I’m a Japanese manga artist based in NYC!
Let me tell you, I’m still blown away by the fact that I became an artist and live in NYC… a city I dreamed of since I was just a kid in Japan!!!
Both of my parents were police officers in Japan, and expected me to follow their path. But ever since I watched the movie “Back to the Future” with my dad in Japan and got a big crush on Michael J Fox, I knew that I would move to America somehow, someday. I wanted to challenge myself all the time!
When I was in college, I won a scholarship to be an exchange student at Missouri State for a while. I fell in love with the culture here even more than before. I wanted to chase my dreams… even though I wasn’t sure what they were!
I tried so many things and failed at so many things!!!
One of them was being a puppeteer. I wanted to become a puppeteer on Broadway. Well, that dream was crushed right away. It’s NYC where so many talented artists come, and I wasn’t even at the same level to compete with them.
Next,I taught art at schools, camps and children’s museums. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed working with kids. Thanks to them, I noticed how popular Japanese pop culture had become. Especially manga and anime culture, which has an insanely huge following.
Then a crazy idea popped into my head. I should become a manga artist in the U.S.!!!!
Why not? I’ve loved reading manga my whole life, and I know the culture by heart. So I got started.
I drew and drew so much to improve my style until my hand started aching all the time.
I showed my sample artwork and stories to many publishers, then failed, like usual. But I kept going and going. I just didn’t give up. After crazy amount of rejections, finally I published my first graphic novel Biker Girl, then Rock and Roll Love, which is my autobiography, and finally Detective Jermain.
Shortly after those books were published, I was selected to meet Japanese prime minister Abe and the first lady when they visited NYC. Then I started making books with Japanese publishers and appearing on TV and radio shows there.
Even though so many things had happened, I still wanted to feel inspired by kids. I started teaching manga at the Chapin School in NYC, at museums and libraries, and with many private students. After I got to know them better, they became my motivation. Every kid has a story to tell. I want to make books which they relate to. That’s how the idea for my new middle grade graphic novel Bounce Back was born.
I teamed up with my long-time friend/business partner Janna Morishima.
We’re working on Bounce Back non-stop!
Besides Bounce Back making, I created an online community helping kids learn kawaii manga drawing Learn Manga with Misako! I love teaching manga there, and can built a strong relationship with my students. They have become my inspiration and motivation to make a great book!