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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
31st-May-2007 12:44 pm
Atagoul
Yes! Two updates this week!

http://www.smithsoncomic.com

Seriously, who didn't make this playlist at some point? Except that when I was in college, we called them "mix tapes," and they were carved with flint onto magnetic ore we found in the rocks we banged together for warmth. Because I'm OLD.

And of course you don't want to miss this week's Chronicles of William Bazillion! Andrew really digs drawing broad-shouldered adventurer guys who kind of look like they could be extras in a Tintin comic.

And a new Smithson page means a new Overlooked Manga Festival! Man, at this rate I'm gonna run out of manga.



This will be a short and sweet OMF, for a short, sweet manga.



Rica 'tte Kanji!? is a slim one-volume autobio manga about creator Rica Takashima's relationship with her girlfriend Miho. At this point, feel free to scroll down the list of previous Overlooked Manga Festivities and note the scarcity of lesbian autobiography in the mix. Takashima drew and self-published this little comic partly as a response to the dearth of realistic, upbeat manga about girls in love. It was arguably the first yuri (lesbian) manga published in English, courtesy of ALC Publishing and Yuricon.

Did I mention that Rica 'tte Kanji!? is a happy lesbian manga? Because it is super happy.



The plot is about as loose and simple as it can get. Fresh-faced, naive, somewhat bubbleheaded Rica moves to Tokyo for junior college, where she's studying early childhood education. (Holy crap, is she ever a girly-girl.) Her first priority is to check out the lesbian district; she knows she's gay, but she's never, you know, done anything. This is a fairly common state of affairs in Japan, where most gays are at least technically in the closet, only the biggest cities have much of a gay community, and one of the biggest challenges of being gay is figuring out who else is gay so you can hook up with them. (Sad but true: just because teenage girls fantasize about hot Japanese guys making out in public all the time doesn't mean it actually happens.)

Anyway, Rica meets Miho, a slightly tougher and more experienced art student, and adorable sparks fly.



The manga gently chronicles their relationship, which moves slowly and hesitantly. It's very obviously autobio, full of all the red herrings, fizzled buildups, disappearing characters, and general clumsiness of real life. Miho gets Rica to her apartment for a tryst, only to fall asleep before she can make her move. Rica makes a tearful confession of love to Miho, then forgets about it the next morning. Stuff like that. But what develops behind it is a charming, lifelike love story.



As you've no doubt noticed, everything in this manga is as cute as a blender full of kittens. Even the lesbian orgies are adorable.



There's very little sex, though; this is the kind of romance where getting past the hand-holding stage is a huge production. Rica is totally inexperienced, and she worries a lot about sex. Adorably, of course.



My one problem with Rica 'tte Kanji!? is that the ALC edition is pretty crudely produced. They're a really small publisher, and I understand that, but it's one of the weaker translation jobs I've seen. The reproduction quality is often poor (although this may reflect the quality of the original Japanese edition, which was a self-published doujinshi), the translation and lettering are spotty, and some sections are even left untranslated, like Takashima's sketches from a pride parade in New York City.



Damn, that's the cutest pride parade ever.

But Rica 'tte Kanji!? is still cuddly and adorable, and it's still the best lesbian autobio manga you're likely to read. Well worth tracking down.



Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Basara
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Phoenix
Kekkaishi
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Monster
Swan
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here
To Terra
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Doing Time
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Parasyte
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Mariko Parade
Golgo 13

Comments 
31st-May-2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
Good Gnu, that's a lesbian story by Sanrio? Cute.

Moreover, you are not old, you probably wouldn't know an 8-track if it bit you. I tell you, they are much more vicious than 78's, and 45's are pussycats by comparison.
1st-Jun-2007 06:18 am (UTC)
But the real baddies are the wax cylinders. They'd eat you alive.

in other news..Pictures of Lily.. mmm. I remember that..
12th-Jun-2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
Lesbians by Sanrio *snicker*

Totally true, though, I suspect!
9th-Oct-2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
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31st-May-2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
Aw, that is cute. I heard a about Rica tte Kanji, but I never knew what it was about. It looks really cute. :D I wonder if I could find it in Japanese...
31st-May-2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
Hooray! Finally one that I'd already read....

I think the odds of you running out of overlooked manga are roughly the same as me running out of bad movies to watch.
31st-May-2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
Oddly, I heard it got criticized in Japan for not exploring the "more realistic difficulties" of being gay there. It didn't seem to occur to the reviewers that maybe Takashima didn't want to draw a gritty slice o' real life drama full of misery, angst, and post-feminist discussion of the patriarchal power structure. In any case, there was apparently quite a bit of fiery discussion, which Takashima stayed well away from, wisely enough.
As for the poor production values, that's hardly a surprise these days, is it? Admittedly, because of their wealth of experience--and perhaps a bit of pride--Viz has done a pretty good job of cutting back without causing a tragic slump in quality, but by and large everyone else has slashed quality everywhere to meet the new, lower price points and rapid production schedules.
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes. Fans wanted their manga fast and cheap. Something had to give.
31st-May-2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but this one has the kind of low production value where I suspect a mimeograph and paste may have been used to make each book. It is REALLY BAD in spots. And it was really expensive for about 80 pages of content, eight pages of which were still in Japanese (to be fair, one was translated in English on the next page, but I wasn't sure why the original was there in the first place).

But I'm glad they could produce this all the same, and I'll take it any way I can get it. It was really cute, the romance was adorable, and it was definitely different from what I usually read.
1st-Jun-2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I suppose it's entirely possible that they really had no clue about how to do it. The first manga I did looks pretty good even now, twenty years later, but I had the advantage of knowing how comics were made and getting good advice from pros in the industry. Of course I made the effort, too.
I agree it's nice to have it, regardless, but I wish they'd made a few phone calls before starting production. A lot of people(including myself) would have been delighted to give them advice.
I'm somewhat more sympathetic about the price point. They probably figured, hey, we'll sell maybe, 1000 copies, and it'll cost $xxxx to produce and print, so we need to charge $xx to break even.
1st-Jun-2007 03:55 am (UTC)
In ALC's defense, they are basically a one-person operation, from what I understand. If you look at it from the perspective of a small-press comic listed in the back of PREVIEWS, then one can forgive some of the clunkiness -- or I can, anyway. Whenever I hear publishers talking about how they're trying to publish more "yuri manga" I think of how much better RICA 'TTE KANJI is than any of the zillion horrible moe girls'-school-stories-produced-for-the-consumption-of-men.

I do wish they'd translated the part in back about the New York pride parade, though.
2nd-Jun-2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
Oh! This one I actually have. Very adorable indeed, but it really shows that it was released here by an one-person production.
4th-Jun-2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
If I had to do an overlooked manga festival, I'd do Ebichu (if it had ever been released in the U. S., which it never will be, because it's like a raunchy-yet-hilarious version of Cathy with beastiality and animal abuse. But it's SO FUNNY.) Otherwise, I'd do One Pound Gospel, because it's Rumiko Takahashi doing a '40s B-movie with a boxer and a nun.
15th-Jun-2007 10:03 pm (UTC) - Second Book
Book #2 of Rica came out in the U.S.!
1st-Jan-2008 05:54 am (UTC) - Happy new year!!

This is Rica Takashima.
I found this site by accident, and feel very happy many pople like my story.
i continue Rica's story in YURIMONOGATARI 4 &5 anthology magazine in 2006,2007.
if you have a chance, please read another story of Rica and Miho, Rica's comeout story.
I live in Tokyo now, but next year, i ll move to New York City.
See you ! Thank you, again!

1st-Jan-2008 08:40 am (UTC) - Re: Happy new year!!

Thank you very much for your wonderful comic! I do look forward to reading more of your work. And good luck in New York!
7th-Oct-2008 12:19 pm (UTC) - Куплю Windows
Anonymous
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предложения на е-мейл winrembo@mail.ru
8th-Jun-2010 01:06 am (UTC)
wonderful comic Rica Takashima!



Regards

Andy Landers





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