Osaka-based manga artist finds inspiration
in the Arab world
OSAKA--A Japanese manga artist who is fascinated by Arab culture is trying to nurture the art form in the Middle East.
Noting the growing popularity of manga and anime in the Arab world, Manaru Tenkawa, 37, offers guidance online.
She has also held classes in Cairo for aspiring artists and is now developing an app to release her manga in Arabic.
Tenkawa serves as an instructor on drawing comics at a vocational school in Osaka. She creates manga with stories set in the Arab world for magazines and the Internet.
In late January, Tenkawa volunteered her time to hold manga classes in Cairo for two days. For the first day, she used a room of the Japan Foundation, a cultural exchange organization affiliated with the Japanese government. About 70 people turned up. On the second day, she held the class in a local culture center for about 40 people.
As a teaching material, she used an eight-minute video she made herself to help students grasp how to draw manga with ease.
Tenkawa, who is from Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, began to draw comics when she attended senior high school. After she graduated, she studied in a vocational school for one year. Then, she became an assistant to a manga artist.
When she was around 22, Tenkawa looked for a new challenge. She decided to learn Arabic because she was enchanted by the cursive script. As she studied the language, her exchange activities with foreign students from Arab countries grew. She was fascinated by differences in customs between Japan and Arab countries.
In September 2008, Tenkawa started a blog focusing on her exchange activities through comics. The blog is titled “Arabiiki,” which expresses her high regard for Arab countries.
According to Tenkawa, the Middle East has a growing legion of fans of Japanese manga and anime.
Fanzine sales events and cosplay attractions are held in Dubai and other cities. Shops that sell anime-related goods are common.
At present, she is developing an app with an Egyptian friend to release her comics to Arab people.
“I want this app to become a place for aspiring comic artists in the Arab region to release their works,” Tenkawa said. “It is my hope that the Arab world produces many comic artists.”