Ichirou Japan Trip Report
The winner of SILENT MANGA AUDITION rounds 2 & 3, our new rising star: Ichirou from Brazil!
He narrowly missed the Master Class ceremony held in January, now he finally managed to be in Japan with us, to give us an interview, discuss future prospects and downright have fun 😉
Taiyo is your reporter here. So let’s begin!
Day 1, Haneda Airport.
Flying in from the other side of the globe, Ichirou’s plane touches down in Tokyo in the middle of the night. At Narita airport, Taiyo from the SMAC! Team waits to greet him. Although tired from his long journey, Ichirou is overjoyed to be in Tokyo for the first time. In high spirits, the two of them discuss the schedule for the coming week, as they race down the midnight Tokyo expressway, westbounds towards Kichijoji…
Day 2, Kichijoji Jizo Building.
Tokyo is sweltering under the worst heatwave in 10 years. Even Ichirou, who’s used to the hot climate of Brazil, is caught off guard by the sheer humidity.
Arriving at Jizo Building, Ichirou exchanges greetings with the SMAC/ZENON Editorial Teams for the first time. “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!” And he’s brought a lovely Brazilian drink as a gift!
The weather is lovely, so Ichirou and the SMAC! Team head up to the top floor, and have lunch at Sora-Zenon. There, Kenshirou is also waiting to meet Ichirou! Atatata!
On such a warm day, an ice-cold beverage is divine! Saude♪
With drinks in hand, they talk late into the night about the future of manga, Brazil, SMAC! Magazine, and much more…
Day 3, Kichijoji Jizo Building.
After lunch, Ichirou catches up with some long overdue homework! He adds his signature and self-portrait to a sketch book, which was already signed by the rest of the Master Class in January.
Now there’s just one person left who has to sign: Mikko!
In the Jizo Building meeting room, where many great manga works have been born, Chief Editor Mochida joins the group, and the first “manga creation meeting” commences.
This is the kick-off meeting, to discover Ichirou’s tastes (see his interview for details) and what works have influenced him thus far. A long-time reader, Ichirou has a long list of favorites! This has no doubt contributed to making him a storyteller.
These meetings will continue online, until he produces the next great hit!
Day 4, The Master’s Studio
The long-awaited trip to meet the judges of SILENT MANGA AUDITION!
Hojo-sensei, Hara-sensei, and Tsugihara-sensei work in the same suite of offices in Kichijoji. In fact, many famous manga artists, including some of Ichiro’s heroes, began their careers here as assistants before their debuts.
Although busy creating their own manga, the masters have specially made time to meet Ichirou.
“So, we finally meet.” Hojo-sensei says with a friendly smile, extending a hand. Ichirou shakes the very hand, which has produced so many hits. He seems nervous to be in the presence of an artist, of legendary statute.
Sitting down, Hojo-sensei slowly pages through Ichirou’s portfolio.
In Japan, most artists draw on a B4 size paper, but Ichirou uses an A3. This is so that he can cram in lots of extra detail. Hojo-sensei gazes approvingly at the wealth of detail before his eyes.
“Do you have any advice for me?” asks Ichirou. “Nothing whatsoever.” Hojo-sensei replies cheerfully “If you can draw at this level, then all you need to do now is to keep drawing with the readers in mind”. Ichirou is flattered and a little embarrassed at this unexpected praise.
Afterwards, they discuss drawing tools, working with assistants and current trends… eventually, the tense atmosphere gives way to one of friendly companionship.
When it comes to tools, Hojo-sensei is very old-school, and doesn’t use any special equipment. Although you can now buy ready-made “manga paper” in stores, Hojo-sensei prefers to continue using the same old Kent paper that he always has.
It also becomes clear that, although famous for his human dramas, Hojo-sensei initially aspired to be an SF artist. He and the young Ichirou have a surprising amount in common!
Finally, Hojo-sensei shows Ichirou his work-desk, which is littered with work-in-progress pieces.
He explains how he draws his “MangaNAMES” and transforms them into finished products. Listening seriously to the explanations, Ichirou is amazed at the speed of Hojo-sensei’s production schedule. “So fast!?” he exclaims.
Eventually, it’s time to go.
Shaking hands, Hojo sensei asks Ichirou. “So Ichirou, do you have any advice for me?”
Surprising everyone, Hojo-sensei grins impishly, and says “I’m also still learning. I’d like to get some fresh opinions”
… Even at his level, he’s still not satisfied!
Hojo-sensei, a 35-year veteran who still hasn’t forgotten his beginner’s spirit, and Ichiro, a young, aspiring artist, aiming for his debut. Together, they take a commemorative photo.
After thanking Hojo-sensei again, the group moves to the next workroom.
The successful author of many car-themed manga stories, Tsugihara-sensei’s workroom is packed with valuable collector’s items and photos.
Ichirou stares at a picture of Ayrton Senna da Silva, another Brazilian star. Ayrton is a formula 1 racer who also had a special connection with Japan. Destiny is at work here!
Tsugihara-sensei also slowly goes through every page of Ichirou’s portfolio, with Ichirou standing tensely at his side. Letting someone look at your work is definitely a nerve-wrecking experience!
Ichirou is waiting in anticipation to hear Tsugihara-sensei’s impression.
“What do you think?” he asks.
“It’s magnificent!” Tsugihara-sensei beams, showing his approval.
“You’re already at a higher level than many Japanese newbie manga artists. All that’s left is to accumulate experience, and put yourself to the test.”
Relieved, Ichirou begins to ask questions, which Tsugihara-sensei answers patiently.
That’s all we have for today! Next week, will be Ichirou’s adventure in Akihabara, Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and the Robot Restaurant… (Oh yes he did go witness all that + more!)
Stay tuned, and hoping to see more masterclass new and old coming to Japan, hopefully soon 😉