It has become one of the most common questions I'm asked after talks at anime conventions in the United States: How can I get a job in the Japanese pop culture industry — not here, but in Japan?

I wish the answer was easier.

Seven years ago I profiled Felipe Smith, an American artist who moved to Tokyo from Los Angeles in his late 20s and created a Japanese-language manga serialized by Japan's largest publisher, Kodansha — a first for a Western artist.