The Josei Alphabet: O

“O” is for…

Ohimesama no Yurikago, written and illustrated by Emiko Yachi, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Young You, three volumes. After her father passes away, outspoken Chizu is dragged from her home in Las Vegas to live with family in Japan. Will she adjust?

Oishii Kankei, written and illustrated by Satoru Makimura, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Young You, 16 volumes. When her wealthy family falls on hard times, Momoe takes a job in a French restaurant and enters into a contentious relationship with gifted shelf chef Oda.

Otoko no Isshou, written and illustrated by Keiko Nishi, currently serialized in Shogakukan’s Flowers. You know I can resist a book that’s been nominated for a Manga Taisho Award. Way back in the day, Viz published some of Nishi’s manga – Love Song and two of the Four Shôjo Stories. This one’s about a relationship between a younger woman and an older man.

Otona no Yuru no Otogibanshi, written and illustrated by Megumi Toda, originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Petit Comic, one volume. It’s been too long since I’ve included a title simply because it included “Smut” as one of its genre search options. In this case, a marriage-minded office lady loses her prime husband candidate to a friend, gets drunk, and winds up in bed with a younger man of seemingly limited prospects.

Oujisama to Waltz wo, written and illustrated by Chisato Nakamura, based on a novel by Nicole Burnham, originally published by Ohzora Shuppan, one volume. I’m so taken with this first sentence of the plot synopsis: “Jennifer Allen had come to save refugees, not to be swept away by some pampered, fairy-tale prince of neighboring San Rimini.” I’m reasonably certain she’ll find a way to make time for both. But seriously, don’t you hate that? You just want to dig irrigation ditches, but you keep getting wooed.

Licensed josei:

  • An Officer and a Princess, written and illustrated by Megumi Toda, based on a novel by Carla Cassidy, originally published by Harlequinsha, published in English by eManga, one volume.
  • One Summer in Italy, written and illustrated by Nanami Akino, based on a novel by Lucy Gordon, originally published by Harlequinsha, published in English by eManga, one volume.
  • Only By Chance, written and illustrated by Chieko Hara, based on a novel by Betty Neels, originally published by Harlequinsha, published in English by eManga, one volume.
  • Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, written and illustrated by Fumi Yoshinaga, currently serialized in Hakusensha’s Melody, published in English by Viz.
  • Object of Desire, written and illustrated by Tomoko Noguchi, originally published by Ohzora Shuppan, published in English by LuvLuv, one volume.

What starts with “O” in your josei alphabet?

Reader recommendations and reminders:

  • Olimpos, written and illustrated by Aki, originally serialized in Ichijinsha’s Comic Zero-Sum and Zero-Sum Ward, two volumes.

Six to grow on

Viz has certainly delivered some beloved manga to English-reading audiences in their almost-25-year history, haven’t they? Yesterday’s discussion has certainly reinforced that belief. So, by all means, let us extend warm and gracious thanks for the seinen, the shônen, the shôjo, the josei, the fifth genre, and so on!

And yet…

It would not be Friday if I didn’t at least obliquely express a little dissatisfaction with what’s on our shelves, and Viz co-owners Shueisha and Shogakukan certainly aren’t exempt in terms of onus for rectifying perceived shortcomings. So, instead of adding a new, unlicensed title to the pile, I’ll offer a polite but firm reminder of some of the titles these two publishing giants might consider sending through the Viz pipeline.

Bartender, written by Akari Joh and Illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo, currently serialized in Shueisha’s Super Jump. While I hope Vertical’s release of wine epic Drops of God succeeds for its own sake, I hope one of the side effects is that it helps create a market for intoxicant-driven manga like this one. Sure, it’s great to enjoy a cocktail while reading manga, but it would be even better to enjoy a cocktail while reading manga that’s about cocktails.

The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese, written and illustrated by Setona Mizushiro, originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Judy. If you’re looking for someone who can explain to you why there isn’t more Mizushiro manga available in English, you can just keep on looking, because I am not even remotely equipped to do so. It’s honestly hard to pick just one of Mizushiro’s yet-to-be-licensed works, but I settled on this one to add a little boys’-love spice to the mix.

Gokusen, written and illustrated by Kozueko Morimoto, originally serialized in Shueisha’s You. If assembling The Josei Alphabet has led me to no other conclusion, it’s further convinced me that we need more josei in English. By all accounts, this tale of a math teacher trying to get the delinquents at her all-boys’ school on the right path, is funny and sprightly and could certainly reach a fairly diverse audience.

Hime-Chan’s Ribbon, written and illustrated by Megumi Mizusawa, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Ribon. There are almost certainly more important shôjo titles in both Shogakukan and Shueisha’s catalogs that are crying out for licensing, but this one sounds really adorable, and its accessory-driven storytelling might both catch and support the wave that I hope is created by the re-release of Sailor Moon.

Otherworld Barbara, written and illustrated by Moto Hagio, originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Flowers. I give Viz all the credit in the world for being the first stateside publisher to introduce Hagio’s work to readers, but what have they done for us lately? It’s been a long time since Fantagraphics released A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, and I need a new Hagio fix. This award-winning, four-volume series would do the trick.

Witches, written and illustrated by Daisuke Igarashi, originally serialized in Shogakukan’s IKKI. I love Viz’s SigIKKI initiative, but they desperately need to add another substantial, ongoing series to their roster, and I would love it if that series was Witches, because I can star at Igarashi’s illustrations for hours.

So there are my top six Viz-friendly license requests of the moment. What about you? What Shueisha or Shogakukan titles top your wish lists?


My Viz 25

Viz is celebrating will celebrate its 25th anniversary this summer, which is quite an accomplishment. Given how many English-language manga publishers have fallen away over time, you have to give Viz credit for sticking around, no matter how well resourced they may be. They’ve always struck me as grown-ups and professionals, which certainly helps. Beyond that, I appreciate the range of material they’ve published over time and that they continue to try and publish.

So, in preparation for the milestone, I thought I’d list 25 of my favorite Viz manga. It’s impressive that it was actually difficult to limit this list to 25, and I ended up having to institute a one-title-per-creator rule to make it possible. Here they are in alphabetical order:

  1. 20th Century Boys, written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa: my favorite of Urasawa’s paranoid thriller, because it’s as frisky and funny as it is suspenseful.
  2. A, A1, written and illustrated by Moto Hagio: dreamy science fiction about people with too many feelings for the universe to contain.
  3. Benkei in New York, written by Jinpachi Mori, illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi: beautifully drawn (because it’s Taniguchi) and slyly written noir tales of a mysterious Japanese man in the Big Apple.
  4. Children of the Sea, written and illustrated by Daisuke Igarashi: some of the most viscerally absorbing art I’ve ever seen in a comic used to tell a solid environmental fable.
  5. Cross Game, written and illustrated by Mitsuru Adachi: simply the bet, funniest, most heartfelt sport manga I’ve ever read.
  6. The Drifting Classroom, written and illustrated by Kazuo Umezu: an elementary school gets blown into a dangerous wasteland, and everything falls apart in the most gruesome, hilarious ways.
  7. Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, written and illustrated by Koji Aihara and Kentaro Takekuma: much more than a parody of instruction manuals, it’s a hilarious take-down of the form itself and the sausage-factory elements that can produce it.
  8. Fullmetal Alchemist, written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa: a great shônen adventure series with some of the crispest, most focused storytelling you’re likely to find in this category.
  9. GoGo Monster, written and illustrated by Taiyo Matsumoto: gorgeous art used in service of an imaginative, emotionally complex story, beautifully packaged for bonus points.
  10. Hikaru no Go, written by Yumi Hotta, illustrated by Takeshi Obata: the series that will make you ask how a comic about a board game can be so exciting.
  11. Honey and Clover, written and illustrated by Chica Umino: art-school students give a master class in mono no aware.
  12. House of Five Leaves, written and illustrated by Natsume Ono: elegant, character-driven examination of a group of kidnappers in Edo era Japan.
  13. I’ll Give it My All… Tomorrow, written and illustrated by Shunju Aono: one of the few comics about losers trying to make comics that I can truly love, because Aono knows he’s writing about a loser and spares his protagonist virtually nothing.
  14. Maison Ikkoku, written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi: further evidence, as if it was needed, that Takahashi is queen of the well-told situation comedy.
  15. Nana, written and illustrated by Ai Yazawa: the lives and love of two very different young women who share the same name and an enduring friendship through life’s ups and downs in rock-and-roll Tokyo.
  16. Oishinbo, written by Tetu Karia, illustrated by Akira Hanasaki: gone too soon, but much appreciated for its food-obsessed tour through Japan’s culinary culture.
  17. One Piece, written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda: an absolutely magical blend of high adventure, low comedy, heartbreaking drama, and whatever the hell else Oda feels like throwing into the mix.
  18. Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, written and illustrated by Fumi Yoshinaga: an engrossing alternate universe where most of the men have died, leaving the survivor to sly, courtly intrigue and surprising emotional brutality.
  19. Phoenix, written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka: a sprawling example of Tezuka at his peak.
  20. Real, written and illustrated by Takehiko Inoue: as smart and sensitive as it is gorgeous and visceral, telling the stories of wheelchair basketball players.
  21. Sand Chronicles, written and illustrated by Hinako Ashihara: heartfelt melodrama about a girl’s troubled journey from early adolescence to womanhood.
  22. Saturn Apartments, written and illustrated by Hisae Iwaoka: another example of why I love slice-of-life science fiction with down-to-earth people in out-of-this-world circumstances.
  23. Secret Comics Japan, written and illustrated by various artists: long before Ax came this wooly and marvelous collection of alternative manga shorts.
  24. Sexy Voice and Robo, written and illustrated by Iou Kuroda: a nosy girl drags a hapless guy into her sometimes-perilous odd jobs snooping for a retired mobster, offering great variety of tones but consistently sharp observations about human nature.
  25. Uzumaki, written and illustrated by Junji Ito: because you always love your first Ito manga best, and this one is an excellent representation of his horrifying work. Of course, if Viz had published Tomie first…

What are your favorite Viz series? If you’d rather post a similar list at your own blog, I’d love to read it (and link to it). Otherwise, let loose in the comments.