sabato 15 marzo 2014

Life Update, Japanese Creepiness and Nerds

Hello World! Yes it's us and yes we are still alive!
Life in the past couple of months has just been CrAzY and that is why we haven't updated for such a long time ._. . ごめんなさい!

For what concerns me I am still in Tokyo and as my Japanese level gets higher classes get more and more difficult and make less and less sense. I am serious! Just to give you an idea today I found myself doing a reading (do you do a reading? Or do you read a reading? I'm confused) about wether it is better to die because of cancer or some quick thing such as a heart attack. Now :
1- with all the wonderful things we have in this world, why would someone write a whole page about a creepy topic like this and ask me questions about it after?! My answer : because that someone is Japanese.
2- what makes you (I don't who but I need to take it out on someone) think I care to know the kanjis for the words cancer and heart attack? I am telling you, I really don't need them. Especially since I can barely make it trough normal Japanese life.
3- who would actually think it's better to die of cancer?! Because that is what that text said O.o. The writer was saying that if you get cancer you know how much time you have to live so you can say goodbye properly and do all the things you want to do. Dear Japanese person who wrote that article, I am doing what I want to do and treasuring people around me even if I don't have cancer.
Other than that I have been doing some awesome stuff in Japan such as follow a Jazz Tour in Tokyo and Kyoto and interview awesome people. Just today I interviewed an amazing nail artist and she showed us some techniques that were invented in Japan and she even made my nails with a sakura flower theme and now they look amazing. The sink full of dirty dishes doesn't look that amazing but I don't want to ruin my new fashion nails by washing them XD.

For what concerns Mea she is back to Italy now and she has been getting in the illustration world lately. She says thanks to all the amazing people here on dA who encouraged her into taking this path ^V^. As you must know at this point Mea thinks she sucks at drawing and she stops liking her own drawing about 5 seconds after she finishes them so your comments and best wishes meant a lot to her <3! She just opened a new facebook page as well so go check it if you have time :D
MeaMostro Facebook

For what concerns manga we are waiting for answers! We have a couple of manga that we sent to various contests and we are now waiting to see if they will place or not ^V^! This time we sent them instead of going ourselves because believe it or not I waited 2 months saying "I will go next week" to then never find the time -___-. I know it seems hard to believe but you should come to Japan and you would understand. If your attendance at school is less then 80-90% the immigration office will not renew your visa so you basically can't miss school unless you are sick and can't get out of bed. Not going to work is just not a possibility ._. . I mean, even asking to get out at the time when you are supposed to get out is considered bad as you are implicitly forced to stay overtime XD!
My goal for the next months is that to quit school and just work. That would be the only way for me to actually have time to do what I love the most! However, getting a working visa in Japan isn't that easy and I still need to go to class to reach a higher knowledge of Japanese. I mean, other than "cancer" and "heart attack" think at how many awful words of sickness and death they could teach me!

I also want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the new watchers we got! We really appreciate your support ;_; you keep us going when Japan crushes us! 
Lately I have been reading how people struggle to find manga art supplies in their own country and I feel like it's not fair because I can find them at the store 5 minutes from my house. So I was thinking that once we reach a good number of watchers I would like to have a give away :D!! Maybe with manga papers, or ink, or a few screentones and that kind of stuff! 

And last, what do you think of the mermaid and the nerd XD? There are actually a lot of thoughts behind it XD! I have uploaded it in our gallery and I have written a description already so if you have time go check it and tell us what you think the nerd should do with the mermaid XD!

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giovedì 30 gennaio 2014

My Journey to Publishing a Manga in Japan - Part 7

明けましておめでとう, which means "Happy New Year" in Japanese :D! I don't know if you guys knew this but New Year's is a big deal in Japan! I would say that I think it's the most important festival throughout the year. This is really weird for me because in Italy none really cares about New Year's XD. Like, most of the time you meet with friends and just hang out until it's midnight and celebrate drinking wine ahah. To me the way Japanese people celebrate New Year's is the way we Italians celebrate Christmas. That is, staying home from work/school, finding banks and shops closed, staying with family, eating a lot, etc. I was also surprised with Japanese New Year's because all banks were closed and I was left with no money and no way to get some XD.
That said, how are you guys? My vacation was awesome. Me and Mea forced ourselves not to work or draw or do anything related to it for 3 weeks because we felt like we overdid things for 3 months before Christmas up to the point were our health was in danger. I have actually read a lot about this on the internet. Like many artists getting sick, losing hair or having stomach pain because of too much work. Does this happen to you? I think the main issue with me and my sister is Japanese working rhythm (what the hell is with this word O.O? Like it's made only of consonants XD), which is "always" and the fact that not being in an office that closes at a certain point we never "close" -___-. But now we are back yey! I feel energized by vacation and Italian food. A lot of food. :). 

Well well, let's go back to my manga (sad) story up to the point were I got my manga "Elisa" rejected for the second time -___-. If you haven’t read the previous part of my adventure here in Japan and you wish to, you can find them here: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6.

If you guys remember I went to show my first real "well" done manga to a shoujo magazine and got rejected for all kinds of reason that made no sense to me at the time. However, the editor I met said the drawing was good even if not suitable for their magazine and he understood my story was different from usual Japanese manga stories also because I come from a different culture. So he suggested I would go show it to another magazine instead, which literally claimed to be "too innovative". I have known Japanese people for a while now and I know that their idea of innovative most of the time is "slightly different from regular" but I thought I had nothing to lose. I went there with no hope though and I think that was good because at least I didn't feel like I wanted to kill anyone when they said my manga was not ok. 
So, I was given the number I was supposed to call and I did. I made an appointment and went there (it was a different publisher). This time the editor was a girl and I thanked god in my mind because to me the way Japanese girls talk is so much easier to understand than the way man talk XD. She was extra nice. She took me to the "Room of Judgment" and this time there was none else beside us. I set quietly as she read the manga. Thank god they always give me one of their magazine to "read" in the meanwhile so that I don't have to look at them and their facial expressions as they look at my work XD. When she finished I could see she was "surprised" by my work. It happens all the time. The art style is different from usual, the story, the characters and everything else is different from usual. She said the manga was not ok mostly because the story is clearly for kids while that magazine was for adults also. However, she said that this new magazine was also a lot about art. I remember her saying "this is a magazine that people interested in art buy too". So basically she told me that she thought the magazine might have been "right" for me. Because it was innovative and art played a big part and apparently my manga are innovative and the best thing about them is art. So she gave me this advice : she told me to read 1 chapters manga from Japanese people (she gave me specific titles) and make a new manga following (I think the idea is "copying" though) their style an go show it again to her. I think she really meant it because when I went there again (next post) she did remember me. She was really nice so I decide to be honest with her and I told her I thought "Elisa" was good and I thought people would like it if it was a series. Like, I could understand their point when they said there were many "things" I didn't "close" in those 30 pages but if I was given a chance to make more, such as other chapters, I could have "closed" them right? So I said "how about making it a series then" XD? I still don't know where I found the courage to ask her that. And try guess my surprise when she said "it might work as a series". O.O. @.@. Excuse me? Can you say that again? I was shocked. They just said all sorts of bad things about my manga to tell me then that it might work a series?! Are you kidding me? She specified it might work as a series also because when you get a series the editor that follows you gives you advices so basically as a series they could have changed whatever they wanted to make it "right" since they know better. I didn't know what to say (especially in Japanese XD) so I asked her straight forward "are you telling me that if I win the competition with a one chapter story you might serialize my Elisa manga after even if only with your changes in it?". And she said "yes, that might happen".  That comment she made changed nothing since I still didn't win the contest or get a series published. However at that time it meant the world to me. It made me really happy because I felt like I was getting some credits for my Elisa manga because they said it might have worked with their changes in it. That is also the reason why I still haven't published it online. 
What to say? I wasn't surprised my manga was rejected again because I think that Japanese editors carry the same ideas most of the time. I say this because I get told the same things by whomever I meet. However, after this meeting at first I was excited because I thought "at least I have a magazine now". Knowing there was a magazine that might have been suitable for me made me happy. But after this I made a huge mistake. Something I regret even this day. But I have to tell you, it was something I have come to think I needed to do in order to understand a very important thing that is… I will tell you in next post ;P!
Be patient and I will sadly tell you all about the disaster I made in my 3rd manga. :(.

*Question Corner*
 I remember I asked some time ago, is it better to make digital or traditional manga? Well, now I have my answer. Digital. Digital. Digital. And digital. -___-. Me and my sister made a shonen manga (that for some reason I haven't shown yet -_- I am going at the beginning of February) and we made it ALL traditional : pencil, ink and screentones. I was given 500 $ of screentones for free by an amazing person so we thought we would try to do it traditionally. Also because I think editors want me to even if they never said so clearly. It took 10 times what it took making it digitally. Putting screnntones by hand is the hell of a work while it is way easier with a software. And fixing mistakes is such a waste of time -__-. I am really happy with the result but boy, it took long!!
Have you guys ever tried making a manga 100% traditionally? Did it take you forever like for us?

My Journey to Publishing a Manga in Japan - Part 6

Hello world! 
Today I am happy! I am also so tired I feel sick but I am so happy I danced with my sister in our room with no music ahah XD! The reason is very simple, I went to show my new josei manga this afternoon and got a very good feedback! It won't get published for a few reasons but I have never got this close to make it and never got as many compliments as this time >.<!! You have no idea how happy I am *v* I feel like I am closer to having my dream come true *V*~! I will explain to you all about this new manga, and how the meeting with the editor went but I want to follow an order in my journals so I will write about this after writing all about the manga I made before. I think you will understand better all about my journey by reading how I developed with time, according to what I was told, and editors reactions, etc.
I will write this post with this positive energy I am having right now hoping to give some to you as well :D! All this past week I was feeling down and I was thinking "is it possible for real?" and now I am all like "It's totally possible! Let's not give up quite yet!!". I might look like a bi-polar person to the ones who have been chatting with me these days XD. I hope all of you who are feeling down because their art got rejected recently, or they got a bad feedback will cheer up reading my journal ^V^. Let's keep going guys!!

If you haven’t read the previous part of my adventure here in Japan and you wish to, you can find them here: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5.

Alright, so let's go back to that bad memory of my Elisa manga getting rejected by the editor of Ribon magazine. So were were we? 

.... So this editor told me my manga would be in..... Category A.
I was so disappointed :(. I was really really sad. Because I worked so much on learning how to make a “right” manga and I liked my “Elisa” story so much. But I didn’t consider that my manga drawing style might not have been “suitable” for the magazine. In fact this is what the editor told me:
    1-    This time the manga was “correct” (thank you Jamie ;_;, I owe this to you!). But there was a big issue: the story was for kids but the drawing was not. Drawings for kids HAVE to be cute, with giant eyes, and very soft open lines and stuff. That drawing style I used wouldn’t sell at all to small Japanese girls. They would be disappointed with the eyes of Elisa, with her hair and with the fact that I don’t show her giant eyes every 2 out of 3 scenes -.-. Plus in many scenes she isn’t cute at all, her facial expression are weird funny instead. Apparently (you have no idea how many times I wrote this word before spelling it right XD) little girls don’t appreciate this kind of art yet. 
This was the first time the editor told me "why don't you try make a shonen manga? because your drawing style would be more suited for that and your characters personalities and story as well". After that I insisted with an other shoujo and a josei and both of the time I was told the same thing. So what did I do in the end? I switched to shonen! I am finishing my shonen manga this days and today I showed it unfinished to the editor to whom I showed the josei manga XD. He was nice and gave me advice and a little tip to make it better for when I will show it finished to the editor of a shonen magazine of the same company :P (even if at this point I think I will go show it in January because next week I am going back to Italy for Christmas vacation yey!). 
Aaaa, I am going off-topic again! What is wrong with me?! LET'S GO BACK TO THE DAMN ELISA MANGA. Other than that huge drawing issue the real issues were with the story, as always. But I swear that when he told me what was wrong with my story I just couldn’t believe it. He said:
    2-    there were too many “detailed” characters (Elisa, the owner of the shop, the trainer, the customer of that episode). According to the editor kids need to have clear who they want to be in the story so I should have made Elisa the way she was and made the other characters not very detailed and important. According to him I would confuse young readers that way because there were so many nice characters they wouldn’t know which one they were supposed to be (according to me I wouldn’t confuse them unless they were idiots -.- XD). This is a very big difference with Italian culture I guess... but we don’t have comics in Italy so I wouldn’t even know. However, in Italy I learned that the last last last thing you want to do in your story is put not detailed characters, that will be seen as a fault. Since like elementary school, even when we make essays at school they teach us that people’s personalities means everything and is the center of the story. That is why I worked so hard on making very unique and detailed every single character of my story. What I should have done was make Elisa the way she was and not work at all on the other characters. Can you believe it? 
Sometimes I see people on the internet writing journals about "how to make a good manga" and when I read "make sure that every single one of your characters is very detailed" I shake my head ahah! If only they knew!!! And please don't think I am telling you how to make your manga because apparently I suck at it just as much since I wasn't able to get published yet XD! So I am not saying "don't make your characters detailed". I am not giving any advice XD. I am just reporting to you what I was told and you are free to make your own considerations.
    3-    There were too many things going on in that episode. The “too many” things were 2, but because it is better to make 1 then 2 is “too many”. The main story was that of a customer who wanted a specific cake and Elisa had to find a way to make that customer happy (in every episode it is a different customer). But at the same time there was some sort of fighting/loving thing going on between Elisa and the trainer. I mean, how can you call something without a love story a shoujo manga XD?  The editor told me I should have chosen one or the other. I should have made either the customer adventure or the love story. Because young readers would get confused otherwise. -.-. I thought it would have been more interesting not confusing ;_; that is why I added the love story ;_;.
    4-    Finally a very important thing. I made that chapter strating and ending in the 30 pages I was alloewd to use. But it was clear that the manga could go on. In fact, it was clear to the editor that I had many other episodes in mind. In my head I was thinking “if this one gets published and poeple like it, then maybe they will want to keep reading”. Well, it is true that sometimes, after inning with a 1 chapter story, it can become a series but you shouldn’t draw that chapter with that in mind. Because it will just seem “not finished” even if all the things in that specific chapters are finished. I don’t know if I explained this right. I will give you an example. I said that Elisa quit boxing to be a cake decorator and find a man. You could feel she might end up with the trainer but of course she didn’t in that 1 little chapter. So according to the editor people were going to think “then did she go back to boxing or not? Did she find a man?” etc. Like you have to “finish finish finish” every single thing that you “open”. So my advice is to make a 1 chapter story without thinking about it becoming a series. If you are so lucky that it happens that’s good but I would focus on a simple, short story that end within those 30 pages. Me and my sister make fun of this thing we were told all the time since then. For example you guys have all seen “Aladdin” right? At the beginning of the story Jafar is in the desert and a man comes to him and he gives him half of that beetle thingy he needs.Then he put the 2 halfs together and the story keeps going. Me and my sister say that if “Aladdin” was not invented yet and we would invent that story and show it to a Japanese editor he would say “But where did that half beetle came from? How did the man find it? How did he and Jafar get in touch with each other? “. And then they would tell us that “Aladdin” was not that good of a story because many things were unclear to readers so they would have put it in Catgory B XD. We are just kidding of course but I want you guys to realize how hard it really is. When I used to read about other people failing to publishers I used to think “well, maybe their story just wasn’t good enough. If I work hard mine will be”. And I think that many of you might think so. Well, that is true maybe but I think it’s better for everyone to understand that it isn’t that simple. It’s complicated. I mean, who would say that not developing your characthers personality is a good thing?? I would have never before I was told so! I have come to think that making a manga is not like writing a story for a novel, it's not like making an American comic, a French comic, etc. It's a thing that stand on its own and has its own rules. The same story might be an amazing story for a Walt Disney movie but suck at being a manga. So I think if your manga doesn't get published it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad story, it might just mean it's not a good manga story. Does this make sense to any of you XD?
To prove this thoughts I have come to see that the more I follow editors' advices the more I get close to making a good manga (for them). Like even when I showed the same manga to different editors I got told the same things. Then, once I "fix" what I have been told was not good they really do not say it anymore. I just need to keep fixing what they think is not good. Now I have a list XD like a list of advices I get from all the editors I meet. And every time I make a manga I check for them to be all ok. Then, if I get told something new I add it to the list XD. Let's see if this will work at a certain point XD.
Off-topic again. Oh man, why I am talking about Aladdin XD? 
BACK TO ELISA *____*.The editor saw how sad and disappointed I was. He told me not to be and that Japanese people too try many times before winning most of the time (when you buy a magazine and go to the "manga contest winner page" you can see who won, how old they are and how many times they tried. I swear I have seen numbers such as 12,16 and 20 @.@). Also, he said he was really impressed with my (and when I say mine I mean my sister’s XD) backgrounds so he asked me if I wanted to become a background specialist and draw backgrounds for other mangaka. Little did he know it wasn’t me drawing XD! So I had to refuse -.-.
I was so disappointed I felt like crying ;_;. The reason why I was so sad is because, at today, I don’t agree with his advices. I mean, I took them and I understand that he is stating the facts that he knows will make my manga sell but at the same time he is telling me not to work on my characters personalites, he is telling me that I can’t add more then one event. I felt like it wasn’t me being lazy and him telling me to do more. That I could have understood. I understand his advices but in my opinion they will make my story sell more, they will not make my story better. Does this make sense to you? I was just sad for seeing my story criticized for things that according to me made it a better one.
I told him I really liked my manga and I was willing to make some changes to give it another chance and he suggested I would change magazine. He said that with my drawing style (“little” eyes, not too soft lines, etc) I couldn’t be published in the Ribon magazine even if I changed the story -.-. So he suggested I went to another magazine, that he knew was more “innovative”, like they were more willing to publish different drawing styles, etc. That was very nice of him, wasn’t it? I mean, I could have just sent me home with his “no” but he still found the time to tell me about this other magazine and he told me to go there and see what they would say before even changing the story. That is what I mean when I say that editors are nice ^v^.
That meeting was weird. I had my hopes high for almost all the time and I was doing way way better then my first manga but at the end it didn’t really matter because I still didn’t get published -____-.
Before putting aside Elisa’s Black Lab manga I decided to show it to this “innovative new manga magazine” this guy suggested. So in next Part I will tell you what an other editor, from an other magazine, told me about this Elisa manga. And that will lead to the reason why I haven’t published it online yet.
Oh boy, why did you guys made me remember such a sad thing ;_;? I need chocolate now and you are the ones that owe me some U.U. I will mentally go back to today's meeting >.<!!
....go back...
....go back...
I am happy again >.<!
*Question Corner*
Have you ever guys considered what you like to do compared to what you do better?
Do you think Japanese girls are different from your own country girls? I think Japanese girls are TOTALLY different from Italians. Like, totally. Starting from their dreams, their ideal life, their purposes of life. The way they think, their relationship with other women and their relationship with the opposite sex. They way they face love (I am not saying it in a bad way). I don't know about other culture but I know a (very) little about American culture and I think that if you compare any American TV show aimed for girls and a shoujo manga you could notice there too a totally different idea of love, of what's fun, exciting, etc. Don't you think?

That said, I wish you all Merry Christmas in advance *V*! I will use this vacation for relaxing because with school, Japanese language exam, work and manga I am really exhausted! How do you guys intend to spend your Christmas Holidays ^V^?

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lunedì 23 dicembre 2013

My Journey to Publishing a Manga in Japan - Part 5

Hi everyone! How are you?

If you haven’t read the previous part of my adventure here in Japan and you wish to, you can find them here: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 - Part 4.

It took me forever to write this post and it will be pretty short because I had my Japanese Proficiency Test last Sunday and I was trying to focus on that. Other than that me and my sister decided to make a shonen manga as well (we just made a josei manga that I will go show to an editor very soon, finger crossed everybody >.<) and we want to submit it before Christmas so it is taking up all our time!
Before we start I would like to say a few words to clear something up. In the previous posts I talked a lot about cultural differences. Many people have been suggesting “why don’t you make a fantasy manga? That way even editors will not be able to tell you there are cultural differences because you made up a new world”. From this answer I understand that people might not have understood what I meant by “cultural differences”.  The problem is not how you dress your characters, what kind of a house they have, etc. The problem is about how you and Japanese people have a different way of seeing the world, thinking and conveying your feelings. What is “brave”, “scary”, “romantic” for you might not be for a Japanese person or maybe it is but your way of showing it and conveying that feeling is different…. Of course if you put your story for free on the internet also Japanese people are gonna read it and say they like it. But here we are talking about winning a contest for a debut that might be the beginning of your mangaka career, so the editor won’t be as easy to please as random people on the internet. So even in a fantasy world that might come up, because it is about the words you choose, what your characters think, how they behave, etc.
I was well aware of this problem even before trying to make a manga in Japan because in Italy the same thing happens in relation with American movies and songs. Basically in Italy we love American movies and songs and people keep trying to make them as American do but the truth is, it almost never comes out as an American would. Because I guess there is just something that makes you either Italian or American or Japanese. Of course you can try imitate what you like from other culture but I wonder if that will be enough… For what concerns me I do not want to imitate something that I clearly don’t understand 100% so I would rather try to make my own comic/movie/song with my own style trying to change it a little in some parts to make it sellable to people from other cultures. (I would like to underline that I was born in Africa and lived there for 7 years. Other than that I lived in Italy, England , USA and I am now in Japan so please don't think that the problem is me being too Italian or having a close mind XD. I am really open minded XD).
If you still don’t know if my point makes sense to you try think, do you know many foreigners who made their debut here in a Japanese manga magazine? Well, I don’t. I know people who were able to work as assistants (and that is awesome) and I know about people who became famous in their own country with their art and comics and after were called here in Japan to make manga by someone who specifically wanted a foreign artist with his own style. I haven’t succeeded so far and I spoke with a person that told he has been in Japan for about 10 years, has worked for other mangaka and yet he wasn’t able to get his own work published yet (and I have seen his art and it is great). So, this cultural difference thing might a problem after all, uh?
I am not saying it’s impossible. I am trying right now myself so it is clear that I am not thinking that. However, from the comments and answers of the previous posts I got the feeling I wasn’t able to explain how hard I think it is… Because many many people told me “I will make a fantasy story, not too complicated but not too simple and I will win”. Well, I am not saying you won’t win but I think you might be taking it too easy because I really really believe trying to publish a manga in Japan if you are foreigner is complicated, from whatever point you look at it. And basing your judgment on what people on the internet say about your work, or basing it on the fact that you read a lot of manga and liked them a lot… I am not sure that is a good judgment because ultimately you will have to show it to an editor which is a person that knows what sells, what is suitable for their magazine, etc.


So… going back to my journal, we left at the tragic moment when the editor of  Ribon, after indirectly making me think that my manga was going to have a chance, told me I wouldn’t win. If I didn’t kill him it’s just because he was young and cute >.<. Just kidding, he was super nice and kind. Anyway, before telling you what he said I want you to know how manga contests usually work (or at least that contest I was trying to win).
Usually there is a platinum prize, golden prize and silver prize (names might change of course). Those prizes consists in money (the platinum one can be A LOT of money) and your manga getting published. I have to say though, I have never seen anyone win the platinum and golden prizes so I started to think they are just symbolic XD. But I wouldn’t know for sure because I have been buying these magazines only for 1 year (and only shoujo manga magazines) so maybe before this year people were winning those huge prizes every month XD. Can someone who has lived in Japan longer than me confirm this? But I have seen people winning the silver prize many times! Usually the person that places higher in the contest gets that prize. I want it so bad ;_;. After that there are many “smaller” prizes, which consists of some money but just as a little reward (meaning it wouldn’t pay for material + effort of making your manga but it is still nice and encouraging I think). People winning these smaller prizes don’t get published. However, they do get a preview (art sample + story summary) shown in  the “winner page” of the magazine. It’s very small but I would still be really happy to see my manga there ^v^.
If you are not able to place in any of the above then you place into a Category. In that contest there were 3 categories : A,B and C. This people get their names and the title of their manga shown but no preview.
For what concerns me, I would be ok with smaller prizes but not category. I mean, if you are a kid trying and your art is not even publishable it might be a satisfaction to enter category A or B. But otherwise, I don’t know if being in category A or B means something because they won’t even show a sample of your drawing. So when I meet with editors I ask them if they can more or less tell me where my manga might end. They can’t say for sure but they know more or less. So this editor told me my manga would be in…....... I am telling you in Part 6 :P!
 I didn’t win so you can guess -__-. But wait to see why >.<!! Oh my god, I get so frustrated when I think about it >.<!!!
I will do my best to write next part before we all get old XD. December will be (and was already since my exam was on Dec. 1st) definitely a challenging month for me but I hope it will bring good news ^V^. 
How about you guys? How is your trying to make a living with art going? Anyone can share their experience with self-publishing or editors from different countries? It would be really interesting to read if you have time to post a comment ^V^.
As always, I wish good luck to all the people submitting their art! Let’s not give up (yet -___-)!


Mea & Martina


*1. the picture in this post is not related to my Elisa manga but for reasons I will explain in the next post I don't want to post too many pictures of that manga so I just used the last ones Mea made. It took her forever and she was becoming The Hunchback of Notre Dame to make them so I hope you will like them XD!

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domenica 1 dicembre 2013

イタリア人の日本語ブログ ー  イタリア人の朝ご飯


lunedì 18 novembre 2013

5 Things about Japanese Women

Hi everyone!
I have been in Tokyo for a little more than one year now and I have seen that Japanese women have different habits (regarding fashion, etc) than Italian women. Of course it isn't all the time but I will try write about some of the things I have seen quite a lot here and that differ from my own country.

1- Japanese woman don't age XD. I am just kidding but I was really surprised because Japanese women always seem younger than what they actually are. For example if a woman seems 40 to me, she is probably 50 or something. Also, when I first came here I thought there were many teenage mothers but after I while I realized they are not teenagers XD they are in their 20s! However, they look really young, especially their face skin.

2- Japanese girls wear fake lashes almost everyday. Not everyone, of course, but it is very very common. I asked my classmates and friends and they told me that they do so because their natural lashes are really short, compared to people from the Western world, so they put fake longer lashes because they think they will look better. When they told me I was surprised because in Italy we use fake lashes only for photoshoots, so they are very expensive, difficult to wear and uncomfortable. However, here you can find fake lashes at 100 yen shop! So they cost only around 1 $! Also, I have never tried them but I think they are pretty easy to wear, or maybe Japanese girls are really good at wearing them, because sometime I see girls doing it in the train and it takes them 2 minutes!
I think that Japanese girls have beautiful eyes and they look nice the way they are so if I was them I wouldn't bother buying fake eye lashes and spending time on them. However, it seems pretty normal here... like for me putting mascara. So I guess that works fine with them ^V^.

3- Japanese girls wear clothes without minding the weather. Not all of them of course, I would say especially young ones. For example do you guys know how Japanese middle school and high school girls wear a uniform to go to school? That uniform is made of a skirt and even in winter sometime I see those girls wearing that skirt and socks but no stocking @.@. In my whole life in Italy I have never seen anyone not wearing stocking in winter. I wonder how these people don't get sick though. I would catch a cold right away if I were to leave my house dressed like that in winter!

4- Japanese woman don't like to be under the sun. I asked them why and they told me that the sun ruins their skin. So during summer it isn't uncommon to see women wearing long black gloves or some huge black sun visor. They are really big, I have never seen them in Italy.
Well, judging from the awesome skin Japanese women have and the fact that they look younger than what they really are I think it might work XD. However, it would be too hot for me to wear long black gloves in summer so I would rather ruin my skin XD! Plus, sun is nice *v*. Maybe I will regret it when I will be 40 or something XD!

5-Japanese girls wear high heels a lot. I went to a Japanese university for only women and the building was pretty far from the station... around 20-25 minutes walking I would say. I love high heels, but I would never wear them knowing that I have to walk so much XD. But almost all my classmates did. I envy them because they look really cute *v* I wish I had the willpower to wear them despite them being uncomfortable and hurt. However, I couldn't make myself wear them daily XD. I do wear them only when I go out for dinner or to a party or some special event.

lunedì 11 novembre 2013

10 Things I Like about Japan vs 10 Things I Don't Like about Japan

Many people have been asking me this question. Well, I will try to answer ^v^. Remember, this is just my personal opinion based also on my own culture so it might change according to where you come from. For example I think that in Japan every place is crowded : trains, busses, streets, shops, restaurants, etc. However, when I asked my Chinese classmates they said "what we like about Japan is that it isn't crowded" because China is even more crowded I guess XD. So please read just out of interest without saying "that is not true" or so, because I know my thoughts are not universal XD.

Well, let's start with *Things I Like About Japan*

1-People are nice! I am not talking about your friends but I mean random people you don't know. Like people you meet in the street, shop assistants, people that come to your house for repairing, etc. They are always smiling and willing ^v^. In Italy it doesn't happen all the time. Sometimes you can feel that the person working in a shop/restaurant doesn't want to be there and when you ask him/her "excuse me can I ask something?" they look at you like you are asking a random person to do something for you when it is actually their job to help you XD. This doesn't happen all the time of course but in Japan it never happens!

2- Eating in restaurants is cheap! Sometimes more cheap then making that same food yourself XD. For example the other day I went to eat Udon and I spent 350 yen, which is like 3-4 dollars I think. There are many expensive restaurants as well but there are cheap ones too. In Italy you would never pay only 3-4 dollars in a restaurant!

3- People answer to your e-mail/phone calls right away. For example when I contact publishing companies to make an appointment to show my manga they answer right away and usually give me an appointment for one of the next days. Worthless saying that in Italy 95% of the time I wrote to a publishing company I didn't even get an answer. Also many times I have been applying via e-mail to job offers and they always answered me right away, even if the answer was no. That is nice, isn't it?

4-Small cheap apartments. People might think that Tokyo is very expensive for rent but I don't think that's the case. Tokyo is expensive like any other big city in the world I think. So it's not fair to compare Tokyo average rent with your own small town average rent. I lived in Milan as well and I paid the same amount of money I was asked here. However, here in Tokyo there are many small apartments and you can rent them by yourself. I mean, I have lived in 2 apartments and they were both around 25 square meters, with bedroom/kitchen/bathroom, and I spent around 500 dollars a month. In Italy there aren't many small apartments so what students usually do is take a big apartment that cost like 1500/2000 dollars a month and share it with other people. So you end up spending the same amount of money for rent but this time you have your own apartment and you don't have to share it with strangers! That's way way better for me!!

5-Trains are on time. In Italy the subway works fine but it might be a little late sometime. But trains, don't even make me started on Italian trains! They are late almost all the time and when you miss your second train because the first one was late none cares and many many times I had to call my parents or friends and ask them to come pick me up by car because I missed my second train because the first one was late and the next train would be in 3 hours -.-.

6- 100yen shop! It's a shop with any kind of items, from kitchen things to socks to small electronics ( like earphones) and everything costs 1 $! I love that shop, it's a lot of fun and very convenient ;).

7- Japanese are honest. Like really really really honest! Whenever I lose something, even my wallet, it comes back to me with all the money in it!! Also, if you are forgetting like your laptop somewhere, people are going to run after you to give it back. In Italy people might try to steal your wallet when it is still in your purse -.-. And if you happen to lose it, it might come back if you are lucky, but with no money inside for sure!

8- People and places are quiet XD. Like, inside a train you can't even make phone calls. And people don't shout. So everyone is respectful and happy ^v^. In Italy people scream, they make phone calls speaking outloud while you are trying to read in the train and sometimes in Milan people listen to music without earphones -.-. Like what makes you think I want to listen to the music you like?? Just put the damn earphones on!!

9- There is more freedom in being who you want to be also by dressing how you want to. There are many Japanese that dress in ways that might be considered ridiculous in Italy :(. People dye there hair, or put weird make up, etc. In Italy people do it only for special events because otherwise they will be judged from others. I personally don't like to dress in a non-normal way but I still think everyone should do what makes them happy and comfortable ^v^ and it's good to see that here is more "allowed".

10- Japan is safe! I can come home at midnight alone and I feel 100% safe. In Milan, not so much...

Now let's move to *What I don't Like About Japan*

1- None speaks English. Or even worse, they do speak English but they are too shy to do so. Even when they can see that you are lost, don't speak Japanese and have no idea how to go back home ;_;. When I first came to Japan I didn't speak a word of Japanese. My fault, but still there was nothing I could do about it. So when I would get lost I would approach people and say "excuse me" but as soon as they heard me saying an English word they would say they were sorry but couldn't help me and run away ._. . In Italy people have fun helping tourists I think! I mean, even if many Italians don't speak a word of English they would wait to hear the key word such as the place you want to go, like "Station something", and then direct you using gestures maybe :). I lived in Milan for 3 years and there are always a lot of tourists and I have always seen Italian people having fun helping them out ^V^.

2-Some products, such as fruits and vegetables, are too expensive. I would understand if it was candies, because you can live without them if you are on a budget, but you can't not eat fruits and vegetables for years XD. So I always feel like I spend way too much money on those. Japanese people say "but they are really good that is why they are expensive". Well, have you ever tasted Italian tomatoes, peppers or citrus fruits ? They are really good and yet not that expensive.

3- Heating system. It doesn't make any sense! They use air con as a heater but the thing is, it only heats a small space around it and then if you switch it off it becomes cold again. In Italy we have radiators and they are awesome because you can keep them switched on all day long without the room getting too hot and there is one in every room. It's so nice.

4-Mobile phones. You can't buy a sim card for your phone here so basically you have to buy a Japanese phone. The thing is, almost all phones have a 2 year contract so what do you do if you are staying 6 months or 1 year? You buy a prepaid phone that is so sad and you can't use internet nor applications.

5-The fact that Japanese use formal language regardless of your Japanese level. I will give you an example. Let's say you are in a shop, you don't look like a Japanese at all and after the lady at the cashier asks you a question it is clear you don't speak Japanese because you told her you didn't understand what she said. So if that lady was me I would raise a bag and say "bag, yes? no?", because that way I would be sure to ask you what I want to know. But in Japan people working in stores and shops have to use a very formal language that you would study later on even if you were a Japanese language student. So I think that they should keep it simple when they have a customer that clearly doesn't understand Japanese. Instead, the keep using those very difficult forms and make it impossible for you to understand. For example in my first weeks here I remember this situation where the lady at the store wanted to ask me if I wanted a different bag for the strawberries I bought or if I wanted to put everything in the same bag. Seriously? Like, look at me! I wouldn't understand if you were asking me my name,don't ask me such a complicated question with such a complicated Japanese! Just do what you want or say it in a easy way XD.

6- This is something funny. People shout outside stores/shops ahah! Like, there are some people outside shops that scream things such as "today special discount" etc. Oh my god, it's so weird XD. Also inside the store, people at the fish display case (I have no idea how it is called in English, sorry) the shop employees are like screaming "irasshiaimase", which is their way of saying your welcome in the store or something.

7- How Japanese feel about distance. I used to work as English teacher and I wouldn't get paid for the time I used to go to work. If it was 30 minutes, I would understand. But sometimes, it took me 2 hours to go there and 2 hours to come back. That's 4 hours of my time I am dedicating to this job! And sometime I would do all this traveling and teach for 4 hours. I mean you are paying me for 4 hours but I actually gave you 8 hours of my time. Asking somebody to travel 4 hours for 1 day job... In Italy it would considered insane I think.

8- How Japanese give more importance to the way you do things instead of the result. This is something very personal so you might disagree and that's fine. However I want to try explain myself. Let's talk about school. In Italy at university nobody cares if you show up to class or not, if you are friendly with other people, etc. You are judged on the basis of how your exams go. If you are genius and even if you never went to class your test goes well you are going to get the maximum point on your exam. Because it doesn't matter where/how you learned to be a doctor/lawyer/teacher as long as you are a good one. But here they give importance to how you participate in class, how you behave with your classmates and teacher, if you participate in extra-curricular activities, etc. And that leads to why I don't like it : what if I need to work to afford living here? I might work during some school days, then study by myself at night and still get awesome grades. That would be considered great in Italy, because even if you couldn't go to class you still worked hard and studied by yourself and were able to accomplish your goal. But here you can't. Because if you don't go to school everyday your grades get worse.

9- Places are always crowded -.-. Especially trains at certain hours.

10- There is too much humidity. Winter is fine but summer, oh my! I thought I would melt last summer! It's so hot and you can't avoid sweating. At the beginning I remember seeing so many little towels at the store and I thought "why would someone buy such a small towel? I would rather buy a big one for my bathroom". The summer came and I understood XD. Japanese carry it around for when they sweat!

That said, I love Japan <3!

sabato 9 novembre 2013

Pirate in a Desert - 砂漠のパイレーツ - Pirata nel Deserto

My impression on this drawing is @.@. Mea added so many details but I think she didn't even notice while drawing it and then it ended up being @.@! But we love pirates >.<!! And deserts and palms too >.<!!

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My Journey to Publishing a Manga in Japan - Part 4

Hi everyone! It’s getting colder in Tokyo brrrr >.<! My Japanese exam is coming in 3 weeks and I am planning to submit my new manga next month so I have been very busy and that is why it took me so long to wirte Part 4 of my journal to publishing a manga in Japan, sorry >.<.
If you haven’t read the previous part of my adventure here in Japan and you wish to, you can find them here :  Part 1Part 2Part 3.
I will make a brief summury for the lazy ones ;). A year ago I moved to Japan to study Japanese and after a while I found myself trying to win a manga contest with a manga drawn by mi sister (Mea, the gloomy sister XD). You can find thoughts about making a manga in Japan in Part 1. In Part 2 I explained how my first manga was and I am not sure you want to know because it was all wrong ahhah XD. In Part 3 I explained the shameful response I got from the editor about that first manga of mine ;_; (I am still recovering from that time XD). Today, in Part 4, I am proudly going to talk about my second manga that I still like very much. This time it was way better then before, I promise!
This post is very important for me because the manga I am going to talk about (the 2nd one we made) is really special for me. What made it so special? Many things. First of all, something personal. Before starting this manga I moved from one Tokyo area to another. That time even with the moving and everything I was really focused on making a new manga because I had just got the awful response on my first manga(;_;). I was really sad for finding out my manga sucked XD but at the same time, with all the advices I was given, I was ready to make a new, better, one… yey! I am a very enthusiastic person, like… too much enthusiastic. So even when I get bad news I still take it as something where to begin to get a good news. However, my creepy sister Mea, is not at all like me and she would very much like to kill me for being so enthusiastic. She clearly told me she wouldn’t draw one more manga page unless I was able to learn how to make one because she didn’t have any time to lose making wrong things such as our first manga -.-. I needed her to draw so I went crazy trying to find out how to learn.  After a while a found a very beautiful blog of an amazing american girl that lived in Tokyo for forever and worked as an assistant for a Japanese mangaka. I was desperate so I wrote to her even if I knew she would probably be too busy to help out every single person that asks her for help (and believe me, she has a lot of people asking her). But after talking for a while on the internet we realized we lived in the same neighboorhood!! Can you believe it??? I really couldn’t! Tokyo is just so so big it was like 1 chance in a million. I must have done something good in my previous life or something to deserve this XD. Anyway, because we lived so close and we could reach eachothers house just by walking she agreed to teach me! She would come to my house and answer all my questions, show me things and look directly at my manga to tell me if there were “odd” things. I was just so happy and I will be grateful to her forever. Now she moved back to USA but even then, she keeps answering my questions about manga. I just love her so much ;_;!
So, while making this manga I discovered the world XD. There were just so many little things I learned about and once finished my manga I asked her if my manga was “correct” and she said yes. So even if this was my second manga it is like the first real, correct manga I made and that is why it felt very special to me. After the mess I made the first time, I was sure I would win with this one.
The other reason why it felt so special is because at that time I didn’t have many “rules” to follow in my story, like I do now. Because at that time I still didn’t got all the advices I got after (rules are good though… I mean, it might be not what you would have done but it is something that will help you sell and you can’t be a mangaka without fans that go buy and read you manga right? Editors are giving rules for their good, but I have come to realize that their good might be yours as well). So that manga was exactely how I wanted it to be. To me that manga is how it should be (not to the editor though, as you will learn soon XD). After the editor explained to me why I couldn’t win the contest I understood what he was saying but that doesn’t mean I agree with those things he said. I mean, I do trust editors and take all their advices seriously, it is their job after all, but in my own view my manga is still perfect ;_; (not generally perfect of course, I am very very far from making perfect things XD, I mean that it is how I like it to be). Have you guys ever faced an editor or someone saying your art wasn’t ok for a “reasonable reason” but even so you still kept thinking it was beautiful the way you made it XD? What would you do then? Change it to get published or try self-publishing or something else?
This manga was called “Eliza’s Black Lab” and you can see the cover in this journal. The story was made to be like a comedy, with many episodes having each one adventures but still all linked together with the main characters’ lives. It was supposed to be fun and the target was kids or teenagers (both sexes actually but I still went for shoujo manga magazines). The story talked about this former girl boxer that decides to quit because she had figured out that being all muscular and scary will lead her to be an old maid with 40 cats or something. So she quits and she starts working as a cake decorator in order to become more feminine and get a man XD. But because she has no skills yet she ends up working in this shop with a lazy crazy owner that dresses up herself and her shop with themes.  We had a jungle shop in the first chapter ^v^

In all this Eliza’s father sends a personal trainer, that she doesn’t want at all, to force her into keeping in shape in case she decides to go back to boxing because he think she’ll get fat working in a pastry shop XD. Elisa’s adventure were all “not real”, it is them kidnapping poeple and all kind of weird things.
Also, what made the manga interesting is that my sister (not Mea, another one. Yes, we are 3 sisters!) was actually the main character XD. I do have a sister and her name is… guess what? Elizabeth! And she went to London to study cake decorations with sugar paste. So there were many interesting things about that specific job too. I think Japanese people love to read about jobs , especially if they are not very common (in fact in Japan there are many manga and drama that focuses on people’s job : mangaka job, pilots, people owning a restaurant, teachers, etc). So I though I had everything in this manga : something fun, a love story and even interesting things about a not very common job.

With this manga I wanted to enter the Ribon manga magazine contest (Shuesha), the target is little girls ^^. So I called, made an appointment and went there. I was really nervous because it was the first time for me in the “Stanza del Giudizio” (for my first manga I didn’t go directly as you know if you read the previous posts). The story was meant to be fun and I had the editors laugh outloud while reading it and telling me that characters were really funny, etc.  When you are in the “Stanza del Giudizio” and the editor is laughing while reading your manga that is supposed to make people laugh do you know what you think? You think “I am gonna win this!”.  That is what I was thinking the whole time! And then the editor started saying all the good things about my manga (they always do start saying good things… at least that’s nice XD). He said the story was very funny and he said it was interesting to read about Italy (I played a lot with Milan life style and Italian cultural things). Also he said he was impressed with the drawing because when people submit their first manga (I was so embarassed about my real first manga that I told him Elisa’s Balck Lab was my first one >.<) there are many issues with anatomy and prospective, etc. That’s maybe because Japanese people can submit their manga when they are 12 years old or something and they haven’t gone to art school yet, so of course their art is not as good as someone who went to comic school for years. Anyways, he was really nice and told all these good things that made me so happy. He was even young and cute XD.
And then…. he told me I wouldn’t win the contest. Like, not even place in the first 10 places.



Want to know why my manga couldn’t win ._.? I will explain in Part 5 if I don’t die of sadness while writing it U.U. Remebering my Elisa manga made me too happy to ruin my day by writing the bad things about it so please wait a little longer XD.
Please comment and share your thoughts ^v^. Feel free to ask me any question and I will do my best to answer. And please think about us and send us good thoughts sometime next month because we might be going to the “Room of Judgment” again and we need all the spiritual help we can get XD. I think I might read my horoscope or something XD.

*2. People have been asking me to update more often… I tried but I am busy with school and work so I always end up being late, sorry ;_;. I opened a twitter account so I thought that maybe people who want more updates can look at my twitter …? I know it’s not long journals updates but I hope it might be enough while waiting for next journal… ?
In case you like the idea, here is my twitter.

As always, I wish good luck to all the people trying to publish their work ^v^!

domenica 3 novembre 2013

WishList *V* : 1 - 10

Goodmorning everyone!
Today I would like to make a post gathering the 10 WishList items (what is WishList? Read here) we have showed so far ^v^. I hope you will like them as much as we do ^v^.

Don't forget to look at our WishList facebook page for more pictures and details ;)!

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Learning Japanese and Japanese Language Schools

Hi everyone ^v^. Today we finally had a sunny day in Tokyo after a week of rain (and the chance of a typhoon... again!) so I am all happy and energized.
Many people have been asking me questions about learning Japanese... is it hard? how long does it take? and many others questions. Today I will try talk about my own experience, which of course is not universal but it might still help people get an idea of how it is like.
I want to start saying that my Japanese is very very far from being good -.-. To me being good in a language means you can do pretty much anything native speakers can do (with mistakes and whatever but still) and let me tell you, I am struggling to survive in Japan with my Japanese XD. I can talk with Japanese people about easy things, etc but whenever a specific topic comes out I am in trouble. For example, as you guys might know if you have been reading my blog, we had a typhoon 2 weeks ago and I had water coming down my ceiling and making a mess of my kitchen. That time I had to call people to tell them about it and ask if it was possible to have it repaired, etc. Well, that was really hard for me to do :(. That said, I will explain how I started learning Japanese and how that was.

I do stupid things so I hardly recommend you don't do as I do -.-. I came in Tokyo without speaking 1 word of Japanese. I took like a 12 hours course where I learned how to say things such as "hello" and "thank you" and learned hiragana, which one of the Japanese syllabic alphabet. But that was it. I came to Japan to attend a language school so I thought "I will get by with English for the first part of my stay until I learn Japanese". Well, the thing is, none speaks English here. Especially the people you will be dealing with when you first come here such as agencies for finding an apartment, people at the phone store when you buy your Japanese phone, etc. So the apartment, the phone, internet, having gas/water/electricity and all that stuff was pretty much a tragedy for me. I had so many worries I ended up getting sick and had to go back to Italy to get cured, can you believe it?
So when people ask for my personal opinion I hardly recommend you study some Japanese before coming here. It will definitely come of great help once you are here.
That said, usually language school last for 2 years. I think that is the amount of time you need to study to get to a good level of Japanese (like JLPT N2 or N1, which is the maximum level). I have been studying for a year now and I am going for N3 in december. Then I am planning to keep studying until July to get the N2. Then I will be satisfied :).
The other thing about Japanese is that because the writing system is totally different from ours (there is no alphabet) you can't just learn it by speaking with native people. You need to study kanjis or you are never gonna learn them. In fact I know many people that have lived here for like 5 years or more and can talk about anything but can't read the newspaper because they never studied kanjis but just learned by talking to people at their work place. I remember learning English just by talking to English people but with Japanese that is not enough. So I think going to school might be a good choice.
It is going to take a lot of time and effort but if Japan is your dream I think it will be worth it ^v^. It was worth it for me :).