♡ Working as an Assistant on the Prince of Tennis ♡

Working as an Assistant on the Prince of Tennis:
My journey working under one of the most successful manga artists in Japan

What do you think? Should I apply?

It would be totally awesome to be Konomi-sensei’s assistant, don’t you think? ^^;;;
Maybe he likes tall, cute gaijin enough that he’ll overlook my lacking language skills?
*starts studying like mad*

That was the entry that I posted on my old livejournal, on September 4, 2008. My Japanese wasn’t that great, but it was passable, and good enough in the end. I shouldn’t have been worried, because I ended up working for Konomi-sensei for well over a year, beginning one of the most interesting, tumultuous periods in my life.

This is the true story of when I worked for Konomi-sensei as a manga assistant on The Prince of Tennis. I’ve written it here for anyone who wants to become a mangaka’s assistant. It’s also for anyone that lacks the courage or support to follow their dreams. And for anyone that just wants to see what the inside of a manga studio in Japan looks like, from the perspective of a tall, white foreign girl.

☆ Part 1: Sending in the application..
☆ Part 2: The interview that changed my life..
☆ Part 3: Hey, wait.. what do you mean, bed?
☆ Part 4: Let’s buy some what.. shitagi?
☆ Part 5: Please let me eat.. T_T
☆ Part 6: A little bit too much..
☆ Part 7: What’s a maru-pen?
☆ Part 8: Where I ALMOST got published..
☆ Part 9: Going.. golfing?!
☆ Part 10: Do you mean we’re going to the msucial.. together?!?!
☆ Part 11: Getting to go backstage for the first time..
☆ Part 12: Way, waaay too eager.
☆ Part 13: You would swoon, too! You know you would. 😉
☆ Part 14: Back to work! Filming on location!
☆ Part 15: A special lunch!
☆ Part 16: Filming in a different location! We encounter Golf again.
☆ Part 17: Speed lines, I hate you.
☆ Part 18: The BEST. THING. EVER!
☆ Part 19: Root Beer????
☆ Part 20: Really real work and an argument!
☆ Part 20.5: A little interlude.
☆ Part 21: Jump Festa!
☆ Part 22: Crash course in screen tones!
☆ Part 23: Where it all starts to go downhill.
☆ Part 24: The Honeymoon is over.
☆ Part 25: Goodbye Su-chan. T_______T
☆ Part 26: Internal Affairs.
☆ Part 27: Stretching myself to the limit!
☆ Part 28: The tale of the 31 mysterious boxes!
☆ Part 29: In which I act like a lovesick idiot (with chocolate).
☆ Part 30: In which I get published omgomgomg!!!
☆ Part 31: Served another curveball!
☆ Part 32: Oh, it’s only the beginning!
☆ Part 33: Tenimyu with Sensei again♡
☆ Part 34: Juggling three jobs, tired. Tired. Tiiiiiired.
☆ Part 35: Dream Live 6th and putting off work.. again.
☆ Part 36: Oh my, we’re going to be on tv! It’s Saki-yomi JanBANG!
☆ Part 37: ♬ Tenipuri tte ii na 
☆ Part 38: Gaman.
☆ Part 39: Composing myself in Shueisha.
☆ Part 40: Kai-pan no Oujisama.
☆ Part 41: Pairpuri?!
☆ Part 42: Volume one is out YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!
☆ Part 43: Tenipuri Festa, part 1!
☆ Part 44: Afterparty with the Tenipuri seiyuu!
☆ Part 45: How Sensei helped me get a visa.
☆ Part 46: Making a new friend at the end of summer!
☆ Part 47: Jump Festa and growing unrest.
☆ Part 48: The end… yet not the end.
☆ Part 49: The best going-away party ever.
☆ Part 50 (the end!): Moon Walker Ltd. and the end?

☆ Omake: Su-chan and the backpack boobs 🙂
☆ Omake: Tamusho’s great plan.

(22,050 geeks have read this)


  • Donny Yi george

    Thanks for living this and sharing your story. It’s helpful to understand the workings of a mangaka, because the American comic industry is so different. I sometimes think if I was in Japan, that’s what I’d do (or be a doujin). The work style seems ideal to me and is pretty much how I operate.

    I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you’re really hot too 😉 lol you’re also very skilled artist and excellent storyteller, especially in serial format. You should make manga about it.

    • Yash Vardhan

      I am also an Indian guy with the same dream as you. I would love to see your work and show you some of mine too because I don’t have many friends who know and support my dream. I hope you’re up for it. You can email me at yash.vardhan.im@gmail.com or find me under the name psycolops on Instagram. Thanks

  • Chakri

    I am an Indian and I want to become a mangaka artist.can you pls tell me how to start my career in becoming a mangaka artist.

  • Jessica

    Hello Jamie,

    My name is Jessica and I’m a very dedicated 20 nearly 21 year artist. I’ve been drawing ever since I figured out I could make silly shapes on a a surface, including permanent marker and walls >^¬^< freshly painted one's much o my mother's dismay. Though I can not remember the grade or age I picked up on drawing Japanese manga all I remember is how much fun I had learning to draw them after seeing someone draw their own right before my eyes. Creating a simple figure in a standing pose with old fashioned styled dress was simple easy enough to learn. I've tried to get the guts to create my own Manga for years now, but EVERY TIME I make a little progress something always makes me hate the concept or a character I thought up in words on paper didn't have what I imagined them having as I drew it later on. I was wondering if you could help with this and share some tips on how to get over this one of many other hurdles I need to jump?

    Also even if I've been drawing manga for such a long time there is still something's I still absolutely not do for the life of me even after this many years.

    Like the following:

    1. I still can't get the right proportions.
    2. Backgrounds.
    3. Shade.
    4. The lines in the hair.
    5. I can not draw a male.
    6. Many characters for one story.
    7. How to make each height different.
    8. Expressions.
    9. Inking.
    10. Movement.
    11. Coming up with originality to my art
    12. How to stick with what's going on in the story.
    13. And I'm heavy handed.

    I know this is a lot to ask for all at once but please help me, I am sick of wanting to do my own manga and possibly later on a anime of it then have something get me frustrated and give up like I have for the years past that I've been trying only to hate what I thought up and toss the Idea aside and do other things for awhile, before trying to attempt to take another crack at it and the same thing happens again.

    I don't know what to do at this point and was inspired by your blog to ask a expert's opinion.

    Is there anyway I could send you some of my art and share past Ideas as well as present?

  • Leyres

    Dear Ms. Lano

    I really am inspired by all your blogs in becoming a mangaka one day but I don’t know where to start my path to reaching my goal.

    I’m a 15 year old girl and I am not Japanese. I don’t know how to speak Japanese but I am thinking of learning how to speak, read, and as well as write Japanese. They say it might take more than five years to be fluent but I’ll give it my best. If it would take this long then I’d take it because I really am serious about becoming a mangaka or perhaps an assistant to start off. I’ve been drawing since I was little and I’m still practicing on getting better and better although I do not know if they’re good enough. But I don’t consider my drawings bad or awful but I don’t know if they’re good enough or if they are no good. If I could send you some of my drawings and help me figure out what I need to work on to improve, that’ll be greatly appreciated.

    I’ve tried drawing and and creating my characters lately but I don’t know if I’m getting anywhere. I think I can create a story of my own but I think they mostly be about love and romance since I’m not good with action stories that much (~.~) I might give it a shot though sometimes.

    Yours truly
    Thank you

  • koveka wittika

    Dear Ms.Lano
    Thanks for being an awesome mangaka!!
    im 14 in high school and want to be a mangaka, but i dont know how to define how good i am at drawing though i’ll probably sent you an email with a picture of one of my characters in it. I got lots of questions i wanna ask you like;… can i still be a mangaka in japan even though im black (y’know cause you said in japan white caucasian women usually get more attention) and how many hours of manga practice do i need to be a pro mangaka? plus your awesome! and can i stil be a pro mangaka even though some of the almost no japanese i know is konichiwa and domo arigato? and also do you know any sites where i can get some free ebooks that can teach me more on manga and drawing/creating it and that teach me how to speak read and write japanese? plus your awesome!!
    yours truly
    koveka (pronounced ko-ve-ka)
    P.S. your AWETEOUS(that’s awesome+righteous)!!!!
    P.P.S. Please please PLEASE answer my questions!!!!

    • Love❤Com

      Hello Koveka,
      I am sure if she hasn’t already, Jamie will get back to you. I wanted to encourage you to keep it up. Don’t worry about your skin color too much. Any foriegner gets lots of attention in Japan, because your foreign and physically look different than the Japanese, I’ve had the pleasure of living there for 6 months while studying abroad. (I’m also black). I was planning to return to teach English but I got married after college 🙂 My last advice is for you to finish school and continue on to get a college degree, More opportunities are available (anywhere) when you have a college degree. Finally, GO FOR IT! You are awesome too!! 😉

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Hi Koveka,

      I don’t think that the color of your skin matters as long as your manga is really good. You should definitely give it a shot!

      You can publish manga in any language, but if you want to work in Japan, you’ll need to find a company that is willing to work in your native language, or learn Japanese. But since you’re only 14, you have plenty of time to learn, especially if you take classes. You could even major in Japanese or do study abroad if your high school offers that!

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      1) The color of your skin won’t matter. Just that you make awesome manga!
      2) As many as you need. Practice as much as you can!
      3) You can get a translator, but I would recommend taking some classes anyway. 🙂
      4) I don’t know off the top of my head. Try googling it, or maybe looking on DeviantArt and Youtube for free tutorials!

  • Sean

    Hi Jamie.
    My name is Sean, I’m a Jamaica. You have inspire me to make my dream as a mangaka possible to come try. Could you Email. More information in making my dreams come through because I really want make some thing come out of my drawings. I’m a type of guy that wants to help people I even have my story for my manga which I even have a name for. Please Jamie, please help me, you are my last hope.

  • Eva

    Hi Jamie! Just wanted to let you know that I think it’s pretty cool that you’ve kept up with your blog for so long, I’m impressed! I’ve recently gotten interested in Japan while I was at uni, and wondered about working there after I graduate, so I find your posts quite insightful. Keep up the good work! ^^

  • Kai

    hi I really appreciate all the things that you are doing to help other become mangaka and I was wondering if you could give me any advice that you might have on how to get started too.
    First off I am a 15 year old boy and wanted to be a Mangaka ever since i first watched Bakuman. I don’t speak Japanese but i have a friend who does. I have a lot of the materials, except for effect screen tones, electronic manga programs, and touch-pads. I can come up with decent stories but my art is not exactly the greatest. Do you have any advice on what i should do like getting in contact with an editor, waiting till i’m older, or if I should send in a one shot or get an editor?

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Hi Kai,

      Thanks for writing to me! I think that you’re young, so you have plenty of time. What you should work on first is your art. Work hard on learning to draw to tell a story, and make a lot of comics. When you have a finished comic (at least 30 pages), then start looking into places to send it. ^^ No company will hire you without proving your skills first!

  • Nicholas Philip

    Hello Ma’am my dream has always been to become a mangaka. I really appericate your blog because it gives an american like me hope that i too can one day become a mangaka. I was wondering if I could chat with you via emails on the many questions I have. I thought I would ask you first to see if its okay before I ask you a million questions.

    Thank for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

    Sincerely Nick Philip

  • Dyan Safian

    Hai! I’m a really big fan of Tenipuri and Konomi-sensei. Because of that, I really wonder how is a life as a mangaka. Since I’m not really good in Japanese’s language although I can speak (but no fluent enough as my brother) and the internet not so helping (all the information I found mostly in Kanji and I just realized I can’t rely on google translate), your blog give me so much information that I’m dying to know. It is really awesome to read about Japanese culture in your opinion as you are not a Japanese. To me having an opinion from someone who grown up in different culture is really important.

    And personally, I think you are amazing when you decide to do something that not in your comfort zone. Even I’m not major in art (as a matter of fact I suck in art. I can’t even draw a perfect circle using my free hand) as I’m more to calculation, I know you are doing great as assistant of Konomi-sensei.

    I hope you will always have a great life in Japan.

    p/s: And I am totally jealous when you able meet Tenimyu actor and Konomi-sensei in person

  • Michelle

    Just wanted to say I very much enjoyed reading about your adventures as an assistant. Thanks for giving us a fascinating insight on what it was like working for such a famous mangaka. Sounds like you had to go through some hardships along the way but you handled them very well.

    I haven’t seen the rest of your blog yet beyond the assistant stories but I look forward to exploring the rest of your site. 🙂 You’re a good storyteller. I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end.

  • Julia smith

    You said you got a bachelors degree in media arts and animations correct? I was wondering if you have to have certain qualifications in art to become a mangaka? Like do you need any certain degree? I know that most colleges don’t consider anime an actual art form which is stupid and that’s why I hesitate to try animation in college ( even tho I have three years to think it over) most people I know that have drawn manga and gone to animation dropped it for the same reason you did and I don’t want that for myself…. But I’m gonna have to make money some how

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      That’s correct, I do!

      But as for being a mangaka, as long as you’re Japanese, the only qualification is that you can make awesome manga that will make the company a lot of money. You don’t even need to go to high school. To work in Japan, though, if that is your goal and you are not Japanese, the government has other, very strict requirements. You should call the nearest Japanese embassy to ask about that, since it varies by the country of your origin. Why not give them a call, and see what they say?

      Like you said, you have three years to think about it. I can only say that no matter what you choose, there is only admiration in continuing to learn. 🙂

      • Julia smith

        Thanks for the reply!
        Well thanks for the advice and while I wait to sort it out ill continue to learn japanese

  • Averina

    Actually, I think I should say thank you to you because I really want to know more about manga and how to make it ^_^

    Well, I am a highschooler right now, and I wish to go to Japan and become a mangaka. I learn Japanese in my school and practice drawing as much as I can. Of course without interupting my school, or my parents will be mad at me, LOL.

    You really inspired me and give me courage to catch my dream. Thank you very much. I’m lucky to found your blog

  • Maggie

    I want to become a manga artist one day… *tall white girl aswell* I’m only in freshman year of highschool, and I’m going to take japanese for 3 years of high school and practice practice practice drawing. You’re page really inspired me to try even harder and ignore the hateful comments from my peers. Thank you very much!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.