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The Princess of Tennis: My year working in Japan as an assistant manga artist Paperback – June 11, 2014
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Although, at times I do question who the deuce edited this book. To put it lightly, the writing could have been
improved had there been a bit more attention to detail concerning its grammar. The sentence structures
and word choices where just a little strange in some areas too.
Even so, I can forgive the book for its flaws because overall I found it to be a good read.
There's a nice touch of humor with a good dose of hardships along the way too.
Would recommend this book for aspiring mangaka and looking to work in the manga industry.
If you want to know more about someone's personal experience in Japan, this isn't that great. I personally wanted the latter, and didn't get much substance. I hope the author writes another book down the line with her personal experience in Japan. She has a unique perspective that isn't given enough space in the book. I think it would do really well.
The book is good, though. Not great, and that's my honest opinion. I'm eager to have the hard copy in my hands so I can read it again, but there are some things about the book that bothered me. A few tiny editing mistakes that were missed (very very very minor, but they jumped out to my critical eye), and the writing is a bit on the casual side. That isn't to say that's a bad thing. The way Jamie writes is very... well, it's like she's sitting in a coffee shop with you, telling you her story. You feel like you're there with her as these things are going on, and her way of describing the environment, her feelings while things were unfolding, it's all very personal feeling. You live through it with her, and that's something I absolutely loved. I could have done without some of the cute Japanese phrases and such, but that's definitely a personal thing.
Overall, it's a good book with a wonderful look into the world of Japanese manga. I think anyone who's had any interest in the behind-the-scenes aspect of manga creation, the anime/manga The Prince of Tennis, or just an American's experience in Japan, should definitely read it.
Lano's journey starts with already living in Japan for 4 years as an English teacher before applying to Konomi's call for manga assistants. Throughout the book, Lano not only talks about how manga is made (it's less technical than I thought) but also the ups and downs of being a 6-foot-1 foreign woman in Japan.
The Princess of Tennis is an easy and fun read. Lano keeps the tone light and friendly, and when she turns to darker themes--the invisible red tape for foreigners, real Japanese customs, and women's 1950's role in Japanese culture--Lano always remembers that this true story is a happy one, minus the tinted glasses.
While Lano makes her book accessible for all readers, The Princess of Tennis best fits otaku and aspiring manga creators and editors. She uses Japanese words and emoticons that anyone can find in a manga. For readers outside of the manga-reading audience, this book comes off as a borderline Young Adult novel or fanfiction, especially when the grammatical errors are considered. Because Lano's voice and amiable nature is consistent, readers can forgive the missing words, incorrect punctuation marks, and passive sentences.
As with many books about Japan, The Princess of Tennis uses many Japanese words. Some might find it charming, but I believe that if a book is for the English-reading community, it should stay in English. I wouldn't say, "Konomi Teacher". Even "Mr. Konomi" is passable. Still, I'd just omit the word. In the West, using someone's last name is also a sign of respect. Untranslated Japanese words with simple English meanings--"ohayo" ("Good morning"), "hajimemashite" ("Nice to meet you"), and "ganbare" ("Good luck" or "Do your best")--are still in the book. I think I removed every romanized word with corrector ink just to polish the text.
Aside from the mistakes, The Princess of Tennis was entertaining and inspirational for me. Remember my dream of becoming a manga creator? Maybe my TeniPuri call is waiting for me to answer.
I agree with other reviewers that the book could have been edited a bit more carefully and the prose has a very casual style. That said, I think this book definitely gave a unique perspective on working in the manga industry in Japan and working there as a foreigner. I taught English in Japan for two years and even though Jamie isn't an English teacher, some stories definitely hit home!
The only thing that left me wanting was more discussion about her relationship with T. Jamie briefly mentions that she's a lesbian and the relationship left her heartbroken, but she doesn't give many details. I would have interested in hearing more of her thoughts about that experience.