Disclaimer: I went to Tokyo Design Academy for 2 years to learn how to draw manga and I was very satisfied. Many people ask me about my experiences going to a vocational school for drawing manga in Tokyo. I think this sit-in on my old class might give a good idea about exactly what kind of things went on at the school.
I decided to drop by my old school, Tokyo Design Academy (TDA) near Harajuku Station to see the future of manga in Japan and observe a class. I got to see the “Basics of Character Design” class taught by Ms. Sugiyama. Ms. Sugiyama is currently a freelance illustrator and manga artist as well as a teacher at TDA.
Every teacher in the manga program is either a manga artist that is currently working or has had a career as a manga artist. It is really good to receive advice from someone who knows what he is doing.
*Ms. Sugiyama interacting with the kids. Many people in the class told me that one of the best parts about class here and the personal attention they get.
I heard rumors that the kids in this class were extremely good….I had hoped (selfishly) that this was an exaggeration but was then shown some student works:
*An exercise to try and draw characters based on the reader base/type of story you are telling.
*An assignment to draw out astrological signs as different characters. These two are the originals, drawn with a nib pen and ink.
Yup, the average student in the first year class is about 19 or 20….and they are not fooling around when it comes to drawing. One class here can run 4 hours long. So there is even plenty of time for improving drawing skill.
*The students are pretty much drawing nonstop.
Today’s class was a presentation on characters that the students made for a recycling project that goes on at the school:
*A cute cat imploring you to please take the plastic tops off of bottles and recycle them separately
*One of the more distinctive recycling characters…
*Even clowns recycle!
The students gave a presentation explaining the background of their character and the reasoning for their character’s design. A lot of people believe that comic artists are not good public speakers but pitching characters and stories is a pretty important skill.
If you are interested in the manga course, know that TDA offers two types: a night course for working people and this day course that goes on every weekday for 2 years.
For more information on actually going to the school, costs etc…Please go to the actual school homepage: http://www.tda.ac.jp/world/eng/index.html
The school is located a 3 minute walk from JR Harajuku station. The famous fashion street, Takeshita Street is located right here. It had been awhile since I saw Takeshita Street. Good to know that some things never change.