Shoujo Art Lineage
I just finished reading Pure Trance by Junko Mizuno. In true Mizuno fashion, the storyline is as funky as the art style employed to tell it. A lot of the situations in Pure Trance deal with Food and Death, and often both of these elements are combined. So this is a cross between Cibo Matto (apostles of Food) and Yukio Mishima (angel of Death) and Mizuno pulls it off very well.
According to interviews and fansites, Mizuno has been deeply influenced by Osamu Tezuka and Leiji Matsumoto. Of course, being a Matsumoto fan I was delighted by this and puzzled at the same time. What could Matsumoto and Mizuno have in common? I couldn’t tell straight off the bat!
But then I remembered that Matsumoto himself was deeply influenced by Tezuka (though seriously, which mangaka wasn’t?!). The influence is most clear in their respective shoujo works. Tezuka is famous for pretty much fathering the shoujo genre in the 1950s with Princess Knight [literally the name is “Ribbon Knight”].
Leiji Matsumoto began his career in earnest by drawing shoujo manga. Already in the early 1950s he had created Harlock and put him as a side character in stories, but shoujo manga was were the money was for him. Many English websites state that he always hated shoujo manga and was extremely relieved when he broke out of that genre in the the Seventies. I’ve found, however, that Japanese sites put it much differently: what happened is that he gradually felt that shoujo wasn’t his “thing” (in Japanese, he felt “iwakan” [違和感] toward shoujo) which is much different . And in an interview, Matsumoto states that he was encouraged to do shoujo work because of his fascination for actress Marianne Hold, who is one of the main inspirations for Maetel as well (interview here). Anyway, here’s a Matsumoto shoujo cover for Blue Petal.
I think a lot of the details are similar, although the inital feel of Matsumoto’s girl’s face is quite his own. Here’s another shoujo manga cover from a bit later. The story is called Green Angel.
From here we can go to the long-haired blond Maetel that is Matsumoto’s classic lady, as seen here:
But we can also, instead of letting the shoujo (girl) grow into a mature woman like Matsumoto did, keep her small but have her lose her innocence and become totally twisted. Ecco Mizuno:
It’s very interesting to see this sort of style lineage work. I have read on a Japanese website that a couple of Junko Mizuno’s works (including Fancy Little Gigolo Pelu) are thematically related to Matsumoto’s Otoko Oidon series. I haven’t read any of these works but it seems the connections run even deeper. I might order Pelu for my birthday, so we’ll see.
As you may or may not know, I’m using a service called “ebook initiative japan” where one can find old out-of-print manga classics and “buy” them, or really, buy the right to read them on your computer. I’m currently reading Matsumoto’s Miraizer Ban. Anyway, after signing up for the service I received as a bonus 28 pages from a chapter of Tezuka’s Black Jack. I just looked through it today and was shocked to find that even though I had seen Black Jack everywhere for years and years (there’s even volumes of the manga in Sri Racha, a not so large town in Thailand!) I hadn’t noticed that the dude looks strikingly similar to Harlock, right down to he huge fencing scar down his face!! Tezuka’s influence on Matsumoto goes beyond shoujo…
I should add here that I think it’s wonderful that a few cutting edge female artists are getting translated into English (the French were there first when it comes to Mizuno, but that’s a given). However, other artists are totally getting passed over, including my favorite Naito Yamada and also Aya Takano. A handful of Yamada’s works are getting translated into French but I haven’t seen a single one licensed in English. This is a travesty!!!! 😦
ONE FINAL NOTE: To call Junko Mizuno’s characters “Powerpuff Girls on Acid” (as Viz Comics has) is ridiculous. The original Powerpuff girls are already on acid…