I'm Caterina Rocchi

Her Manga Academy is
11 years old, she’s 28.

Caterina started going to Japan early, to learn from the Japanese masters the technique for the comics that bewitched the world: Manga.

She was 14 the first time she took off from Italy. Studying Japanese was the first step to prepare for that trip, as she knew she’d need it to study in the manga school of her dreams.

“The first seven times, my mother escorted me” Caterina says, “I was underage, and in Japan I was going to be a minor until I’d turn 20.

We’d spend our summers in Tokyo: beautiful, fun, atrocious weather, utterly tiring. Then I went on my own, I kept flying to Tokyo at least once a year, but at that point they were already business trips.”

Only studying manga wasn’t enough, and there came the idea: let’s invite a teacher to our city of Lucca in Tuscany, over winter break. He accepts.

Then the next idea: we have a teacher, we have a student. Maybe someone else would like to learn manga?

This is how the first manga lesson was born, with four students total in a class borrowed from a language school for foreigners in Italy.

This is how Lucca Manga School is born.

It goes on for three years, summers in Tokyo and winters in Lucca, until the Master tells Caterina: You can start to teach now. I’ll be coming for the advanced lessons.

“I never thought I’d be a teacher, but you can’t say no to your Sensei. That’s how I found out that teaching was incredibly rewarding, and decided that I prefer to bring up comic artists rather than create my own comics.”

In the coming years LuccaMangaSchool has grown, becoming a highly specialized Academy for the techniques that compose Manga, with its own building counting four classrooms and a campus to house the students coming from all around Italy and even from outside the border.

The shorter lessons are in the weekends and during school vacations, but the school is open every day for the students of the Biennale courses where they devote two years to learning the craft.

The current situation opened a new opportunity: reaching anyone from the comfort of their home.

In 2011 we were already offering online classes, but the public wasn’t quite ready yet.

We were more than ready though, and right after the first lockdown as Caterina was flying back to Italy from Japan we already put the pieces in place to offer once more online classes.

Offering over a hundred courses a year, Caterina manages a team of 18 teachers, which allow her to take a break from teaching and instead let her follow the invitations for international collaborations wherever they may bring her.