Erica Neville: Manga Workshop

To be sure, my insight into private drawing classes hasn’t changed much from last quarter. I’ve learned how to understand critique in Japanese, and how to follow both drawn and spoken suggestions despite limited relevant vocabulary. This quarter I’ve managed to communicate a lot more with my teacher, and a lot of last quarter’s frustration regarding being given assignments I found boring has been alleviated and, perhaps helpfully, replaced with frustration in struggling through more challenging structural and organic perspective assignments. Huzzah!

I have learned that, in practice, in small classrooms the kinds of respectful language we Japanese language students have learned and are told to use are often dropped in favor of a mix of casual and polite language. Especially in the drawing classroom, the emphasis is on effective communication. This might be because some of the students are younger, ranging from elementary to high school age, although I’ve heard other adults speaking much the same way. Greetings and small-talk are typically polite or, less often, respectful, but when it comes to the meat of the conversation we often use casual or です•ます style alone.

Moreover, in this setting, critique is more straightforward than it might otherwise be when there isn’t a definite student-teacher relationship. My teacher will often employ softer grammar to phrase things more as a suggestion, but he still makes his point clear and will continue suggesting improvements every time he comes by if a piece of the drawing is still not dark enough, for instance.

I also find it interesting that even the younger kids receive the same level of critique. Many of the students in the classroom are there preparing to apply to art school, of course, but it seems that even at a younger age this kind of instruction is valued as a serious study, whereas in America there is a tendency towards leniency with children and treating private classes primarily as a fun pastime rather than actual skill-building.

Although I had the option to choose another CIP, perhaps the manga circle on campus, and in the process would have saved a good chunk of money, I can definitely say I am glad I stayed with this private classroom. The interaction can be more limited than some given that we mostly work independently, but the one-on-one instruction from the teacher and listening to him interacting with other students is very informative and gratifying.

2 thoughts on “Erica Neville: Manga Workshop

  1. Erica,

    This CIP activity sounds really interesting! It must have been an interesting experience to take a workshop on manga while actually in Japan, where it first developed.

    I think your comment on how in America, after-school activities are often treated as just fun time-killers, but are treated as a serious activity in Japan is very illuminating of the interesting differences between the two societies. Though I would hesitate to extrapolate any deep meaning for this difference, it definitely does highlight some interesting aspects of Japanese culture (as compared to American culture).

    I’m glad you had fun and found the experience gratifying though! Do you have a finished work?


  2. The workshop is actually more geared to just learning the skills for drawing manga, so I don’t actually have anything like a comic made, but yeah, I’ve got a couple assignments done! Mostly all in pencil and nothing I’d consider finished, but good practice pieces! They’ll be on display during the talent show.

    In a way I really appreciate how much more serious after-school activities are taken here, but as was brought up in a discussion I had with Professor Yotsukura, it can also be very hard to find activities or workshops that are more relaxed about pushing students. I actually ended up bouncing around several workshops before stumbling across this one, and that was an issue I’d run into before. Very difficult to just drop in in the middle of a semester and be a casual learner!