Our Japanese manga teacher left us

By popular demand, here’s another manga post (probably my last one).

I stopped sharing about my manga drawing classes because our Japanese manga teacher quit after three lessons. He couldn’t take the stress of not being able to communicate with his students.

I hope it’s not because he’d read my previous posts about him:


Lesson 1: Amused by Japanese Manga Teacher
Lesson 2: Another fun manga drawing class


I would like to think not, since he doesn’t read or speak English that well.

I did actually enjoy the communication barrier. It was fun and interesting. I guess it’s because I never took this course very seriously, only doing it for fun with no intention of becoming a manga artist, having no talent nor great passion for drawing.

Perhaps a more serious student would have been put off by communication issues, so I guess the school should really hire teachers who can speak English.

But Manga Sensei did put in a lot of effort to prepare his lessons. I believe he translated his instructions into English using a dictionary, often resulting in some ambiguity. He wrote them on the whiteboard and read them out to us.


Manga drawing class


Drawing styles of various hairstyles

1. The short hair draws the thorn.

2. The hair of semi length and length takes care not to turn in an unnatural direction considering gravity.

Example 1: The hair places to the head by gravity.

Example 2: Gravity is disregarded.


This was the sheet we were working on:

Manga drawing class


We were supposed to copy the top row onto the bottom row, with the head outline already drawn for us. The rightmost column was for us to draw our own faces and I totally disregarded the fact that we were supposed to be drawing males for this exercise.

Anyway, being androgynous is quite the trend these days.

Right. My 3/4 profile totally sucks and my toon has alien eyes. But you’ll still love me despite my shortcomings, won’t you?

Our third lesson was fun. We learnt how to draw expressions — my favourite thing in manga.

By this time, we were getting a bit more advanced. We didn’t have faint lines to trace or face outlines to guide us anymore. This time, we had to copy from scratch.

It was a bit daunting after all the previous handholding. But I was already dreading the day we would be forced to graduate to drawing originals without having anything to copy.


Manga drawing class


Manga drawing class


Manga drawing class


Anyway, the last useful lesson Manga Sensei imparted to us was this:


When letting one’s feelings show it is more effective when a peculiar mark to the expression and the cartoon is put. It is called MANPU in Japanese.


He wrote and drew all these on the whiteboard and I copied them onto the back of my worksheet.


Manga drawing class


I like this! I remember always being amused and tickled by cute manpu when reading manga.

After this class, we never saw Manga Sensei again. We’ll probably never see him again. It makes me sad.

I didn’t attend our fourth lesson because I was sick, but Minou attended and she SMS’ed me after class: “Our teacher has given up and returned to Japan.”

There was a relief teacher that day, a Singaporean who will take us until the school finds a replacement from Japan. That will take at least two months, says the school.

Our relief teacher may not be an authentic Japanese manga artist but I think he is more than capable of taking a class of our level (sub-zero). Since he can speak English, our classes make a lot more sense now.


Manga drawing class


Of course, that also means there aren’t any amusing incidents to report, which is why I probably won’t be blogging about my classes anymore.

The most amusing thing that happened was at the last class. I am three lessons behind Minou and friends because I keep having events and overseas trips, so I was on my fifth lesson when they were at their eighth lesson.

(The classes at Inoue are very flexible. You pay for eight lessons and show up when you can. After using up eight lessons, you decide whether to continue. Each week, the teacher makes notes of your progress and continues where you left off, so everyone in each class can be at different stages.)

On Minou’s eighth class, they were supposed to have a test. They were told about it only during the seventh class, which stressed them out a lot.

They were dismayed when our teacher announced, “It’s time for your test now!”

They were hoping he would have forgotten.

Conversation as follows:


Teacher: It’s time for your test now!

Minou & Friends: Eeks! We were hoping you’d forget!

Teacher: Don’t worry, it’s very easy.

Minou & Friends: Really must test ah?

Teacher: We need to gauge your standard before we can proceed.

Minou & Friends: Can it be an open book test?

Teacher: Cannot lah! O_o


I was very amused by all this, mostly because I wasn’t involved in the test and had the luxury to be gleeful about it.


The test:

Manga drawing class


Within 1.5 hours, the student must draw five things: One full frontal body, one half frontal body, one half side body, one half back body, and one half 3/4 angled body, all with facial features and hair and clothes, the whole works.

I guess it’s rather easy if you practise your lessons at home diligently. I think none of us practise at all. =P

The one and only guy in our class failed the test.

Minou and friend passed.

I am considering playing truant on my eighth lesson.

Oh, I found interesting similarities between both our manga teachers! They both like to wear hats/caps and they are both ambidextrous!


Manga Sensei using left hand:

Manga drawing class


Manga Sensei using right hand:

Manga drawing class


Relief Teacher using left hand:

Manga drawing class


Oops! Just realised I don’t have a photo of him using his right hand.

His told us he was born left handed, but his mum made him learn to write using his right hand. So, now, he uses his right hand to write and his left hand to draw.

His explanation is that because the left hand uses the right (creative) side of the brain, it’s better to draw with it.

(I found a useful article about brains and artists if you want to read up on it.)

Anyway, I like our new teacher as much as Manga Sensei, for different reasons. Our new teacher is very dedicated. You can feel that he really wants people to become better artists.

And he’s very talented! He’s always showing us how to draw stuff, but because he’s at the other side of the table, he’ll draw them upside down so we can see the right side up.


This is him showing me how to draw guidelines for a full body:

Manga drawing class


Well, as much as it’s kinda fun now, I don’t think I’ll be continuiing my lessons after my eight sessions are up. I find doing the worksheets fun because it’s all copying. But I don’t think I have the patience or interest to practise regularly until I’m able to draw my own stuff. I like drawing faces but I find drawing bodies and hands and feet very tiresome.

Guess I won’t be producing my own manga in this lifetime.

Back to drawing stick figures!

9 thoughts on “Our Japanese manga teacher left us

  1. Avatar

    Looks fun! Too bad the Japanese sensei couldn’t take it. His English was poor because he couldn’t master it (They do teach English at their mainstream schools).

    Maybe you can buy a wacom tablet for drawing on the computer.

  2. Avatar

    @MYT: Why, thank you! :)

    @Esti: I’ve been considering a tablet for ages… but can’t decide whether to buy a cheap starter one or a pro one. Never used them before so I don’t know which kind I would need.

  3. Avatar

    Try a Wacom Bamboo, if you like. It is good and not so ex. Designed for home users and plain fun. Pro stuff is ex, and only good if you are planning to draw for a long long time.

  4. Avatar

    @CX: Yah I was planning to get the Bamboo, but Jennifer bought one last time and complained that it’s not responsive enough so she stopped using it already. So, now I’m not so sure what I should get. Maybe a mid-range one?

  5. Avatar

    Hmm. Maybe her bamboo was an older version? Cos now there’s a new series called Bamboo Fun, which in all respects is a almost as good as the pro level. I use a Wacom Intuos 4, the pro tablet. If you think $599 is too much for a medium sized Intuos, you can get a Small sized Intuos for $399. I think Inoue got sell also, and of cos, my comic association. Lol.

  6. Avatar

    Finally another manga lesson post. Too bad this will be the last one :(
    I just realized that I am actually more interested with your post about the manga lesson rather than the lesson itself :p

    Also, don’t worry about having no talent in drawing. Just think of drawing as another form of writing, because in ancient time, drawing is actually used to convey a message.
    Human are better at writing rather than drawing because the school demands us to write a lot since we are kids, but they don’t demand as much for drawing. It’s just a matter of practice and repetition.

  7. Avatar

    Mine’s Bamboo Fun…but then it could be I was happily playing 2-3 facebook games while trying to test it out. :p
    I think the main problem is I still prefer paper.

  8. Avatar

    @zazaza: Oops! You have signed up for lessons, right? Hope you enjoy them anyway! :P What you say is true. They should make kids draw more in school. It’s a really useful skill, I think!

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