mō ichido, shōjo. (70s, 80s & 90s shōjo manga retrospective)
Nakayoshi's 60th anniversary manga poll lineup

Nakayoshi's 60th anniversary manga poll

For Nakayoshi's 60th anniversary in 2015, the magazine is holding a vote to see which of the its old titles readers most want to see reprinted in their original formats. The nominees are:

  • Azuki-chan by Kimura Chika & Akimoto Yasushi
  • Ohayō! Spank by Takanashi Shizue & Yukimuro Shun'ichi
  • Kingyo chūihō! by Nekobe Neko
  • Jigoku de mesu ga hikaru by Takashina Ryoko
  • Daa! Daa! Daa! by Kawamura Mika
  • Tokyo Mew Mew by Ikumi Mia & Yoshida Reiko
  • Nanairo Magic by Asagiri Yu
  • Miracle Girls by Akimoto Natsumi
  • Megami by Waseda Chie
  • Yōkoso! Hohoemi-ryō e by Ayumi Yui & Endō Satsuo

This is a pretty interesting lineup! First of all, Nakayoshi's biggest out-of-print property Candy Candy isn't on the list, probably to the dismay of everyone involved. Secondly, if this was a list from a magazine like Ribon, there wouldn't be as many as four manga by a writer/artist collaboration. That's pretty distinctively a Nakayoshi thing. Akimoto, Yukimuro, Yoshida, and Endo are all script writers who chiefly work in television and anime, and all but Yoshida Reiko are male. Personally I think this is why I was never as in love with Nakayoshi of the 80s and 90s as I am with Ribon; I like none of the manga that the male writers worked on, even though I have nothing against the artists and I'm actually quite a fan of Ayumi Yui.

Much more than Ribon, Nakayoshi has always had a tendency to rely on outside writers and properties to keep their numbers high. Ohayo! Spank and Candy Candy are examples of early hits utilizing outside writers in a collaboration with artists who debuted in Nakayoshi, and in the 90s, Sailor Moon was a joint project with Toei while CLAMP debuted at a completely different publisher but was recruited to Nakayoshi to boost its numbers. Azuki-chan and Hohoemi-ryo obviously followed the example of Ohayo! Spank with a well-known male script writer/Nakayoshi artist tag-team, and when we get to the 00s and Tokyo Mew Mew, they didn't leave it at a script writer/artist collaboration -- the basic idea and premise of Tokyo Mew Mew is credited to Kodansha, the company. You could say Nakayoshi is quite... pragmatic in this regard? If it gets them the numbers, they're not afraid of making manga an assembly-line product. What's interesting is that this is also true for Kodansha's Shonen Magazine.

Aside from that, I'm a bit surprised but pleased that all the artists in this lineup are natives of Nakayoshi, rather than people recruited from the outside! Asagiri Yu had several hits for Nakayoshi, but she received the Kodansha Manga Award with Nanairo Magic, which is probably why it was chosen. Kingyo chūihō! is a bona fide Nakayoshi hit, with iconic characters and a fairly popular anime series. Miracle Girls often gets overshadowed by Sailor Moon, both being magical girl series that ran in Nakayoshi in the early 90s, but it's a fun series with adorable art that deserves to be reprinted with its original color-coded tankobon covers. I've never read Daa! Daa! Daa!, and it's after my time, but I know it was very popular at the time.

The two most interesting titles here, however, must be Jigoku de mesu ga hikaru and Megami. Takashina Ryoko used to draw your standard shōjo manga in Nakayoshi, but had limited success and couldn't quite break out of her mold -- until she decided to turn Edogawa Ranpo's Black Lizard into a manga. Everyone instantly took notice of her, and to this day she still makes a living writing mystery and horror manga. Jigoku de mesu ga hikaru is a shōjo horror/mystery about a woman obsessed with her beauty and a mad scientist1, and I'm told it's reeeeeeally creepy and unsettling. Waseda Chie is an unusual Nakayoshi artist, who used a very rough, sharp art style to write quite emotionally complex and sophisticated manga in Nakayoshi through the 90s, and still has a dedicated cult following. I think it's pretty awesome that they included her in the lineup, because she's so out of the norm.

So, who should win? Who will win? Honestly I have no idea... it might depend entirely on what generation of readers most get involved? I can imagine Ohayo! Spank winning, because it was such a big hit and it still induces nostalgia in so many people, but if the readers from the 90s get more involved, Kingyo chūihō! might make it. Nanairo Magic probably won't be helped by Asagiri's notorious personality and hatred of shōjo manga, and it's available to read as ebooks anyway, and so is Miracle Girls (go look at the pretty covers!) and Jigoku de mesu ga hikaru. What I do know is that I don't want Azuki-chan to win, because it's my most hated of all Nakayoshi manga by male writers. And my vote, if I had one, would go to Kingyo chūihō!

Edited to add 15-05-2015: Nakayoshi received so much positive press and fan feedback for this event, they decided to reprint all titles in this line-up. Look out for adorable retro shōjo at your local Japanese bookstores! It is kind of a shame, though, because I genuinely wanted to see which title would win.

  1. That kind of makes me think of Umezu Kazuo's Senrei/Baptism, but this manga predates it.

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