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Gifu college sets up manga program for French students

Chunichi Shimbun

Ogaki Women’s College in Gifu Prefecture will in July conclude a manga study partnership agreement with Paris-based academic institution Eurasiam.

The Ogaki-based junior college was the first in the country to launch a manga course to nurture artists in the genre. From September, the college will annually accept five or six French students for a six-month stay. The French are known for their love of manga, but it is still unusual for academic institutions to develop a partnership program.

Eurasiam is a management and art school established in 2005. It specializes in Asian studies, with a particular focus on Japan. In its art course, students learn the basics of art, manga and animation. As many of the students are seeking to gain firsthand experience of their craft in Japan, Eurasiam had been searching for a partner institution.

Ogaki Women’s College was also looking to team up with an overseas partner in the field of manga, and the institutions were introduced to each other by Maiko Gobbi, a French coordinator for international relations at the Gifu Prefectural Government.

Prior to formalizing the accord, the college accepted 10 students from Eurasiam between last November and March on a trial basis. The students, aged 19 to 30, traveled to Gifu and studied drawing and manga basics.

“We had language problems, but the lectures were well received by French students. We want to add home-stays and other cultural programs to the partnership project,” said Eizo Matsumoto, 62, head of the college’s Design Art Department.

Bouc Nastazia, 23, a big fan of the manga series “Berusaiyu no Bara” (“The Rose of Versailles”) and samurai manga, was one of the students who joined the trial study program.

“I came to learn the basics of manga and drawing skills because I want to establish a publisher in my hometown in France, where manga is not widely available,” she said. “The Japanese ways of producing frames and lines are different from in France, so I appreciate my Japanese teachers’ advice. I am lucky that I was able to study at a college in Japan.”

According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, France is the second-biggest overseas market for manga after the United States. Last year’s Japan Expo, a pop culture event held every July in Paris, attracted more than 180,000 visitors.

Kazuma Yoshimura, associate professor at Kyoto Seika University, which boasts the only faculty of manga in the country, said French visitors account for more than 30 percent of the 28,000 foreigners who annually visit the Kyoto International Manga Museum.

“As manga carries unique framing expressions and out-of-the-box ideas, people might want to learn drawing in Japan, where manga culture was born,” said Yoshimura.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by local daily Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published June 4.