, or uncomplicated. My mind was racing, my heart was racing, and setting pen to paper seemed like that hardest thing that I would ever do.

It took me forever to make that first line.

The funny thing was, I was making the first line in pencil. It was going to be erased in the end anyways, but I still couldn’t get over the feeling that things were getting very, very real.

I definitely spent the better part of a day on it. I’d be embarrased now to spend more than a few hours on a picture like this, but back then it seemed like an impossible lifeline.

What came out?


Do you see it there on the top right?

The first panel on the first page of the first chapter.

Timidly, I turned it in to Kaiwa-san.

It seemed to pass the test, because he told me to make a photocopy of it and paste it onto the manga page.


I mentioned it a few posts back, but the way that things worked most of the time was that complicated backgrounds, ones that might possibly be used again, were made on copy paper. Then, they were cut out and pasted onto the manuscript with rubber cement. But it was my first time encountering this.

Luckily, it’s as simple as it sounds. But more than that…. in order to paste it on, I had to handle an actual manga page!

I’d seen them, but I had never, ever handled one that was going to be used in a real manga. I was ecstatic!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. That feeling might become routine later, I thought, but I was going to cherish it forever. The first manga page that I ever handled, and the first time that I drew on one myself!


That week was full of little sleep and a lot of challenges. I drew one thing after another, each of them different and challenging. In particular, I spent hours agonizing over getting the giant bottom of Ryoma’s shoe just perfect.

The second thing that I drew was Ryoma’s bag on the bottom right:

It was based off of a real picture in a magazine.

Then, the trains and floor in the top right, scene here, and the whistle in the middle:

That’s the shoe that I talked about in the middle there. Seriously, I used rules and drew for hours! Only to have all of the details muted in the final copy, lol (you can see it better if you look at the volume in person). I also drew in the handle of Ryoma’s racket on the left.:

And, also, the english dialogue. Well, it helps to have a native speaker in the house. 🙂

I was quite proud of most of the dialogue. 🙂

Even the last one. I’m pretty proud now, but at the time, Sensei and I had our first argument.

“Sensei,” I said, after bringing up to him dialogue that I thought matched his Japanese right, “I don’t think a punky kid would say “miracle boy” in New York.

“Jamie, it’s a manga,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be perfectly realistic.”

These days I would have left it alone, but I didn’t. Like I said, I was pretty shy, but I was also a bit belligerent. ^^;;;

“I still don’t think that anyone would say this. People are going to laugh at it,” I said.

“Well,” Sensei regarded me cautiously. “What do you think they’d say, then?”

Gaaaaahhhhh…. I was so rude. It wasn’t even my manga! And of course, it’s a fictional story! I really should have let it go. But I didn’t, and so I said,

“I think if anything, they’d swear at him. Or say something really cruel,” I mentioned.

“It’s a manga,” Sensei repeated.

“I dunno,” I said, and crawled away to my desk. If I had to think about it now, I’d say that I felt a lot of pride in writing the english dialogue, so I wanted it to be as realistic as possible, and that’s why I was upset. I am just lucky that Sensei is very forgiving. And easygoing. And generous.

We got through the week, and my feelings of hurt eventually mingled with excitement over doing so much real manga work, and excitement over JUMP Festa. Friday night finally rolled around, and we were finished with these first few pages. (All the way through the New York sequence, for those that have read it.)

“Should I send you home now and have you guys come home in the morning for JUMP Festa, or do you want to stay over?” he finally asked us.

I guess we were all homesick, because everyone except for Marie, who lived 4 hours away in a completely different prefecture, went home for the night.

Bright and early, I showed up to the train station at Makuhari Messe, squished in between 8 million other people who were all going to the same place, apparently. They all got off at the same station as me.

Jostled this way and that, I was really grateful for the padding of my winter coat! I sent a text message to Su-chan, and after what felt like forever looking, we met up in the station and headed for our first JUMP Festa as guests.

To be continued in this week’s final post, tomorrow!
Stay tuned!!

(900 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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