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Students learn to draw Japanese cartoons

Manga are comics that are mainly created in Japan and conforms to a Japanese art style in the late 19th century. Manga refers to comics and cartooning in Japan where the comics are specifically designed to suit certain people of ages and genders. For instance, Shounen Manga is aimed at boys and Seinen Manga aimed at men or Shoujo Manga for girls and Josei Manga for women.

As the pupils entered the room, the first task was set, to draw a face. Any face of sorts, their own or someone else’s. They started to draw and the room was silent with the focus of sketching and creating a face. These students were creative, and made me wonder if they knew anything about Manga, as I certainly didn’t. I knew this workshop was going to be an eye opener for myself and for the pupils.

After completing the first task, we moved on. Susan, the workshop leader, taught everyone how to introduce themselves in Japanese and this set the vibe for the hour long session. The students were excited, but calm as the room fell silent as they learnt about the history of Manga.

The students were engaged, and it was a new experience for myself as I haven’t seen a group of students this involved in a subject of sorts that is barely spoken about in schools. Hands went up and students were somewhat shouting the names of Manga comics as Susan asked the pupils what ones they knew.

Comics were passed around and students looked, read and discussed the comics to themselves and others around them as they were fascinated by the art and initially the language, as they all laughed after Susan demonstrated and explained the “Onomatopoeia” sound effect language in Manga comics, including what certain expressions sounded like. Listening to what the sound of a foot kicking something in Japanese was new for us all, as the students grinned and copied what Susan said and did.

Manga has been made into live movies, as we watched a scene from Manga’s popular comic “Death Note” on the big screen, and some are even based off other TV shows based in other countries such as BBC’s Sherlock! This then lead us to get our heads in to gear as we prepared ourselves to be shown how to draw a manga face. The students quickly rushed to get pen and paper from the table as they waited to be taught.

We followed the instructions, from the size of the eyes and the ears, to the small nose and expressive mouth for Manga character, students were asking for more coloured pens as they wanted to be precise with their designs and make their characters come to life. Not only was this fun, but it was informative, as we saw different how easy some parts of the face are to draw in this art style to how hard and complex they can be, like the ears.

The students then showed their masterpieces to the rest of the group and I was drawn to how detailed their pieces were in such little time, these students were Japanese artists and comparing these to the first drawings they created, you can see the different art style from the UK to Japan.

This workshop was not only educational in the history of Manga but was a surprise for myself, as I didn’t realise how big this type of art was and how well it was known by students from across Norfolk. The world of Manga was a hit!

Sasha Smee