I’m actually closer to retirement age than adolescence. (I’m probably not closer to actual retirement, and some portion of me will probably never move past adolescence entirely, but that’s neither here nor there.) So perhaps it’s natural that I would start looking for sensitive comic-book portrayals of senior citizens. Or maybe I’m just perversely looking for drastically unlikely properties to request for publication in English.
Whatever the reason, I’ve had a needling fascination for the niche category known as “silver manga” ever since I read about it in Paul Gravett’s Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics (Harper Design). Even I doubt that the documented college-student fondness for Golden Girls reruns would translate into demand for comics from this category, and today’s featured title has a number of other strikes against its likely licensing, but it never hurts to ask.
So let’s carefully immerse ourselves into the deep end of the pool during adult swim, shall we? Let’s take a look at Kenshi Hirokane’s Tasogare Ryuuseigun (or Like Shooting Stars in the Twilight), originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Original.
Here’s Gravett’s description:
“They can also find respectful portrayals of senior citizens in new, so-called ‘silver’ manga, in which they are no longer reduced to the cliches of either wise elders or grumpy old fools. Like Shooting Stars in the Twilight is the metaphorical title of one series, in which protagonists in their sixties and older are shown still enjoying romance and sex to the full.”
As lovely as that sounds to me, I can easily picture a lot of the primary audience for manga in English recoiling in abject horror from the very idea. For me, that reaction just offers bonus points, but I know that doesn’t reflect a particularly commercial mindset.
You’re probably familiar with Hirokane as the creator of Section Chief Kôsaku Shima, the ultimate salaryman manga. If you aren’t familiar with it, check out John Jakala’s tribute to the title. I certainly share John’s desire for more of that book and for office manga in general, but John’s covered it nicely, so why be redundant?
Like Shooting Stars won an Excellence Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2000, so there’s that in its favor. Working against it is the fact that the series is 35 volumes long and, as near as I can tell, still ongoing. And that’s putting aside the fact that it features dignified portrayals of senior citizens in a market that’s yet to demonstrate consistent demand about portrayals of people in their twenties. But as I said, it never hurts to ask.