Chiming in

Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi comes up with a fun feature, “3 Things Thursday.” The inaugural focuses on a category near and dear to my heart, shôjo manga. Melinda asks for folks to contribute their three favorite current shôjo series and three of their all-time favorites. Easy as pie!

Here are my current favorites (as of this moment, mind you, and depending at least partly on what I’ve been reading lately):

Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (Viz), written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina: very funny look at an outwardly ominous young woman coming out of her shell without sacrificing her individuality.

Natsume’s Book of Friends (Viz), written and illustrated by Yuki Midorikawa: really charming supernatural, episodic storytelling about a kid who sees demons and tries to help them.

V.B. Rose (Tokyopop), written and illustrated by Banri Hidaka: great character interaction and romance set in a high-end wedding-dress salon.

And now for the “classics.”

Fruits Basket (Tokyopop), written and illustrated by Natsuki Takaya: this was a best-seller for the simple reason that it was brilliantly written and really plumbed some serious emotional depths.

Imadoki! Nowadays (Viz), written and illustrated by Yuu Watase: a fun, frisky, fish-out-of water story that’s probably my favorite work by the prolific, uneven Watase.

Paradise Kiss (Tokyopop), written and illustrated by Ai Yazawa: it’s criminal that this tale of first love and high fashion is out of print. Criminal.

16 Responses to Chiming in

  1. Oh, these are fantastic! I’m glad I picked only 3, because that means there are so, so many for everyone else to mention!

    • davidpwelsh says:

      I’m so glad you started that feature for a number of reasons.

      1. I felt like posting something positive but didn’t feel like working very hard.

      2. I couldn’t face the level of image-hunting and link-searching required for an installment of the Seinen Alphabet this week.

      3. I was very close to posting a random “what are my favorite current titles in the four major demographic categories,” but the seinen choice would have killed me with books like House of Five Leaves, Chi’s Sweet Home, and 20th Century Boys all in the mix.

      So you’ve saved me from utter laziness, indecision, and defeatist cynicism, all in one stroke!

      • I admit my motivations were much along those very lines! I wanted a new weekly feature that would be positive but not time-consuming… kind of the blogger’s version of “looking busy.” Hee.

    • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

      Melinda, your list is also terrific. Truth be told, I haven’t read ANY of your modern recomendations, but Please Save My Earth is one of my top 10 manga of all time (shame it wasn’t a big hit for Viz so we’ll prob never see the sequel–I admit I liked, but not neither as much, Hiwatari’s underated follow up series Tower of the Future that CMX translated).

      And as far as I’m concerned, Banana Fish is amongst the top 3 translated manga of all time, a true shoujo classic, up there with any of Moto Hagio’s work (again, shame it wasn’t a hit so that we never got the sequel volume, or any of Yoshida’s other classic titles–I’d start with the pansexual college romance Lovers’ Kiss). I’ve never cried over a manga, and even had upsetting dreams about it, the way I did when Banana Fish ended.

      Upsetting that, like ParaKiss, both of these works are out of print–and indeed some of the early Banana Fish volumes seem to go on Amazon new for 70+ bucks…

  2. lys says:

    Eeee, seeing VB Rose as a pick makes me so happy! In my opinion, everyone should be reading and adoring Banri Hidaka’s work. I admit I am a tad obsessed. Anyway, great picks all around! And thanks again to Melinda for getting this started!

  3. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    I’ll have to keep an eye open for these… I am a big fan of Todoke, although time and funds have meant I’m only as far as volume 2.

    As for the classics–I admit, I’ve never *got* Fruits Basket. I think I’m the only shoujo manga fan in the world who feels that way–maybe I need to give it another, and longer, look.

    Watase was a fave of mine–back in high school (ack a scary 13+ years back), along with Marmalade Boy, Rose of Versailles and Oniisama E, Fushigi Yuugi’s fansubs were my anime crack. I remember one group would do rough fansubs as soon as it would air on TV–and I had a group of friends who I’d circulate the tape with as soon as I finished. I liked Ceres almost as much (at least the manga, the anime was really compressed, unlike Fushigi’s great adaptation), and woulda listed Watase as one of my top three manga-kas. But after that, nothing has really grabbed me whatsoever. One of those friends from high school says I should read the current Fushigi Yuugi sequel–she loves it, but I admit I don’t have a huge drive to. Maybe I should check out Imadoki…

    And YES to ParaKiss. It’s a practically perfect manga. In some ways my heart belongs more to Nana, but I admit Para is much more consistent.

    I find it just bizarre that back when TokyoPop did fairly well with it (can’t believe it’s out of print), and were translating so many Ribon titles like Marmalade Boy and Kodocha, they didn’t pick up its semi prequel, Gokinjo Monogatori. Aimed younger than ParaKiss, it’s still a remarkably mature and strong work (I’ve since managed to read it in French), with a good anime adaptation too.

    In fact I’m a bit surprised, with Nana’s success, and the fact it’s indefinitely on hold, that Viz hasn’t picked it, or another Ai Yazawa title up. (Her first big hit, Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai is a lot of fun, and exists in the same “universe” as Gokinjo and ParaKiss with its characters getting mentions and cameos in both). Yazawa is pretty massive in the manga community in France, and I’ve recently read the French edition of Kagen no Tsuki which is another near perfect, shorter title.

    • JennyN says:

      Eric – have you ever come across SAKURAGAMI, one of Watase’s latest? Three volumes in French translation so far, and quite unlike anything else she’s ever done. For one thing it’s straight-out yaoi, and for another it has a historical rather than fantasy setting – Japan immediately after WWI i.e. the Taisho period which is also the setting for the “real-world” episodes of FUSHIGI YUGI LEGEND OF GEMBU. (I’d guess that this is something of a personal fascination for Watase, just as 19th-century Germany and Austria seem to be for Yuu Higuri). Agree with you about KAGEN NO TSUKI – I can’t think why a US publisher hasn’t picked it up already.
      ps: did you hang out at Technogirls at one time? I seem to remember your name from lively discussions of shoujo manga and anime there!

      • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

        Hey! As I just commented on in the new blog post by David–no, I had no idea about Sakuragami, but it’s already gone to the top of my list. Thanks for bringing it to my (our?) attention. I admit, I’d kinda stopped checking out Watase’s stuff regularly, so I may have read the title, but ignored it.

        And yep! I was a member of Techno-Girls right from the start, I believe. Their fansubs of OniisamaE’s anime were like a haven for me as a somewhat depressed teenager. I think I’m actually still a member of their saclist mailing list, but there doesn’t seem to be much going on. But the list definitely helped me find out about many of the classic shoujo titles I most love now.

        It’s great to see a fellow member here!

  4. […] doing a Friday piece rounding up feedback from last week’s call-out for Kodansha requests, but a comment from JennyN (or “the French Connection,” as I like to think of her) has put that on hold: “Three volumes […]

  5. Jade Harris says:

    I feel a little bad giving Kimi no Todoke grief since I’m comparing it to a book I read back when I read scans, but Angel Densetsu by Norihiro Yagi is pretty much the same story done a lot better. I did like the first volume Kimi no Todoke somewhat though so I think I’ll give the next volume a chance. It’s just hard to read without seeing direct lines to Yagi’s series and specific choices to water the content down. Oawah, I wish someone would print Angel Densetsu, that was seriously funny stuff.

    Otherwise, this is a ridiculously solid list.

    • davidpwelsh says:

      The beauty of this, at least for me, is that I can enjoy Kimi ni Todoke with no unfavorable comparisons, keep my fingers crossed that someone licenses Angel Densetsu in the future, and delight in the fact that it’s even better if someone does publish it. It’s kind of like seeing the movie before reading the book.

      • Jade Harris says:

        I do still want to give Kimi ni Todoke another volume since you dig it so much and your tastes are impeccable. Things did seem a bit like they were only on the verge of getting rolling in the first volume so I’m thinking it might grow into its own identity a little further on. I was really interested in the cliffhanger with the friends too.

  6. Redhead says:

    Oh, Paradise Kiss is my favorite manga ever!!! I had a helluva time getting the volumes, ended up getting a few off Abe Books. some were the Canadian translations, and the George jokes just aren’t the same. Ai Yazawa can do no wrong!

    • Eric Henwood-Geer says:

      Wha wha wha?? There are seperate Canadian translations? In English? Who from? This is the first I’ve ever heard about this (but I admit I buy nearly all my manga online now, haven’t browsed the local comic shop in years–though back in the day that’s how I got all of the TokyoPop editions–I remember being annoyed because my first copy of one of the volumes had randomly one page from some other completely different manga replacing the proper page).

      • Redhead says:

        Yes! I first got Paradise Kiss from the library then purchased it peicemeal through ABE, and I noticed in the Canadian editions that I got through ABE, some of the slang is different (“get your hand off my ass” becomes “get your hand off my bum), some of Arashi’s language is cleaned up and my favorite George line “I’m equal opportunity” is changed to something a little sillier.

        TokyoPop has this bad habit of doing a zillion different versions of something, then poof! six months later it’s all out of print. not cool TokyoPop, not cool!!

  7. Eric Henwood-Geer says:

    How do you know it’s a Canadian edition? I know Viz and TP do much of their actual printing in Canada regardless. I know TP did do a second run of ParaKiss (everywhere, not just Canada) with those different covers–not the ones that resemble the Japanese originals and I prefer–and their were changes made to those. Just curious–what’re the covers like?

    I was glad when Viz proved they were committed to one of my all time faves, Banana Fish, and even went back and redid their old flipped editions unflipped. But they also censored the language–some swears and slang that felt perfectly in fitting with the material were cleaned up.

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