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Japan to get its 1st high school 'manga studies' department

From left, Kumamoto Prefectural Board of Education head Yoichi Koga, Takamori Mayor Daisei Kusamura, Coamix Co. board member Shuichi Mochida, and Takamori High School Principal Keisuke Yamanaka show the partnership contract expected to lead to the creation of a manga studies department at the high school, in the city of Kumamoto on Sept. 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Hayato Jojima)

KUMAMOTO -- The Kumamoto Prefectural Board of Education has announced that it aims to launch the first high school "manga studies" department in the country.

    The new department will be established at Kumamoto Prefectural Takamori High School in the town of Takamori as early as spring 2023. The move is intended to revitalize the school, which has had fewer applicants than places in recent years, by tapping both the public and private sectors to give students the opportunity to learn directly from industry experts including professional manga artists.

    According to the prefectural education board, there are already university departments and special high school courses where students can study manga to an expert level, but establishing an entire high school department dedicated to the craft is a Japan first. Under a partnership agreement with Tokyo-based manga publisher Coamix Co., manga artists and editors will teach drawing techniques, manga knowledge, and other facets of the industry.

    Coamix has a "second headquarters," one of its production hubs, in Takamori. The company is apparently considering lectures in the new department by popular manga creators Tetsuo Hara, known for "Hokuto no Ken" (Fist of the North Star), and Tsukasa Hojo, whose works include "City Hunter," among others. Anticipating the new department will draw students from across Japan, the Takamori Municipal Government plans to establish a municipal student dorm.

    In the partnership agreement signing ceremony held at the Kumamoto Prefectural Government headquarters on Sept. 8, Coamix board member Shuichi Mochida said eagerly, "We'd like to lay out a framework under which students can make their professional debut while attending the school."

    Prefectural education board head Yoichi Koga added, "We'll proceed with the preparations so that it (the new department) can become a model for enhancing the appeal of prefectural high schools."

    (Japanese original by Hayato Jojima, Kumamoto Bureau)

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