In Shojo Beat Magazine

I was interviewed recently for Shojo Beat Magazine, an English magazine published in the U.S. dedicated to shojo manga (manga for girls), and the results of whatever I said are in the most recent issue. Unfortunately the articles isn't online, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but the whole issue is dedicated to Japanese food and manga - sounds like fun!

Update: Here is the link to the article (an excerpt I think). (Thanks heatherbug!)

Incidentally, I am periodically asked 1. if I read manga, and 2. what manga I like. The answers are 1. yes, sometimes, and 2. I'm a bit of a classicist (or you could say, jidai okure or 'behind the times' old fogie). I am not fond of most recent manga really, though if I were pushed to name some I did like I guess Nodame Cantabile is pretty good - the idea of a whole manga series based on a love of classical music is just awesome. It does bug me a bit that the heroine is some sort of idiot savant, who is frequently (and willingly?) thrown and bashed about to get sense into her! Karekano (or kare to kanojo no jijou) went from awesome and funny to more serious then WTF to a sort-of-satisfying ending (I have the whole manga series).

My favorite manga are from a select group of authors who are considered to be masters of the shojo manga genre. No. 1 by far for me is Moto Hagio (萩尾望都), who writes everything from fantasy/SF to extremely gritty drama to sweet romances. No. 2 is Yumiko Ohshima (大島弓子), who writes almost ethereal, delicate manga with a bite. (Many of her most popular works feature cats.) No. 3 is probably Ryoko Yamagishi (山岸涼子; her forté is ballet drama manga, but she's also written historical dramas and more. All three of these authors (all women) made their debuts in the late 1960s to early 1970s, and are still turning out top notch manga. If you want to know more about them, American manga scholar Matt Thorn has written extensively about them, especially Moto Hagio, with whom he conducted an extensive interview.

Early on in her career, Moto Hagio wrote a sort of novella-length manga called "Cake Cake Cake" (ケーキ ケーキ ケーキ). It was about a girl who had no special talents to speak of, not even cooking, but loved sweets and cakes more than anything in the world, and could turn out terrific pancakes. Her love of cakes leads her to Paris, where she becomes the apprentice of a downtrodden patissier. I read this manga when I was about 10, and while it's not the best work by the author by any measure, it's one of my favorites because it's so full of life. I think it even started me on the road to somehow end up living in Europe as an adult!

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