Please welcome a new voice to our blog gang today – Clare is one of our Edinburgh store’s crew and a huge fan of manga, anime and Japanese pop culture. She posts about some of her faves on FPI Edinburgh’s Facebook page (you can follow your local branch on FB to keep up with what’s new, suggestions and offers) and she’s kindly agreed to share some of her manga reviews with us on here too; over to Clare:
The latest crop of releases saw the re-release of one of the latest titles to rise from the ashes of Tokyopop’s untimely demise, and it just happens to be one of my all time favourites! Paradise Kiss, now published by Vertical (the lovely people responsible for the rather shiny new Tezuka printings that have been popping up lately!), has been given a sophisticated makeover with new covers, a new translation and a larger format print suited perfectly to it’s Josei audience.
The protagonist of our story is 18 year old Yukari “Caroline” Hayasaka, A straight laced and serious student who spends every spare moment she has studying to get into a top university to please her overbearing mother. While on her way to her night classes, she has an unlikely run-in with a group of flamboyant and free spirited fashion students, who accost her in the street and take her back to their atelier, begging her to be the model for their brand Paradise Kiss in an upcoming festival fashion show. Yukari, finding herself entranced by Parakiss’ lead designer (and all round androgynous playboy) George, decides to take the opportunity but her choice is about to throw her seemingly boring life into complete chaos…
Okay, I admit I am totally biased with Parakiss. I’ve watched the animé thirty trillion times, I know all the words to the theme song and I’m a total Yazawa fangirl but this really is a great story! Yazawa’s artwork is gorgeously detailed and elegant as always, the dialogue is razor sharp and witty and the storyline is full of romance, beautiful outfits, exciting twists and tear-jerking drama, It’s hard not to get swept up in the glamour and magic of the Parakiss world.
Yazawa has a way with characters that really sets her apart in the genre and It’s not hard to see why she is so celebrated as an artist and writer. The depth of personality and emotion she creates is very convincing and relatable and her penchant for meticulous research subtly shines through into the character’s surroundings, making their world really come to life. You’ll always see a familiar place, object or character in a Yazawa manga that you know exists in real life (Hatchi from Nana is based on me, I swear!) and it really pulls you in to the story.
Yazawa fans will also recognize a few characters in this sort-of-sequel, set in the same world as the lesser known, untranslated series Gokinjo Monogatari. The cute and feisty Miwako is the younger sister of Happy Berry designer Mikako, who makes an appearance, along with her husband Tsutomou, Hamada-Sensei is still teaching at Yazawa Art and there’s even brief cameos from Noriji-san and Sally the Cub Scooter!
In summary, Parakiss is a really fantastic, enchanting story and a perfect example of the Josei side of manga. If you’ve read (or watched) Nana, Hot Gimmick, Honey & Clover anything by Moyocco Anno, you won’t be disappointed by this.
Get your hands on Paradise Kiss and read it or I will come for you in the night. Seriously.:x