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January 14, 2011



This coming from a guy who has defined his career by creating cartoons that instruct the youth of Japan to not listen to adults.


Wow, Kill 'Em All Tomino indeed. Even your dreams are not safe from this man.

That said, he makes a valid point about choosing a career as an animator or manga-ka.


Sean, he has said in the past interviews that if adults are the enemy he's the biggest one.

The CronoLink

She should aspire to become an animator for a Western studio. :P

Jeffrey Neville

Just a great read.


I agree with CronoLink. She should look into attending a US university and look for jobs in the US where she would no be constrained by all the BS she would be in Japan. In Japan she could consider using her creative skills/desires in other occupations such as graphic design if becoming an animator or mangaka is unrealistic. As usual this advice from an established and successful Japanese is shite and doesn't think outside the box at all. I wish that this young woman could read these comments, but. I have little hope that she even knows of this article.


Those who think he's crushing anyone's dreams are missing the mark -- this is classic master-and-apprentice stuff, where he's trying to weed out people who aren't totally committed. That said, I suspect the industry would be better off as a whole if some of the insanity inherent to working there (low pay, horrendous hours, no safety net at any level, etc.) was being addressed instead of embraced this way. It's not like the industry is exactly thriving at the moment.

His comments about those specialty anime/manga training schools echo what I've heard from people at other studios. I'm sure SOMEONE'S landed a job after graduating from one, but have any of those schools actually produced anyone who's gone on to really make an impact later?

Tomomi Sasaki

Wow, I'm really happy to follow this thread. Updated the GV article to include a link to this page.

While I instinctively recoil at the notion of telling someone that their dream is not a good idea, where Tomino-san is coming from is (regrettably) very understandable. It's a difficult one.

The other thing is, there are many paths that could be taken that *aren't* about office ladies!


It would be funny if she asked a jaded successful female business woman about getting ahead as an OL and got back the same response later in the column.


"The other thing is, there are many paths that could be taken that *aren't* about office ladies!"

Very true. I think this is a generation gap. I had mentally translated that line as "take a salaried position at a big company" because "office lady" sounds so condescending in English, but I didn't want to put words in his mouth....

My feeling is that his advice is very accurate for those who want to work as fine artist/designers/etc but that it isn't a zero-sum black-and-white sort of thing. Even if she doesn't follow the "dream path" she had as a kid into the anime industry (and really, it's NOT advisable at this point -- the industry is a total mess) there are plenty of careers that allow one to use their creativity in a satisfying way.

Tim Eldred

Tomino is absolutely right. Art as a career is completely different from art as a hobby.

A hobby you can pick up or put down as the mood dictates. A career doesn't care what mood you're in, as many of my contemporaries in the US animation biz have learned the hard way. One of the skills you need is to disconnect your mood from your productivity so your head is always in the game.

When I was this girl's age, I was drawing constantly. I couldn't NOT draw. Didn't matter if I was wiped out from a schoolday, I HAD to draw. And I loved it so much, it never seemed like work. This is the necessary prerequisite for an art career. You either have the drive or you don't. How you spend your time is the measure of that drive.

The CronoLink

And Art as career in Japan is a different monster altogether than as a career in the USA.
I don't think he's absolutely right, but Tomino is not really wrong for starting his answer with the assumption that she will not be committed to the animator career.

What I want to know is what he meant with "You need a great deal of actual experience to work in this industry." Is that experience in general with animation or job experience? Because, you know, in order to have job experience you need a job as an animator to get that experience in the first place.


I believe he's referring to the "actual experience" of drawing, over and over again, similar to what Tim says he did as a kid. The experience you hone by practicing the same thing again and again, rather than studying in a classroom, is the point -- which he reinforces with his comments about the general lack of value in specialty anime/manga schools.

Tim Eldred

Yep, school can help you to focus your craft, but it can't teach you discipline. If you re-read Tomino's screed and substitute the word "discipline" for "experience" I think you'll get the point.


great trans. glad you included it, Matt. When I read this sort of thing, I am reminded about a story I heard once... about a master and a potential apprentice. The master berated the kid up and down, mostly in a nasty tone, as if the kid was worthless. When the master said, "I'm done discussing this" he turned to leave. As he did, he simply walked back in to his studio without closing the door. This gave the hopeful apprentice a choice. be put off by the gruff discouragement of the Master. Or follow him through the open door, even so.

Tomino doesn't sugarcoat the way many people do. "Work hard enough and the world is your oyster." Yeah, no. He says: this is a hard life and difficult even if you have talent and drive, and there is no guarantee that you will eat, much less make a living. Are you still prepared to try?

There are many who think that if you aren't uniformly supportive to younger people, you aren't doing well by them. But in such an enterprise, it is far better for him to lay it out simple.

If there are too many people working in the industry, that it causes low wages and there is no security... imagine how it would be if kids were encouraged?

Tim Eldred

It's also true that you can't predict with complete accuracy what will happen to someone. Luck is a factor, too. But you greatly increase your luck with skill and discipline and there's no shortcut to getting those.

I've reviewed a lot of portfolios from comic book hopefuls, and it doesn't take long to divide the ones who have a chance from those who don't. And it's a dispiriting number; maybe 5%. But boy, do they stand out when you see them.

I never actively discouraged anyone, but hoped the ones at the bottom of the ladder got the message when I pointed them toward developing the most basic skill set they needed just to get a start. If THAT was enough to discourage them, they had no chance to begin with.

There's a way to do it compassionately without crushing dreams, and once in a great while I did get recognized for that. Someone at an animation studio came up to me one day and said, "you looked at my portfolio years ago and I've always remembered how nice you were." This was someone who did find their way into the business. So my efforts were not in vain.

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