Hey guys, long time no see!
I had the chance to attend one of Yoyogi Animation Osaka’s open campus events this past Sunday that was aimed at international students. Figured I’d do a write up of it here.
The event was to start at 1:00, and they requested we arrive early to be briefed on the schedule. They were also thankfully very strict about COVID-19 precautions - temp checks, masks, hand sanitizing, wiping things down with alcohol spray before and after use.
Participants were greeted at the door by a handful of super-cute idol-esque girls and staff, checked in and given a name badge. Then we had a consultation with the faculty.
For me, the consultation consisted of a more detailed explanation of Yoani’s system (in terms of both enrollment and training). If anyone is familiar with the enrollment guidelines for most (if not all?) animation vocational schools here, a requirement is to pass a certain level of Japanese test, whether is be JLPT N2 or an equivalent. There’s that, and your entrance exam is basically just an interview with the faculty about why you want to be an animator, what kind of animator, etc. The staff doing the consultation also told me that…
- Despite N2 being listed as a requirement for enrollment, if your conversational skill is high enough, you can still pass the enrollment exam and enter the school without that certification. This is great news for folks who are strong speakers but perhaps lack the reading comprehension etc to pass the higher levels of the JLPT.
The staff was also very clear on exactly what Yoani is; it’s a job training school. The curriculum is 100% directed at your field (animation, illustration, voice acting, manga etc). Because of this, it is not recognized as a school by the government, and this means a few things.
- Students are not eligible for government loans, and other loans from private organizations that feature very low interest rates since they’re directed at students.
- Students are not eligible for the discounted (50%?) train pass that regular national or private university students are given.
We also discussed the student body a bit. Of course, most students are quite young, having just finished high school up to their mid-twenties. Though, the staff did mention that a few older students in their 30’s and 40’s have come through the school in the manga course, for example. They said it of course wasn’t a problem to attend the school as an older student, but they were quite honest about their concerns that sprang from that. Namely…
- During the job-hunting phase of the schooling (the last portion), they thought it might be difficult to get a job based on the age versus other job hunters. They said such a resume would have sort of a “second career” feel to it and might be less appealing. The staff was worried about the “value” of training at Yoani if I were to have trouble getting placed in a position after graduation.
- (I think most of us are aware of this one) There is no official age requirement on job listings, but studios would generally prefer to hire younger applicants.
That was it for the consultation. We chatted for a few about various anime, animators, graduates that have gone on to work on popular series, etc and then it was time for the sample lesson.
I was escorted up to the third floor where one other student and the teacher was waiting - the classroom was set up in four long rows of desks with light tables on them and two large TVs at the front that were hooked to a camera looking down on the teacher’s work area.
The teacher that day was Ai Hirai, an animator who has worked on the Fate series as well as Kimetsu no Yaiba! She informed us that she was one of three instructors who teachers at Yoani’s Osaka campus. She was really nice and quite easy to understand. She went over the first and second year curriculum in a good amount of detail and gave us some handouts.
We had about one-hour of instruction by her after that. We did an exercise involving drawing based on a grid to replicate a character drawing and we were able to choose any one of ~20 pictures to replicate. With our characters chosen, she started to instruct us on blocking out the silhouette, paying attention to negative space in the grid, and some general tips on sketching the layout to make the reproduction accurate.
During the process she would periodically come by and check our work and make corrections with a different colored pencil.
She asked what my “original favorite anime” was, and after I told her Slayers, she went to a cabinet and produced a cel and background painting from one of the Slayers OVAs! Being able to handle an old cel and see the painting details up close was really cool.
We also talked a bit about my previous experience with 3D VFX (very limited, honestly) and she said that mastering some kind of effects animation would definitely lead to a high value career since studios are always in search of people who are skilled at doing effects.
Once we finished the lesson (a little late!) Hirai-sensei walked us out to the front of the building and thanked us for coming. I’ve got to say, the location of the school is really convenient. It’s all of a 5 minute walk from Minami-morimachi station in Osaka and has two or three convenience stores and a huge shotengai nearby. We stopped there for some really good charcoal yakitori before heading back home.
Overall it was a great experience. I was very nervous but the staff and teacher were great and they followed up later in the day on LINE. They hold these events pretty often so if you’re in Japan and want to check one out, they’re free.
Some other info about Yoani;
- tuition is about 2.8 million yen
- animator course is 2 years
- classes are from 9 - 3 every weekday
- there are some limited scholarships available
- instructors are industry professionals
- whether you can draw or not at the start isn’t important because it’s a full training course from the ground up
Here’s some pictures from the experience, they’re not very good though haha
This was the result of the practice she had us do. I ended up making the ears too big and the jaw a bit too long! Got a little bit smushed on the ride home