License request day: Hataraki Man

September 18, 2009


How is it that I’ve been doing these license requests for so long without pleading for that all-too-rarely translated kind of comic that explores the lives of contemporary working women? As you all surely know by now, I’m a big fan of Mari Okazaki’s Suppli, and I’m thrilled that Tokyopop plans to resume publication of the series next year. But is one really good example of this kind of story really enough? No, it is not.

hataraki1So I must ask some kind, forward-thinking publisher to give us a licensed version of Moyoco Anno’s Hataraki Man, originally serialized by Kodansha in its Weekly Morning magazine. It’s about a late-20s magazine editor, a workaholic whose personal life is somewhat lacking as a result. At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald found this more detailed look at the series in the U.K.’s Times Online:

“A well-educated, chain-smoking, occasionally foul-mouthed comic-book character has become a heroine for millions of Japanese women who are battling for recognition in the country’s male-dominated workplace.

“Through her exploits, women have begun to see how, perhaps, they might overturn decades of gender inequality and chip away at one of Japan’s most frequently decried statistics – that, across all industries, only 10 per cent of managers are female.

“To succeed in her working life, Hiroko Matsukata, a fictional magazine news editor, deploys a range of arts that her fans are quickly adopting themselves. The 28-year-old is sweet when she needs to be and flint-hearted when threatened. She is even able to control her use of Japanese, suddenly dropping the niceties of speech traditionally expected of women when she needs male colleagues to take her seriously.”

hataraki2Everything I read about this series makes it sound more awesome to me. Well, almost everything, as Anno had to suspend work on the series due to health issues. But there are four volumes available, and since josei (or titles that look very much like josei, as Morning is technically a seinen magazine) is not a sector that has yet enjoyed commercial success here, maybe that’s not so daunting a number for a publisher.

Unlike many of the creators whose work winds up in this category, Anno has actually had a lot of her work translated. Tokyopop published her eleven-volume Happy Mania. Viz published her six-volume Flowers and Bees. Del Rey published her eight-volume Sugar Sugar Rune. Of course, it’s a Kodansha property, and I wouldn’t even hazard a guess as to what they might do next, as their latest piece of strategy seemed to be to make less of their work available in English. But one can always hope.

Ediciones Glénat has picked up Spanish-language publishing rights for the book, which they will call Tokio Style.