Working as an assistant on The Prince of Tennis p3

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

“You can use this bed,” Konomi-sensei said to me. “Just put your overnight stuff here.”


At the time, I remember that I was really embarrassed that I didn’t understand Japanese well (I still am!), so I didn’t ask for any clarification. I just guessed (wrongly), that he meant that if I got the job as his assistant I would use that bed in the future. The future, as in some other time, not tonight.

Needless to say, I was wrong. ・゜・(つД`)・゜・
I just hadn’t figured that out yet.

I suppose he took my silence as acquiescence, and to his credit, he didn’t say a word about the fact that I indeed had no bag in my possession large enough to hold clothes. Maybe he figured that I was a light packer?

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We exited the room, me a bundle of nerves and Konomi-sensei a bundle of unexpectedly-hot mangaka. :3 “To the right is the toilet,” he said.

(Note the Prince of Tennis art on the counter. It’s a print, not an original.)

“To the left is the shower room.”

(The rug has Winnie the Pooh on it :3 One of the (male) assistants bought it, not Sensei.)

Shower room? Okay, sure.. Clean is good. Not seeing how I’d need to take showers at work, but.. I thought. I’d never worked in a place that had showers in it, so the concept was foreign to me. Kinda like everything else, really.

“And here is my studio.” He led me into the room across from the bedroom.

It was very clean and pretty, and had five small desks, and a raised area on the left with a huge wraparound desk. I didn’t really think that much about it because I was too confused, but that was Konomi sensei’s desk.

If you still haven’t seen it, you can see the studio much better in the video I posted with part 2!

There were no people in the studio aside from us, but there was a large copy machine, a fridge, microwave, and manga. Manga everywhere!

Sensei gave me a sort of cursory tour, showing me what was in the cupboards along the wall (reference books and photographs, manga paper, screentones, supplies, and stacks and stacks of photocopies of old Prince of Tennis chapters).

It came out now that the manga he was going to be working on was a sequel to The Prince of Tennis. It didn’t have a name yet, though. My inner nerd excitement level went up by a factor of ten.

To be honest, even though I was completely giddy inside, I was also so nervous that I could only just barely speak. It was a LOT to process. I wasn’t just with one of my biggest idols, but we were alone and I had his undivided attention. Even moreso, he expected me to be of use to him!

ME!! Me, who hadn’t ever drawn manga before. Me, who aside from the screentones that I put on the sample I sent in, had never used screentones before! Me, who couldn’t even speak japanese properly!!!

I’ve been told that when I’m nervous, I don’t show it at all. I suppose that it’s a technique that I developed over the years, to hide my flaws. So I wonder if he ever noticed. I’ll add that to the list of questions that I’ll ask him next time I see him. But he probably knew. Though Sensei isn’t the type to voice his observations, I found later that he saw quite a lot.

He sat me down at the first desk on the right, and photocopied a picture from a book of backgrounds. “Do you think you can draw this?” he asked, and explained how to do a technique called a trace.

Trace is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s tracing, with a twist. In our case, a photograph is chosen and photocopied backwards (he has a fancy photocopier that can do all sorts of things) onto a piece of regular photocopy paper. Then, we put the paper upside-down onto a light table and trace the image onto the back side of the paper. (So our final image is a reverse of the reverse, so it’s the right way. Does that make sense?)

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I’ll give a good explanation with pictures in a post about manga techniques. 🙂

It was a relief to be able to draw, even though I didn’t have much confidence in my abilities. I was just glad that it took the pressure to talk off of me. Things fell silent, with the occasional question from Sensei about me here and there.

This picture was actually taken quite a bit later, but this is my desk and the exact picture as I was working on it:

My bright green cellphone on the right there? Fans might recognize a few things about it. I have at least 4 stories to tell you related to that in the future. 😉

I didn’t get very far, though, as suddenly the doorbell rang, Sensei pushed a button on the wall behind his desk, and I could hear the door open.

I’m sure that the guy who then let himself in said “Ohayo Gozaimasu,” the standard “Good morning” kind of expression used when greeting your coworkers, even if it’s not morning. Oh, the strange hours that I said Ohayo Gozaimasu in the year that followed! But it wasn’t that that stuck in my head. It was the huge “OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ho ho ho!” that followed about three seconds later.

“This is the new assistant, Jamie-san,” Konomi-sensei said , from his desk at the head of the room.

“I’m Kaiwa,” the new guy said. He was of medium height with glasses, slightly overweight, short hair, and one of the friendliest grins I’ve ever seen.

“Kaiwa is the chief assistant,” Sensei added. “Kind of like your advisor. You can ask him for anything.”

Kaiwa was smiling at me like an idiot (I mean that in a good way. We are good friends to this day *^-^*). I could barely speak, so Sensei had to introduce me. And we started the questions all over again. Where are you from? What’s your favorite character?? Do you like Tenipuri???

And then, the doorbell rang again.

To be continued!

Next time: Who are these coworkers of mine? What did Sensei mean about sleeping over? And, even super-famous manga artists make mistakes!

(3,512 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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