by Whitney Grace
Once upon a time, Japan was an economic wonderland and prosperity poured out of everyone’s bank accounts. Kyoko Okazaki made her claim to fame by creating a new type of girl manga that exemplified this era and the type of person modern Japanese women were becoming. Okazaki’s works fall under the shojo label, but are better called “gyaru comics: (Japanese for gal) for their depictions of sex, drugs, and other taboo subjects.
Pink is a manga that defines gyaru comic, evident by main character Yumi’s nudity on the first page. By day Yumi is a typical office lady (OL), in the evenings moonlights as a call girl. Yumi makes more than enough to support herself as an OL or she would if she did not have a pet crocodile. Croc requires fresh meat everyday and it pinches into Yumi’s savings, but it is worth it to her to know that she has an exciting pet waiting for her at home. Her life gets a bit more complicated, when Yumi starts seeing aspiring novelist Haru. He turns out to be the lover of Yumi’s step-mom. The love triangles are only the beginning of the comedic drama that follows Yumi and Haru as they try to find happiness and success in the bubble economy.
Okazaki’s art is atypical shojo faire, because she relies on a cartoonish, masculine style usually reserved for light-hearted four panel comics. It is a sharp contrast to the mature themes that play out on each page and offers a satire glimpse of the strange romantic entanglements that litter girl’s manga. Nudity does come into play and do not be surprised to see everything a character has to offer, but rather than being an attention grabbing stint as with the first page, it plays into the story as a tool. Pink is classified as a manga expressing the burgeoning attitudes of Japan’s economic bubble. That may be in the case, but don’t heap mounds of historical context on it. It’s light, fluffy and full of perverse comeical drama.