Sunday, August 3, 2014

I am Rurouni Kenshin’s #1 Fan!!! (…maybe?)

With Warner Bros Philippines hosting a contest for a chance to win red carpet tickets to Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, I’m about to throw all of my pride out the window and show you some of my fan arts of RuroKen from as early as 1999… but first, some merchandise!

Top: Rurouni Kenshin complete manga, Taiwanese edition
Lower-Left: Additional manga released for the live-action movie adaptation,
including the Free Comic Book Day edition from Viz in 2013
Lower-Right: Rurouni Kenshin #16 manga cover

Many of you already know how big of an influence Nobuhiro Watsuki is when it comes to my manga works. When I was still a (starving) high school student, I couldn’t afford to buy a lot of anime merchandise, but RuroKen manga was something that I had to have. Watsuki-sensei’s artwork was absolutely stunning, but the only ones available at the time were in Chinese! You have no idea how many hours I spent reading these books with a Chinese-English dictionary beside me! There was hardly any scanlations back then, and so, I guess you could say that my Chinese was quite good a few years ago!

Left: watercolor on illustration board of manga #3’s book cover (1999)
Top-Right: pencil art of manga #21’s book cover (1999)
Bottom-Right: line art of manga #16’s book cover (1999?)

My summer vacations were often spent with my uncle teaching me how to draw. 1999 was the summer of Rurouni Kenshin for me as I began exploring proper anatomy and watercoloring. My artworks hung in my room as posters since I would rather save money for the next edition of the manga. The watercolor painting took me several weeks to finish, but I was really happy with the results!

Top: various pencil, ink, pastel color, and color pencil fan arts of Rurouni Kenshin (1999-2005)
Bottom-Left: Rurouni Kenshin crossover with Culture Crash artists,
published in Culture Crash #12 (2003)
Bottom-Middle & Bottom-Right: pastel colored fan art (2000)

My investment in completing the manga proved to be well-worth it. As time progressed, there was some improvement to my art, even if they were mostly imitations of Watsuki-sensei’s works. I began experimenting with drawing my own poses and layouts in 2000, but gained further confidence in 2003 when my Rurouni Kenshin / Culture Crash work was published.

Left: watercolor on 2x6in. Bristol board (1999)
Top: pastel on black-side of illustration board (2003?)
Bottom-Left: watercolor on illustration board (2000)
Bottom-Right: stained glass university project (2001-2002?)
Right: Free Comic Book Day Sketch (2013)

By the time I was in college studying Fine Arts, there were a lot of professors who didn’t consider anime and manga to be an art style. Sometimes, they would fail students for drawing anime style, or if there are obvious influences of anime in their work. In the photo above, I designed my stained glass project with Kaoru and Kenshin as my subject. Needless to say, I was given the lowest passing grade, but I still liked it anyway.

Last year during Free Comic Book Day, my friends and I made a lot of sketches for sale during the event. I used the Kenshin sketch on the right as my sample work, and although I was planning to sell the sketch, I’m actually glad no one picked it up.

Left: Rurouni Kenshin wall scroll
Top-Right: Rurouni Kenshin pencil boards and various laminated photo cards
Bottom-Right: various Rurouni Kenshin figures and gashapon

Overall, could I actually be considered as Rurouni Kenshin’s number 1 fan?

In terms of merchandise, I probably don’t stand a chance.
In terms of drawing skills, I’m probably not the best RuroKen Fan Artist there is.

But in terms of loyalty?
You bet.

My art style and career of choice as a Pinoy Mangaka (Philippine Manga Artist) is a testament of how much I love Rurouni Kenshin. Even in my current webcomic series, Crystal Shadows, has no escape from RuroKen (e.g. Manila Kenkau Romantan). On the side, I write about RuroKen cosplays in Cosplay Holic, one of the highest ranking cosplay blogs on Google, and continually promote the live-action movie adaptation.

So won’t you, Warner Bros Philippines, please let me attend the invite-only Red Carpet event? Like anyone else lucky enough to be chosen, I will be forever grateful.

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