This post is slightly NSFW
I am a huge fan of shoujo manga, that is comics aimed at young girls and teenagers yet a short while ago, I found myself getting bored with shoujo manga. I believe this was due to the fact that most if not all the heroines in shoujou manga are in high school. Also most of these comics have a high school setting and even if the manga is say a fantasy, the heroine would still be 16 years old or thereabouts. I remember getting quite upset after reading several manga in which a high school girl falls in love with a guy and marries him immediately after graduating (from high school just to make that clear). Thus I was extremely excited to discover the world of josei manga, comics targeted at older teenagers, women and those of us who may not want to admit that we have started having difficulties identifying with high school girls.
At first I was not sure if josei manga would hold my interest. Most of the manga I checked out had plots that resembled soap operas while others were basically really cheesy romances and yet others read like a typical Mills & Boons. I was persistent though, very sure that I’d find a mangaka whose works would hold my interest and indeed it was only a matter of time before I found a josei mangaka that I liked (which led to me finding a whole host of josei mangakas I now like). One mangaka I really adore is Yuki Yoshihara.
I would classify Yoshihara’s works as been the manga equivalent of a romantic comedy. Now those who know me will most likely not classify me as the type to like romantic comedies but Yoshihara is an exception. She is very talented and I love that in her works her heroines are almost always very confident in their sexuality (while on the other hand her heroes tend to be
cool cold saying things like ‘I wanted to have a ‘pure’ relationship before marriage’ usually after they’ve done the ‘impure’ deed).
I personally find that unique about Yoshihara, I like the way her female characters are unconventional and for the most part independent. They are also usually strong-headed, stubborn and almost always horny which to me is a breath of fresh air as they differ from the shoujo manga I read. There are several ways in which Yoshihara’s works were new to me as a fan of shoujo manga. First of all, most of her characters are working women. They are secretaries or teachers or office ladies or magazine editors etc. Her female characters tend to be outgoing and generally very assertive.
Oh and in case you haven’t guessed already, most of Yoshihara’s manga fall in the ecchi/smut category which makes them basically light-hearted sex comedies. All of the manga by Yoshihara I’ve read have sex scenes which is why I find it very interesting that Yoshihara is sometimes labelled a shoujou mangaka. A few of Yoshihara’s manga are supernatural (one of my favourites is Ningyo Ouji which happens to be a one-shot about a woman who falls in love with a merman and there is a twist which I can’t reveal) while others such as Blanc and Kizuato (also one-shots) deals with more mature themes such as incest. I personally prefer her light-hearted stuff.
There are little quirks that make Yoshihara’s works even more enjoyable. The dialogue remains hilarious even though it has been translated. When her female characters get excited, they start bleeding through their noses and basically jump on their love interests (and they are usually in their chibi form when they do this). Yoshihara’s art is always nice and easy on the eyes but what I love the most is when she draws her characters in chibi form. That usually makes everything even more hilarious.
Yoshihara’s romantic comedies have become the guilty pleasure I regularly indulge in. If you are interested in checking out her work I recommend Itadakimasu, Haa Haa and Darling wa Namamono ni Tsuki*.
*All of the images in this post are of tankobon covers of Darling wa Namamono ni Tsuki.