PART 1: hei-chan.deviantart.com/journa…
So society and pressures aside, now I'm going to talk about what it's like diving into the industry.
First and foremost, get your shit done. So now you have a complete first chapter. I say that in one sentence but it would normally take a newb 2-5 months to finish a piece. One you will bring to the publishers and editors. Generally they want you to have 32 pages. <-- I'm not sure why but this is the standard. 16-32-48 are the norm.
It's very easy to get an appointment whether it be Shueisha or Kodansha etc. You can set up an appointment where an editor will look at your work. And it's simple, if they think it's sellable then they assign to you an editor. That editor will either make you rewrite your story or do a completely new one. You don't have to have it figured out til the ending but they at least want you to tell them where your plot is going. You are very lucky and talented if you reach this stage. For one thing, you don't get to pick which editor will come see you. By chance you might get somebody who hates what you're trying to go for but for some other editor your work will be treasure.
Some publishers are okay with digital works but a lot of them still prefer traditional ones. That means the standard B4 size Manga paper (the thicker paper with light blue guides), G-pen / Maru pen which ever but it has to be inked by hand using those old fashioned pens where you dip it in the ink bottle every time, You use tones and you have to stick them by hand as well. A lot of my classmates started doing this in Comic-Studio programs but publishers still like traditional stick-it-to-the-paper-and-cut process.
So even if you do get an editor it doesn't mean your work will show up in the magazine just yet. Most of your finished work will be viewed by a panel and it might get awards but you have to almost expect your work to never see the light of day until you debut. Just imagine, in one magazine, you have around 10 titles, just 10 stories running. How many people are trying to get their work in there? Millions! Manga artists here are as common as ants. Just in my school we have 150 students in the manga department. Some people from other departments are also manga-ka aspirants but they chose to go for a safer course to land jobs but they still submit their work. They are still running competitors. There are about 40-70 manga schools just in Tokyo itself. How many people are trying to get in the same magazine as you? How many people are better than you?
Now of course I'm not saying this is the only way to get your stuff out there. There are plenty of ways but the one above is the most common one. The other way is to go to conventions. In conventions they usually have scouts roaming around looking for potential writers. Also they have an editor's area where you can just take your work and set up an appointment with as many editor's as you want in one day. It's really convenient. But you have to know which magazines suit your story vice versa.
There's also chance. One time I went to a party I met up with a manga publisher CEO and he was nice enough to look at my stuff. Then there was one time my manga-ka senpai introduced me to his company president. There was one time I was approached by an editor during a convention. So many ways to get your stuff looked at. The problem is actually finding a suitable company for it.
Now I want to talk about my stance. How is it like being a foreigner aiming to become a local mangaka. If your Japanese is great then you would have less problems. But one thing I've always been told repetitively by editors, teachers, and locals who look at my stuff knowing that I'm from Canada, "Is this Canadian manga?". They WILL almost always expect you to write something that has a big influence from where you come from. They say I should write something only a Canadian could because that will be my strongest weapon. The problem is, that's not what I came here to write. I grew up on Yuyu Hakusho, Inuyasha, Ragnarok Online and all those titles and I want to write something with those influences. They half expect me to write a story about inukshuks and the spirit of the land. My Swedish friend was advised to write a story about vikings. My Chinese friend was told to write about something historical from whatever dynasty. Basically they want us to stick to what we SHOULD know. Because it's what's interesting to Japanese people. My problem was, I'm not really Canadian. I'm a Chinese Filipino Spanish and who knows what other countries are mixed up in me and I've moved to so many countries and am influenced by cultures on top of cultures. I cannot specialize in the ideals of the great Canadian wild. Which is what editors usually ask me to tackle. =_=
Besides, imagine this, YOU are a Japanese man. You love to write and your favorite series is Harry Potter. You love witch craft and magic. So you go all the way to London in hopes of being just like J.K. Rowling, your idol. Then you write something you really like and you bring it to the editors and publishers and they tell you, "What's a Japanese man doing writing about Magic? Not only has it already been done before. You're Japanese so you should write about Buddism, Samurai, Ninja or wars, culture and something only the Japanese would know." and I get it. The publishers want something authentic not just a copy or a spin off of Harry Potter. It's more believable when and "authentic" when a Sushi chef is Japanese. I get it.
It's just that from the artist's point of view, it's not something you went all the way here for. It's not like Oda-sensei was an actual pirate or was Hoshino-sensei an exorcist. But why are we always told to write something cultural? That may be what they want to read about but it's not something I want to write.
A lot of foreign manga artists usually go for the "Daily Life" genre. They talk about their experiences in japan and what surprised or faced them. It's almost like the safe way to get published. Japanese want to know the cultural differences no matter how ever done it is. Just like when someone moves to Japan they always expect the foreigner to be baffled by the high prices, the spaghetti subways, the sea of men in black, taking off their shoes in the genkan, bathing with strangers in an onsen, anything cliche. And yeah I'm guilty of some of those but it's very stereotypical and I don't get why they'd want to read that over and over again.
Lately online manga as been booming. They've been looking for more writers that can do short stories in full color digitally and it's usually gag manga. They're trying to keep up with the times but at the same time clinging on to more traditional writers for their flag ship.
I'll also talk a bit about illustrators. No body hires traditional illustrators anymore. Their minimum requirement is that you know how to use 2 programs out of Photoshop, Illustrator, SAI, Clip Studio, Comic Studio. They won't hire foreigners unless you're a prodigy or insanely hardworking it will make your ancestors cry.
Anyway, These are just my personal observations and data I've gathered along the way. By no means am I saying that they're 100% accurate after all people experience things in different ways. If you just generally want to stay in Japan it is very easy to do so via English teaching job. But if you really want an art job let me go and say that Japan MIGHT be the ideal place but it's not the only place where you can build a name for yourself. Specially those people who cannot afford studying or living here, you have just as much chance to become a well known artist. In fact you might even have higher chances compared to people aiming for a slot in that golden magazine.
When I was still in Canada I wondered if I should settle for an animation certificate because that's the closest thing I had to manga over there. But when I was there all I could think about is the "WHAT IF's" and in the end I decided that the only thing stopping me was myself. So I came and I've gone. No regrets now.
So people who are wondering what I'm doing with life now that I have gathered the facts I came here for,
Well, it's time to explore other options. Why should I stay in one place when the world is so big with more stories to share? It was really fun being here in Japan and I learned a lot. Specially about myself and what I really want in life.
So til next time,
"You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest.
Because that's where you'll find the things more important than what you want."
~Ging (Hunter x Hunter)
and I did find out that more than being a manga-ka, the glory, the money, the credits, I rather be free of deadlines and write because I love to, and not because I had to. My teacher said artists waiting for inspiration to get things done will never be a professional. Because professionals keep their hands moving and mind thinking despite the misery and drama they have to live with in their own lives. If you cannot function that way and cannot write anything good with out feeling right first then don't force yourself. It's not the end of the world. You can still love and enjoy manga and anime as a hobby. It's better than living with manga and half resenting it. Just like a husband you've been wanting to divorce but not have the financial independence to do so. That would suck wouldn't it?
The best thing about school was the teachers. They were all funny supportive and kind. Their experiences and their entertaining way of teaching was priceless. It never felt like they forgot or abandoned you even if you can't keep up with the work. They understand what it's like living in the business and they share a lot of hilarious stories as well as eye opening ones. That's at least once thing I really loved here asides from abundant entertainments Japan has to offer. Seriously, living here, I'll pass. But going for a vacation, Any time! :3
If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment here ^w^b