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22 December 2010 @ 01:28 am
Do you wanna be a mangaka? ☆ part 2 ☆  
Do you wanna be a mangaka?
Part 2: Do I...?

Part 0: http://hinoai.livejournal.com/781747.html
Part 1: http://hinoai.livejournal.com/782951.html

It's time for the necessary questions....!

Do I need to live in Japan to be a mangaka?

Well, you are trying to get published by Japanese publishers, so living not just in Japan, but Tokyo, where the major publishing offices are located would certainly make things easier. But of course there have been times when mangaka lived in other places while they were publishing.

For example, famous horror mangaka Umezu Kazuo owns a house in San Francisco. When he was still working on manga but living in San Francisco, he did most of his communication by fax and mail.

Felipe Smith, who is one of a few foreign artists whom have been published in Japan, was scouted by a japanese publisher who came to America. He did end up moving to Japan while he was publishing, though.

There are some mangaka who are famous for "running away" when their deadlines come close. They disappear or stop answering the door when the manuscripts are due and the editors come. (similar to Hiramaru-sensei from Bakuman or Eiri Yuki from Gravitation) Granted, they live in Japan, but if you at least are reliable, I think that you have one point over them.

There are contests like the Morning Internationa Manga Competition that accept entries in many different languages, from nearly anywhere outside of Japan. The prize is NOT a series or to "become a mangaka", but if your goal is just to publish one comic or to get to know what it's like, this might be a good opportunity!

According to all of this data, it IS possible to become a mangaka if you don't live in Japan. But thousands of kids who were born and raised in Japan are trying to get the same job as you, at the same time as you. It only makes sense that if they are in Japan and able to travel to Tokyo (or live in Tokyo) and speak with the publishers and show their work constantly, that they will have a higher chance than someone who doesn't.

So, like I said, I don't think it's impossible. There is a one-in-a-million chance. But I highly advise, if you are serious about this, that you move not just to Japan, but to Tokyo. Move to Tokyo and support yourself with another job (English teaching or waitressing or modeling, for example), or go to school if you can afford it, and try to work towards being a mangaka in your spare time.

Here are some resources for finding a job in Japan:

Resources on finding a place to live:

Language schools in Japan (I've never been to these, I just googled them, so I can't recommend them per se, but people will ask so here you go! ^^)

This is just my advice, though. If you choose to follow it, let me know and I hope we can meet up in Tokyo one day! It would be nice to know others who are following the same dream as me!

Do I need to know Japanese?

As I listed above, some people who didn't know Japanese have been published in Japan. But they are the exceptions! Remember, you are up against thousands of Japanese people who all want to be mangaka and are not just fluent, they understand the Japanese market and manners, and so many other things that would give them an edge.

If you want to be a mangaka, I really think that you should study japanese. After all, you love Japan enough to want to work there, right? As a future mangaka, I want to be able to read the manga of other artists, read the magazine that I am being published in (obviously it is all in Japanese), and communicate with the other artists and publishers!

Right now, my Japanese is enough to communicate, but not good enough to write well. That be it, I am still studying, hard. Until I am as fluent as a native I am going to keep studying!!

But, how can I study Japanese?

Ahaha... well, I have never studied in a class. ^^; If you can afford them, though, take them! If you can do it, GO FOR IT!! Definitely go for it!

I studied mainly by working here. I listened to people, to tv, to friends, and learned by absorbtion. (You can imagine that the first phrase I learned was "wow, you're so tall!" ^^;) When that wasn't good enough, I moved to books and flash cards.

Here are the books that I used:

1. Genki 1: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 1 (English and Japanese Edition)
2. Genki 2: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese
3. 上級へのとびら - コンテンツとマルチメディアで学ぶ日本語 TOBIRA Gateway to Advanced Japanese Learning Through Content and Multimedia
4. 実力アップ!日本語能力試験 N1 読む(文章の文法・読解)
5. Japanese Kanji Flashcards, Series 2 Vol. 1 (Japanese Edition)
6. Japanese Idioms

Do I need a college degree to draw manga?

No. You don't strictly need any kind of degree at all!. But to start work, you WILL need a working visa of some sort. A visa (like an American Green Card) is a document that is issued by the Japanese government which gives you permission to work in a certain field in Japan. There are various types of visas, and you can find more information here:

Rules on visas are here: http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/index.html

A working holiday visa is a 1 or 2-year visa that will allow you to work any job in Japan during the time that you are here. Americans are not eligible for this visa, but Canadians and many others are. This might be a really good solution for you!! It is free, and if you are interested, the first step would be to look up your local Japanese consulate (http://www.mofa.go.jp/about/emb_cons/mofaserv.html) and ask them about the rules.

There are a LOT of rules regarding visas, and they all vary depending on your situation. Nobody online can answer all of these questions, and most people just repeat information that they heard elsewhere. The only certain way to get correct visa information is to call the nearest Japanese consulate and ask them.

Do you need to be good at drawing to be a mangaka?

NO, lol. You just need to write stories that people will enjoy. Taste varies from person to person obviously, but just look at some of Japan's top-selling manga:

Itazura na Kiss:

Darling wa Gaikokujin:

Manga is more about the story than the art, and as long as you can tell a story with art, you have a shot! Of course, it doesn't hurt to draw pretty pictures, but I don't think it's necessary. ^^ If you don't like to draw, you probably won't enjoy being a mangaka, though. ^.~

So now, let's say you are living in Tokyo and know enough Japanese to communicate. What should you do next?

...you can do what I did and become a manga assistant! Stay tuned for Part 3: how to get a job as a manga assistant!
☆: MJtheidolhands on December 21st, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
I'm loving these recent posts, so well-organized and a subject that lead us to our curiousity about yourself! As always, thank you for sharing your insight.

Oh my, Darling wa Gaikokujin looks very amusing. *wants to read*
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on December 21st, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
Personally I didn't really like what I've read, though it is very popular. I do want to see the movie though!
☆: MJtheidolhands on December 21st, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
Hm, yeah, I'm reading up on it now and it's a mixed bag of reviews & discussions. Would be even more curious to read about a foreign woman in a mixed relationship, since it's not that uncommon to see it the other way around. Still, I'm glad your blog always brings at least one new thing (usually many) to my attention!
☆: ♀ - Ⓑam!theidolhands on December 21st, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, if you ever need an idea for a post, I'd love to hear what (in your opinion) the Japanese are most curious about, or interested in, regarding Western people. Further, in your experience, what do they think of our interest in their culture?

In opposite, certainly don't hesitate to mention whatever stereotypes or adversities you've faced due to race differences either. I've noticed you have a wonderful pack of friends, may I also ask how you met them and keep up with one another? Has it been easier to meet and interact with other Western people? Does gender make a difference? And on that last subject, specifically what is it like being a foreign woman in Japan -- I'd love to read about that from you or any of your friends (link to their blogs?) as it seems an uncommon subject for discussion (though you've touched on it).
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on December 22nd, 2010 01:13 am (UTC)
I would love to talk about them, except that I think that a person's experience is really unique. There is nothing that I can say that "This is what it is like for a foreign woman in Japan," because nobody else will be quite the same. For example, my experience is far, far different from the experiences of any of my friends. There really is just no stereotype, I think. It's all based on circumstances.
(Deleted comment)
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on December 21st, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
I have a cultural visa, and no I'm not married (yet). ;)
(Deleted comment)
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on December 22nd, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
It's very annoying to renew my visa and usually is a lot of hassle for me. Right now I have a three-year visa, but I could get a one-year next time. It is random.

If you are staying as a student, your school will take care of everything for you, so there is nothing to worry about! It's also a different type of visa than I have. :)
neooldetokyo: awesomecakesneooldetokyo on December 21st, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
Awww, I don't want to become a mangaka but I'm really enjoying this series of posts.
Aimee Aileen WilliamsAimee Aileen Williams on December 21st, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!!
Hmmm, I think after a long time of reading your blog I should stop lurking and actually start posting comments, lol.

To be honest I've been looking everywhere for just a little advise and sort of a push to get my rough draft done. >.>;;; Thank you for posting that very helpful competition link. I think I might enter that. (And all the information for that matter, thank you!!!)

Good luck on your manga!!!
[magical-tear]MagicalTear on December 22nd, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
Wow! Thanks a lot!! 8D

All those links were super helpful and it makes me happy to see that you really want to help us out! Other people wouldn't even be writing this ^^;

Can't wait for the next post~!
Neffiline: AAA Sweetneffiline on December 22nd, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC)
Woooh! This is so much fun to read! Thank you!!

It's true that you don't really have to draw well to publish comics/mangas. I've seen some that were pretty bad and I wondered myself "Why do people even bother reading these?" To me, it's important that the drawing be as good as the story, almost more important actually. But that's ME. I know others will thinking different. Just take my brother, when he read mangas he didn't really care that much what the drawings looked like.

My favorite is Miwa Ueda, she wrote Peach Girl, and now moved on to Papillon (Hana to Chou). Papillon's story is very VERY similar to Peach Girl, which comes to be predictable and a bit boring. But I buy her mangas anyway just because I LOVE LOVE LOOOVE her drawing style, I think it's SO pretty!

Which by the way, I think you'll do great, you're drawings are always so pretty too! n____n
Red: Red - !tamayakagiya on December 23rd, 2010 07:50 am (UTC)
Oh, all of this is so helpful! It's my dream to be a manga-ka and reading your blog has really given me some insight!

Also, best of luck to you on your own journey to being a manga-ka!♥
mystika387mystika387 on December 26th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
I really love these posts that you're doing. As someone who's just applied to work in Japan, I'm just reading all this hoping that it will be useful if I really do get to work there! Thank you! <3 <3
(Anonymous) on January 1st, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)

I love reading your blog and I share the same dream as you, but I've been wondering something.
When drawing, do you ever feel that your drawings aren't good enough? Like your style is 'missing' something? (Not implying anything here, btw!)
The thing is, I do, all the time.
I'm drawing a 31-page oneshot, and I've finished 26 of those pages now. But when I look back, I feel that none of the pages I've done are really good enough to be considered "publish-able."
Plus the fact that I'm not actually Japanese (or even living in Japan >.<) makes me think that I'd have to create something completely mindblowing and original to convince the editors to work with me.

I know that you stated art is not all that important, but it's still very frustrating when you work on something all day and then come to the conclusion that it's "just not quite it"
I show my work to other people and I usually hear I'm over-analyzing things and that it's good, but I can't help but feel I'm just no good at it. Plus you can't really be sure they're always speaking the truth, since most people don't want to hurt your feelings, y'know?

So, I'm just wondering if you can relate to this feeling. ^^
I keep telling myself that it's normal to look down on your own work and that I'm probably being too negative about it, but it's even come to the point that I'm not sure whether my story is any good anymore. :P
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 2nd, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
Hi! ^^

To be honest, I do too. All of the time. All all of the time. That's the main reason why I haven't turned anything in before now. I never feel like what I make is really good enough. I think that all artists feel this way, at least until they are able to teach themselves to feel different.

I also feel like, if I am not making something that is going to be THE BEST, or at least a classic (or "as good as ________"), then there's no point in making it at all. I hope that by doing this series, I will be able to get over it, finally. Maybe a little.

I'll leave you with a little bit of advice that Konomi-sensei gave to me when I told him the way that I felt, in last October. He said, "Go in to the publisher and fake it. Take all of your ideas, and even if you have no confidence, act like you do and tell them everything that you need to to get published." I think he's right, and I want to believe in what he said. I hope that I can!!

By the way, please share your manga with me when you finish it! Or just a sample. I'm interested in seeing it!
(Anonymous) on January 3rd, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
Haha, it's nice to hear I'm not the only one thinking like this.
When I was working on the Name, I thought it was a good idea to go for a mainstream battle manga as a first work, to show the editors that "I can do what the average Japanese Shounen mangaka can do."

It was my plan to crank out more original ideas (or at least attempt to) after I'd shown the editors that I can make stories that Japanese audiences are familiar with, but after having put in a lot of effort and time I feel that I should have went with a more unique story right off the bat, since the story I came up just isn't all that great in my opinion. And me being the foreigner that I am, there's the possibility that they might say something like "It's not interesting enough, we have plenty of Japanese artists who could draw this."

Aargh! Such dilemma!

But I've told myself to at least take the time to finish it, no matter how unsatisfied I am with it. Otherwise I'll never get anything done.
Plus, I don't think a first work has to be an instant classic. Otherwise there would be no point to working with an editor to create something better every time, right? But maybe I'm just trying to justify not having made an amazing story...
I think there's a lot of truth in what Konomi-sensei said, it sounds like he really knows his stuff. If there's anyone who knows a lot about manga, I'd say it's him.
Confidence is something I certainly need to work on, though, haha.

I think at some point you mentioned something about participating in a competition held by Shueisha's Ribon magazine, does that mean you're aiming for a Shoujo series?

Oh, and I'd love to show you my comic. ^_^
If you don't mind that the last 5 pages aren't finished yet, I could email/PM it to you.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 4th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
I do want to write shoujo, yes ^^

And sure, feel free to send it to me! I can't accept PMs on lj, but the email on my website should be fine. ^^
byanoeybyanoey on January 4th, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
I stumbled into your journal by coincidence and i have to say i really admire you! It's not everyday you see a person who's actually living her dreams it gives me courage and inspiration:D
also i'm not thinking about being a mangaka necessarily but i kind of loved your "How to be mangaka" series:D
grimdc13grimdc13 on January 7th, 2011 09:42 am (UTC)
Interesting story hashing
That would be interesting..to explore the mixed relationship..American girl with Japanese Guy. I always see the american guy and the japanese girl stereotyped in our movies..so that would be interesting.
yorleni: Yorleni Rukiayorleni on January 11th, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
Oh i see! I always wondered about if i had to live in japan or not for being a mangaka...i planed to go anyway... but thankyou!

About the drawings, i totally agree-- mostly of the mangas i adore don't have the most "beautiful" drawings... and some mangakas starts drawing bad and in the end of the story they improve as an artist and they art become more beautiful <3

I'm studying japanese right now (and english XD;) so...it's a start!..XD
odisdera_kun on November 28th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Like the subject says, Thank you! This is such amazing information, it is my dream to come to japan and become a manga-ka. I am already preparing by taking Japanese in school, reading as much study material as i can(and as i mean material i mean Manga XDD), i am also working on many stories i have been writing for a while. This has given me so much encouragement and i totally want to be like you. I hope i can become a person like you and work harder to achieve my goal! \(^<^) cant wait to see your next post!