What lessons can budding writers learn from anime like Comic Girls?
Many of us take great joy in the stories that unfold in anime, some even inspiring us to take that first step of putting pen to paper ourselves as we embark on journeys to craft our own adventures. These voyages aren’t exclusive to real world observers though; an increasing number of anime follow the development of a creator’s craft, covering an array of mediums like novels, manga, and even video games. So alongside inspiring us through their characters and stories, some of our favorite anime may even hold useful tips for the budding writers in the audience!
The writer’s life is oft described as a lonely one, yet the first important lesson anime teaches us is to surround yourself with like-minded people. This is the premise of currently airing anime Comic Girls, which sees struggling manga artist Kaoruko “Kaos” Moeta move into a dormitory to live alongside other teenage mangaka. While each specializes in a different genre – Kaos does 4-koma strips, Tsubasa shonen, and Ruki erotica – spending time with comrades-in-literary-arms can inspire not just directly with things like equipment recommendations, but also indirectly with day-to-day interactions that can prompt ideas for characters, scenarios, or even just give reference points for more realistic dialogue, which is the exact reason Kaos joined the dorm!
Being around someone with similar aspirations can also invite friendly competition, giving even waning motivations a jump start. Some writers find sharing a manuscript as embarrassing as revealing one’s naked self, but in light novel-focused series Eromanga Sensei, writing contests are a regular occurrence and are shown to be invaluable in learning to understand or appreciate each other, both as fellow writers and people. Besides, no one becomes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle overnight, so why not place a friendly bet to make practice more fun?
Speaking of fun, the novelist cast of A Sister’s All You Need keep their skills sharp by regularly playing tabletop role-playing games with each other, as well as board games with an emphasis on creative thinking. Coming up with scenarios and characters for use in a friendly campaign can naturally be useful experience when coming up with the same for a more serious writing endeavor!
Another lesson to take from anime is to be diligent in your research. Stories have an unrivaled ability to walk audiences through experiences they may never even dream of experiencing, but that doesn’t mean we should be sloppy in the finer details.
When Shirobako’s Musashino Animation were hard at work on adapting manga series The Third Girls’ Aerial Squad into an anime, they couldn’t just rely on visual approximations of the series’ fighter jets, as even the smallest detail could make something impractical when moving the story to a more kinetic medium.
For this, they enlisted the help of Midori “Diesel” Imai as a Setting Researcher. With a natural thirst for knowledge, she excelled in the unglamorous yet important duty of investigating everything from design specifications to the textbooks pilots study from! The studio also visited aircraft museums, because even just seeing the real life fighter jets and getting a feel for their cockpits can add a subtle, yet key level of depth to their work. Imagination is a writer’s greatest tool, but we often have to supplement it with experience or knowledge for our stories to truly take flight.
Another lesson that comes up time and time again in anime that’s worth remembering in particular is the importance of time management! If you’re at the level where your work is being published, you need to try and keep to deadlines so you don’t end up locked in a windowless room (A Sister’s All You Need) or a cell (Shirobako) by your superior until the work is completed.
Those examples are obviously exaggerated for comedic effect, but the impact of crunch time is evident even in the more light-hearted Comic Girls. From the very first episode, we’ve seen the newer dorm members assist their seniors on the cusp of a deadline, and a whole episode was dedicated to how the tiredness from Tsubasa working late was putting her school life in jeopardy. Even if you’re not published, getting into a regular routine can reduce negative impacts on your daily life, and maybe prepare you for what’s to come...
Finally, the most important lesson a writer can learn from anime is to be proud of your work. In Comic Girls, all Ruki Irokawa ever wanted was to draw cute animals, but having a talent for drawing attractive women led to a career drawing erotic manga under the pen name “Big Boobies♥Himeko.” She found the whole situation beyond embarrassing, to the point where she dreaded the news of a meet-and-greet event.
But, having finally plucked up the courage to attend, she was blown away by the crowd that eagerly met her with applause and ecstatic joy. Despite her own reservations about her work, she saw just how much it meant to people, empowering her to push beyond the embarrassment and see it under a whole new light… even if the “Big Boobies♥Himeko” name still bothers her!
Ultimately, don’t we all write to entertain and hopefully inspire others? Even if it’s a subject some may be prudish about, you should embrace your work and the effect it can have on people!
Are there any anime that have inspired you as a writer? Let us know below!