For this semester, I joined the 京都まんが教室 for my CIP. Although the course fee is a little bit expensive, I’d say it’s totally worth it, mainly because it is where you could have a real cultural communication with people who really understand you.
The most precious thing I experienced from this CIP is the feeling of getting into a real Japanese circle where I belong. Different from the general anime or manga club I’ve joined in the US, this class is more like a doujin-based fan circle. Since most of the students in the manga class are young ladies around the same age, we mostly watch same types of anime and have interests in same kinds of stuff(e.g. shipping). Thus, there are never too many topics to chat about, from which I get to pick up a lot of unique language that is only used within the Japanese anime-fan circle. However, since it is kind of an advanced course, the format of “teaching” almost doesn’t exist. Basically, you just draw whatever you like in every class, and the instructors will give some personal advice and instructions on your drawings. Since I don’t have any essential knowledge of drawing anime characters or manga before, the level is way too high for me. (Other students are all doujin artists.)
Therefore, here is my advice for those who might be interested: If you love anime/Japanese pop culture, and want to experience the feeling of really being one of the Japanese anime fans, don’t hesitate to participate in the manga class. However, if all you want is to learn how to draw manga and do not have any essential knowledge, I would suggest taking a more formal course that focuses on teaching basic skills of drawing manga.