Story Hunter: Universal Messages Drawn without Words

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Photo by SMAC! Web Magazine

Yes, Virgina, there is a dream manga job for foreigners in Japan.

How many of us were first inspired to come to Japan by the country’s famous exports of anime and manga? A number of fans of Astro Boy, Sailor Moon, Akira, Pokémon and other franchises like Tsukasa Hojo’s City Hunter may even have come here with crazy dreams of getting involved in the industry. An even smaller portion of us may have actually succeeded in pursuing that dream.

There is a perception in Japan, though, that foreigners can’t create manga to the same taste as the Japanese. Some say it’s because the process of creating American and European animation and comics starts with a writer drafting a story which is then illustrated. Manga in Japan, however, is created from the beginning as a wholly visual medium with the artist — or manga-ka — as the driving force. There’s no question that both styles have become huge forces in popular culture — at the magazine stand, on TV and gracing the big screen.

There’s been a lot of time and cross-cultural pollination since those disparate origins collided. Now, a domestic icon of the manga scene is acting on the belief that foreigners can — and should — create manga like the Japanese.

Tetsuo Hara — the creator of Fist of the North Star and other staple manga titles — believes the future of manga is in inclusivity. His company, Coamix, has created the Silent Manga Audition as a way of proving that the art form — and its accompanying message — is universal.

The idea? To strip away all language, leaving only the visual images — and a message direct from the heart.

Since its launch in 2012, the contest has been wildly successful. Artists have had their creations brought to life as animation and live-action short films. Some have even gone on to professional careers in the manga world.

The Silent Manga Audition is a bridge between cultures. It promotes the idea that foreigners can indeed create great manga. Further, the idea has the support of a well-known Japanese anime studio. And guess what? They’re hiring!

So if you love manga and you’ve dreamt of being involved in the business — then now is the perfect chance. Check out the Silent Manga Competition and apply for a key insider job in the industry right here on GaijinPot.

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