Behind the Scenes of Victoriana

Ever wonder what goes into a manga? Well, for Victoriana, the process took me about 4 years. To really, truly BEGIN. So in case you're wondering, here's why it took so long...

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6. Two Key Events

Junior Year I decided to take a class called European History. This is the class that lead me directly into the plot of Victoriana. Now I had a legitimate basis as to why she could stay in the palace. Armed with my new knowledge, I began researching the royal family, reading various biographies, trying to flesh out exactly what life was like in Royal Society. During this point, my drawing went on hold a bit because I was so busy.

In the summer of 2012, I was at Cornell Architecture and went to Japan on a homestay with family friends for about a month, hoping to boost my portfolio for Architecture school. During this period, I got a chance to interact with a Japanese family and see what life was really like.


I stayed in Kasukabe-shi, a city in Saitama that is right outside Tokyo, about an hour and a half train ride. Several people get up early and commute to Tokyo from Kasukabe-shi, because it's way too expensive to live in Tokyo. When I designed Ai's home life, I drew it off my experiences in Kasukabe in the family dynamic. They were super supportive, taking me everywhere so that I could draw. They even let me wear a kimono. While it looks pretty, keep in mind it's five to six layers thick! Like a cake! I was absolutely dying in the heat. 


 I also took purikura, went to karaoke, went shopping, all favorite pastimes of my host sister Eri, of whom the character Eriko is based off of.


It was during this that I experienced what it is like to be a gaijin in Japan. Even though my Japanese was good enough that I could hold conversations, watch movies, and order for food, people never expected it. I was eating dinner in a small noodle shop outside of Kasukabe, and two little boys ran up to our table, staring at me for about ten minutes. It was a little unnerving, so I smiled and said, in Japanese, 

"Do you like noodles? I love noodles, I think they're delicious!"  To my embarrassment, the two boys ran back to their mother's table who was not paying attention, saying 

"Mama! Mama! The gaijin spoke Japanese!" 

When I was in the residential areas of Kasukabe too, I got lots of stares. People aren't used to seeing foreigners, with the exception of Tokyo.  This incident made me think about what if Ai wasn't Japanese. What if she was half. I'd already talked to several of my half-Japanese friends who had to relocate to the USA after being severely bullied. All of a sudden, Ai as a character was clear in my mind. I sat down and wrote five chapters of what would be the story Victoriana. I knew I wanted to turn it into a manga, but I didn't have time yet as I was trying to put together a portfolio for Architecture school. Luckily, I was accepted and I will be a member of the class of Cornell Architecture 2019!

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