Soon, I finished the manuscript for my one-shot.
When I handed it over to E-san, I was taken out to dinner with ten editors. They got pretty out of control there, and didn’t seem to mind relaxing in front of me.
Then, E-san said something. “We got a call from I-san, the editor you used to submit things to.”
I felt a shiver rush up my spine. Apparently, I-san had requested to meet and talk with E-san.
What did he want to talk about? Was he trying to ruin my career? Or did he simply want to complain that E-san “stole” his newbie?
Apparently, I-san had said “How did you get such a problematic person as him to write a good manga? I’d like to learn your techniques in order to better myself.”
“What is he, retarded?” the editors laughed. “He had such a talented person in front of him, and didn’t even know what to do with him! He’s the one who has problems!”
The editors continued to compliment me and laugh at I-san, using him as a side dish for their drinking. I laughed with them, so as not to reveal how uncomfortable it made me feel.
At the second restaurant, the editor-in-chief opened a bottle of wine that costed 100,000 yen. I wondered how much he had spent so far. The pages hadn’t even been allocated for my manga, and they were already talking about how they’d have me do a serialization next. I had never drawn a serialized work before, so I didn’t have any confidence.
“I’ll do my best! I have to do my best, don’t I?” I asked.
“Yeah, or we’ll kill you!” they replied.
After the 100,000 yen wine, the editor-in-chief tried to open a 200,000 yen bottle. The assistant editor stopped him, however, so he opened another 100,000 yen bottle instead.
They started talking about having me draw a rugby manga next, and I told them I didn’t even know how to play rugby.
“Good!” they replied.
I realized then that it was up to me to figure out a way to make it good.
After rejecting my dream to become a mangaka, and hiding the fact that I had dropped out of university to my relatives, my parents bought dozens of copies of the magazine my manga had been featured in and went around giving them to my relatives and telling them how amazing I was. I also got a call from a high school friend for the first time since I graduated. Apparently, he had read my manga.
“I’m so proud that I have a friend who’s a mangaka,” he said.
Apparently, we were only friends in times like these.
As I drank my 100,000 yen wine, I thought: I could live for a month on what it cost to buy this.
By that time, E-san had already switched over to English mode.
One day, T-san came over to talk to me.
“E-kun and the assistant editor came to see me. You need to quit. The assistant editor asked me to let you go. He said he’d take care of you until your serialization gets off the ground. He also offered to introduce a new staff member to me, but I told him that’d be OK. You need to go on and become a creator now.”
And so, I suddenly quit working at T-san’s studio. It had been fifteen months since I started working there. I don’t really know why, but it felt like this big force was moving me around against my will. It’s important to keep riding on the waves, though.
My co-worker Nippi said “You’re amazing, Bison!”
All I could think was: Of course I am. I put forth a lot of effort so that I could be.
It really disturbed me that there were certain things connected to me that were completely out of my control. I couldn’t think of any positive words to respond with.
Later, I met with the assistant chief.
“I heard you quit your job — because you’ve risen above T-kun. He’s only a monthly author. You’re going to become a weekly one.”
He used “kun” when referring to T-san, which implied that he was somehow above him. I think the assistant editor just wanted to express how much faith he had in my abilities, but I don’t understand how that made it necessary for him to look down on one of my teachers. Without T-san, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I had. Of course, the same went for F-san.
I didn’t like how he forced me to quit working for T-san and then started acting like my benefactor. He said he’d take care of me until my serialization began, but I had to keep drawing manga in order to get paid. It was true that there was a high possibility that whatever I drew would be featured in the magazine, but it didn’t change the fact that he had basically forced me to quit my day job. I wished that T-san had tried to fight to keep me, too. It wasn’t like I was easily replaceable… right?
After that, I had no steady income, so I became poor again. I had 2 million yen saved up in my account from the manga contest money, but that was money I wanted to put towards my studio when I became a serialization author, so I couldn’t touch it. I had no interest in drinking 100,000 yen wine, either. I just wanted to draw manga.
Suddenly, everyone around me seemed like an enemy. I wrapped myself in a protective cloak of thorns, and soon became irritated through all hours of the day. And it irritated me even more that I had, for some reason, switched over to these waves of irritation.
I wasted no time in preparing my next draft.
After organizing trips with the editor’s office to collect data on rugby, I started drawing the manga, preparing it to be a ten-part series. I drew up to the sixth chapter, then took them all in to the editor’s office. There, the editor-in-chief and his top five editors were waiting for me.
They exchanged opinions on my drafts, but they all had their own ideas of what it should be like, so it was hard for me to know what to listen to. In the end, I just decided to plug up my ears and wait for the meeting to end.
After the meeting ended, I went to E-san and told him how all the editors’ various opinions had deeply confused me.
“They just want to say something to feel like they’re the ones raising you up,” he said. “You don’t need to worry about what they say. All you need to do is listen to me.”
I instantly felt relieved. But at the same time, I wondered if E-san’s style didn’t cause trouble for him in the workplace. He really was my only ally.
After making some corrections, my draft was accepted without any further problems. Around that time, the one-shot I had drawn earlier appeared in the magazine.
You can read it here.
To Be Continued