License request day: More Ai Yazawa

tenshijankajanaiAmong the things I simply don’t understand about manga is why there aren’t more titles by Ai Yazawa available in English. There are two irrefutable reasons there should be more Yazawa in more places: Paradise Kiss (Tokyopop) and NANA (Viz), the Yazawa titles that have already been licensed and translated. Paradise Kiss is a five-volume treasure about young fashion designers and their gawky, ambivalent muse. NANA is a sprawling soap opera about two young women who share the same name and are in the thick of Tokyo’s music scene. Both series are as emotionally engrossing as they are stylish, and while I’m not sure either has ever topped the sales charts (in fact, the publication of Paradise Kiss actually predated specific attention for manga on such lists), the fondness for Yazawa is palpable. (And she’s a superstar in Japan, where NANA does regularly top the sales charts and has been spun into movies, an animated series, and, unless my memory is failing me, a café.)

tenshioldFor this week’s purposes, I’ll focus on two Yazawa titles. First up is Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai, originally serialized by Shueisha in Ribon. It spans eight standard volumes, though it’s also been collected in four double-sized books. French publisher Delcourt chose the four-volume version when it published the series as Je ne suis pas un ange in its Akata imprint. I prefer the covers of the four-volume version (example above), and I suspect I’d like the heft, so that would also be my format preference. Tenshi (or I Am Not an Angel) is described by Delcourt as Yazawa’s first major commercial success. While the synopsis at Wikipedia sounds fairly conventional – friendship, love, and jealousy in high school – I would love to see how Yazawa executes that familiar formula. (As others have noted, this is not to be confused with Takako Shigematsu’s Tenshi Ja Nai!! [I’m No Angel!!], published in English by Go! Comi and well worth your time.)

GokinjoMonogatariNext is Gokinjo Monogatari, also originally serialized by Shueisha in Ribon. Aside from being a Yazawa creation, Gokinjo Monogatari (or Neighborhood Story) has the added allure of being a prequel to Paradise Kiss. (Okay, maybe “prequel” is the wrong word. That’s reserved for stories set earlier in continuity than the one that spawned them, right? Then again, since it would be published in English after Paradise Kiss, it would technically count as a prequel, right? Sorry. Moving on.) Mikako, the story’s protagonist, is the older sister of Miwako, one of the designers from Paradise Kiss. It follows the lives, loves and ambitions of students at Yazawa Arts, and nobody portrays young artists quite as well as Yazawa. It spanned seven volumes, so it wouldn’t lend itself to easy doubling, but seven is a lucky number. Delcourt has also published Neighborhood Story as Gokinjo: une vie de quartier.

And since I’m on the subject of Yazawa, I’ll restate something I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. I would really love it if someone published a handsome omnibus of Paradise Kiss. At five volumes, it would be a bit chunky, but the story and style almost beg for high-end packaging, and it would be a great way to introduce the series to readers who may have missed it the first time around. If Tokyopop isn’t up for it, they could always partner with Dark Horse, which seems to be quite interested in repackaging super-stylish manga (mostly by CLAMP) in aesthetically worthy vessels.

13 Responses to License request day: More Ai Yazawa

  1. Mitch H. says:

    What I read of Neighborhood Story in scanslation before deciding that I really can’t stand reading manga on a screen, was damned good, and I keep waiting for somebody to license it, along with Nakamura’s Tokyo Crazy Paradise. Presumably Viz is sitting on both licenses for when they run out of fresh Skip Beat and Nana.

  2. [...] It’s license request day at Precocious Curmudgeon, and David Welsh is keeping it simple: More Ai Yazawa, please. [...]

  3. arkib says:

    Personally I would love to see some Adachi Mitsuru manga licensed. I don’t believe he has had any licensed as of yet. His mangas are generally light romantic comedies with background in sports. The most notable examples would be Touch and the currently serialized Cross Game (which is also the subject of a recent anime adaptation). The reason I love it is for the almost whimsical nature of his series (not to say they don’t get dramatic) and some of the 4th wall breaking jokes. In a sense they’re sort of like Aria to me. Make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Comfort reading almost.

    Also another one I’d like to see is Yawara by Naoki Urasawa(sp?). One of his earlier mangas.

    Also I’d like to see City Hunter in english.

    Basically a lot of my wishlist is the more classic stuff. But I wouldn’t be averse to some contemporary stuff getting attention such as Vinland Saga which surely deserves a license. I mean the subject matter should be of interest in the western hemisphere.

  4. davidpwelsh says:

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Touch. I’ll have to give that a closer look.

  5. I completely concur about these two titles, David, and also toss in a vote for the 3-volume Kagen no Tsuki. I know nothing about it except it’s Yazawa, but we might as well be complete about things! :)

    @Mitch: I’m hopeful about Tokyo Crazy Paradise, too.

    @arkib: I agree about Adachi’s works and Yawara. Adachi *has* had a couple things licensed in English—Short Program and Short Program 2—but that’s all so far.

  6. Ash says:

    I’ve also been hoping for more Ai Yazawa as well. Omnibus editions of Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai would be awesome. And Gokinjo Monogatari is already francise-friendly with Paradise Kiss. Addtionally, Kagen no Tsuki (Last Quarter) at three volumes would make an excellent one volume omnibus that could be cross-marketed with the live action movie (hint hint at Viz).

    Yazawa’s work is definitely some of the brightest gems of my shojo, and overall, manga collection. And I would love to have more of her manga.

    Thanks for the great article and hopefully some of the manga publishers have read it too. :)

  7. arkib says:

    Interesting. I wasn’t aware of those.

  8. JG says:

    I would buy absolutely anything by Ai Yazawa if given the opportunity, and while Nana doesn’t light the sales charts on fire, I do think the audience would be especially faithful to any future releases. At least based on every Nana fan that I’ve encountered.

  9. Quinn says:

    I would love TCP and Gokusen.

  10. Alienstrikeback says:

    I would really love it if they license Tokyo Crazy Paradise! I mean if they licensed Skip Beat why not it too? And Blue Wars from the same author, I would love to read in English sometime too.
    Also when are they going to license Glass Mask? It’s a total classic that’s been around since the 80’s and they still haven’t done anything!

  11. [...] In observance of this week’s Paradise Kiss Manga Moveable Feast, I thought I’d extract a bit about the title’s prequel, Gokinjo Monogatari, from this more general request for… well, for more Ai Yazawa manga. [...]

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