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SMA 10 / EX4 Interview #5 – Harihtaroon

Enrico Croce Enrico Croce 19/07/2019 16 min read


Name: Harihtaroon

Age: 30

Country: Malaysia

Favorite manga: All Obata-sensei manga, Tongari Booshi no Atorie, Real, D.Gray Man, Silver Spoon, Monster, Again!!, Gokushufudou …and many more!

Favorite movie: All Studio Ghibli’s movies, all Mamoru Hasoda’s movies, The Garden of Words, Tokyo Godfathers, Sword of the Strangers, Hinata no Aoshigure ...and many more!

Favorite quote: All positive motivational quotes!


“…my highest award winning entries are the simplest manga I’ ve ever made.”   1. How does it feel to win a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award? Of course I feel very happy. I never thought that I could win Grand Prix, especially in the extra round! Up until now, I still feel that I don’t deserve the award when I compare my work with other artists. To be honest, this is the most simplest story that I have ever made for the SMA competition. I feel bad that people keep on congratulating me, even though I didn’t give my very best compared to my SMA10 entry. But winning a Grand prix in SMA has always been one of my dreams and I’m really glad that I could finally receive this award. I really can’t wait to meet all the judges and editors this year who work so hard to organise this competition and create a path for me to become a mangaka.       2. What were your first impressions of the theme? For SMA-EX4’s “Exam and Trial” theme, I had no idea what to draw. To me, the theme was really hard to understand, so I searched for words related to the Kit Kat brand and was amazed to discover how Japanese people relate it to the word “Kitto Katsu” (surely win)! That was the first time I’ve ever heard that word and how they associate it with a lucky charm… no wonder there’s a lot of varieties in Japan! I finally managed to understand the theme, thanks to the SMA editors and their tip videos! I kept on rewatching them again and again, and decided to create a story about a lucky charm, based on the topic that was discussed in the video. It really helped me to win this award! Arigato gozaimasu! ☺️ As for SMA10, I never knew that the theme referred to Shounen manga, until I read Hirohiko Araki sensei’s book. So I ended up creating a shoujo manga instead! The theme was more straightforward, but I had some difficultly in deciding a happy ending or a sad ending. I’ve never created manga a with sad ending before, so I decided to give it a try… and thankfully it worked!     3. What was the inspiration behind your winning work? For SMA-EX4, my biggest inspiration was my cat. I have a lot of stray cats, but only one is allowed to sleep in my home day and night despite all the troubles she creates… 😅 My cat always disturbs me every time I’m facing an important or stressful day (such as exams, interviews or deadlines). She keeps me moving around, cleaning up her mess and thanks to that, I managed to stay awake until I finished my work. Sometimes, sitting for a long time will make my head feel dizzy and sleepy, so my cat plays a crucial role as my supporter: by creating troubles, my blood will circulate better and deliver more oxygen to my brain!  For SMA10, my inspiration came from my SNS timeline. At the time, there were some friends of mine posting about losing their best friend. They had so many good memories, but they only realized after their friend was no longer with them. It was heartbreaking to read it… But those SNS posts gave me the ideas to create a special moment between friends. A lot of readers related to my SMA10 entry to the manga “Your lie in April” (Naoshi Arakawa), but that manga wasn’t my inspiration in the first place. I struggled to decide about what kind of musical instrument she would play, because it needed to be easily carried around. Guitars are much more suited to male characters and flutes would have been much harder to blow it if you were sad, I guess. Even so, I feel honored when they compared my entry with some awesome manga! I hope I can create something like that one day!     4. What challenges did you face making your manga? How did you overcome them? Environment. I’m stuck between job commissions, competitions and household chores. Since I live with my family, it’s hard to focus on drawing manga. Plus, my room will get very hot during the day and I usually need to shut down my computer because of overheating. Therefore, I usually draw manga at night. I sketch and write, while thinking of ideas for my story plot during the day, and start drawing at night. One day, when my income will be more stable, I will definitely install an air conditioner in my room!   Another challenge that I face is a lack of ideas! It’s a really horrible feeling when you can’t even draw or write anything whole day. When it comes to this situation, I put down my pen, and enjoy watching movies, dramas and search for some new manga and artists art styles. Once I see beautiful artwork, it will make me to draw too. (The downside is, because of the amount of influences I keep changing my drawing style… I really need to fix this bad habit!)   5. What did you learn from making your manga? Did you pick up any new skills or techniques? The more I enter SMA competitions, the more I learn the right way to create manga. There’s a lot of things that need to be considered while making a manga: the flow of the story, character designs, panelling, art style etc… Even though there’s a lot of books, websites and video tutorials about how to create manga, you still need to try it out yourself and learn to apply everything into your personal story. I once thought that you just need to read and collect information to create a good manga, but I still make mistakes. I must say that I am thankful to all my friends and co-workers who point out my mistakes. Sharing your manga and receiving feedback is also the best way to learn and improve your skills. Another way to learn how to create manga is by learning from your favorite mangaka as every mangaka has their own style. From character introduction, to panelling that suits their art style. I envy those mangaka that have their own unique art style, that once you saw it you immediately realize who drew it. I haven’t found one yet, and because of that I keep on trying to imitate the artists that I like, learning how they draw and hopefully I will finally find my own recognizable style one day!  

Harihtaroon’s workplace. Look at those monitors!

  6.How important is entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® in relation to your professional goals? It is life changing for me. My parents used to be against my decision to become a full time mangaka and illustrator. To be honest, I failed to get a job that relates to my degree so I was frustrated and needed to decide what to do from that moment on. I wanted to give the mangaka’s job a try even though it wasn’t stable. Sometimes you will get your money earlier, sometimes after you finish the job, sometimes you will get payment like a year later and sometimes you won’t get anything at all! It’s hard to get a fixed amount for every month and that’s the reason why my parents were against it. But now after winning all the prizes and finally being selected to be a part of MasterClass, I gained my parents trust and hopefully I won’t let them down. I must say at first, I entered this competition because of the money prizes. I gambled a lot, pouring a lot of effort and time to enter SMA. Once I entered it, I wanted to enter it again and suddenly I realized that I’ve become addicted to it. Knowing there are great judges and editors, and that my friends and other people can read my work giving me feedback, it makes me happy. And this whole thing triggers me to try to go even further to become a pro mangaka. Becoming a MasterClas is more challenging than I thought it would be. There’s a lot of hard work, dedication and time that you need to sacrifice. I’m still struggling with my time management and hopefully I could overcome all the obstacles and become a mangaka pro one day.   7. What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®? DO NOT STOP! Keep on entering this competition, even if you fail to receive an award for your manga. I’m sure that you will improve a lot if you keep entering. Read all the winning pieces and i’m sure you will know why the judges selected these winners. I read all the artwork and I come across several names who have a strong will to keep entering this competition. I salute these artists for their hard work as they are one of my main motivations to keep entering this competition. It’s also better to have your friends to give feedback about your manga. Discussion will help you to improve more. Read all the articles in the manga audition pages and watch all the videos on Silent Manga Youtube channel. There’s a lot of information that you will gain and try to apply to your masterpiece. Also, don’t skip the tips that they give for the theme. It will surely help you a lot to understand more and hopefully could get you an award! 

Harihtaroon’s original illustration. Just incredible!


Thank you, Harihtaroon!

For those of you that might have missed her award winning entries, click on the banners below to get your fix of lighthearted hijinks! My Best Friend Lucky Charm  


Enrico Croce

Enrico Croce