YOSHIMURA Akemi (吉村明美)
Description: ‘Kirinkan’ is the name of an accommodation hall mainly occupied by the university students, and of which Tae was the manager. One night, Tae encountered Kikuko, a young woman who escaped from her abusive husband. Tae let Kikuko stayed at the Kirinkan, but was shocked as Kikuko’s husband turned out to be Usami, the person whom she had a big crush on not that long ago! Initially Tae was jealous and envious of Kikuko for being Usami’s wife. But after spending some time with Kikuko at Kirinkan, a friendship developed. Tae also began to realise that the true Usami was not exactly whom she has pictured in her heart in all those years! Meanwhile, Tae wanted to pursue her dream as an interior designer. She landed herself a full time job as an architect assistant but it was only later, that she found out the director of the firm she has just joined, was none other but the wicked Usami! Should Tae stay on with the job, in to order to pursue her dream? Or should she resign, so that she would not see that wicked man’s face ever again.
Tae would never betray Kikuko, the young woman who has reminded her so much of her long lost litter sister, and whom she has vowed to protect from the abusing husband. Nonetheless, her heart still longed for Usami deep down and she could not control it. Tae knew it was only a matter of time, before she would fall pathetically in love with Usami again and be hurt him….
To many people, including his parents, Usami was a perfect husband and a perfect son – a successful architect with charisma, who would defend his wife if she “failed her housewife duties” according to her in-laws…… No wonder everyone turned against Kikuko when she ran away from “a perfect home and a perfect husband”.
But Usami was not what he seemed. First of all, he did not marry Kikuo for love, unlike what he has led everyone to believe. Kikuko was born illegitimate and was constantly being bullied at home. she grew up lacking confidence and independence. Usami saw her weakness and picked her as his bride, simply because she seemed an easy type, i.e. someone he could bully, and most of all, someone who would obey his order regardless.
In any way, Usami is probably the worst and the most deceiving male protagonist in the shoujo manga history – what kind of a shoujo-husband was that, beating and abusing his wife?!
(So, darn me for liking Usami and wishing he would still end up being together with Tae.. especially after Usami apologised to Kikuko, finally, for what he did. He was sad for hurting Tae and losing their baby. Eventually, he decided to leave Japan and live in the Scandinavia alone… But note: he was sad, but not to the point of despair or miserable or anything like that….. Usami really did not deserve Tae……….!)
The million dollar question of this series: ==> Would the girls forgive him in the end? : )
I am in love with KG (Kirinkan Graffiti), and this is more than me saying “I am lured in by by the series”….
In KG, there was hardly any complicating twist or over-the-top drama; the focus was about developing the 4 main characters and their interactions in the series:
Kikuko: Through her friendship with Tae, Kikuko has transformed herself from a timid little lady to a confident and attractive young woman. Just as Tae has protected her, when Usami hurt Tae, she confronted him at his home and on her own; Kikuko would not dare to do such thing in the past. Her romance with Misao has made her a stronger woman too, especially after Misao was injured after an accident involving Usami… (tsk tsk~~ Usami Usami!!~~)
Tae: She made herself appeared as a strong woman in front of the others – whilst being the only female assistant in office where she has to stood against those constant bullying and harassment (thanks to Usami!), she was also “the ferocious manager” of Kirinkan as well as Kikuko’s “protector”! But when her feelings for Usami were touched, Tae became a weaker woman.
Usami: He chose Kikuko as his bride not because of love. Usami enjoyed demonstrating his power and strength over anyone weaker than him. but when Tae stood against him, he was surprised by her, and that she would not be defeated by him anyhow. Usami did not believe in Tae when she finally confessed her feelings for him. He refused to believe so, for she knew exactly what kind of a person he was. Eventually, Tae changed his perspective on women and Kikuko particularly….
Misao: A university post-graduate who fell in love miserably with Kikuko, a married woman who was few years older than him. Misao tried his very best to win Kikuko’s heart. However, as Kikuko was deeply bruised by the current marriage, being romantically involved with another man was never in her mind. Could he help Kikuko in obtaining a divorce? Most of all, would Misao be able to compete against Usami, if he was to marry Kikuko and protect in future?
Overall, the story of KG itself is simple and easy to follow – this is just how I’d like a shoujo manga. Despite of the simplicity in the storyline, there was a strong momentum in to each new chapter as the characters (and their interactions) were gradually being built up. What’s more, the story of KG (especially its extra stories) always touches my heart….. A must read! : )
*Characters: Tae (妙), Kikuko (菊子), Usami (宇佐美), HINO Misao (火野美棹)
About 番外編 (Extra Stories):
PS. In addition to the 13 volumes (complete), Kirinkan Graffiti Bangaihen (Graffiti at the Kirin House Special) was published as a collection of extra stories to the original KG series.
One of the extra stories (麒麟館グラン・マ) was about Tae’s little sister:
Tae lost her real father a long time ago. Her mother has a lover who was 11 years junior, and to whom Tae often addressed as the “junior papa”. The three of them lived happily like a normal family, until one day. Seeing himself as a failure and a burden to the family, “junior papa” left home one day. He did not know Tae’s mother was already carrying their child then….
The mother’s health became very fragile after the birth of Tae’s baby sister. Feeling sorry for the family, her neighbour has kindly suggested an adoption to them. But the mother refused.
Three years on and Tae turned 9. One night, after hearing the little one was taken away from home by the neighbour (for some reason which I can’t recall on top of my head now…) , the mother rushed home. Already over-exhausted and fragile, Tae’s mother passed away on her way home….
Tae has to give up the little sister eventually, following the death of her mother.
The junior papa returned home one day… but it was already too late. Tae has already lost it all – her mother and her little sister. In rage, she ran to the man and screamed out her hatred at him…. it was all his faults, for returning home far too late!
Another two years passed, “junior papa” took Tae to see her little sister at kindergarten. The little one still remembered Tae and ran to her as soon as she spotted Tae. “Junior papa” also got to see his child finally….. (…a touching scene.. sob~~)
Many years later, Tae’s sister was getting married. Both Tae and “junior papa” were invited to the wedding. The story ended as the sister smiled and was happy to see both, and the only, blood-related relatives were present on the happiest day of her life…. (too touching…. big SOB~)
Digress: A friend of mine argued that Kirinkan Graffiti is a josei, and so are the other mangas also illustrated by YOSHIMURA Akemi.
“My friend,” I said, “I have never doubted about its target audience….” But like Matt Thorn has said in his blog, “For most Japanese below the age of fifty, such categories as shôjo (“girls”) manga… require no definition or clarification. They are as plain as the nose on your face….. (Re. Josei) To those readers , such works are still shôjo manga, or else just plain manga.”
So there we have it~
– KG is a shoujo, or at least as far as my [Manga Talk] is concern : )