Shojo Manga no Uchu: Tosho no Ie (ed.)

If you’re a fan of classic shojo artists like Hagio Moto or Takemiya Keiko, you have noticed the science fiction works that dot their oeuvre, books like 11 Nin Iru! or Terra e. If you have dived a little deeper into the Year 24 Group to read artists like Yamagishi Ryoko and Oshima Yumiko (sadly unpublished in English), you’ve come across a lot more speculative manga and maybe wondered to yourself just what was in the water back in the seventies that got all these ladies drawing space ships and spirits. Because I would like to add it back to the water now and get some hot new science fiction from someone like Anno Moyoco. (Can you even imagine what that would look like??)

This is not to say that no manga artist is doing SFF these days. But the particular combination of shojo artist and speculative fiction seems to have fallen out of favour, to the detriment of both genres. The grand ideas and fantastic vistas of SFF seem tailor made for the drama, romance, and introspection that mark shojo manga. And indeed, we saw this perfect marriage in the explosion of popularity of SFF shojo in those long-ago decades. Takemiya’s Bright no Yuutsu, for instance, is a glorious mashup of everything great about these two genres. And I want more, dammit. (If you know of any shojo SFF that I should be reading, you should get down to the comments right now and tell me.)

So I am clearly the target audience for a book about science fiction in shojo manga in the seventies and eighties. And let me take this moment to appreciate the glory of the Japanese publishing industry, producing such a niche book not as an absurdly expensive text from an academic press, but as something that can sit on the shojo shelves at your local bookstore. Less than two thousand yen for an extremely in-depth history!

Continue reading “Shojo Manga no Uchu: Tosho no Ie (ed.)”

Wata no Kuni Hoshi: Yumiko Oshima

wata no kuni hoshiMy old-time manga education continues with another member of the Year 24 group, Yumiko Oshima! Who I did not realize was a member of said group until I googled her name just now because I am woefully unaware of the action in shojo history unless it is related to Boys’ Love! Which maybe makes me a weirdo! I don’t know! (You guys don’t think I’m a weirdo, right?) (Right???)

I actually picked this title up because it was the absolute, all-time favourite of my friend M. when she was a kid. If someone I love loves something enough to get all misty-eyed about it in the middle of Mandarake when happening upon said something on a shelf of musty shojo, then it must be worth reading. (This is how I expand my reading world!) Although to be honest, I had a skeptical eyebrow raised. A story about a kitten who thinks she’s people? Yaaaaaawn.

But now that I know she was part of that whole lady revolution in manga, it all falls into place. And sure, it is a cat manga, a thing which I am usually not that into. Cat people, please don’t write me angry emails. I love cats and I look at my fair share of pictures of them on the Internet. But comics about cats always come off as schmalzy and far too cutesy for my liking. There are exceptions, of course, and I might put Wata no Kuni Hoshi in that category, if only because of the overwhelming shojo-ness of it. Continue reading “Wata no Kuni Hoshi: Yumiko Oshima”