In the manga REAL, Takehiko Inoue uses three similarly aged young men—Tomomi Nomiya, Togawa Kiyoharu, and Hisonobu Takahashi—to portray different aspects of physical disability. In using the perspectives of an able-bodied survivor, someone who has been disabled for a number of years, and someone who is faced with becoming disabled, Inoue captures many of the complexities and stigmas of physical disability. By looking at these characters and their interplay, we can delve further into some of the ways Real succeeds and fails at portraying disability.
Since her debut over 20 years ago with I.O.N., Arina Tanemura’s name has been synonymous with shojo manga. Her work, published primarily in Ribon magazine, is known for its elaborate linework and use of magical girls and idol singers. Her stories often touch on more mature themes such as mortality and trauma, while still remaining appealing and accessible to younger audiences. Two of these series, Phantom Thief Jeanne and Full Moon O Sagashite, have been adapted into anime.
Although The Ancient Magus’ Bride is serialized in a shounen magazine in Japan, it bears a lot of parallels to the supernatural romance fantasies you commonly see in shoujo, particularly in its focus on the emotional life and development of the young female protagonist.
I was in middle school when I first got ahold of Volume 1 of Masumi Tsuda’s Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, often shortened to Kare Kano and released in English as His and Her Circumstances (or Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances for the manga). The award-winning series details the lives of two outwardly “perfect” honor students, Yukino Miyazawa and Soichiro Arima, as they accidentally uncover one another’s imperfections, fall in love, and agree to be true to themselves.
When I read Ranma ½ during my first year of high school, I fell in love with Rumiko Takahashi’s signature expressive art. I loved her colorful cast just as much, always getting caught up in over-the-top situations. Like many people, I remember it fondly. Yet the older I get, the harder it is to ignore some of the most problematic aspects of the series, especially how it deals with femininity.
At first glance, A Certain Marriage by Ruri Kumashika is an attractive addition to the expanding collection of LGBT-oriented comics coming out of Japan. It tells the story of Saki Honjo, a Japanese woman who moved to Los Angeles to join her high school girlfriend Anna Abel, and their journey toward marriage. A bitter-sweet story, A Certain Marriage delves into the beauty of gay relationships and the discrimination LGBT people experience. The story, however, ultimately fails to delve into the challenges queer immigrants from Japan face living in America.
Ahh, Osamu Tezuka, the Godfather of Manga. Even if you haven’t read his work, you know he’s had a lasting impact on Japanese animation and comics. But Tezuka isn’t the only person who’s influenced the creation and development of these art forms. If there’s a Godfather of Manga, does that mean there’s a Godmother of Manga, too? There is, in fact—although she’s usually referred to as the “Grandmother of Manga” instead. Her name is Machiko Hasegawa, and she’s profoundly influenced animation and manga with her most popular work, The Wonderful World of Sazae-san.
Kaze Hikaru is an exciting historical manga set in 1860s Japan shortly before the Meiji Restoration. The series follows teenage heroine Sei, who disguises herself as a boy in order to become a bushi—a samurai or warrior. I recently discovered this long-running, under-the-radar manga and was quickly sucked in, inspired by Sei’s determination to choose her own path and prove she’s capable of a dangerous role that society said women were unfit to have. The fact that Sei both succeeds in this role and gains supportive allies implicitly conveys the narrative’s approval of her “unfeminine” lifestyle.
Skip Beat! is a manga series following Kyoko as she navigates the entertainment industry in Japan and builds a name for herself as an actress. By primarily telling events from Kyoko’s point of view, Skip Beat! has often conformed to the pattern of telling a “single story.” However, in Volumes 37 and 38, the manga’s perspective shifts in a big way, giving readers an unexpected glimpse of Kyoko’s mom Saena through her own eyes.
When this season started out, Clean Freak! Aoyama kun had a huge uphill battle to win my respect. I can count the number of sports anime that have really grabbed me on one hand, and even if that weren’t the case… well, look at the title. But it won me over. Aoyama-kun is good. And it’s stayed good, mostly due to the compassion it shows for its ever-expanding ensemble cast.
In April, 2005, I found myself in a cafe with a number of popular or soon-to-be-popular yuri manga artists for Yuricon 2005 in Tokyo. The interviewer asked me, “What is yuri? How do you define it?” I smiled and said, “Of course, anything I like is yuri.” Everyone laughed.
At times, josei manga seems to be divided between two extremes. At one end are the socially-conscious dramas that helped to define the genre, such as the works of Kyoko Okazaki and Moyoco Anno. At the other end are the smutty Harlequin-esque ladicomi that seem to make up the bulk of the genre (not to mention search results on many a digital manga site). Then there are josei manga like Izumi Miyazono’s Everyone’s Getting Married.
Let’s get something out of the way:I’m about to talk about some problematic stuff. Some of it is pornographic and graphically violent. So I’m flagging you all with this content warning. I’m going to be talking about issues with gender dysphoria, rape, and sexual harassment. Also, given the topic features characters who change their gender presentation throughout the story, I’ll be referring to each character as how they originally presented, unless they self-identify otherwise in the story after their transformation. This article also contains NSFW images. All right? Let’s go.
As a queer woman, I find that a lot of queer literature isn’t really made with my perspective in mind. Often times, it feels like most of the queer female media is made for men’s enjoyment and depicts unrealistic or frivolous relationships between women. When I found the manga Girl Friends, I was not only excited to see a yuri that seemed made for me; I also felt as though I related to the girls on a very intimate level because of the authenticity presented in their relationship. SPOILERS: Detailed discussion of the Girl Friends manga
Chihayafuru is one of my all-time favorite anime series, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when Kodansha announced they’d licensed the manga for an English-language digital release. While devouring the first volume, I once again fell in love with this endearing, intense, emotional rollercoaster of a sports series about three friends in the world of competitive karuta—and was also struck for the first time by how insightfully Chihaya’s childhood arc depicts the plight of the “tomboy.”
Sometimes wrenching but ultimately inspiring, Chihayafuru’s first volume quietly challenges traditional gender norms and offers the hope of a supportive community to anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t quite fit society’s gendered expectations of who they’re “supposed” to be.
There are more foreign-born manga artists active in Japan than you might think. You just may not notice some of them because they take on pennames that obscure their non-Japanese origins. For instance, “Minami Sakai,” whom Anime Feminist interviewed last year, is the penname of an American-born manga artist working in Tokyo, while “Yuu Kamiya” is the penname of the Brazilian-born manga artist and light novel author Thiago Furukawa Lucas.
Yuri manga is an entire genre of comics about girls and women falling in love. So why is it so often overlooked by queer and feminist fans? There are several common concerns, each valid in their own right. But for me, it fulfills a desire to see romance bloom between women in a way that few other mediums can provide.
For years, it was common knowledge amongst manga industry insiders and fans alike that josei manga—comics targeted at adult women—were simply too risky to license for English release. Sure, a number of publishers had tried to do so during the heyday of the 2000s manga boom, but their efforts were mostly met with middling sales and a lot of indifferent readers. The history of the genre in the U.S. is largely a depressing one, and for years it seemed as if josei was doomed to be one of the few manga demographics that would never find a foothold with English-speaking readers.
The year is 1976. Dashing and romantic art thief Dorian Red Gloria, codename Eroica, rescues the young supergenius psychic Caesar Gabriel (who is desperately in love with him, of course) from NATO. He’s pursued by the dogged agent Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach to the frozen edges of the earth, where the newfound rivals find themselves stranded and at a stalemate. Forced to bunker down together while waiting for rescue, Dorian realizes that he has far better chemistry with the prickly Major than his unspeakably bland love interest. And thus 40 years of unresolved sexual tension begins in earnest.