Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Grown-Ass Manga vol. 1

For a while now, I’ve been a big fan of manga.  One of the biggest appeals of manga (Japanese comics) is how many different genres and demographics there are for it.  However, just because the genres and demographics exist doesn’t mean they’re easy to find.  Here in the United States, the largest amount of imported manga is either shonen or shojo.  That is, manga intended for and starring teenage booys or teenage girls.  Seinen (men’s) or josei (women’s) manga is harder to find.  That means it’s harder to find manga starring grown-ups in grown-up situations.  I have managed to find a few though and I thought I’d share them with you.  There is one thing, though . . .

That’s right!  Today we’re dealing with material that I found because it’s been pirated!  I know this sort of thing bothers some people and I totally get why.  Creative types should certainly be compensated for their work.  Creative works shouldn’t be free as a matter of course.  However, when it comes to scanlations (scans+translations) of manga and fansubs of anime and tokusatsu, the people who pirate this stuff are usually just trying to create exposure for things that they love.  So, a few ground rules.  One, I’m not going to tell you where I found these things.  Finding them yourself is up to you.  Two, if an official release does come out, please support it with your money.  But, if you still don’t want to go forward, stop now.  That’s why I put up the flag.  It’s a warning.  You might see it more in the future.  Also, I might spotlight some officially licensed manga at the end to make up for it.

Anyway, our theme for this post is: marriage and married life

Okusan (the Japanese word for “wife”) is a seinen series by Ooi Masakazu.  It’s a slice-of-life romance series about a 32-year old housewife who moves to a new town.  The manga is about the unnamed wife adjusting to her situation and dealing with the quirks of her neighbors as well as her own.  I should note that series is also an ecchi (read as: “sexy”) series owing partly to the main character’s rather audacious figure and partly to just being rather frank about the subject of sex.  However, that’s one of the virtues of reading a manga for and about adults.  When manga starring adolescent characters is so explicit, it can feel a bit squicky for some people.  This manga-ka also produced a similiarly ecchi married life series that can be loosely translated as The Life of the Ashitba Family’s Husband.

Marry Me!
Marry Me! by Yuuki Miko is a slice of life romance with its origins in some of Japans current social issues.  In an undisclosed time in the future in order to stave off the declining birth rate, Japan passes the NEET Protection Law.  The basic idea is to pair government employees with NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) for the purpose of marriage.  The idea is that it would reintroduce the NEETs to society while also boosting the number of people getting married and having families.  The initial test subject for this new law is a civil servant named Akiyasu Shin and a young woman named Sawamoto Himari.  Things naturally get off to a rocky start, seeing as Himari was registered without her permission.  Ultimately, the two get married.  While they initially get hitched so that Shin won’t lose his job and that Himari won’t be alone anymore after losing her grandparents, ensuing chapters show the two do start to become closer and do form a functioning if unconventional little family.  It really is a rather sweet manga and you should give it a look.

What I Get for Marrying a Demon Bride
 Of the ones I’m focusing on here, this one is probably my favorite.  Partially because of my love for Japanese fairy tales and the creatures in them and partially because it’s just a charming little comedy manga.  The manga is about a man named Tomoyuki who is married to an oni named Mitsuki.  While Tomoyuki is a rather mild-mannered salaryman, Mitsuki is crude, hot-tempered, a bit insecure and a literal monster.  However, the two really do love each other and are completely devoted to one another.  The manga really just is the ins and outs of their life together.  One of my favorites is one in which Mitsuki informs her husband that she can’t eat peaches for religious reasons (apparently “Momotaro” was based on a real story in their world.

I said before that I’d also recommend some legit licensed manga if I could, didn’t I?  Well, I have two.  One is The Way of the Househusband by Kousuke Oono.  The other is The Yamada Wife by Richi Okada.  The Way of the Househusband is a comedy about a yakuza (Japanese gangster) who quits his life of crime in order to become a househusband to his normal (if maybe a little geeky) wife.  The funny thing about it is that he still dresses, talks and acts like a gangster.  This leads to normal domestic situations having a ridiculous crime-thriller level of intensity.   

The Yamada Wife is about a city woman who suddenly has to move to the country to live with her husband’s very traditional, old-fashioned Japanese family.  She’s then put through her paces by her very strict grandmother-in-law.

The Way of the Househusband has just released its first volume in the U.S. and can be purchased either in book stores or digitally on the official Viz website.  Many volumes of The Yamada Wife are available and can be purchased digitally either on Comixology or Book Walker.

If you seek these out, keep in mind that there might be a little bit of culture clash between the Japanese way of doing things and your own (for example, the wives in these manga often tend toward being housewives because of a combination of old gender roles and the rather intense Japanese work culture demanding someone always be home to get domestic tasks done because the other spouse is always at work).  Also, be mindful of official releases and support them even if you read these elsewhere first.

Until next time.

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