It’s a sleepy Saturday morning here in western Massachusetts, at least at our house. I’ve had a slow start, and the most productive thing I’ve managed so far is updating my manga needs spreadsheet. Yes, that’s right, I keep a spreadsheet of the manga I want to buy online so I can access it anywhere (for instance, from my phone while standing in a comic shop). I truly am a dork. Anyway, included on the list are series I am currently buying, as well as series I would like to start buying, including a few I’ve already read but wish to own. The reason I’m mentioning that here, is that I’m always looking for recommendations, and I find it helps for people to know what I already read and enjoy. I do spend quite a bit of time poring over Jason Thompson’s Manga, The Complete Guide, but even with his wonderful write-ups to go on, I’m not always certain if I’ll like a series or not. If anyone has recommendations, particularly of shojo manga (which I always want to read more of, but find so little to my taste), I’d be very grateful!
Segue into a ramble about shojo manga: I’ve had such a mixed experience with shojo manga. On one hand, it seems like something I should be eating up with a spoon. I’ve always been a huge fan of YA novels, and I suppose I expected shojo manga to be in roughly the same vein. Trouble is, I’ve found very little shojo manga that doesn’t make me bristle over things like gender norms, and even some series that I really love, like Please Save My Earth (and oh how I love Please Save My Earth), feature weak, weepy heroines whose major life decisions pretty much boil down to which man to go for. Now, I’m all for a little romance in my reading, and as a pre-teen and teenager I had little interest in a story if there wasn’t at least a spark of something romantic for my heroines to enjoy, but those heroines were also spunky and ambitious, and had, for the most part, bigger fish to fry. I mean, even Betsy Ray was a career woman at heart, and I always felt that if only she’d been born in a different era, she would not have been so worried about learning how to cook. Anyway. I know there must be strong, awesome shojo heroines out there, but I’ve had some trouble finding them. Something like Banana Fish has kick-ass female characters, but they aren’t leads, and that’s what I’m looking for. I haven’t yet read Fushigi Yugi, though it is highly recommended by everyone, out of fear that it will be too heavy on the romance for me. If someone can tell me that’s not true, I’ll delve right in.
So, tell me about your favorite shojo series! Please, I want to buy manga! :)
I got kind of excited reading the Del Ray newsletter about Surt Lim and Hirofumi Sugimoto’s new manga, Kasumi:
First, there’s the amazing storytelling from Surt Lim, a debut author whose gifts are just as supernatural of those of her characters. The story: an epic shojo saga about teens with superpowers, ancient gods, and stirring high school drama, featuring a lovable heroine, Kasumi, who has the power to turn invisible when she holds her breath. It’s as if Hayao Miyazaki had re-written Heroes. Surt has such a big imagination, in reading her scripts, it’s a challenge to imagine how any artist could possibly have the big-budget skills to pull off some of the spectacular set pieces…and still have the right touch for Surt’s warm sense of humor and careful characterization. But genius Japanese artist Hirofumi Sugimoto has the talent and then some. His gorgeous and elegant art elevates Kasumi to a whole new level. This transatlantic creative team is redefining what “global manga” means—and is on the verge of producing a new world manga classic!
But I became less so when I actually saw the official catalogue write-up. At first, I thought it might be exactly the kind of manga I was looking for, but then the catalogue makes it sound like nothing more than fluff. I do see it’s just been released. Anyone read it?