A Yumiko Ôshima sampler

This week’s radio programming has me curious about the work of a relatively unknown-to-me member of the Year 24 Group, Yumiko Ôshima, so let’s take a look at some of her works!

It seems like her best-known is The Star of Cottonland, which ran for seven volumes in Hakusensha’s LaLa. It’s about a kitten who falls in love with the human who cares for her and assumes that she’ll grow up into a human at some point so they can be together. When this dream is derailed, she hears of Cottonland, a place where dreams come true, and she sets off to find it. It’s credited with popularizing the cat-girl aesthetic (the kitten is rendered as a human with cat-ears), and it won the Kodansha Award. It was also adapted into an animated motion picture. My limited experience with manga pets falling in love with their owners has left me a bit unenthusiastic about that particular trope, but it’s a classic, and it’s from a Year 24 Group member, so I must support its eventual publication in English and hope for the best.

The title alone is enough to make me want someone to publish Banana Bread no Pudding, which ran for one volume in Shueisha’s Monthly Seventeen. Who doesn’t like banana bread? And pudding? This one’s about a young woman who feels adrift as her beloved older sister plans to marry. The younger sister becomes involved with an older, closeted gay man. I don’t need to tell you that this isn’t the solution for anything, except possibly a deportation threat, but I’d still read about it.

Ôshima seems to pack a lot into one volume with Tanjou!, which ran in Shueisha’s Margaret. A high-school girl gets pregnant to escape her strict home life, which (and I cannot stress this enough) isn’t the solution for anything, but props to Ôshima for addressing it way back in 1970. The pregnancy ends up being the least of the girl’s woes, or it at least seems to trigger a whole bunch of new woes, which is certainly more realistic than Teen Mom seems to be.

We’re back to cats, though in a vastly different context, with Guuguu Datte Neko de Aru, an autobiographical series that’s running in Kadokawa Shoten’s Hon no Tabibito. It’s about the loss of Ôshima’s beloved cat, subsequent writers block and illness, and the healing power of the new kitten she welcomes into her life. I think I must have something in my eye. Excuse me.