What is Mangaka? [Definition, Meaning]

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Mangaka: an artist, a writer, a dreamer?

Maybe, but one thing is sure, without the work of mangaka no manga would be written, no anime would be made and this website wouldn’t even exist (the horror!). Mangaka are manga creators, but their job description is a little bit more complicated than just that. They are responsible for drawing manga, but at the same time might also be the writers coming up with the background story and dialogues. They can be editors, creative masterminds, and storytellers at the same time. They can work alone, as part of a dynamic duo or have a whole floor of assistants working for them.

As you can see, explaining what it takes to be a mangaka is a little bit more complicated than just saying they are “manga drawers”. To give you guys a better understanding of the mystical world of a mangaka, we have found three anime that highlight the everyday life of a mangaka in different ways. What these shows all have in common is that they are educational while still being fun to watch. So if you want to know more about the production of manga, anime and co., then you should take a few minutes to read today’s article and let us know what you think of it.

What are we waiting for? Time to talk about mangaka!

The Path of the Mangaka Is a Stoney One

While reading a manga will usually only take you a handful of minutes, creating them takes much, much longer. Just take a look at any random manga page and you will realize that simply drawing every detail, every background, and every speech bubble must take endless hours of concentration and hard work. And we aren’t even talking about coming up with a story or decent character development!

The work of a mangaka is difficult, to say the least. Yet, there are still some people out there who are passionate (and maybe crazy?) enough to still give becoming a famous mangaka a shot. If you’re wondering how the path from being a no-one to an established mangaka looks like, then you should check out our first anime recommendation of today.


Bakuman.

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: October 2010 - April 2011

Life as a student is usually filled with passions of different kinds: a passion for sports, girls or sometimes even studying. In the case of Moritaka Mashiro, he is filled with a passion for drawing. Growing up, he had dreams of becoming a famous mangaka but eventually gave up on them. This changes when he meets Akito Takagi, a classmate filled with energy who also happens to be quite good at storytelling. The two students decide to team up to make their dream come true: creating a manga popular enough to receive an anime adaptation.

Bakuman is easily THE mangaka anime out there. It starts out nice and slow, with two middle school students who come up with a crazy idea. But slowly you become attached to them as well as invested into their dream and cannot wait to find out more about their journey. Bakuman is a good show on so many levels, but we are mentioning it today because it perfectly shows all the different aspects of being a mangaka. On top of that, it gives you numerous little facts and insights into the manga industry that you might not have known before. Bakuman is a definite must-watch show, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely need to change that.

Bakuman Trailer


Mangaka: No Solitary Animal

At this point, you might imagine a mangaka as this shut-in creator who works day and night on his creations before letting anyone else take a look at it. We’re sorry to disappoint, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Creating manga is a tedious task and mangaka are masters at delegation. While one person might come up with a story (and at the beginning of his or her career might also be able to execute it without much help), there are usually several assistants at hand who will draw, design and put the manga together. If you’re interested in finding out what kind of work a mangaka assistant does, then take a look at our next anime recommendation.


Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2014 - September 2014

Chiyo Sakura is a brave girl. Brave enough to finally confess her feelings to her long-time crush Umetarou Nozaki. What could have been the beginning of a beautiful love story turns into a big misunderstanding when Nozaki confuses Chiyo for a fan of his work. What Chiyo didn’t know was that her handsome prince in shining armor is also a famous mangaka focusing on romantic stories. Chiyo won’t back down though and instead of becoming his girlfriend, she decides to become his assistant instead. Might this be the way to Nozaki’s heart?

While it’s true that Nozaki-kun is primarily a comedy show (and should, therefore, be taken with a grain of salt), it does give you an insight into the daily lives of mangaka and their assistants. Having Chiyo thrown into this alien environment that she doesn’t understand at all certainly helps since the viewers receive explanations and instructions at the same pace as her. To become a successful mangaka, you must not only be good at drawing but also be able to stay creative, motivated and also handle both your private and work life at the same time. Nozaki-kun tries its best at showing this complexity while still remaining hilarious, of course, which makes it a big recommendation of ours.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Trailer


If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself!

So you come up with a manga, draw it and then go to a big publishing company to bring it to the people, right? Right – or at least that’s how it works most of the time. There is another side to the publishing world and it’s called dojinshi. Dojinshi are self-published mangas that people like you and me could produce. You might think that these “amateur” works cannot be as popular as manga published by a company, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Dojinshi experience their very own kind of fame and there are more than just a few artists who have started their careers with the help of dojinshi. Maybe this will also be the fate of the heroine in our next anime recommendation…


Doujin Work

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2007 – September 2007

Many things can motivate you to become a mangaka: love for drawing, the prospect of becoming famous or a passion for storytelling. In the case of Najimi Osana, money was what got her started. After finding out how much money a friend made by selling original works at a convention, Najimi decides to give the world of doujinshi a try. But what looked easy at first turns out to be much harder than expected. On her stony way to success, Najimi makes many friends in the industry and finds out more about herself and her will to succeed.

We admit that this show might be a little bit older, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try (especially if you have an interest in mangaka). Similar to Bakuman., this show gives you an insight into a world you might not have been too familiar with before. While manga is slowly becoming more popular abroad, doujinshi are still widely inaccessible and most of the time require a certain skill of Japanese. That’s exactly why we’d recommend you to check out Doujin Work: it allows you to find out more about doujinshi without having to travel to Japan and attend one of the famous conventions yourself. If you thought finding a good publisher is difficult, then you will be surprised at how much more difficult it can be trying to get your work out there by yourself.

Doujin Work OP


Final Thoughts

Do you see now why being a mangaka means more than simply drawing manga?

Being a mangaka means that you are passionate, hard-working and ready to sacrifice a lot of free time and energy to create a piece of art that may or may not be received positively. All the anime we have presented above show how difficult the work of a mangaka actually is and how much willpower you need to get through this job. That is what really fascinates us about mangaka and why we think that everyone with an interest in the anime or manga industry should give these creators some credit. Even if you are not into drawing or storytelling yourself, you must admit that these guys (and girls) hunching over their storyboards day and night are pretty amazing.

Thanks for staying with us until the end; now it’s time for you to tell us what you think. What’s your opinion on the work of a mangaka? Which other shows would you recommend to someone interested in this career path? Share your opinions in the comment section down below!

Cornelia Wagner

Writer

Author: Cornelia Wagner

Coffee enthusiast, world traveler and writer at heart. Left Europe to live and study in the insanity called Tokyo.

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