2014 Unlicensed Shoujo Manga Retrospective and 2015 Predictions
in 2014 I set out to read more manga in Japanese and explore more Josei. I explored some of the more traditional shoujo magazines from Shueisha, Kodansha, and Shogokugan. I started reading Betsuma, The Margaret, Friend, The Dessert, Betsucomi, and Betsucomi DX. I gave some josei magazines at chance, but ultimately found that Cocohana, Flowers, Feel, & Belove didn’t hold my attention. Instead I gravitated toward Sci-fi fantasy anthologies like Itan and Haruca, Unconventional josei romance magazines like Hatsu Kiss, over-the-top costume romances from Ohzora Publishing, and half-the-time borderline-smut magazine like Petite Princess and the extra issue Petite magazines. My love of the oneshot grew to the point that I prefer oneshots and short series over long-running series. I’m pleased with the progress I made and I’m happy to report that there are plenty of fun and vibrant shoujo and josei mangas out there. So now, let’s break down 2014 in shoujo manga. I don’t have enough feel for josei yet to generate meaningful commentary.
Notable Series that Ended in 2014
- “Vampire Knight” by Hino Matsuri
- “Junketsu + Kareshi” by Aya Shouoto
- “Komomo Confiserie” by Maki Minami
- “Library Wars: Love and War” by Yumi Kiiro
- “Dengeki Daisy” by Kyousuke Mutsumi
- “Hirunaka no Ryuusei” by Mika Yamamori
- “Yukarism” by Chika Shiomi
- “Hachio to Mikumo” by Nari Kusakawa
Magazines and Anthologies that ended in 2014
- Kiss + (replaced by Hatsu Kiss)
- Hana to Yume Bunkei Shoujo
Series from Well Known Mangaka that began in 2014
- “Shuriken Pleats” by Hino Matsuri — Viz/Shoujo Beat, Announced 7/4/2015
- “Urakata!” by Bisco Hatori — Viz/Shoujo Beat, Announced 7/4/2015
- “QQ Sweeper” by Kyousuke Mutsumi — Viz/Shoujo Beat, Announce 2/6/2015
- “Anne no Mago Mago Tosho Land” by Higuchi Tachibana
- “Kuro Hashaku wa Hoshi wo Mederu” by Hisamu Oto
- “Yuusei no Fool” by Yuki Kure
- “Chi to Chocolate” by Naked Ape
- “Yumebu e Yokoso” by Toru Fujieda
- “Yuki Wa Jigoku ni Ochiru no ka” by Hiro Fujiwara
- “Kimi no Koto nado Zettai ni” by Meca Tanaka
- “Yume no Moribito” by Chika Shiomi
- “Sekai de Ichiban no Warui Majo” by Nari Kusakawa
- “Kanojo ni Naru Hi” by Akane Ogura (resumed in Ane Lala)
- “Watashi wo Hoshisuru Honoo no Onna” by Yumi Kiiro
- “Itsuka no Haru” by Takagi Shigeyoshi
- “Hayaku, Otona ni Narinasai” by Morie Satoshi
2014 Trends I Noticed
- New Cooking and Baking Shoujo and Josei series continue to debut
- “Shinigami no Last Order” and “Wagashi no Anne” in Hana to Yume
- “Ichigo no Ouji to Ilfautaimer” in Friend
- There were lots of new age-gap series. Some of them got creepy. The ideal gap was usually 11 years with the female character being 15 years old and the male character, usually a teacher, being 26. There were also lots of oneshots featuring an older female and a younger male.
- Creepy: “Hayaku Otona ni Narinasai” by Morie Satoshi in The Hana to Yume
- Creepy: “Asami-sensei no Himitsu” by Chika in Aria
- Creepy: “Papa ni wa Himitsu Nanodesu ga” by Mikan Natsume in Hana to Yume
- “Itsuka no Haru” by Takagi Shigeyoshi in Betsuhana
- “Takane to Hana” by Yuki Shiwasu in Hana to Yume
- Younger male: “Incomplete Lovers” by Midori Murasaki in Sylph
- There were scant few horror and psychological series and oneshots. I came across no new horror series in my reading. Ciao DX had a horror special aimed at young girls and Lala DX had a mini Kuro Lala within its September issue.
- Lots of series with aloof male main characters who are actually nice debuted. Unfortunately, most of these male MCs were paired with bland girls.
- “Ore no Hitsuji-chan” by Miki Fukawa in Friend
- “Seishun Note” by Umi Ayase in Betsuma
- “Itsuka no Haru” (The MC girl isn’t bland in this short series.)
- There were very few new S-boyfriend series or oneshots. There was one notable M-boyfriend oneshot called “Tosaka no Honey” which ran in Hana to Yume. Two oneshots were released.
- I noticed a lot of blushing boys and men. A blushing man was used to indicated that the man is a virgin.
- Epic Camels. These appeared in “Sabaku no Harem”, “Tokyo Super Sheik”, even in Hana to Yume’s “Takane to Hana”. There were countless dessert and harem romances released by Ohzora publishing. Camels were everywhere.
- Dogs in The Hana to Yume.
- Lots of one and two volume short series. Some were planned this way, others were cut off soon after debut.
- There was nothing I’d consider a break out hit in 2014. “Akatsuki no Yona” got a big boost from having an anime series though. It seems that “Ao Haru Ride” is still the shoujo big dog.
- Cooking/Baking/Domesticated Male series continue debuting. There’s one called “Tonari wa Nani wo Taberu” that will run in Ane Lala” debuting in January. Also “Petite Peche” will be returning to Ane Lala.
- More “Vampire Knight” comic and light novel spinoffs as Hakusensha struggles to find a new flagship series for Lala. “Shuriken Pleats” will end or morph into a thinly veiled “Vampire Knight” clone.
- “Urakata” will morph into a romance. “Tamaki” character will take over because bland boy is too bland.
- Why don’t I just expand that to all new series started by mangaka of hit series that just ended will morph into some form of that previous hit.
- Another publisher will debut a magazine to rival Ane Lala (my feeling is that it will be a Cheese! or Betsuma spinoff)
- Some US publisher other than DMP will discover the magic of Ohzora Publishing’s over-the-top costume romances. “Tokyo Super Sheik” must come to the US followed by something tame from the Next F line. “Tokyo Super Sheik” will rule the world! Manga snobs will cry, pound at the dust, and decry the end of manga.
- Epic camels will start appearing everywhere as a gag.
- “QQ Sweeper” will break out now that the romance has been ratcheted up.
- The return of the bland girl!!! But this time the bland girl will be protected from the S-guy by the nice guy. Hooray for White Knights…ugh…
- A US publisher will take a chance on “P to JK” and “HnR” and English-reading shoujo fans will collectively lose their sh*t. The lucky US publisher will swim in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. The age-gap cherry will be popped, and we’ll finally get “Faster than a Kiss”.
- Princess and Aria will each debut a new series that will blow my mind.
- Takagi Shigeyoshi will debut an edgy shoujo or josei series instead of saving all the screwed up fun for yaoi.
- There will be an age-gap oneshot or short series in The Hana to Yume that will go completely sideways and I will LOVE IT. My dream mangaka for this oneshot/short series is none other than Takagi Shigeyoshi or her sister Morie Satoshi.
- “The Sword of Chandra” will become a series in The Hana to Yume.
Next up, I will talk about my unlicensed favorites from 2014 and present my English license wish list.