Players start by drawing three Theme Cards (such as “Kaiju/Giant Monsters”, “Robots and Androids,” or “Desire to be a Parent”) to determine the subject matter of their comic. (These three Themes stick with the player throughout the game. Many but not all of the Themes have a manga/anime/Japanese flavor.) Then each player chooses a title and “pen name.”
After players have had a few minutes to brainstorm, the five-minute timer is activated and core gameplay begins. Players have five minutes to draw their comics (on pre-printed Comic Pages) and express their Themes. When time is up, each player takes a turn reading their comic to the group (or, in the suggested ‘professional mode,’ the other players read the player’s manga amongst themselves without the artist being allowed to give explanation). Based on the other players’ judgement, each player earns 2 Fame Tokens for following each of the three core rules: (1) express your Themes (2) use 3 or fewer Word Balloons and (3) draw something recognizable in every Panel.
Beginning with round 2, Trend Cards appear, putting more Fame in play. Trend cards (examples: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Shojo Manga, Sports, Destruction, Subtlety, etc.) provide new victory conditions in the form of instructions and a corresponding reward of Fame Tokens. Some Trend rewards can be claimed by every player simultaneously, others can only be claimed by one or two winners (such as “Eager Audience,” which rewards Fame to the first player to finish drawing before time runs out).
In addition, each round after the 1st, the Comic Pages become denser, requiring the players to draw more Panels in the same amount of time. Round 1 is 2 Panels; round 2 is 4 Panels; round 3 is 6 Panels; round 4 is 8 Panels. The number of Trends also goes up from round to round. Round 2 has 1 Trend; round 3 has 2 Trends; round 4 has 4 Trends.
When round 4 ends, the winner (the most successful comic artist) is the one with the most Fame.