Manga Editors - The Reason I Quit My Job as a Manga Editor Part III

topTokoToko Editor's Misc. Note, a blog run by a female manga editor who has been in the business for over 15 years, has posted a multi-part article titled "The Reason I Quit as a Manga Editor." Below is a translation of part three of the article:

The Reason I Quit My Job as a Manga Editor Part III

*For the sake of comparison, the bulk of this entry is about the work environment at my first publisher.

At a general magazine, you usually work with the same set of people: writers, photographers, designers. At a fashion magazine, you'll get stylists, hair and makeup technicians, models and modeling agency staff. In a store guide paper, there'll be mappers (people who produce maps), and sometimes illustrators, depending on the paper.

Staff does equal family, yes, but that doesn't mean staff equals allies.

Every subject has its specialists, and of course, those who specialize in certain fields will be more knowledgeable about them than those who do not. Even so, the one with ultimate responsibility for the paper is the editor. This is absolute because of the clients.

So, it's possible for one to get in situations where: "No matter what sort of faces the staff pull, and no matter how little I myself think of the plan, orders are still handed down from the editor's desk, so there's nothing to do but to give shape to the plan, y'know?

Even now, at age 38, I'm still not much more than a "babe in arms"; at the time, I was even worse. It's not that everyone was particularly strict, but on occasion, they'd do things like saying, "The hell, you bastard, don't @*%& with me!", and then take the manuscript whose editing I'd done and throw it on the floor. (It was my superiors who would do that, not the staff... but still.) And then they'd ask for a rewrite.

Times have changed a bit now, but, fundamentally, the mass media makes you think "Is this an athletics meet?", and seems to tolerate circumstances like those at a gambling room. It even comes up on page 108 of Volume 3 of Hataraki Man: "A while back, they'd be like, 'I'm gonna kill you!', and throw an ashtray at you, split your head open." Like that.

In job training where "you hammer the content into 'em, even if you have to physically hit them", it's easier to use male subordinates than female ones. That being so, while it wasn't quite "male chauvinism", there was an atmosphere of "If you can't go along with this sort of treatment, just get yourself married off and quit". It may have been after the bubble economy burst, but the term "Felicitous Retirement" (Translator's Note: Usually used for women; it means leaving your job due to a "private life" event, such as pregnancy or marriage.) was still very much alive.

Getting back on-topic, my other dealings with people were with interviewees. If it was a corporate interview, that would be the PR supervisor, or someone whose job was to represent the group. I entered the company as an inexperienced young adult (the memories!) at the age of 23, and there weren't many youngsters my age around. I would work on an equal basis with big shots who seemed so important I thought, "I bet if I worked at this company, I'd never even get close enough to these guys to talk to them directly". Occasionally, since I was with the press, my position could even be the dominant one.

No, no, NO! Impossible, I tell you! I'd make papers like this because it was my job, but on the weekends I'd go without meeting anyone. (Even if I met with my scant handful of friends, I'd only start complaining. Either that, or the wedding of a girl we were friends with would have just been settled, and I'd assume no one would have time for stuff like this.) I was just a manga lover who'd hole up in her room, eat potato chips or chocolate, and re-read her favorite manga! It wasn't as though there was anyone else like me among my colleagues, and dealing directly with people really tired me out. Or, rather, I just couldn't do it...

Well, it's not as though one can really grow while working a job where they keep having to say "I can't, I can't". As a result, at age 26, I ended up quitting the first publisher I worked for as though I was fleeing from it. If I'm being accurate, it was a leave of absence from work followed by my resignation.

As I lived alone, this put me in a bit of a spot, but my unemployment lasted only two weeks (fortunately) before I was tentatively hired on at my next company. Since I was hired as a manga editor right from the get-go, I was able to think "It's a small scale company, and my annual income will go down (from 450 million yen with tax to 360 million (Translator's Note: Currently $36,484.50 and $29,187.60 USD; the exchange rate would have been different at the time.), but I'm gonna give it everything I've got."

At that time in '95, the employment freeze was just beginning, and the economic circumstances for an adult member of society were, basically: "Bonuses sure have gotten stingy nowadays, haven't they...". It was in '97 that the unemployment rate began to climb in earnest (from Genda Yuuji's Vague Unease in the Midst of the Job). Now, in '06, it's more like "I get 360 million yen? Terrific, no problem!", but at the time, "my annual income dropped by 900,000 yen!" really hurt.

It was a time when I never thought I'd see MacDonald's hamburgers selling for 80 yen.

In the beginning, I only needed to take over supervision of the manga artists assigned to me, and learn the job from Square One. Absolute beginners are given manga artists who "respect their deadlines absolutely" and "are, if not the center of things, manga artists who finish reliably". Also, in the manga editors' department, there were people who had an attitude of "Y'know, really, it's not as if I like manga; there just wasn't any other place that would hire me".

Compared to those people, I was an absolutely magnificent manga lover. And, after half a year, as I wrote in "Why I Quit Part 1", I ran up against a wall. It was then that I first understood that in a general magazine, while there are a lot of staff members, the level of human interaction is relatively shallow. Manga editors fundamentally only have to meet with the manga artists (depending on circumstances, interviews may also be necessary); however, you have to face off against each other stolidly, until your individual value systems clash. This continues indefinitely.

So, I took a leave of absence from my first publisher, and then resigned. On March 29th, 1996, the decision of the Tokyo regional courts ran in the newspapers. The time between the initial lawsuit and its resolution was nearly seven and a half years.

If I recall correctly, I read the very first article reporting on this in the year I changed jobs. That would've been the summer of '95, I think...(Translator's Note: The incident she's talking about is one where an employee of the Dentsu corporation was overworked, grew depressed, and committed suicide. The deceased's parents took Dentsu to court, stating that the depression stemmed from overwork, and was, as a result, a work-related injury. The court eventually admitted the connection between the long period of overwork and the depression, and charged Dentsu extensive damages. Before this case, the connection was not admitted.)

Even now, that really brings it home to me that corporate mental health care (and not just the mass media) has only just arrived at its beginning. Jobs are, of course, important, but life is much more so. Once again, a silent prayer.

To be continued...

Original Article
Translated by Sarah Neufeld

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Staff does equal family,

Staff does equal family, yes, but that doesn't mean staff equals allies.

More to it: doesn't mean family equals allies.


Nowadays it's not the highly qualified person that gets the job, it's the one that can relate better to people, can work in a group and meet dead-lines. Employers think that any person has the necessary utilities to learn how to do a job. I'm not speaking of fields such as medicine or nuclear physics but of public relations or IT. It's not enough to be trained for a job if you can't collaborate with your team mates.