Once upon a time, I was a simple little girl who loves to read comics (mangas). I still do now, but mostly I read them online because, thanks to the internet, I can get them free. I was so addicted to reading comics that my mom had to stop me from reading any further for the sake of my eyes’ health. My favorite genre is of course, since I am a girl, romantic shojo. When you have read a lot of shojo, you will finally understand the pattern and will probably say that every shojo looks the same. The difference is that nowadays shojo seems a bit more vulgar and I don’t need to see those scenes yet (though I am over 20 now). Let’s just say that I enjoy innocent high-school romance like Orange (I will tell you about this manga in the next few posts, hopefully). Anyway, here are top 10 most memorable mangas I have read in my childhood days. Some of which are really old, but they have great storylines and I must have read them several times that I can still remember the names of the characters!
1. Mari-Chan Series (by Kimiko Uehara)
This is probably one of the first comics I read (I’m not sure between this and Doraemon). When my aunt heard that I love reading comics, she sent a box of her comics for me to read, and most of them were Mari-Chan Series. Basically, the main plot is about a girl named Mari (could be Mariko, Marika, etc.) who dreams of being a ballerina with a lot of obstacles along the way. Some of the series I can still remember are Lovely Mari-Chan, Happy Mari-Chan, Silver Toe Shoes, Swan Lake, and The Star of Love (these are the titles published in my country; some are different from their original Japanese titles). Each story has different plot, but I can assure you a happy ending after a long, painful effort. For instance, in Silver Toe Shoes, Mari is searching for her long-lost brother, Nathan, and father after her mother died but is shocked from the fact that a random stranger girl named Anita has come to the house and claimed herself as Mari (in the end it is revealed that Mari and Anita are sisters, phew, that is unexpected even for Anita herself). In Lovely Mari-Chan, Mari is determined to prove that Kaoru, a great Danseur himself, is not a ‘killer’ (meaning that whoever becomes Kaoru’s partner will die) and ends up engaged to him. It is a classic manga to me, and when I say classic, you can expect sparkling eyes in the drawings. I haven’t read them in a long time, so my memory about the storylines is quite vague though I can remember enjoying this manga. I learn a lot of ballet phrases from here (like pas de deux) and at a point I wanted to take ballet course (hihi). Since ballet course was expensive and not very common here, I ended up taking abacus course instead. These days I am grateful for not pursuing my short-term-dream of being a ballerina because it turns out ballerinas’ feet are not too beautiful and they must have suffered a great pain for standing on their toes. Anyway, I love how this manga teaches me to work hard for what I dream and it is definitely worth to read.
2. Marmalade Boy (by Wataru Yoshizumi)
Marmalade means a preserve made from citrus fruit, especially bitter oranges (cited from Oxford Dictionaries). This is exactly how Miki describes Yuu, hence the title. Miki is a cheerful outgoing girl whose life turned upside down after her parents decide to divorce out of blue and remarry soon with their old loves. It turns out that they have met their old loves in their trip to Hawaii, which was also a couple, and decided to switch partners. After the re-marriage, they decide to stay in one house together, along with their children. This is where Miki meets Yuu, the handsome boy who, unlike her, agrees easily to these crazy ideas. At first Miki is frustrated by the idea and Yuu, but his exceptional appearance and surprisingly charming behaviors gradually make her fall in love with him. The funny thing is, Miki used to have a crush on Ginta, her childhood friend, who turns out to like her too but yeah… it will be a nice love story before Yuu comes! Haha. The main conflict is when Yuu finds out that Miki is in fact (probably) his own sister and this drives them apart. There’s also the side conflict of Meiko, Miki’s bestie, who falls in love with their teacher and somehow manages to keep a secret relationship all this time. This manga has been adapted into anime and live action drama (in Taiwan, though). There are 8 volumes in total, but no worry, you will enjoy every part of the story. I especially love this manga; even after reading it countless times, I still smile at some hilarious parts. One or two years ago I found that the author published the sequel of this manga called Marmalade Boy Little, focusing on Miki and Yuu’s little half-siblings, Rikka and Saku. Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated lately L I will patiently be waiting right here until the next update…
3. Handsome Girl (by Wataru Yoshizumi)
This is another great work of Yoshizumi-sensei and it is actually before Marmalade Boy. The drawing may not as perfect as other works of hers (well, whaddya expect from 80s manga?), but it still conveys wonderful storyline. Compiled in 9 volumes, I just can’t get tired re-reading this manga. It tells the story of Mio, a young actress mostly plays antagonist role, who catches the attention of Ichiya, a young director who wishes to direct a film on his own. His father is a great director himself and Ichiya, thick-headed, is not doubtful to use his father’s great name for his advantage. After seeing Mio’s performance, he rushes back to Japan from US to cast Mio as the main actress for his film, Private Detective Ai. Mio is best friend with Aya, a popular rising singer and also her co-star in several of their films together, who is actually Ichiya’s first girlfriend and still has unrequited love for him. If this is not complicated enough, Mio’s first love, Teru, an actor himself, is actually in love with Aya and this breaks Mio’s heart. There are a lot of hilarious and tearful (?) scenes in this manga. Though it is considered a long story, I somehow still hope for a miracle that Yoshizumi-sensei one day decides to make a sequel of this manga (as she did with Marmalade Boy). I am interested to know the continuation of Mio and Ichiya’s relationship… (oops spoiler! Dwehehe) I truly admire Yoshizumi-sensei’s works and she’s one of my favorite mangakas. Her other works that I also love are Ultra Maniac, Mint na Bokura, With You Only, Datte Suki Nandamon, and Chitose Etc.
4. Full Moon o Sagashite (by Arina Tanemura)
So far, I have to say that Tanemura-sensei’s drawing is simply the best. It’s sophisticated yet beautiful and she has this poetic way of telling stories. Full Moon wo Sagashite (Finding Full Moon) is a story about a 12-year old girl named Mitsuki (literally means Full Moon) who has a dream of being a singer but held by tumour in her throat. She is an orphan and used to live in an orphanage where she met her first love, Eichi, who was later adopted and went to America. Therefore, she needs to stay at home all the time with her strict grandmother and regularly visited by her doctor, until one day she meets Takuto and Meroko, two grim reapers from children division. It is said that she is not supposed to be able to see them and she realized that her time is about to be over. As her dying wish, she asks the grim reapers to give her healthy body to join a singing audition which she eventually passes and starts her debut. Along the story, the past of each character is revealed and I am actually amazed by how all of them are related to one another (to the point that you want to cry by how tragic the story really is). This story leaves a deep impression even until now and I can say that the manga is way better than the anime version (the anime is somehow more shallow than the manga).
5. Oshaberi na Amadeus (by Takeuchi Masami)
Compiled in 6 thick comic books (they’re thicker than the usual comic books), Oshaberi na Amadeus (Talking Amadeus) tells a story of Rio, an orphan girl, who dreams of becoming a professional violist. After her parents died of an accident, she lives with Usou, her childhood friend/lover, and his family. At first, Usou’s mother doesn’t approve the relationship or Rio’s dream due to her jealousy towards Rio’s mother who became a more successful violist than she did. Eventually they make peace and she supports her dream fully and begins to accept Rio and Usou’s relationship. The story revolves around Rio’s effort to become a violist (she meets lots of rivals in the competitions along the way) and Usou’s endless support and love for her. The drawing of this manga is unnecessarily the best but I am touched by the storyline to the point that I want one Usou for me, please. The most romantic scene is probably when Usou had to look at Rio’s portrait while playing Salut d’ Amour/Love Greeting as she was not present at that moment – whose heart won’t melt by that scene?
6. Polaris (by Riku Kurita)
The original title of this manga is Hokkyokusei ni Nage Kiss – Polaris is the published title in my country. I must say from the start that this manga is a real tear-jerker (watch out for the unexpected ending!). It tells the story of Tsubasa (a girl) who falls in love with her teacher, Amano-sensei. She joins astronomy club to spend more time with Amano-sensei, the club’s advisor. They occasionally go on a trip to observe the stars. Though it seems impossible at start, Amano-sensei gradually falls for her and ta-da… nope, not the end yet. The story is not that complicated but I enjoy it much.
7. Scramble B & Sky Blue Scramble (by Tomoko Nishimura)
At Seirin Junior High, classes are divided into two major categories: A and B. Class A is for those of wealthy families, while Class B is for those of lower social status. Tired of this discrimination and repeated harassments from class A towards class B, 3 handsome boys from class A – Hoshi, Shion, and Minato – formed a club named B-Club to defend Class B. Sora, the school principal’s granddaughter, just got into Seirin and became the only member of B Club from Class B. The story revolves around B Club adventures in defending class B in order to unite class A and class B, and of course a little romance of Sora and Hoshi. Sky Blue Scramble, the sequel of Scramble B, tells the story when Hoshi, Shion, Minato has moved to High School (only a few steps away from the junior high) and Sora becomes the leader of B-Club. This manga has light storyline so you won’t be too depressed or emotional but still excited for the next volumes. Scramble B is compiled in 4 volumes, while Sky Blue Scramble is compiled in 3 volumes. There are also some spin offs of this series such as Graduation Scramble and Rainbow Scramble.
8. Princess Ver. 1 (by Miyawaki Yukino)
Even until now, I still remember how I was attracted to the soft pink-purple cover and sweet drawing of this comic that I decided to buy the complete 3 volumes at once (I asked my dad to buy them for me, of course). This manga tells a story of Marino, a girl who escapes from home because her aunt forces her to marry a man and ends up in her old neighborhood. She lost her parents at early age and started to live with her aunt, not knowing a thing about her childhood due to amnesia. She is found by the ex-servant of her family and welcomed to stay at the boy dorm (of which land was once where her house was). She then meets Yu, her childhood friend, and falls in love with him. However, Yu is instructed by his father (the ex-servant) to serve Marino well but never to fall in love with her. The reason is in their past which I don’t really want to spoil right now, ha! Over all, I love the drawing and the story. Even if the story is a bit shallow compared to the others, I still enjoy reading this manga a lot. I have read Miyawaki-sensei’s other works, but so far this is my favorite. The second favorite is Our Graduation, telling a story of a girl who falls in love with her childhood friend but this childhood friend falls in love with their music teacher.
9. Pajama’s Wish (by Watase Yuu)
The comic book consists of several stories (I can remember up to 4 stories). The first story is about a girl who wants to meet her crush and is told by her friend that she can meet him by wearing the same pajamas and putting his photograph below her pillow. She will be instantly transported to his place for 7 minutes before transported back. However, she is accidentally transported to a guy’s room who is also in the photograph and the next is quite predictable. The second story is about a tomboy girl who comes to the city dreaming of having a boyfriend but is devastated by the fact that her new school builds a tall wall between female and male classes. She tries her best to cross the wall to meet her crush (who is not as good as he seems), often interrupted by the headmistress and helped by his homeroom teacher. The third story is about a girl who dreams of becoming a dancer due to her crush on a boy who comes from a dancer family. Her family owns a ramen restaurant and expects her to be the successor, thus becomes the obstacle for her to be with her high-class crush. She is then injured right before competing in a competition to win some money to pay back her family’s debt and is offered to marry whoever wins the ramen competition. The fourth story is about a tomboy girl (again) who longs to be noticed by her crush and ends up buying a… this thing I forgot… that instantly makes every man looks at her way. All in all the stories are quite enjoyable, especially the pajamas and the ramen girl.
10. Let’s Get Married (by Wataru Mizukami)
I found this manga from Nakayoshi (while I found Nakayoshi in a book bazaar) and quite interested in the story. Since I kinda forget the story, I had to re-read it again just yesterday. I am not sure how many volumes this manga is compiled in but there are 18 chapters in total (so probably 3-4 volumes). It tells the story of Touko, a country girl, whose grandfather, Ekichi, had this promise with his old girlfriend, Otome, to arrange their grandchildren’s marriage. Since Ekichi has disappeared and Otome has two grandsons, Nagi and Kaze, Touko is then engaged to those two boys and has to follow some challenges to grow love and choose one of them to be her husband. Touko was reluctant to go at first but she was threatened that if she doesn’t go, her village will be drowned (since Otome comes from a super rich family and will do anything to get what she wants). I was surprised by the ending when I first read the manga, but after re-reading it, I finally understood that the mangaka had dropped many hints of who Touko will eventually choose to be her husband. I’ve gotta say that this manga is very entertaining, no need to do much thinking while reading it and forget your logic for a while.
Those 10 mangas are my personal favorite and I actually own them in books. I sometimes re-read them for my own pleasure when I am at home and I find it hard to find as good mangas these days. I will probably reveal some of my next favorite mangas I’ve read online in the next few posts.
Have you read any of the mangas I mentioned above? What do you think of them? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here!