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05 January 2011 @ 11:48 pm
Do you wanna be a mangaka? ☆ part 3 ☆  
Thanks for all of your feedback so far!! I'm really, really happy that a lot of people are finding this series useful/interesting so far!
I've decided that I'm going to try and incorporate suggestions/feedback and revise all of the articles (once the whole series is done) and post a "final" guide-type of thing, probably on my website *^^*

So... that said, on to part 3!!

Do you wanna be a mangaka?
Part 3a: What do I need to know to get a job as a mangaka's assistant

Part 0: http://hinoai.livejournal.com/781747.html
Part 1: http://hinoai.livejournal.com/782951.html
Part 2: http://hinoai.livejournal.com/783744.html

(remember, I am talking ONLY about manga made *in* Japan-- Dragonball Z, Naturo, Death Note, etc etc etc. ^-^ I don't have any experience outside of Japan, so I can't really help you there! Gomen! ^^;)

What is a manga assistant?

A manga assitant helps out the mangaka with his/her manga.

What, you mean a mangaka doesn't draw everything him/herself??

Well.. it takes a LOT of time to make a manga, and there are only 24 hours in a day, so most mangaka hire assistants.

Do ALL mangaka have assistants?

No. When a mangaka first starts out usually he/she doesn't have a lot of money, so they can't afford to hire assistants. Assistants work for the mangaka, so they are paid by the mangaka (either directly or through the publishing company, who takes the money from the mangaka's salary. In my case, I was paid cash directly every month by Konomi-sensei.).

Likewise, some mangaka don't want assistants. Some mangaka (like Yazawa Ai, for example) are famous for not using assistants. If the art is very simple, then they may not need assistants either.

But.. most mangaka use assistants. Konomi-sensei had up to 5-7 assistants at any one time while I was working with him. Tanemura-sensei has said that she usually has 5. Some mangaka have only one or two, or ask friends/spouses/aquaintances to help out with their manga.

How much is an assistant paid?

The usual starting salary is ¥10,000 per day, (About $100 USD) and can go up a fair amount if you have a lot of experience. Most assistants are paid daily, but some mangaka pay their assistants monthly instead. In my case, I was paid monthly for the first 1 1/2 years, then paid a daily rate when I came back to help on the one shot. Occasionally I was given bonuses when there was a particularly hard month with a lot to do. (a very happy surprise!)

What are the working hours of an assistant like?

This too varies widely! We stayed at the studio while we worked, so a typical working day at TK Works (for Konomi Takeshi) was to get up around 11:00 am, start work immediately (or, right after going to the bathroom and getting a coffee, maybe stretching), and work straight through until "bedtime", around 2 or 3 in the morning. During the day, we usually ordered out for breakfast and dinner (on the company's money yay! ^^), so basically we were chained to our desk the entire day, drawing or whatever needed to be done. On rare occasions, we did break (on Sensei's decision) to go out for dinner, to play, or to just do whatever. Sometimes we went to events, and sometimes even shopping or once, the onsen! We were near the beach, so once every few months he would drive us to the park there to play if the weather was nice.

Other assistant jobs vary. Some mangakas don't want their assistants to stay over, so they have set working hours. Some only need a little bit of help, so the hours are low. This will usually be outlined in the ad that a mangaka takes out. But I would say, in general expect to work LONG hours without breaks, and anywhere from 10-15 hours/day.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

If the mangaka speaks english(or another language you can speak), then I don't think you'd need to! But his/her staff likely only speaks Japanese, and most of the publishing staff only speak Japanese, so I think it is a good idea to learn. The better Japanese that you can speak, the better chance that you have!

Do I need a visa?

Yes, you need a visa to work in Japan, no ifs-ands-or-buts. To be honest, most mangaka probably won't check up on it, but if the government finds out that you have stayed here and worked without a visa, they may deport you and ban you from ever entering Japan again. So please, please don't risk it, and find some way to get a visa!!!

As for what kind of visa you need. Because I had studied art in college, that enabled me to use a cultural visa to work in an art field. But if that's not the case for you, then there are other visas that you can get. You should use the information that I provided in previous entries to contact the nearest japanese consulate and ask them for details! They can give you the information relevant to your situation.

What does an assistant do?

I actually thought that an assistant did things like get coffee!! But while that does occasionally happen, the usual assistant duties are to do things like:
1. Trace over the mangaka's pencil lines in ink (for main characters. Some mangaka prefer to do this themselves, though)
2. Draw/design/create backgrounds for panels.
3. Apply screentones (this includes scraping them and cutting them, more about this later)
4. Completing details like lines on characters' clothes, hair,etc.
5. Drawing people in the background (called "mobu" from the english word "mob")
6. Designs of various aspects (clothes, room layouts, etc)
7. Drawing in and completing special effects (speed lines, special attacks, etc)
8. A sounding board for story ideas/ share ideas with the mangaka.
9. Adding color (Watercolor, Markers, Computer, there are various ways and different mangaka have different preferences)
9. Order or go to get food and general errands including picking up supplies and cleaning the studio. Etc. In my case I did a little bit of translation as well.

Do I have to have any experience?

Some artists accept complete newbies as long as you can do the work!

Wow! This sounds cool! How can I get a job like this?

That's what I'm going to tell you next!

Is there anything that I should be concerned about?

Well, in my experience the job has a lot of rewards, but it is pretty stressful. I had a good time and enjoyed drawing a lot, but I also felt like a slave, I was never sleeping in my own house due to work, and I could never date anybody or see my friends. I couldn't deal with it for more than I did. Keep this in mind, but I think that it's something that really can vary based on personal opinions and experience! It may be a perfect fit for someone else!

And next...

How do I find and get a job as an assistant?

I'll tell you what kinds of things you need to prepare, and how to find job postings ^-^
Aurora Celesteauroraceleste on January 5th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
This is an amazingly informative series! I'm not an artist but I am enjoying it a lot.

Would you consider coming back to the US to do workshops on this stuff if a US convention invited you? I'd love to hear you do this in person!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
Oh yes, definitely! ^^ I was invited a few times before, actually, but they weren't able to pay my way and I can't afford it on my own, so I couldn't accept. If there was a convention that would pay for my plane and hotel (I know, it's very expensive. -.-;), then I would go pretty much anywhere! ^^ It would be a great place to meet more people interested in this too!
Meruxxxmirai on January 5th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
O.o Other than stressful, it's like not having a life. XD

I'm rather okay with this...=.='''

I mean, I'm cooped up in my own room 24/7 myself in real life.
But, we are talking about different things anyway. WOW, Yazawa Ai sounds like a cool person. O.o

Jamie, you worked hard on this. THANK YOU! >O<
Ganbatte for the future! :Db
Wee Lisaweelisa on January 5th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't it be cool if you ever made a documentary. It could be called roughly something along the lines of "A Foreigner in Manga."

I really enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes footage in the Ghibli studios on my Spirited Away DVD.

If you wouldn't want to try to produce something like that yourself, you could shop around the idea to some experienced documentary filmmakers.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC)
It would make a pretty good documentary, you're right! ^^ But I'd have to wait until I got my own series really, and make sure that my assistants were okay with being filmed.
Smeexy_Cakes: Chibi Americasmexy_cakes on January 5th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
This small series of yours has so much potential! Good luck :D I shall spread the word n.n
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2011 12:35 am (UTC)
Ooh! Thank you so much! =^-^= I really want to gather as many readers as possible!
(no subject) - smexy_cakes on January 6th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
None of Your Bee's Wax lolisachi on January 5th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
God I had no idea you lived there LOL. That's fascinating... almost like a throw back to the factories/dorms of the 1960s. This is incredibly interesting ... it would make an interesting book
icysnowdropicysnowdrop on January 5th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
This sounds so exciting! :D I'd want to become an assistant :D
現実逃避shiroro on January 6th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh wow, that was actually very informative (especially on the money part). lol I was thinking of being an assistant to a mangaka once but, I never got the guts to go all the way to just be an assistant to a mangaka, unfortunately. x_x; I have a citizenship in Japan so, visa and language barrier is not a problem for me. I should. . . just get my ass there maybe. LOL
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
You definitely have the talent!!! So if you think you can put up with the hours, you should go for it!! ^o^
Francesca {フランチェスカ}fantasy2004 on January 6th, 2011 03:57 am (UTC)
wow, this very informational. Thanks. even though I can draw or write for beans.
Adriana: Cute Misha-sanaoko on January 6th, 2011 04:52 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing your experience!

Well, in my experience the job has a lot of rewards, but it is pretty stressful
I know the feeling since I am an architecture student! A single page takes long hours... yes, coffee is very important in situations like this xD!
Even If It is hard, you had a nice time and lot of fun! Once the work is over, you can see everything you accomplished and you have learned =D!

WoW! I didn't know that Yazawa Ai didn't hire assistants!

The Eunikarakurimi on January 6th, 2011 07:02 am (UTC)
Wow, this has been really great so far! It sounds like that, even though there were so many hours devoted to your work, you and the rest of the staff had plenty of time to get to know one another and work together better that way. Rock!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, we were ALWAYS together. It was like a little family. ^^ I even started to get annoyed at them, because all I heard were the same voices over and over and over. I know their habits really well. XD

But I love them all just the same! ^^
le petit idiot-savantguavagirl on January 6th, 2011 09:10 am (UTC)
Wow, this -is- really informative!!!
Thank you, Jamie! If Japan suddenly sees an influx of gaijin mangaka assistants, you can bet you're responsible! :D

Live everyone else said, this is really informative. The biggest draw for me for any job is the working environment and what kind of hours, pay, etc... so thank you for describing it so well!

I always thought the only way I could see myself in Japan was if I taught English, but now you've got me reconsidering!!!

(I love drawing... I could easily do it all day. But, I think like you, I might only be able to handle being stuck inside all day for so long, but I'm sure at first I would be crazy excited just to be there!)

Here's my question: how the HECK did you manage to get a job without speaking Japanese? Did you know how to speak any Japanese at all?

I'm really excited to read part 4! There's nothing else helpful like this on the net that I know of!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2011 01:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow, this -is- really informative!!!
At the time I got the job I spoke about intermediate-level Japanese. I hadn't really studied much, but I had lived in Japan for more than four years, so I could speak enough to kind of get my foot in the door. ^^ And then a friend helped me with my resume. The people that I worked with were REALLY patient, and my skills were enough to overcome the language barrier, too. ^^

I was super-nervous at the time!!! I didn't have confidence at all in my japanese. But now I speak at a low-advance level, and most of that is due to being around Japanese people 24/7 in the studio for more than a year. ^^
Neffiline: AAA Purikuraneffiline on January 6th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
Woaw all of this info is so awesome!! You're such a hard worker!! Thank you for this!! Wuaahh I'm impressed!!

It sure sounds like a hard job, I don't know if I'd be able to do it either... I need to go out, see my friends and other people to stay sane. I'm at work 8 hours a day and I find it too much. But then again I don't enjoy it 100% I guess if you really love drawing and all that it would make the situation different...
kate_fireflykate_firefly on January 6th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)

sometimes i draw for fun.
i think i could never be a mangaka, though.
thanks for these posts though, it's interesting to learn about how things were for you...how you got to where you are now.

belated HAPPY NEW YEAR!! hehe.
i hope this year will bring you good good things!! =D
(Anonymous) on January 6th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
Art College
that is so great! i wouldn't mind being an assistant.
one question
What art classes exactly did you take? could you tell me the college you attended too? please
I have never been really sure what to do do for college, so this might be what I'm looking for.

Thanks for all the insight!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 7th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
Re: Art College
I went to teh Art Institute of Phoenix and studied Media Arts and Animation. But I don't recommend it if you want to be a mangaka. It's mainly about 3D animation, and I think there are much better colleges out there for people who want to draw manga.
Re: Art College - tohsakas on January 18th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Art College - hinoai on January 19th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Art College - tohsakas on January 19th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Art College - hinoai on January 19th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
yorleni: Yorleni Rukiayorleni on January 11th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
Omg i want to she the part 4!!! >w< !!! This is so interesting!

I have a little question for you, everything about screentones, ink, etc, is traditional media or digitial? ...or that depends on the mangaka? because there is ALOT of ways to make manga on computers (with Photoshop, Gimp, Manga Studio, etc) is easier, i'm actually working on doing everything on traiditional media, but i'm more used to Photoshop XD is easier!