Modern Shojo: Narutaki’s Most Wanted Part 1May 15, 2012
The full title of this post should probably be “Modern Shojo: Most Wanted, That I Want That I Could Think Of At The Moment (Part 1)”, but somehow that didn’t seem catchy. This post was inspired by one over on Shojo Corner called “One Hit Wonders . . . in America” which featured manga-ka who’ve only seen a limited release of their works in the U.S. So I decided to talk about a few off my own wish list.
Nakanara’s popular series Love*Com (Lovely Complex) was lucky enough to be released by VIZ fully. It is one of the best romances in recent memory by showing two people actually becoming friends, having commonalities in their lives, and then falling in love. Of course it had a healthy dose of humor and a unique and relatable lead, Risa.
Nakahara actually has an extensive catalog of titles. She tends to go with pairs of unlikely people whether it be romances or friendships. Some of the titles I’d like to see: Hanada, too perfect girl meets uncouth boy; Nanaco Robin, imagine Kozuki from Love*Com (with a bad attitude) in a cute romance; and Berry Dynamite, idol duo who are friends on stage and enemies off.
At the very least I hope we get the new Love*Com manga that was recently announced.
Yoko Maki is best known on both sides of the Pacific for Aishiteruze Baby the sweet story of a high school boy who becomes the temporary older brother of a little girl. Kippei is quite the player but he matures thanks to his new responsibilities. It is hard not to fall in love with Maki’s leads.
Maki’s stories have graced the pages of Ribon often leading to simple romances like Atashi wa Bambi (a personal favorite) and Taranta Ranta. But we’ve also been treated to something a bit wackier like Shouri no Akuma or more story based like the supernatural Star Blacks.
In recent years, she has been branching out with things like Pika Ichi about two bullied high schoolers dispensing some justice; and Zen Zen following a guy who must take his brother’s place running a cram school. Both are collaborative works w/ Aki Mochida.
With so much to choose from, it should be easy to pick another title for U.S. release.
I recently discussed Julietta Suzuki’s lovely series Karakuri Odette. We were lucky enough to see it fully released from TokyoPop before they went (mostly) out of business. It is a great little comedy fantasy about a robot learning about humanity by attending high school.
Suzuki created a quiet series that has a charming approach to humor and relationships and that’s what I’d hope to see more of. Her stories always feature an off-kilter bent like Akuma to Dolce which has a demon with a weakness for sweets that our heroine puts to good use; and Kamisama Hajimemashita in which our heroine gets caught up with a fox spirits schemes. (*update: didn’t realize Kamisama Hajimemashita is already licensed under the title Kamisama Kiss*)
I don’t know a whole lot about these other works, but I’d like to very much!
I really love the simplistic approach to romance Nana Haruta shows in Cactus’s Secret. Happily released by VIZ, this four volume rom-com explores Miku’s trials of being in love with, to be frank, a clueless moron.
Haruta is another Ribon manga-ka who creates sweet and cute school romance series like Love Berrish! which takes place in dorms where a new transfer finds friends and love; Chocolate Cosmos featuring a misunderstood “scary” girl who is just looking for love; Itoshi no Goshujinsama where a girl is unsure if her boyfriend is as in love with her as she is with him; and Stardust Wink a love triangle between a girl and her two guy friends in the same apartment complex.
With the exception of her latest series Stardust Wink, Haruta’s stories tend to be short which makes them a little bit of an easier sell to be licensed I would think.
Kanae Hazaki is primarily a josei manga-ka and the only U.S. release for her is a josei compilation book. Voices of Love was put out from the now defunct Aurora Publishing under their Luv Luv Press imprint. Her stories are romances that involve at least a little (usually more) sex. And her characters are varying.
Hazaki is on my shojo list for one reason, Sukitte li Na Yo (try not be charmed by the cover). Sukitte is kind of like Kimi ni Todoke in high gear: girl without friends who the students think is creepy catches the attention of outgoing, popular guy who helps her make friends and open up. The difference being our couple begin dating within the first volume so the story centers around their ups and downs.
But it has its own personality, too. Mei doesn’t talk to people but she isn’t shy about telling you what she thinks, she just doesn’t trust people because of past experiences in childhood. Speaking of, most everyone has some serious problems that are tackled in the story. Also sex is a part of the fabric of the series from the beginning. That’s not to say it is constantly happening, it is just part of the conversation.
As far as I know Sukitte li Na Yo is Hazaki’s only long running (8 volumes ongoing) series, too.
Ayumi Komura’s cooking/romance series Mixed Vegetables seems to have slid under the radar when released by VIZ. It follows the daughter of a patissier that dreams of being a sushi chef; and the son of a sushi chef who wishes to be, you guessed it, a patissier.
Komura is good at combining other story threads thoroughly within the romance of Mixed Vegetables. I hope she continues that with titles like: Hybrid Berry which adds baseball and learning to love the hobbies of someone you love; and Usotsuki Lily primarily a school comedy about a cross-dressing boy and his girlfriend who tries to accept him.
Though Komura doesn’t have a huge catalog of titles yet, I’m looking forward to all her efforts.
That’s it for now! I expect to be doing at least another post about shojo licenses that were not completely released in the U.S. and probably one about shojo manga-ka that haven’t been brought stateside at all yet.