Friday, June 28, 2013

Spotlight on Shojo & Josei manga

When you're looking for a good book, it's often helpful to know the vocabulary that help readers, publishers, and librarians to sort the thousands of books printed each year into recognizable categories. The differences between middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult fiction. Why this series is urban fantasy and that one paranormal romance, and just what is the difference between a suspenseful thriller and a thrilling suspense novel? The distinctions aren't always clear, and some authors delight in defying conventions, but these are the tools that give us a shared vocabulary.

When it comes to manga (Japanese comics and graphic novels) there's a whole new set of vocabulary to learn. Today we're going to take a closer look at josei and shojo manga. These works are created with a feminine reading audience in mind. Individual titles can vary greatly in tone, topic, and setting, but the main character is almost always a woman or teenage girl, and there is usually a romantic element to the storyline. If you're a fan of women's fiction, chick lit, or romance novels, these are the manga for you!

Shojo (or shoujo) manga are intended for a teen or young adult audience, while josei are aimed at young professionals or new adults. Because of the differences between our cultures, American readers might find that the line between shojo and josei titles can be blurred. Readers should also be aware that publishers often retain the right to left format of the original manga. It might seem strange at first, but you'll quickly grow used to reading a book from back to front.

I've gathered together a list of popular titles and personal favorites that fall under the umbrella of shojo and josei manga. You should also check out our anime collection, as it is very common for a popular manga to be adapted for television.

Ttiles found in the adult Manga collection: 
Moto Hagio is one of the earliest and most popular shojo manga artists. Check out Andrew's review to learn more about this collection of short stories by Hagio. 

A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori
A story of life in 19th century Central Asia told through the eyes of a young bride. Rich with carefully researched detail and beautifully intricate art, you should check out Chel's review to learn more! 

Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga 
An award-winning alternate history manga set in a feudal-era Japan where most of the men have been killed by a plague. Japan is led by a female shogun, and the Ooku is inhabited by her male harem. 
Nana  by Ai Yazawa 
Two young women, both named Nana, meet on the train to Tokyo. Both are moving to Tokyo, one to rejoin her friends and the other to achieve her dreams of musical stardom. Despite their different personalities and goals, they decide to share an apartment together. 

With the Light by Keiko Tobe 
Sachiko's son, Hikaru, is not like other children, and she finds that there is little understanding or support for those diagnosed with autism, but little by little their family finds a way. 

Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita 
Single career-minded Daikichi is the last person anyone expects to take over the guardianship of 6-year-old Rin, but then no one expected to discover that his late grandfather had an illegitimate child either.

Titles found in the Teen Zone:
Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga
An earlier series by the creator of Ooku, Antique Bakery is much lighter fare. Set in a small, quirky bakery, each issue is packed with images of delicious pastries. Character-driven with touches of romance, mystery, and a fair dash of absurd humor. 

Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura 
Kyoka is distraught to learn that her boyfriend was only dating her so she'd take care of him on his quest to musical stardom. Not only does she kick him to the curb, she decides to beat him at his game, and become Japan's number one pop idol!

Fruits Basket by Takaya Natsuki 
A story of family and the supernatural, Fruits Basket is popular as both manga and anime. After she is orphaned, Tohru is taken in by the Sohma family who suffer a strange curse. When stressed or embraced by a member of the opposite sex, they turn into one of the 12 animals of the zodiac.

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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