WIPO’s new manga, witten and illustrated by Ms. Emiko Iwasaki, tells the story of how a young shop employee witnesses first hand the menace of fake products, how easily customers are duped into buying them and the serious harm they can cause.
English and Japanese versions were published in September 2011. Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish versions will be published in the coming months.
"Ms. Iwasaki drew a fantastic manga… I hope that by reading it, more people will have a better understanding of the dangers of purchasing fake goods and realize that they can make a difference and help reduce the harm these goods cause. (Mr. Ken-Ichiro Natsume, Japan Patent Office)
"General understanding of the importance of protecting IP rights will help build support for creative activities which will enrich all our lives." (Mr. Teiji Hayashi, Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
During the summer of 2010, the WIPO Japan Office organized the Real Manga Competition. The competition was sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan and the Japan Patent Office (JPO), and supported by Kadokawa Shoten Publishing.
The competition invited Japanese manga artists to create an original work highlighting the health and safety risks associated with purchasing counterfeit products. Entrants were required to submit original artwork, a storyline and characters to explain the health and safety risks related to counterfeit products. Submissions were received from across the country.
After a rigorous selection process involving industry experts, Ms. Emiko Iwasaki’s Honmono – the Secret that Changes your Life manga was selected as the winning entry. Ms. Iwasaki won a contract worth ¥1,200,000 (approximately US$15,000) and the chance to work with a professional manga editor to develop her entry into a full-length manga. The two other finalists in the Competition were Ms. Ayako Okubo with her True?! manga and Ms. Minako Takahashi with her Is that real ? manga.
Image from Ms. Iwasaki’s winning entry which told the story of a
part-time worker at the counterfeit market.
Image from Ms. Okubo’s entry in which the Fairy of Genuineness sends her envoy down to earth to inform humans about the harm inflicted by counterfeit products.
Image from Ms. Takahashi’s entry in which mysterious white, fluffy creatures fall from the sky with instructions that they should only be fed GENUINE things.
In March 2011, Koubo Guide, an established Japanese monthly reporting on competitions in Japan, awarded its 2010 Koubo Award for Best Outreach Activity to the WIPO Real Manga Competition. It hailed the contest as a “brilliant method to appeal to a wide range of people” to achieve the goal of increasing awareness about the risks of counterfeit products through manga.
Ms. Emiko Iwasaki
Ms. Emiko Iwasaki was one of a very few successful female video game designers to break into Japan’s male-dominated video game industry. She has also created and developed her own video game project. The WIPO Japan Office caught up with Ms. Iwasaki to find out more about this talented creator.
How did you get involved in drawing?
As a child, I loved oil painting. When I found out that computers have enormous potential for creating art, I started using them in my work. Working in the video game industry also gave me an opportunity to develop my manga drawing skills.
What attracted you to the WIPO Manga Competition?
I wanted to create something that would help people and is easy to understand. Throughout my career, I have focused on developing my skills to create manga, video games and similar works, and recently I have felt driven to use my skills for something that could make a real difference in society. I wanted to use the power of manga to introduce people to socially important issues in a fun and easily understandable way. Just when I was looking for a way to do this, I learned about the competition. It was a perfect opportunity.
What was most challenging about the project?
Mainstream commercial manga and video games target an established market, and because consumers have certain expectations, we have to make sure that our creations match what people want to buy. In the WIPO competition, the main challenge was to convey the manga’s educational message in a way that was interesting, engaging and easy to understand. I wanted to create a manga that readers could relate to and that piqued their interest.
As the manga is aimed at an international audience, I had to get a better grasp of the issue and familiarize myself with the different perspectives young people in different parts of the world have about fake products. It wasn’t easy, but it was something I needed to do so I could write a story that means something to young people around the world.
How is creating a manga different from your other work?
When people read manga, watch anime or play video games, they often only remember specific high-impact scenes. These help catch a reader’s attention, so when I make a new video game or other work, I start with these scenes in mind and work out the rest of the story from there. I then think about the overall tempo of the manga and incorporate scenes that will leave a lasting impression on the reader.
With the manga I created for the WIPO competition, the process was a little different. I first had to understand the target audience and work out how to make the manga mean something to them. Because the subject matter is quite difficult and unfamiliar to many, I had to think about the story as a whole and then make it simple and easy to understand. Traditionally, super powers are a key feature of manga stories, so I had to think about how I could incorporate this into the storyline. I really wanted the manga to make people think more deeply about the harm caused by counterfeit products, so I had to create a manga that starts out slowly but builds to create a big impression on the reader.
What inspires you?
My travels abroad have been my biggest inspiration. This opened me up to many different people, places, cultures, viewpoints and artistic styles, and yes, I also came across a lot of counterfeits. This really helped me to make the manga a lot more relevant.
Have you been the victim of IP infringement?
Yes. In one of the video games I was working on, I created a character based on the likeness of my father, who had recently passed away. Unbeknown to me, another team in the company copied the character, changed it slightly and used it in their project. I think it is very sad when people copy something and use or sell it as their own. People should make their own creations instead of just copying something and selling it as their own work. The same is true for counterfeit products. I have seen many excellent copies, and if people have the ability to make such good copies, I think they should use that creativity to make their own products and brands. Wouldn’t that be more interesting and cool?
What are your future plans and goals?
I would really like to expand the range of characters that appear in traditional manga and to write documentary-type manga stories, but there isn’t yet much demand for them. I also want to work on developing my talents as an artist in a broader range of media and to find a way to balance my personal interests with the economic imperatives and demands of a professional career.