Ai Yazawa, the famous shoujo (girl manga) author, was born on March 7, 1967 in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Her literary nickname comes from a Japanese singer, Eikichi Yazawa. She started publishing manga in 1985 resulting in over 10 series in Ribon so far. While most of her manga still circulates in Japan, series like Paradise Kiss now come up in magazines such as Zipper.
The English-speaking know Yazawa mostly for I'm Not an Angel, Neighborhood Story, Paradise Kiss, and Nana. In 2003 the latter got the Shogakukan Manga Award as the best girl manga.
Yazawa's manga appeals basically to the female audience as her plots tend to describe girl society. The characters are very stylish thanks to the author's deep sense of fashion. They're also standalone, often rebellious.
In Embraced by the Marine Blue Wind published in 1990 the heroine has to choose between love and friendship... Tachibana works at a beach cafe, wandering in the sands with her dog. Her friend Ippei loses a surfing challenge to a newcomer who shockingly appears Arikawa, her 1st love and heartbreak. After 4 years he's back from the U.S. thinking Tachibana doesn't like him. But even before talking Ippei challenges Arikawa to another surfing match facing a hurricane!
I'm Not an Angel (1992) features a senior pupil, Midori Saezima, falling in love with a handsome and caring fellow at 1st sight. After accidentally entering the student council, she eventually runs into and has a love affair with the mysterious boy there. As new top students, they are about to change school ways and develop their relations.
1995 saw the Gokinjo Monogatari release. Its characters Mikako, Tsutomu and their friends attend a high art school in Tokyo. Mikako and Tsutomu live next door being friends since childhood. In their relationship they overcome high school.
In Kagen no Tsuki (1998), Mizuki tries to escape reality. Behind her ironic smile, she grows sad inside. Her dream lover is Adam, an English singer identifying Mizuki with his dead Japanese ex-girl. Strangely but nobody, apart from a girl meeting her at the heaven gates, can see Mizuki.
Paradise Kiss manga (1999) had all 5 volumes released in English by Tokyopop. The manga proceeded into a 12-series anime in 2005 dubbed in English in 2007. Here we meet familiar personages like Mikako, her little sister Miwako from the "ParaKiss" group and unfamiliar such as Isabella.
Yukari strives to be a worthy child and a good student. But she gets kidnapped by fashion maniacs - the "Paradise Kiss" group. Suddenly thrown to the glamorous show business, Yukari blossoms into her friends' top model.
Nana manga (2000) is Yazawa's biggest manga with 84 chapters (21 volume) and 3 side-story chapters about some characters' early lives. An anime (47 series) and 2 successful movies followed it in Japan. Mind that the anime begins from manga volume 2 to end with its volume 12, making the manga screened less than in half. After watching the anime, you can follow up with the manga.
Its heroine, Nana "Hachi" Komatsu, moves to Tokyo to start anew and leave her capricious love behind. Nana Osaki arriving parallelly plans to make a rock 'n' roll star. Despite different backgrounds, the girls quickly become best friends in the craze of top society!
In her manga Ai Yazawa as no one else highlights her characters' clothes design. No wonder after her fashion school classes leaving a trace through her works. Yazawa's fans can't wait to read her English versions and more mangas!
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