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Potluck [Manga Talk]

Not exactly a proper [Manga Talk] here, but thought I’d just come in for one last time before the end of year…. AND to show off some of the titles I have read thus far (neh nehhh ne-neh nehhhh~ XD)

Note: Apologies in advance for the poor quality of images – scanner out of order and no intention/ motivation to invest in a replacement yet….

Not sure if this counts as one of OSHIMA’s signiture styles, but I noticed the mangaka has the tendency to employ (occassionally) long and narrow panels in her depictions which, I suppose would help to enhance the mood of a scene. For example:
20121224-221239.jpg Ichigo Monogatari (いちご物語)

…. as opposed to what I often found in other shoujo manga where vertical panels were regularly used with overlappsed images, either to give a sense of flashbacks (see example below), a passage of time, or other time-spatial purposes:
20121224-124753.jpg Hoshi ni Kodoku Ki (星にとどく樹) by SHIBATA Ayako

On top of my head, the other time I saw narrow vertical panels being used was TABUCHI Yumiko’s Furansu Mado Dayori (フランス窓便り):

I am still pondering if these panels deliver the same kind of effect (as they did in Ichigo Monogatari) , and whether or not these kinds of long narrow vertical panels, and how, are still being used in the current (mainstream) shoujo manga…… What do you think? Can you think of any other example where these “stripes” are used? Please do tell : )

Speaking of panels, there are zillions of “manga guide books” available which give in-depth descriptions on the effects, rules and techniques of using panels, etc. But interestingly, what I found special in some shoujo manga is when it completely defies the rules of thumb of panelling, for example in Shounen wa Kouya wo Mezasu (少年は荒野をめざす) by YOSHINO Sakumi, in which its sentimental narrative was made even more apparent and powerful:

Example 1:
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Left: In one scene, two persons were sitting in a cafe chatting about the other two characters
Right: Turn next page a double-sided “poster” shot of the two characters, i.e. the subject of discussion… and then the cafe scene resumes again in the following page.

Example 2:
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Above (from left to right): The pair straying in a starry night; (heroine’s) desciptive narrative about the moonlight and the stars which she felt as if she could almost touch with her figertips (….” running beneath the light of the bright starry sky, our soft skins reflect the moonlight and our shadows chasing after….“); a double-sided page of the starry night as background, with the two characters appear to be playing happily on one side and a narrative box on another side; next page, another double-sided page of the starry night as background and nothing else. The story moves on to another scene on next page.

Example 3:
20121224-202830.jpg 20121224-202845.jpg 20121224-202850.jpg 20121224-202855.jpg

20121224-202859.jpg Above left to right: The pair decided to commit joint suicides by jumping before the train. First scene – railway track; approaching train and announcement; next, two double-sided pages with a blank background to focus on the sequence of the characters’ actions, i.e. jumping off (the passanger platform); next (right) is another blank page to “conclude” the action, and then the story moves on to the next scene in the following page – at this point, we don’t know what’s happened to the characters yet……

In short, what a sensational story writer AND manga artist YOSHINO Sakumi is!

NB. For those who are interested, visit here for more on panelling, pacing and layout in manga – good stuff there.

Think about it – What would shoujo manga these days be like without the blessings of taboo topics?!
But there are many times when I wish the publishers/ mangakas could stop overdoing it, namely the brother-sister-incestous theme which could either look literary if nicely done or failing so, a cheap soapie drama instead….

20121224-133124.jpg Completed in 2 volumes, Hoshi ni Kodoku Ki (星にとどく樹) offers a mild melodrama containing the brother-sister-incestous interest which I felt was used as a tool to demonstrate the feelings and emotions of those young adults coming of age, as opposed to being a typical romance plot-device. Having said that, I guess others can also argue it differently as it being a shoujo manga that was published in a time (1980) when such incestous-theme would normally be masked or toned down……?

Anyway, regardless of how you look at it, the artwork in Hoshi ni Kodoku Ki is undeniably beautiful, which I personally think is (vaguely) similar to that of YAMAMOTO Sumika and IKEDA Riyoko.

OTANI Hiroko
Not so long ago, one of my teenage cousins said to me that, after reading Love So Life by KOUCHI Kaede, she was inspired to work in a nursery to help taking care of those adorable children….. I lent her my copy of Akariiro no Douwa (灯色の童話) by OTANI Hiroko to see if that would change her mind.

20121224-153727.jpg For those who are familiar with OTANI’s works would know that the mangaka has produced a number of josei series about famililes, housewives/ working mothers raising their children, etc. Akariiro no Douwa is one of her earlier josei-themed shoujo (hmmm… if it makes sense?) with the herorine raised and worked in a family-owned child-care, in where she would come across and learn how to deal with those children of various behaviours – some adorable, some monkey-devils; some introverted, some hyperactive…. Akariiro no Douwa shows how their behaviours and psychologies were affected by their families with issues of divorce, single parenting, as well as children who were bereaved or abandoned by their biological parents…..

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Above (from left to right): one of my favourite chapter in which the little devil was being a bully to everyone at the nursery …. Was the little girl just trying to get attention? As it turns out, she was raised by a single father who likes to flirt with any prettty woman on earth (yes, the heroine included) however paying far less attention to his little daughter…. The funniest and sweetest part when the girl was protecting her caretaker from being “attacked” by a strange-looking man (who was in fact the heroine’s boy-friend trying to kiss his sweetheart at what he thought was a romantic moment!) Lol.

20121224-152446.jpg 20121224-153716.jpg Both Akariiro no Douwa (left) and Love So Life (right) share a similarity in the storyline: the heroine was an assistant in a nursery where she encountered the male protogonist who was rushing to drop his nephew (and neice) at the nursey….. whilst Love So Life is more rooted to a romantic theme (and its kawaiiness being “exploited”), Akariiro no Douwa offers more realistic slice-of-life elements in terms of children-parents interactions.

Digress: On top of my head, MIHARA Jun’s Hamidashikko (はみだしっ子) is another shoujo manag that is famously known for its child-psychology theme. However, in contrast to the above two which I found one being candy-flossily sweet and the other simply heartwarming, Hamidashikko offers a much darker plot about four orphanaged children whose psychologies were deeply affected in different ways, and how they eventually either overcame or surrendered to the shadows of being the abandoned…..

It has taken me more than two years to finally decide picking up this series again… Whilst I had no problem reading Kaze to Ki no Uta, I faced a huge problem trying to read/ watch a story such as Hamidashikko with juveniles being abused, regardless of its literary quality!…. I guess in a way, it goes to show the magic of shounen-ai created by the ever fantastic TAKEMIYA Keiko/ Year 24 Group. 🙂

Many more to cover in so little time….. Looks like I’ll have to leave it till 2013. : )


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