As a big fan of Japanese culture, I also partake in other aspects of Japanese culture besides lolita fashion. One of these aspects is the manga, of which I am a big fan. Being in Singapore, I have easy access to very affordable manga in both English and Mandarin, although my preference is for Mandarin translations.
Recently however, I discovered an iPhone app which allows me to read scans on the go, and I’ve been discovering good manga which I would not have picked up otherwise. If you are also holding an iPhone, I recommend the excellent manga reader Manga Bear, which syncs with manga scanlation sites such as OneManga and MangaFox. At time of publication, I have access to 918 different manga via Manga Bear.
Here are three different manga which I highly recommend all lolitas to try. My recommendations are based on a variety of reasons, including storyline, art style and character design. All of them should be available in English scans.
- Dokuhime 毒姫
- Glass Mask ガラスの仮面
- Count Cain 伯爵カインシリーズ
and its sequel Godchild ゴッド チャイルド
I’m sure most lolitas will know who Mitsukazu Mihara is! She drew many of the early covers of Gothic&Lolita Bible and many of her other illustrations are very G&L influenced.
Dokuhime or Poison Princess is about a group of beautiful girls trained to be assassins. From young, they are taken away from their families and their resistance to poison is increased through various (cruel) methods. When they come of age, they are recommended as princess consorts to princes, whom they assassinate.
Why you should read it: Mihara’s signature art style really comes through in this manga, with the G&L styling of the princesses. The concept is rather compelling… assasin princesses! Trained in poison! A word of warning though: the storyline is really depressing…
Miuchi’s art style is reminiscient of the art on the more recent GLBs, but after some research, I’ve discovered that they’re not the same artist. The big, sparkling eyes and perfect curls of the heroines and the feminine style of the heroes can take some getting used to, but the storyline can really suck you in!
I first picked up this manga up because of the cover, but after some research, I was amazed that I hadn’t heard of this manga before now. Glass Mask is actually the second best-selling manga in the world, the first being Hana Yori Dango (Boys over Flowers). This series started in 1975, and continued till about 2006 when Miuchi-sensei took a break from the story. In 2008, she continued the story again and has announced that she intends to end the story soon.
It’s quite the manga with history! 44 volumes, still going strong and I’m reading it avidly still!
In short, Glass Mask is about theatre and acting. Kitajima Maya is a young student devoted to stage acting. Her rival is the beautiful Himekawa Ayumi, who is comes from a family of directors and actors and is also very skilled in acting. The two are competing to play the lead role in “The Crimson Goddess”, a legendary role which no one has played for the longest time. The performance rights to “The Crimson Goddess” are owned solely by Tsukikage Chigusa, Maya’s mentor, who tries her best to encourage Maya to be the best she can be. Throw in two men who discover themselves in love with Maya, and you’ve got a great mix of romance and drama!
Why you should read it: To be honest, I’m surprised that I’m so hooked to this manga. The artwork is not everyone’s cup of tea (You can tell who the unimportant males and the heros are very easily by the way they’re drawn!) and the plotline can get quite trying sometimes. To top it off, it seems that Maya is a dreaded Mary-Sue. (I prefer Ayumi to Maya!) But Miuchi-sensei takes famous plays like Romeo and Juliet and The Miracle Worker and incorporates them beautifully into her story. I’m quite sad that I can’t read it in its original language. I would have loved to read the lines and how they’re interpreted in Japanese. If you’re interested in theatre and the arts, this manga can be quite an eye-opener. The romance subplot provides an interesting break to the theatre-heavy main plot, and it’s easy to sympathise with the men. The manga is now up to 44 volumes and still going strong, so if you’re looking for a compelling saga, this could be it!
Yuki Kaori is famous for her beautiful artwork and elaborate plotlines. You may have heard of another of her famous works, Angel Sanctuary, but I prefer Count Cain and Godchild.
Set in Victorian times, Cain Hargreaves is a 17-year-old boy who has a cool logical mind. Count Cain spans 5 volumes, and deals with murder mysteries that Cain solves with the help of his butler/manservert: Riff.
The sequel Godchild, drawn several years after the end of Count Cain and spanning 8 volumes, continues the story of Cain and Riff, but deals more with the convulted background of Cain and his father, Alexis. I’m not going to spoil you, so if you’re interested, you’ll have to read it!
Why you should read it: Very simply, the beautiful, gorgeous art. In particular, I feel that Godchild is the peak of Kaori Yuki’s artistic prowess, the dark, gothic style of her setting is haunting and eerie. Reading this at night gives me the heebie jeebies! Her storytelling can be offputting to some, as her plots can be very complicated and explained in very wordily, but her framing and character creation more than make up for it. Be warned: The series (Count Cain in particular) can be very graphic and bloody. Do watch out if you’re squeamish!
What manga are you reading now? Share it with us in the comments!