Monday, December 19th, 2011
I remember when I thought he was just some snotty smart kid that only studied and cared about grades. Everything I’ve ever thought has been turned upside down now, though. Surprisingly, he actually really likes manga. In fact, I’m really glad he reached out to me. Me, of all people. If it weren’t for him, where would I be right now? I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it this far. I probably would’ve been wasting my time at school without any meaning at all. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have touched manga or anime again. I owe him a lot. I remember the time in school when he stood up for me when someone bashed my drawings. I was annoyed too, but I wouldn’t have gotten as violent as Shujin did. I felt happy when he punched him for me, but he got suspended so then I just ended up feeling really guilty. He’s a real handful, all right.
There’s been countless times where he’s had my back. He’s really one of my best friends. We’ve had our differences a few times but it’s usually nothing huge and we always get it together in the end. I don’t think there’s anyone else I would rather have as a partner.
Monday, December 19th, 2011
Before I had realized that I wanted to draw manga, I sort of drifted through high school unsure of what I wanted to do. It’s sort of an intimidating feeling, but I kept playing it off like nothing. I kept telling myself I still had time, a few years to sort things out. But my days felt empty. I felt like everything I did was just a waste of time if I didn’t know what it was actually contributing towards in my future. I had already decided that I’d be a salaryman working a desk job. I didn’t do much at all when I had that for a goal. After Shuujin offered to do writing to my art, I felt like there really was something to work for after all. I mean, I had always liked art, but ever since my uncle’s death it faded out. It was sort of like a taboo after that.
But now, I feel like everyday is another step towards my dreams. Some are big steps, some are small. Regardless, I’m getting there. Now it just seems silly that I had ever thought that it would be okay to work in an office and tie and carry around a suitcase and die an average old man. Even though I stay up for days just trying to get the manuscript done, it feels worth it. I don’t see drawing as a job, it’s a passion, really.
Monday, December 19th, 2011
Before I had even met him, I knew he was going to be our rival. When we first started out our team, Shujin and I were in a convenience store and looked through the latest copy of Shonen Jack. The Tezuka award was given to him–a fifteen year old? Suddenly, everything I had ever drawn before seemed like a waste of space, like an eyesore. I felt my stomach drop and had this itching sort of feeling in the back of my hand, anxious to beat him. I wanted to get better, to defeat him at his own game. I also had the desire to rip up everything I had ever drawn and throw it away or burn it. I felt contempt at the praises I had received before, they were all lying. If they weren’t lying then they weren’t experienced enough to understand what’s good and what isn’t. I felt angry at myself for spending the last few years of my life playing video games and wasting my time when I could’ve honed my skills some more. I could’ve gotten better by now, way better, I could’ve had something serialized. But I didn’t. I couldn’t go back and change that no matter how hard I tried. I wish I had been the genius that Eiji was.
But then I had actually met him. I discovered he was on a level way above my own. He, who had been drawing his own life, could crap out storyboards as if it was like breathing. He was the complete opposite of me and Shujin. He definitely had quirks. He was quite an oddball. He often screeched and just seemed a little bit out of it. I was sort of jealous of that. I wanted quirks too, something to distinguish me from others, something that helped me be different and a better artist. At the time it made a lot of sense. Now I know that I have my own characteristics that make me stand out too. I don’t need to change myself, I just need to better myself. Instead of being Niizuma Eiji, I need to be Mashiro Moritaka.
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
I thought I had been dreaming, but before a deadline, I swore I saw her. It was Azuki. I panicked, my heart almost threw itself out of my chest, I uttered some sort of unimaginable and monstrous sound―we decided not to meet until I had an anime running and she was an established seiyuu. She stood there, smiling. I remember calling her name and asking what she was doing there, but she didn’t do anything but smiled. Then I was sure I was dreaming. She wouldn’t go back on our promise. I didn’t know what to do after I discovered that fact, but I’m pretty sure I sat there with my mouth gaping open…I’m sure she thought I looked funny. I was tired from drawing so much, I slowly turned my head to the left to check the time. It was 4:12 in the morning and I was pretty sure I was going crazy from lack of sleep. Then she came towards me and I backed away slightly, but she still smiled. She put her hand over mine, the one that ached so much from drawing. It felt as if all of my tiredness was drained from my right hand. She kept her hand on mine and I felt a copious amount of sweat forming on the palm of that hand. My eyes trembled and I felt lightheaded and dizzy, I can’t remember when I fell asleep but I did.
When I woke up, Shujin was already in the studio. I felt an overpowering sense of guilt for falling asleep when the deadline was so close. As I began to apologize, he gave me a quizzical look. When I looked down, my manuscript had been done. Did I finish it before I fell asleep? I couldn’t remember. I didn’t think I did. I thought hard about what I last remembered. When I told Shujin about what happened, he told me that muses appear to help inspire those who work with the arts. But why in the form of Azuki? Perhaps she had taken that form because of me, I thought about it for a while. Regardless, I put the manuscript in an envelope and went to get dressed to turn it in.
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
I remember his studio and how I worked with him. Whenever my dad let me, I’d go with him to his studio. Once the door opened the warm aroma of cigarettes, coffee, and the scent of newly printed books welcomed me—it was a particularly nice feeling on cold winter days. There were metal shelves everywhere, all filled with figurines in mint condition and manga. There was a door to the left, a wooden one, when you slid it open there was a neat workspace for him to work in. In that room, we would spend hours, sometimes not talking at all. He would work on his manga, and I’d work on my own (though now that I look back on the manga I wrote, it was actually really awful). Every time I hear the scrawling of a pen on paper, I feel nostalgic—I can then taste the coffee and cigarettes on my tongue. I can feel the skin on my arms tighten and get goose bumps as I remember touching the cool metal bookshelves and hear my uncle warn me to be careful, that they were special and shouldn’t be touched. He’d warn me about all sorts of things like life, or manga, or even love. But I only spent most of my attention towards his tips for manga, absorbing each tidbit of advice, not wanting to miss a single drop of information. Ah, sorry, I should get back to work, my deadline’s tomorrow and I still have a lot to do…