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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

License Line: More More Moyoco

Hataraki Man (働きマン)

What is License Line? Put simply, it's a semi-regular feature on Nagareboshi Reviews in which yours truly posts about a certain anime/manga series that truly, desperately needs to be licensed and put on my shelves ASAP - from the obscure but well-deserving manga to the stream worthy but not yet DVD licensed anime.
Recently, we have the Manga Moveable Feast centered around josei manga-ka Moyoco Anno and it was wonderful and a bunch of great posts were generated because of it but it got me thinking: why is so little of her works available in English? Why is the only one I can easily buy Sakuran? And why is most of that work now out of print? Despite the josei (ladies' comics) genre being historically low-selling in North America, I think the current manga market can make Anno's work - which is mostly josei - viable again. 
Below the read more jump are three titles by Anno that would be great for release (or re-release) in English. And they're all under ten volumes - so they are affordable licenses to boot!
(Psst: Viz Media? She married Hideaki Anno. You know, the guy behind Neon Genesis Evangelion. Instant cross-promotion opportunity!)

Hataraki Man (働きマン) is a working girl's manga, literally. It centers around Hiroko, a woman in his mid-twenties whose utmost dedication to her job as editor of a magazine has earned her the nickname Hataraki Man aka 'working man'. However, despite being someone completely in control of her work life, her love life just ain't happening. What's a Hataraki Man like Hiroko to do? 
Hataraki Man is four volumes and ongoing in Japan and was also adapted into a live action series. This is probably the riskiest possible license since it's still going on and is about a subject not commonly published in English - the working woman - but I think it would be worth the risk.
Happy Mania (ハッピー・マニア)
Happy Mania (ハッピー・マニア) has the honor of being one of Tokyopop's first mature rated English licenses; it also has the dishonor of being one of the many titles lost when Tokyopop went under. It follows Shigeta, a woman whose biggest obstacle to a successful love life is the hardest one of all - herself. It also became the basis for a live action TV drama (in 1998!). 
This eleven volume manga put Anno's name on the map for English language readers. It helped set the stage for bringing mature rated manga into the United States (yes, you can thank it for Project-H being viable!). Isn't it time we brought it back for a new generation of josei readers?
Angelic House (エンジェリック・ハウス) is one of the best ways to reintroduce a manga-ka into the current field and it shares something with Anno's other work, Sakuran, her work most recently published in English: they are both self-contained one volume books. As in, one book and you are done. It's the best way to introduce readers to a relatively new manga-ka; give them some short stories and make them want more.
MyAnimeList describes Angelic House as containing "music, angels, and a regular boy" and that's good enough for me! It's early Anno, a mixture of the real and fantastic, and it looks absolutely awesome.
As for who would publish all of these titles? Personally, I'd love Vertical to get their hands on these licenses; they would fit in well with the works of Ai Yazawa and Keiko Suenobu. If Happy Mania was to be license rescued, I'd have Viz touch it first before anyone else. Hataraki Man could be a good Yen Press title if they could promote it well enough. Angelic House is a complete toss up between any publisher than can touch Kodansha titles - so Kodansha USA will do.
Of course, what I'm really waiting for is a full anime film adaptation of Sakuran. But I'm asking for actual possible things here!