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From Russia with manga! YOUTUBER turned MANGA CREATOR aiming to be a manga STAR! – Hello Award Winners #10 Amito Arai

Enrico Croce Enrico Croce 13/09/2017 15 min read
The young Amito Arai, from Russia, wants to spread the manga word around the country… and then to the world! One of the few artist in his city, he managed to teach his friends the importance of manga through lessons and YouTube videos! After winning several award’s in SILENT MANGA AUDITION®, it’s now time to ask him directly further about his dreams and passions! Hello, Amito Arai!

Amito Arai

  “My pen-name came after my very first manga character.”   1) How did you begin creating Manga? In 2012, my friend asked me to draw a character from an anime. I had never painted anything like it before… but I liked it, and started drawing in manga style. Then I created a Youtube channel where I uploaded videos of my drawing process. I got a lot of fans, and everyone asked: “Why don’t you draw a manga?” Manga, I had a vague idea of what it was. I knew it was a Japanese comic book, and that there was a manga called “NARUTO”, which I read occasionally. But I was not particularly interested. Still, my fans  kept asking me for it a thousand times, so I decided to try myself. Around that time, the anime series of “Bakuman” was gaining popularity in Russia, and there was a manga contest related to it. I, not knowing the basics of drawing manga, began to draw a manga for the contest! My first manga was about a manga artist named “Amito Arai”. The work was horrible… but somehow people liked it. Later on I joined communities of manga creators, but after a short time, I realized that I will not grow much, if I only participate in local competitions. I started dreaming of winning at an international competition, and in 2015, I saw the draft of SILENT MANGA AUDITION®. Now my goal to conquer this mountain (SMA) at any cost!   2) What is your working environment like? Are you an analogue or digital person? Any unique tools you use to draw? Mostly I choose the traditional way of drawing by hand.Oh, the sound of the pen, the smell of mascara, I really like it! These special sensations are not present when you use digital.I have various tools: pens (G, Maru, etc.), liners, pencils, brushes, markers, rulers, etc. As for the paper, I use A3, and inside I paint a B4 sized pages (250 * 353 mm), and make an indent from the edge of 25 mm. I also use the TV to redraw some of the frames, like a light box. Whenever I want to make a slight change, I take a photograph, send it to the computer, and redraw through the second screen. It saves time.  
  “People from all around the region and TV came to attend my manga lessons!”   3) Anything the world should know about where you live?  I live in Russia, in a city among the Ural mountains – Nizhny Tagil. It is a small city, but it is well-known in Russia. Nizhny Tagil is a city factory! More than 50% of the city’s area is an industrial zone. We have two large factories here- EVRAZ NTMK and Uralvagonzavod. The latter used to make tanks during WW2, T-34 and T-72, in honor of which monuments were erected. But despite all the above, there are many very beautiful parks, monuments and architectures. A lot of historically famous figures were born in the city too: the inventors of steam trains and bicycles, artists, poets, writers, and even a Nobel Laureate!  

The T-72 monument

4) Popular comics/manga in your country at this moment? The majority of the city are factory workers, so manga is not quite popular here. Probably I’m the only mangaka in the whole district. But in general, there are a lot of fans of manga and anime in Russia. The most popular manga in Russia all have a popular anime series: “DEATH NOTE”, “NARUTO”, “BLEACH”, “ONE PIECE”, etc. One of my goals is to tell everyone that manga is not just children’s books, but also serious literature. When I decided to talk about manga, a lot of people gathered, including a Russian television crew! (Click HERE to see the whole video)   5) Are locally created comics/manga popular in your town? Do you know any local creators? We have a lot of manga creators drawing in the style of manga and anime. I am familiar with almost all the winners and most participants of the SMA: Rerekina & Jeyre, NAO & Ivan Navinkin, Sideburn004Olesya Kholodchuk, etc. I learn a lot from them.     “The inspiration from the entry came directly from you, SMA!”   6) First 4-koma award win! Congratulations! Why did you choose this format? Honestly I did not plan to participate in the SMA7, I was exhausted after the SMA-EX2. But then Taiyo-san (SMAC! Editor) encouraged me to participate by drawing a short entry of 3-5 pages. He mentioned it wasn’t against the rules to draw in yonkoma, so I decided to make one. I thought that if a yonkoma manga wins an award, the contest could make a new breakthrough. Videos and contents posted on the SMAC! website/SNS also helped me create this manga. 7) Is any part of the story, based on an experience of your own? The story is based on my own experience. I remember when I made a birthday cake for myself with a friend of mine. The cake turned out to be terrible, just disgusting to the taste, I still feel it. But it was a lot of fun, cooking the cake and playing video games all night. It certainly was one of my best days in life, which is associated with the taste of that cake.

“Best Gift”, by Amito Arai

  8) How cute! Why does the cake taste so awful? I do not even remember why the taste of the cake turned out to be horrible, probably because of the fact that we added all sorts of different ingredients to it. Imagine a chocolate cake with bacon inside!   9) How old are the characters? Characters are about 8-10 years old. When this happened to me, I was 9 years old.   10) Where do they live?  Honestly, I did not even think about it… BUT! These same characters are found more adult in my other story – “Smiling Flower“. So my answer is: they are from Kumamoto.

“Smiling Flower”, by Amito Arai

  11) How long did it take to create the entry? Collectively, it’s a week.   12) Which SMA7 Award winning entries do you like? I like how the story is shown in both “Our Promised Land” by Zevania and Nattorin and “Forbidden Fruit” by Nao and Navinkin! About the art style, my favourite one is “Bread” by Spillman for sure!  
  “Manga artists inspired me since the beginning… I want to be someone’s future inspiration!”   13) What are your future expectations?  Undoubtedly, to win in SILENT MANGA AUDITION®,  and join the Master Class. Anime and manga inspired me to choose this profession, so in the future, I would like to create a work that would inspire potential creators. I am one of those people who want to make a hobby a meaning of life.   14) What do you expect to achieve by taking part in SMACommunity – The fans, readers and the Japanese pros? To me, this contest is a way of growing as a Mangaka. Fierce competition, professional judges, a high ceiling… I think if you can win in this audition, you can easily enter the comic book/manga industry. You can learn so much at SMA.   15) Anything else you want to share with the community?  Participate in contests, draw lots, learn from mistakes, and grow. Sooner or later, you will create a masterpiece. SMA is a great opportunity!  

Amito Arai and his works!

  Thank you, Amito Arai! We are happy that SMAC! original SNS contents (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) helped you get the right inspiration to achieve your goal! But we are also sure that this will not be the last we see your name among our Award winning list! You and the rest of our SMA-Community still have 3 weeks to create several SMA8 works and send them to us! Taiyo, Mayu and Enrico want to have a chat with all of you, giving the right tips to improve your manga as soon as possible! ☺️ DO NOT MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY and JOIN SMA8! Click on the picture below and… ENTER THE REAL, PROFESSIONAL MANGA WORLD!   See you next time!
Enrico Croce

Enrico Croce