How to become a mangaka

You have watched all seasons of the Bakuman series, have gone through years of practicing your brush stroke and have finally come to a conclusion: you want to become a full-time manga artist, a mangaka. But where do you begin?

To be honest with you right from the start, let me tell you that if you want to become a full-time mangaka and publish mangas in Japan, you need to be fluent in Japanese. There is no way around it if your goal is to challenge the famous mangaka of Japan. However, there might be some alternatives for those of you that don’t want to publish at a big company, keep on reading to learn more about them.

Maybe you are not interested in becoming a mangaka yourself, but just in the process of becoming a mangaka in general. Today we will break down the most essential steps of how to become a mangaka and what the daily lives of manga artists look like. Enjoy!


Being a mangaka

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First up, you should understand what it really means to be a mangaka. It isn’t all about making nice drawings or creating cute outfits, as some of you might believe. A professional mangaka is a gifted artist, an inventor of stories and fantastic worlds, an illustrator, character designer, producer and so much more, all in one person. So just being good at drawing doesn’t cut it.

Also, being a mangaka is a highly underpaid and maybe even underappreciated field of work. Mangakas spend most of their time drawing and redrawing sketches and constantly coming up with new ideas. You will have to deal with tight deadlines and be able to work under high pressure. The paycheck you receive at the end of the month might not justify all of that hard work.

In the end, only people that are really driven by passion and cannot see themselves as being anything else than a mangaka make it until the end. So if any of you want to launch on that path you should bring lots of guts, courage and determination with you.

Where do I begin?

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Let’s say you have a complete manga in your hands and are ready to try your luck at turning it into a published piece of work. What do you do? Do you have to get a mangaka license first or pay an application fee? No, you simply turn it in.

In theory it is really that simple: you get the contact information of your favorite publishing houses and either schedule an appointment or send in your work by mail. Publishers are always out to find the next big hit and will give everyone a chance, regardless of sex, gender, nationality or race. Staff members will take the time to look at your work and tell you their opinion. But that doesn’t mean that you will get hired.

As easy as it is to get a meeting, it’s similarly easy to get rejected. Only a really small number of applicants get more than a quick talk to a publisher. And even if they tell you that your story might have potential, you will have to continuously work on it until it meets their standards. If you cannot fulfill all requirements your journey is over before it has begun.

Alternatives

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Of course there are also other ways to get into the business. A popular alternative are manga contests where magazines ask people to send in their work with the chance to gain recognition or even win some money. One of the most famous competitions is the monthly Shonen JUMP Treasure competition, organized by infamous Japanese company Shonen JUMP.

If you actually don’t want to become a full-time mangaka, but just get your work out into the world, publishing your script yourself on open websites might be the way to go. Doujinshi are self-published manga that have their very own fanbase in Japan. If you live outside of Japan (and are not fluent in Japanese) the easiest way is to look for popular websites online. Inside Japan, it is possible to get your doujinshi printed just like a commercial manga. And who knows – maybe your self-published work will be discovered as the next big hit.

 


We have already introduced you to the highly competitive world of Seiyuu and we hope you got to realize that being a mangaka is at least as challenging. Many of you like to enjoy watching anime, reading manga or playing Japanese videogames, but sometimes we tend to forget how much work and effort is put into these pieces of work. Being a mangaka means working day and night to achieve your dream without ever giving up – a truly Japanese profession.

Have you ever wanted to become a mangaka? What do you think of this profession in general? Share your experiences and opinions in the comment section below.

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