December 1, 2012
One hit wonders…in America (take two)
When I wrote my last list of great shojo manga authors who have only had one work brought to North America, I knew the list was incomplete. So many of my favorite authors have been largely ignored here that I trimmed my list, and thus I’ve decided to take a look at a few other artists whose catalogues remain mostly in Japan.
I didn’t think it was possible for me to love any series more than Kodocha or Nana until I read Boys Over Flowers. Kamio knows better than anyone how to create melodrama that’s not annoying to read, and most importantly, how to write a damn good love triangle. Many fans of hers would love to see 2004′s Cat Street licensed, a series about an actress who freezes up on stage and ends up enrolling in a school for “stray cats” – people who haven’t found their place or purpose yet. Like Boys Over Flowers before it, Cat Street was adapted into a live-action drama in 2008, proving that Kamio’s popularity is more than just a fad. As for me, I’m personally interested in Kamio’s later series Tora to Ookami, which is about a girl who ends up in a love triangle with two college boys, all while trying to save her family restaurant from ending up in the hands of a rich corporation! I doubt I’ll find any other couple in manga who I adore as much as Tsukushi and Tsukasa, but if anyone can do it, Kamio can.
Odds of it being licensed: 30 percent. I’ve seen numerous requests for Cat Street to be licensed, but sadly Viz seems to sitting on licenses of shojo series that aren’t fantasies or straight up romantic comedies.
Shinohara’s 28 volume series Red River is a wonderful epic in which a 15-year-old girl gets transported to ancient Anatolia. But so far, Red River is the only work out of Shinohara’s long manga career to make it to American shores. Shinohara is one of few shojo artists to have won the Shogakukan Manga Award more than once – her first win was in 1987 for Yami no Purple Eye, a series about a girl who begins turning into a leopard. Of all her series, however, I’m most interested in Ao no Fuin, a series about a high school girl who finds out she is the reincarnation of the demon queens Seiryu, and is falling in love with reincarnation of Byakko, the white tiger destined to kill her. I’ve really liked the legend of the Four Gods ever since I first encountered it in Fushigi Yugi, and I’m sure a tale of starcrossed lovers would be nothing but heartracing in Shinohara’s very capable hands.
Odds it’ll be licensed: 20 percent. At 11 volumes, Ao no Fuin‘s not ridiculously long, but it is considerably older than the majority of the manga being licensed today (the series started in 1991). And most importantly, Shinohara’s more mature approach to storytelling seems to be largely ignored by North American licensors, which is really a shame.
I consider High School Debut much better than it really should be. It’s an average romantic-comedy, yet it feels refreshing thanks to fun lead characters and decidely avoiding common shojo tropes. But what surprised me most about High School Debut was finding out that it’s author had been in the manga industry for quite some time. Along with Sensei!, a 20 volume shojo series featuring a student-teacher romance, I’ve heard good things about Aozora Yell, which features a girl who wants to join the baseball team’s band and play bass in the championships despite the fact that she’s no good at music. Kawahara has a way with comedy, and she’s good at writing determined, cheerful girls, which is enough to make me want to read more of her works.
Odds it’ll be licensed: 50 percent. Kawahara’s works are contemporary enough that I’d say they still have a chance at being licensed, especially since High School Debut is a fairly prominent title within the Shojo Beat lineup.
She’s technically a two-hit wonder since both Marmalade Boy and Ultramanic have been licensed in the States, but I still would love to read some of Yoshizumi’s many works that haven’t been brought here. I’ve always been curious about her older series Handsome na Kanojo, which is about a young girl who is aspiring to be an actress meeting and falling for a boy who wants to be a director. But upon researching her works, even her more recent series such as Chitose, Etc., seem very interesting. Chitose follows a girl from Okinawa who meets a boy from Tokyo. They hit it off and he even kisses her, but when she visits him in Tokyo she finds out he has a girlfriend! Yoshizumi is great at creating quintessential shojo drama and intriguing romance even out of clichéd situations, so I know that if more of her works were brought here I’d be in for a good time.
Odds it’ll be licensed: 35 percent. Yoshizumi’s been out of the limelight in America for awhile now, and while the chances of her older series being licensed are fairly slim, I’d still say her contemporary series like the still-running Chitose, Etc. have a shot of being picked up.
I’m sure there are even more authors whose works being unavailable in English makes me (among many others) groan. If there are any works you’d love to see licensed by authors you’re already familiar with, share your thoughts guys!