Nuna Oct 25, 2015
So top 10 lists seem to be the thing lately, and I was trying to come up with one that readers might be interested in. I already did my top favorite shoujo manga, so I thought this list would maybe bring some manga to your attention that was really good when it was published, but has now gone out of print. If I have a review of the series I’ll link it in the title so you can read that too if you want. If you decide to look for them check resale sites and libraries. I know my library has quite a few of these series.
Let’s get down to business. I’ll start with the 10th and work my way to 1st.
Published in the states as Tramps Like Us (horrible cultural translation) this series is a josei manga that ran in Kiss magazine from 2000-2005. The story revolves around a career woman that finds a ballet dancer living on the streets. He ends up living in her house if he promises to act as her pet. Dramatic and lovable, the story was adapted into a Japanese TV series and a Korean live action film. It also won the 2003 Kodansha Manga Award in the shoujo category. I love everything I’ve read by Ogawa and it’s disappointing that we’ve not gotten anything else by her in English.
Nodame Cantabile was also originally published in Kiss magazine and ran from 2001 – 2009. It was brought overseas here by Del Rey publishing, which went out of business before the entire series got translated and published. Highly disappointing because this series went on to have two television dramas, three anime seasons, a sequel manga, and two live action films made of it. The story is about Megumi Noda, Nodame, who goes to a music college where she meets Chiaki, an arrogant guy who hopes to become a conductor. While Nodame has a natural musical talent, she lacks refinement, and her interactions with Chiaki encourage her to become a better musician. Chiaki learns tolerance from Nodame and the two eventually end up in a relationship together.
Marmalade Boy was published in North America by Tokypop before it’s demise. It was not as popular as hoped here, most likely because it is a slice of life high school drama. In Japan it is a well known and loved shoujo manga that influenced today’s artists like Arina Tanemura. The story revolves around Miki and Yuu, whose parents decide to switch partners and marry the other’s spouse while they all live in the same house together. Miki and Yuu become attracted to each other while living together and discover they may even be siblings. Marmalade Boy was given a 76 episode anime as well as a movie, a novel adaptation, a video game, and a tv series. This series has a sequel currently running in Cocohana magazine that is called Marmalade Boy Little – where the step-siblings of Miki and Yuu- Rikka and Hajime – are currently dealing with the same issues in the same house. The original cast make a lot of cameo appearances as well.
Ceres Celestial Legend was the second series of Yuu Watase’s published by Viz media in North America. It originally ran in Sho-Comi magazine from 1996-2000, and won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shoujo in 1998. The story is about the Mikage twins, Aya and Aki, who end up playing out the famous Japanese noh legend of the swan maiden. Aya becomes possessed by Ceres who is trying to return to the heavens but needs to collect her hagaromo, or robe of feathers, from the ancient farmer who stole it, Mikagi, who currently possesses her brother Aki. She is hunted down by her own family because of her powers and finds help and solace in Toya, a servant of the Mikage, who is trying to protect her and her brother. This dramatic supernatural romance was one of the first series I read fully in English, and made me an instant Yuu Watase fan. It is still one of my favorite shoujo manga to date. Although this is out of print, I believe Viz has the series available in digital format if you want to read it.
Red River, also known as Anatolia Story, originally ran in Sho-Comi magazine from 1995-2002. It won the Shogakukan manga award for shoujo in 2000. It was published in North America by Viz media at a total of 28 volumes which ended in 2010. The story follows Yuri, a modern day teenager who is suddenly whisked away to ancient Anatolia where an evil queen wants her for a blood sacrifice. Luckily, the timely intervention of Prince Kail saves Yuri from the queen’s grasp. For now. Kail promises to send Yuri back to her home, but the queen’s persistent schemes to kill them both, plus their growing interest in each other, keep those plans delayed. The series spawned 8 drama CDs and two novels. Although this is out of print, I believe Viz has the series available in digital format if you want to read it. I think this would be a cool series to make into a live-action movie if Shinohara were to allow it.
Kare Kano, short for Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, was published by Tokyopop in North America from 2003-2007. It was one of the first series that Tokyopop printed in the right to left manga standard edition. The series originally ran in LaLa shoujo magazine from 1996-2005. The story is a slice of life high school drama that depicts the romance between “perfect” student Yukino Miyazawa and her academic rival Soichiro Arima. It also goes off on tangents to tell the stories of several of their friends. This was my gateway manga – the very first one I sought out to collect and read after watching the anime. I still like the characters to this day.
Oh how I wish, I wish this series had done better in North America! It really should have sold well for Tokyopop, and I’m disappointed that it never got finished in English. Gakuen Alice, or Alice Academy, originally ran in Hana to Yume magazine from 2003-2013. The story follows Mikan, a girl who stalks her best friend Hotaru to an academy for children with an “Alice” or special ability. There she meets others with “Alices” and comes to discover she might have that power as well. The story becomes darker as it goes and the English version ended right at a critical point in the plot. I was searching out scans just to see how it ended! This series ran for 10 years and ended up at 31 volumes. We only got the first 16 here in North America. I love to read and reread this one – and Mikan and Natsume are still one of my all time favorite OTPs. The manga spawned an anime and three video games.
Another drop by Tokyopop, Shinobi Life was one of my favorite ongoing series when the publisher folded. We only got 7 volumes of the story, but that didn’t stop me from finishing it. It originally ran in Princess magazine from 2006-2012. The story follows Beni Fujiwara, a daughter of a well off business man, who is one day rescued from a kidnapper by a ninja that drops out of the sky. This shinobi, Kagetora, doesn’t realize he’s in the future, and mistakenly acknowledges Beni as his princess. He eventually is hired as Beni’s bodyguard, and comes to realize he has time slipped. Things don’t end there, as Beni discovers she’s been engaged to her father’s choice of husband, and has fallen in love with Kagetora. The two run away and time slip to the past to be together, but cause more disruptions in time as they go. They are eventually separated and Kagetora is madly searching through time for Beni before she is hunted down by his shinobi tribe and executed. I love, love, love this series. I think I’ll have to get all the volumes in Japanese so I can read it all again.
Sensual Phrase, or Kaikan Phrase, originally ran in Sho-Comi magazine from 1997-2000. It was licensed by Viz media and ran 18 volumes, before Viz had the Shojo Beat imprint. Sensual Phrase tells the story of Aine and Sakuya. Aine is a high school girl who enters a lyric writing contest. But before she can submit her work, the papers are discovered by Sakuya Ookochi, lead singer of the band Lucifer. He ends up using Aine’s song as a new piece for the band, and then convinces his manager to hire her secretly as the band’s new lyricist. To help inspire her virginal fantasies, Sakuya seduces her, and leaves her frustrated. Lol. The manga follows the progress of the band’s popularity and the development of Aine and Sakuya’s relationship. The manga inspired an anime that also led to the creation of the real life band Lucifer. I actually have Lucifer’s greatest hits album with songs from he anime. When I asked Viz recently why I can’t find this on their site anymore, I think it’s because they no longer have printing rights. They said it’s no longer available.
It wasn’t the #1 shoujo manga in North America for nothing. When it was published by Tokyopop in North America it sold over 2 million copies. It won the Kodansha Manga Award for shoujo in 2001 and the Best Manga award at the 2007 American Anime Awards. Fruits Basket originally ran in Hana to Yume magazine from 1998-2006. It tells the story of orphan Tohru Honda and her interactions with the Sohma family, a family cursed with becoming animals of the Chinese zodiac when touched by the opposite sex. Tohru uses the memories of her mother and support of her friends to help her “save” the Sohma boys Yuki and Kyo, and break the curse on the rest of the Sohma family. The manga led to an anime and tons of merchandising of the animals and characters. Currently, there is an online sequel to the series running on HanaLala called Fruits Basket Another. It really is too bad that no one has the license for this, as I’m sure it would still be selling copies here in North America as new fans discover shoujo manga all the time.
That’s My Top 10 OOP Manga list. There are more I could name, but 10 is the magic number, right? So what about you?