Sunday, April 21, 2013

Paradise Kiss

Spending two weeks on Manga gave me a chance to try reading different stories in a genre that I tend to avoid. Paradise Kiss is a shojo manga by Ai Yazawa that exemplifies all the reasons why I tend to find shojo so insufferable. Something that is very common in girl comics are main characters who are over emotional and spastic. In Paradise Kiss, Yukari fits into this mold as the young college student who just wants to do well in school. Throughout the comic she goes from panel to panel jumping from one extreme emotion to the next. One second she’ll be crying over not passing an exam and the next page she’s getting a nose bleed over a hot guy. Maybe the heightened emotions found in Manga are a way for the Japanese to overcompensate for a society where people tend to be quieter and to themselves. While reading the story I can just hear the characters screaming from panel to panel and it quickly gets exhausting. I'm can see why this genre is so appealing to young teenage girls. It's wish fulfillment with plenty of romance and I'm sure this style would make more sense to me if I had read it earlier in my life.

Yukari essentially lives what I’m sure many girls would consider a desirable fantasy of being discovered by young fashion designers to be runway model. Though she is hesitant and insecure at first, modeling eventually gives Yukari newfound confidence. The way all the melodrama is presented in the comic is so over the top but this is only because I am not used to this style of comic. For instance, when Yukari is looking out a window contemplating if she should be a part of a fashion show she is sitting in shadow and a huge beam of line emits from her forehead. When the bisexual fashion student George appears he tends to be standing in front of a background of flowers, signifying how attractive he is. The issue reads like a romantic comedy as the romance between Yukari and George rolls along with will they/won’t they sexual tension until the issue ends with an expected kiss. This book is tries to incorporate a lot of female fantasy into the narrative. Anchoring the story around a fashion school allows for a lot of elaborate costumes and dresses. The characters identify themselves by their appearance. If anything it’s setting that is very visual and appropriate for a comic narrative.  

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