Written & Art By Ai Yazawa
Yukari’s life has changed since she was plucked from the streets of Tokyo by ParaKiss to be their model. She’s fallen in love with ParaKiss’s leader George, made great new friends, and has found a meaning in her life she never thought was possible. As the fashion show draws closer, the friends worry about their futures. Yukari wants to continue her education while pursuing her modeling, but her mother is against it. George also is entertaining thoughts about going to Europe to work in the fashion houses there. While the other ParaKiss members worry about their romance problems. Yukari is unsure about her love life and professional future. The only thing known, though, is that ParaKiss’s dress is gorgeous and Yukari will make it shine.
If you want to read a shojo manga that breaks off from the usual bubbly romances and cute art, Ai Yazawa’s works are at the top of the list. She is a best seller not only in Japan, but also across the globe and her works have inspired everything from anime to an actual fashion line. Paradise Kiss is touted as the pinnacle of her work. It was first published by TOKYOPOP during the manga boom and split into more volumes. Vertical Inc. not only returns Paradise Kiss to its original three novels, but the pages are also printed on larger paper size. Vertical always gives readers an authentic presentation and this imprint no different from the other books they produce.
Paradise Kiss is heavy on the drama. The characters explore their emotions and air out past grievances. It’s their final year of high school and letting go of the past prepares them to move forward without any regrets. They struggle with coming to decisions that will shape their lives, romance being the biggest ones. What is fresh about Paradise Kiss, even though it was written over twenty years ago, is its realism. While the story and characters are exaggerations and embody a teenage fantasy, the problems they face are much more real than other shojo manga.
Paradise Kiss would be nothing without Yazawa’s luxurious art. Her characters are decked out in clothing that is more art than functional. They also vary in shape and size, displaying the different beauty in all body sizes. The only letdown is the dress that the entire manga was building up to. While it is pretty, it does lack the awe factor that other outfits have.
Paradise Kiss is a fashion manga about love and life, but unlike other things in the fashion industry it never goes out of style.