I have been buying a lot of doujinshi these last few weeks. I don’t usually buy so much doujinshi, mostly because I always forget about the many doujin events that happen here in the big city and I can never find anything that I want when I go to the bookstores. But this year, I have been to not one, but two doujin events! And the bookstores have been offering up unexpected goodies. It’s a doujin miracle!
Some of the unexpected goodies are by artists I know and love, and some are by random artists that I came across at Comitia (which hosted the Kaigai Manga Festa where I was the OFFICIAL INTERPRETER for TCAF) or J-Garden (which is incredibly weird, limited to JUNE parody works or original BL stories. On a sad side note, Takako Shimura was apparently there, but we missed her.). So I figured why not divide them up along those lines? Here then, is the first official doujinshi round-up: the random stuff. And it is very random.
The most random and the winner of all the gold stars in the world is Mahoshojo Musashi (Magical Girl Musashi) by 387. Musashi is a 35-year-old, chain-smoking high-school janitor and magical girl. Yes, it is exactly as wonderful as it sounds. And thankfully, the book I picked up collects several stories in Musashi’s magical journey, so it is chockfull of magical girl/man madness. The transformation scenes alone are worth the price I paid for this one.
A little dog-like creature in glasses comes from another world to try and defeat an evil witch who has fled to our world. He tries to get an actual girl to be the magical girl he needs for victory, but she reacts like any sane high-school girl would. She tells the talking dog she’s not risking her life fighting some undefined evil unless she gets paid. Then she stomps him into the ground, which is when Musashi finds him and accidentally picks up the “Brilliant Wheel” that transforms him into “Clarity Pink”. (I seriously can’t even type this without cracking up.) Musashi squatting down in his petticoats and bows, lighting a cigarette and demanding in the most guttural Japanese an explanation from the dog, is such a perfect moment, and the book is filled with many such moments, playing up the ridiculous contrast between the magical girl style and manly man Musashi.
He is not the only manly magical girl, however. He’s later joined by Clarity Blue and Clarity Green, and the author notes plans to introduce three more magical girl-men. I will read those stories too. The author even includes opening and ending theme song lyrics, as if Musashi were an anime. The lyrics too are classic. What makes Musashi work so well is the author’s thorough grasp of the world of magical girls and her (? assuming it is a woman) careful jabs at those tropes. The art is well done and the author has clearly put a lot of effort into it, with great panelling and pacing, but there are issues with proportions and neck wonkiness, especially in the earlier stories. But this is one that I am reading for the sheer wonderful delight of the story itself. I hope the art continues to improve and some major publisher picks this up for reworking and republishing. Everyone should know the wonder of Magical Girl Musashi.
Clearly, nothing else I picked up can even come close to usurping Musashi’s position as the best thing ever. But I did get some other pretty great stuff, like Warau Kingyo (Motomoto Motoko/Kitosu), the story of a young woman who always goes along with what she’s supposed to do, until her goldfish dies and she discovers a gaping hole in her stomach that the goldfish was filling up. She goes off to get another goldfish to fill the hole and then things get really weird. I love the soft, rounded characters and the fluid motion she manages to get into every panel. She also uses some really interesting and unusual angles in her panels and overlaps things for unexpected juxtapositions.
Another fun one art-wise is Rita-Jay’s Friends of Fantasy ABC (Rita-Jay). I’m generally not interested in the whole ABC-ing thing, but the old-school look of this one drew my eye. And it’s bilingual, with the most adorable captions for each letter. Like “Nymph attracts men with her beauty. Even a diligent man with a Newspaper.” I could not resist its sweet appeal.
And of course, I got not one, but three books starring glasses. Because when you are at a BL doujin event, you are going to come across a lot of great stuff with glasses. The one I could most easily see being published in a mainstream BL magazine is Majimena Otoko (Hino), which is not surprising since the author has apparently had a couple stories published in B-Boy Cube.
The art is well done, the story is sweet and full of blushes and first kisses, and the master of the gay bar where the protagonists meet is hilarious. Egao no Moto (Jyanome) is very reminiscent of Asumiko Nakamura’s work, with the long, lanky bodies and angular faces, telling the story of a young odd couple who come out to the world. Megane Danshi (Glasses Men) (HotCairo) has got the glasses of the title covered, both art and story-wise, since both of the short stories in the book center on wearing glasses. But the second story feels deeply unfinished and a note from the artist at the end tells how she scrambled to get the book together in time for the event.
But perhaps you are wondering where the animal ears are in all of this. After all, I did go to a BL doujin event and animal ears are de rigeur. Never fear, Boku no Yagi-san (ZMH/Yuine) has got you covered! In the most adorable way! For some reason, I have issues 1 and 3. I’m not sure how that happened, but it didn’t really affect the reading experience, since the stories are fairly episodic. After the mother of twin lambs in a zoo dies, the zookeepers put the twins with the old goat and the twins latch onto the goat. They are all depicted as human with the ears and the horns of their animal selves, for the most part, but are also shown as their actual animal selves when the zookeepers come round or when they fight (as the twins do in every single story). It’s sweet and funny and so, so cute. And the panels of the twins running along as little kids holding hands, floppy ears and tiny horns on their heads, just melt me.
More doujinshi coming up when we get to the people I have heard of edition! Exciting!