The real-life adventures of teen racer Noda Juju adapted by manga creator Inuwashi

By: Gabriel Leão March 9, 20220 Comments
Noda juju taking a picture with her racing car while holding a trophy

Noda Juju is a prodigy in the racing circuit and has gained an immense following over the years due to her popularity as a race car driver in Japan.  She started to drive small cars when she was 3-years old and gradually began competing against adults in tournaments.  She was 14 years old when she won her debut race at Danish F4 in June of 2020. She made headlines in the Formula 4 division in Europe and is currently practicing for the 2022 W-Series in Spain; her dream is to one day become the first woman to win Formula 1.  Aside from that, she’s just a regular 16-year-old trying to juggle school and her English classes. When she met manga creator, Inuwashi in 2021, she was excited at the idea of adapting her story into a manga series on YouTube.  

Inuwashi is a veteran manga creator who has worked as an assistant for other artists in the past.  When Noda and Inuwashi sat down to talk about the series, Noda felt she could trust Inuwashi with her story and hopes it can be an inspiration to other girls that want to compete in male dominated sports.    

Noda was introduced to racing by watching her father, Noda Hideki, compete in prestigious racing categories such as Formula 1 (F1) and 24 Hours of Le Mans.  Noda Hideki opened his own non-profit organization called “Noda Racing Academy” and has been mentoring his daughter in her racing career. 

Questions for Noda Juju 

Do you have any favorite anime or manga?


 Haikyu!! is my favorite manga because the art and the story is so good.  Out of all the characters, Kita Shinsuke is my favorite because he tries his very best and wants to succeed in life.


How did you meet Inuwashi and what made you accept adapting a video comic series based on your racing journey? 


 I met her through my friend who recommended making my story into a manga. I like Inuwashi’s imagination and I felt she was the right person who could adapt my racing experiences to manga readers.  


Juju in her racing gear being interviewed

Did you have any concerns about your story as a racer being adapted into comic form? Do you think Inuwashi did a good job adapting it?


She made it somewhat close to reality and it’s very detailed. Inuwashi did a good job balancing the realistic aspects and making it entertaining without deviating too much from the truth.  


You’ve grown up watching your father, Noda Hideki, in several racing competitions.  I imagine the exhilaration of watching these races motivated you to start your own journey as a professional racer.  How does he continue to influence you and your career? 


Since I was so young, I don’t remember his racing career very well, but I remember that he was really fast and had a lot of fans.  I also told him that I was going to be a professional race car driver like him when I was 5-years old.  He teaches me a lot of things about racing and isn’t a typical father.  He has a lot of experience and I am really proud of him.



Noda Juju's father whispering into her ear.

What are some of the challenges you face being a girl in a male dominated sport?  


They don’t want to lose against females and sometimes they are too aggressive towards me. I believe it is not a matter of being male or female. The sport is a sport and has to be fair. The other problem that I may have to face in the near future is dealing with my physical strength.


Usually, males have more physical strength and in order to keep up with them, women have to train much harder than them to meet the physical standards required in racing.  


This also becomes a problem when dealing with the total weight of the car.  For example, when you combine your weight and the car’s weight, the car becomes too heavy.  Since females have less muscle mass than men we need to have more ballasts (a heavy material placed below the car) on our cars.  However, men have less ballasts on their cars because they have more muscle mass.  I don’t believe this is fair and I think the racing regulations need to be reconsidered to make it more equal.  


How do you deal with your fame at such a young age and what motivates you to keep going?


I really appreciate my fans cheering me on and I feel really motivated that so many people are following my racing career.  Racing is my true calling in life and I love that I am able to follow my dreams.  I feel so comfortable when I am driving a race car.  


Noda Juju training her body

What are your personal goals for your racing career?


I would love to participate in the Formula 1, Indycar and Formula E, but for now I do the best that I can and people around me decide when and where I’ll end up driving next.  

将来 はインディ、フォーミュラEなどで戦えることは素晴らしいと思います。でも今は与えられた環境の中でベストを尽くし、その状況に応じて、自ずとやるべきものが見えてくると信じています。

The fact you are competing in these races is breaking barriers for other girls that might want to become professional racers.  What advice would you give them? 


If you want to achieve something, believe in yourself, be confident and never give up. Most of the time you will face difficulties, but if you try again and again, one day you will end up winning.  Maybe you might not win a competition, but you will end up winning in life.  


Noda Juju posing in front of her racing car

The fact that your life has been adapted into a comic is amazing.  What are other projects you want to work on in the future? 


My dream is to open a shelter for rescued animals.  I appreciate animals as they give me so much energy and joy.


Questions for Inuwashi

What inspired you to start drawing manga? 


There was a forum where you could serialize your own comics online. I was inspired by those authors to start serializing my own comics.


Who are the manga artists you look up to?


That would be Ajichika, the author of “Record of Ragnarok.”


Sample of Inuwashi's video comic

What is your creative process like?


Usually, I draw inspiration from manga, games, or movies. I would write about them over social media or talk about it with friends to develop stories.


How did you come to work with Noda Juju? 


I got the offer to do the comic about Noda Juju from my editor at Comic Zenon.


What inspired you to adapt Noda Juju’s racing career into a mini-video comic series?


Seeing a girl younger than me taking on the world gave me strength. It fills me with a desire to succeed as a manga artist myself.


Noda Juju with her family

You’ve worked as an assistant to artists for a while, what was it like to work on the short YouTube comic series about Noda Juju racing journey for the first time?


I had some concerns since there were a lot of firsts for me, but it was an irreplaceable experience.  The artist I assist gave me words of encouragement and some time off. Friends also helped by being my assistants. A lot of people helped me out. I couldn’t do this alone.  It was my first time drawing racing scenes, but it was a novel experience and interesting to do.

初めてのことが多く不安もありましたが、かけがえのない経験になりました。 アシスタント先の先生から励ましの言葉とともに仕事のお休みを頂いたり、友人たちにアシスタントに入ってもらったりして、多くの人に助けられました。私一人では完成させられませんでした。レーシングの作画は初めてでしたが、新鮮味があって面白かったです。

What was it like working with Noda Juju on this series? Was adapting her life into a comic difficult in any way?


I was surprised by how courteous Ms. Juju was when we met. Having seen that, I felt charged to draw a manga that matches the quality of her character.

One difficult aspect of comicalizing her experience was figuring out the flow of the comic to keep it commercially viable. I’m usually a doujin author and self-publish my manga. While I’ve enjoyed creative freedom up until now, this is a commercial product and I was told to make some general edits to the comics. (i.e. I was told some expressions I drew were too extreme)



Drawing of Noda Juju's car

Were you a fan of racing before you met Noda Juju? If not, how do you feel about it now?


 To tell you the truth, I had never even watched a car race until taking on this job. That’s why this felt so novel to me. It was exciting to touch upon a world I knew nothing about.  I do one day wish to see Ms. Juju race in person.



What do you think about women in racing and what does Noda Juju’s story mean to them? After having worked on the comic, do you think your perspective has changed? 


I think it’s great to give anyone an opportunity to rise up to a challenge.  I think she is lending encouragement to many women by not only claiming her own stake in a place dominated by men, but doing so at such a young age. By taking on this job, I have developed a further sense of appreciation for female characters. I feel like I can now draw even better women characters than ever before.




Noda Juju dreaming of being Japan's first woman to win the F1 cup

Now that you finished the video comic series, what’s next for you? Do you have any other projects planned?


I can’t talk about it, but I got a new job offer after I finished drawing Ms. Juju’s manga.  I am currently putting my all into that job. In working on Ms. Juju’s manga, a whole new world has opened up for me.



Where can people follow you to support your work?


I’m working with the Zenon editorial department to get published in Monthly Comic Zenon and its website as well.  I would appreciate it, if you could check them out.



About the Author : Gabriel Leão

Gabriel Leão work as a journalist and is based in São Paulo, Brazil. He has written for outlets in Brazil, the UK, Canada and the USA such as Vice, Ozy Media, Remezcla, Al Jazeera, Women’s Media Center, Clash Music, Yahoo! Brasil, Anime Herald, and Brazil’s ESPN Magazine. He also holds a Master’s degree in Communications and a post-grad degree in Foreign Relations.

Read more articles from Gabriel Leão

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