HARLINGEN — In Minghao Wang’s hometown of Shenzhen, China, anime is super big.
He compares it to the popularity of football in the United States.
It’s a style of Japanese hand-drawn or computer animation, typically for film or television. Until a couple years ago, it was only a hobby for Wang.
Then he met an anime enthusiast at a comic convention in China who would become his best friend and help teach him to draw anime.
“It was only a hobby. I met a guy doing some anime and he let me realize you can turn a hobby into a real job,” Wang said.
“It’s a good way to prove to my mom or anybody else to show them I can do something (like this) all my life.”
Today, he loves drawing anime and he always carries a pencil in his pocket.
He’s a 16-year-old ninth grader at Marine Military Academy. He came to the United States to study at the academy because his father believed it would help him focus on achieving his goals.
Now, he is very focused.
After he graduates from MMA, he plans to attend college in the United States. He will either attend an art school to learn how to draw better anime or attend UCLA and be a game designer and development major.
Either way, he ultimately intends to return to Asia to work in the Anime, Comics & Games industry, known as ACG, which Wang calls the ACG tradition. And he hopes to some day own his own ACG company.
He wants Americans to understand that anime is not an art form exclusively for children. It’s also for teens and adults.
“I think about 20 years ago, 30 years ago, people might think it is just for little children. People do not understand the difference between a cartoon and anime,” Wang said.
“I like to tell people the world is changing. Now people are realizing it has become a new way of life with themes that are becoming more for teens and adults.”
He says he mostly uses pencils or a computer to draw. But really, he can use any medium.
“I can use anything. Using the computer is just a way to draw. It doesn’t really matter what I am using to draw. It’s just that I’m drawing something,” he said.
Andi Atkinson, MMA director of marketing and public relations, said Wang is always drawing something.
“He draws different things all the time,” she said.
“One minute he’s sketching a girl, one minute he’s sketching a guy, one minute he’s sketching an animal.”
Most anime artists develop their own story lines, often with a superhero. Wang is working on his.
He has an outline for a superhero named Jun Lin, who is the guardian of a city. He defends the city of those who would want to try to get in and faces an adversary who has equal superpowers.
“They have exactly the same superpower. They can make themselves stronger and faster, just like Superman, in five minutes,” he said.
The theme of his story line is this: “How can people from different kinds of worlds learn to understand each other?”