If you’re an average American reader of manga, you have probably never heard of Shodensha Publishing’s Feel Young Magazine. For one thing, it’s Josei, the genre of manga least represented on American manga shelves. Nonetheless, many of the artists featured in the pages of Feel Young have made it over our to shores and so, while the magzine itself lives a life of near-complete anonymity here, it’s practically glows with talent.
Yumi Unita (Bunny Drop,) Moyoco Anno (Happy Mania), Tomoko Yamashita (Dining Bar Akira,) Mitsukazu Mihara (The Embalmer,) Kiriko Nananan (Blue,) Mari Okazaki (Suppli,) Erica Sakurazawa (Between the Sheets,) have all at one time or another penned stories for the adult, female audience that makes up the readership of Feel Young. For this reason, as I perused the piles of magazines that live in my house, I chose to take a look at Feel Young as my first josei magazine.
Feel Young was first launched in 1989, as a sister magazine to the now-suspended FEEL magazine. Its intended audience is adult women and, based on the comments it receives and publishes, it is indeed reaching women 18-45 years of age. Based on the a JMPA’s magazine sales data, Feel Young has a circulation of 45,542 (and one overseas reader….)
While stories in Feel Young often star women in their early 20s, juggling careers and romantic relationships, as in Suppli, stories of women in their 30s and 40s attempting to maintain work-life balance are not uncommon. Recently more stories about one-parent or alternative families, such as Bunny Drop and Ohana Holoholo have been serialized in its pages. When the popular series from the 1980s, Hana no Asuka-gumi was re-started after an 18-year hiatus, it was run in Feel Young to try to attract those women who had been fans of the original series when they were in middle and high school. New Hana no Asuka-gumi ran for an additional 8 volumes, so I think we can say that approach worked. The magazine also occasionally runs stories with Boy’s Love motifs, for an overall feeling of “a little of everything that might appeal to women.”
Other than Bunny Drop, currently running in Feel Young is Mari Okazaki’s new series, &, which combines the popular “young woman making her way in the world” with a stong strain of suspense. If Suppli is re-licensed and sells well, I would be surprised not to see & licensed. Personally, I’d love to see Yamashita Tomoko’s work, HER be licensed – her current series in the magazine is another set of short character profiles that dig surprisingly deeply into people’s live in a short story format.
I currently read the magazine for Shimano Shino’s Ohana Holoholo, a story about an alternative family made up of a single mother, her former female lover, her child, and the child’s late father’s former male lover. (It sounds more dire than it is. It’s quite cute.) Finally, Shinobu Nishimura’s RUSH is something that I am constantly sure must *certainly* be licensed already, but never is. I know of two companies that were, at some point in time, interested in Yamaji Ebine’s Love My Life – which had a live-action movie based on it come out just a few years ago – but neither company managed to get the book over here.
It would be easy to dismiss Feel Young as something filled with soap operas and daytime dramas, but…it’s not. Feel Young is a consistantly excellent women’s manga magazine, with less of an oppressive “style” than many magazines have. The stories vary in temperment, in tone, in art style and often in levels of reality. Stories of meals at home with the family live right next to dramatic stories of pretty boy detectives tracking down Goth-Loli fantasy figures, gang girls roam the streets of Tokyo right next to a well-meaning hospital staff Office Lady trying to figure out what it means when the Doctor who kissed her also tries to kill her. And these live cheerfully next to stories of raising children and having careers. Of the josei magazines I’ve read, Feel Young stands out as a platform for some of Japan’s best josei talent.
This article was originally published at Mangacast.net.