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SMAC! Web Magazine

The Artists Village Insider #07 – Say What?? My Job Is To Read Manga?!

First a disclaimer; My job is definitely not just about reading manga all day long…But, in all seriousness, have you ever thought about having a job that pays you for reading manga? Well, there is in fact a job like that, called a manga editor. This type of occupation might not be very well known outside Japan and the Japanese manga industry, but here it is as essential as both paper and ink (both figuratively and literally). To work as a manga editor doesn’t only mean to be the first reader of the manga creator you’re in charge of, but also to be their advisor, guide, and in some ways, a manager. At the end of the day, reading manga is just one part of many tasks and required techniques that a manga editor should have. It demands passion and dedication, sacrifices, and most of all, curiosity to absorb ideas around you and help your manga creators in their creative ways. 

If you’re curious about being a manga editor and what it all entails, then I suggest you take a deep dive into the “Manga Insider Mayu” series created a few years ago by our dear senpai Mayu-san. She fully explains the ups and downs of this profession, follows the workflow inside the manga publishing company, and even interviews manga editors and asks for their advice to newbie manga creators.

A day in life of a SMA editor in the Artists Village

There are some differences between working as a manga editor in the bustling capital of Japan and working as a manga editor in our idyllic Artists Village. But these differences are mostly about the environment surrounding us. What we’re expected to do is more or less the same. In our case specifically, our main job here is taking care of the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® (SMA) rounds – by the way, the audition is reaching its 10th year anniversary this year!!! Additionally, we are also responsible for creating the hugely important bridge between the main editorial office in Tokyo and the international creators – which includes you! Our end goal is the same as any editors’ – we want our manga creators to debut in Japan and have their works recognized. Though our roads might be slightly different, we’re expected to do as well as our Japanese colleagues. In short, we’re striving to offer a high-quality manga that is good enough to win an award in Japanese competitions and potentially debut as a serialized work!

This means, of course, that our work includes a lot of research – how the Japanese manga market works, what is the hot topic at any given moment – this is the part where you’re paid for reading manga. However, this doesn’t mean that you can just read your favorite titles; it means meticulous research to see what manga is currently selling and to predict what will sell next. The next task is editorial support that is not just advising creators, but also conveying to them the current trends of the Japanese manga market. Once the best version of their story is created and we’re all satisfied with it, we also take care of the English to Japanese translation – in short, we have to make sure that your original message is successfully conveyed in Japanese as well! 

Some of the recent works that were huge news for us were SMA MasterClass members monotone_ink’s “My Friend Mana,” the very first internationally awarded work in the 6th Kyushu International Manga Award and Enewald’s “The Sunflower Theorem” that was awarded in the 23rd Manga Taisho contest. Both works were printed in our Japanese manga magazine, Monthly Comic ZENON, and will be also available online on its online platforms soon. “My Friend Mana” is already available in English, so stay tuned for “The Sunflower Theorem” which will be available online in English this Spring!

Speaking of bridges, right now we’re offering editorial support remotely – since SMA is international, our tool of communication is the internet. But this means that there are potential factors influencing communication between editors and the artists…and you know, sometimes life happens… Well, in order to focus fully on manga, our plan is to invite the selected MasterClass members here, to the Artists Village Aso 096k, and work together towards their debut in Japan!

On top of working together to apply for Japanese contests, here in Kumamoto we’re also trying our best to bring manga closer to the area that we live and work in: in the past we’ve held the Kumamoto International Manga CAMP attended by the MasterClass, and the Kumamoto International Manga Festival where we introduced the past awarded entries from SMA to the people of Kumamoto. Recently, we’ve unveiled International Tapestries all over Takamori Town. Created by the MasterClass members, the tapestries are now on display for tourists from all over Japan to enjoy international creations in this small idyllic town. We truly hope that the creators will be able to come here and see their works in person soon. 

Our future aim is for the bridge that we’re building to get stronger and stronger – stay tuned to learn more about the amazing projects that connect Kumamoto prefecture with the international manga community. Who knows, perhaps it will be YOUR work that will be featured next! So, work hard, pour all your heart into your story, and show us your masterpieces by joining our current round: SMA18!