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

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 the fifth and final part of the article:

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

So, I quit as a manga editor and became a professional editor. Just as my trial period at the professional job was up, I was accepted as a contracted employee at the company I'm with now. I was skeptical about the "contract" bit, but it did mean my pay would go up, so I went for the cash.

I signed on with a general magazine, and I've been completely engrossed in my work from the last half-year of my twenties until now, at age thirty-eight. (Although honestly, just being passively engrossed in one's work doesn't cut it; you have to actually think, strategically.) Somewhere in there - and even I think it was lucky - I was assigned the post of supervising editor of "manga review." For comics or literature, interviews timed to coincide with new releases fall into the category of "promotion" for those works, so no royalties are incurred. That notwithstanding, with timing like that, it's comparatively easy to get authors to come see you.

"Manga that will go on sale during our magazine's current issue, then first or final volumes." -- Since it's far easier for people who usually just give a manga a cursory glance to pick these up. Taking this as my standard, or maybe my guideline, I began fanning through pages. As a rule, I aimed for big titles. If I couldn't get an interview, I'd try to have them fax me a comment; if even that turned out to be absolutely impossible, we'd do a review of the book. Authors whom I'd thought it impossible to meet, since they lived in their home prefectures, by some coincidence came up to Tokyo, where they were easily accessible... In which case I thought it might be okay to meet with them, but was then turned down flat ... That didn't happen very much. Still, if upon getting access to your supervising editor you think, "Huh? I'm not so sure I'll get along with this person," sure enough, you're in big trouble. That only happened once, though.

Then, too, once you get past thirty, you realize that chemistry really does exist and there's no way around it, and you learn to shrug off things like that and just get on with your life.

Mm... In about two years, I'd say my ratio of interviews to faxes to reviews was approximately 6 to 3 to 1. Looking back now, I realize I managed to meet quite a few mangakas. Due to confidentiality issues, I'm not allowed to say who those were; I'm sorry. Besides the interviews, I had another column about 12L by 10W called "Check these out, too!", and even I think that managing to introduce both volumes one and two of Mikawa Beruno's Explosion of Youth Theater in it when they were released simultaneously was a pretty slick job on my part. (The original's first print run.)

In the end, there was company restructuring, our responsibilities were changed, and my time as editor-in-charge of "Manga Review" came to an end. On about sixty percent of the interviews I did directly with mangakas, the artist's supervising editor attended as well. As a result, I was able to observe many different types of editors. And, in watching their various interactions, I came to understand the value of the relationship between author/artist and editor. There were teams who maintained extraordinarily good relationships, and also those like this: "Let's be frank, here. You're 'nothing more than a mere' supervisor, aren't you."

  • About the latter: what I wrote sounds a bit acid, but there are some editors who either don't, can't or aren't asked to do anything other than office work (accepting manuscripts, photocomposition directions, quality checks, getting the manuscript turned in, writing publicity copy, making up the character introduction column, etc.)

There were lots of different cases. Really big names never have "staff meetings" with their editors.

At my company, we called it "a gift manuscript": no matter what the contents of the story are like, the mere fact that "that author draws, too!" could lead to the magazine's going up another level. "Leveling up": Also known as ammunition for seducing the next author the magazine wants to run. I'd bet this kind of hard work is (hardly) ever seen at the three big manga publishers! ...Or I tend to think so. That, and as I wrote in a previous journal entry, I've also seen editors who give off this aura of "While I would never have chosen this for myself, I'm affiliated with a manga magazine," so it's my personal grudge. Although I get the feeling that, for those who hope to become manga editors, this sort of "inside story" was more fun.

Partway through (in "Why I Quit part 3"), I made you sit through things turning a bit melancholy, for which I apologize...

Getting back to the subject, I'll summarize by saying "I'm glad there are so many different kinds of editors." Or maybe, looking at things from a broader point of view, "It's not as though you have to tie your identity to your job." Your depth of seriousness and your brilliance absolutely do not correlate with one another, so someone who thinks, defiantly, "Well, even if this project bites the dust, it's not like it's my life or anything" might become a surprisingly good editor. Or rather, my stance towards my general magazine tends to go that way. No no no, of course passionate editors are better.

Come to think of it, I think it might be best to be able to reconcile the two, have a good balance between being mentally prepared as far as your work is concerned (able to be either shallow or serious about it) and having a good idea of the limits of your own abilities. That's not limited to the job of "editor."

During my days as supervising editor of "Manga Review", I worked again with the writer who appeared in "Why I Quit part 1." I'd run into them while lining up at signings, and when I went to buy a booth at Comiket, but I hadn't worked with them since I quit my job as a manga editor, so it had been about six years.

Although, back then, their comic hadn't come out, in six years' time they'd already published several volumes. In the aftertalk for the comic which showed up in the interview, they wrote "It's the first long manga I've ever tackled." Also that "I had the most fun I've ever had while doing this job; it was more worth the effort than anything I've ever done before."

I quit being a manga editor, but the writer didn't quit being a mangaka.

They didn't quit, even though being a writer wasn't all fun and games, either. (I was told, "We're often told to 'Give us something that feels like (fill in the blank), 'kay, thanks!' Even though we don't want to draw something like that one bit!")

In the end, the dream they'd longed for so badly didn't come true.

But the writer didn't run away; they fought with reality, and they won. And now they're striving to advance even further. Back then, I couldn't be of any help to them at all, but maybe in this review, when I introduce the writer's work, I'll be able to give something back... I thought as I started home.

Our paths have diverged, but I dream that, maybe someday, we'll meet again as mangaka and editor.
No matter what form that meeting may take.

"Why I Quit My Job as a Manga Editor" ends here. Next I'll write the afterword.


Original Article
Translated by Sarah Neufeld