I thought that when I had a job, I would never see myself motivated enough to write a blog post until December, but surprisingly, even though it is in my more tired days, the urge to write something about manga that I read still holds (which didn’t wane at all when I finished work, since unlike writing something new, mindlessly reading requires way less brain power to process). Thus, for another archive in the almost dead blog, I present to you a manga topic about acting.
Acting can be many things, like re-enacting a scene either from the past or brand new, legalized lying or making the audience react to new sensations. And these are some of my own definitions thought on the spot. As with how popular dramas are from the past to the present, some mangakas would also want to place their blood on this goldmine of a pie. Of course being a artistic dog-eat-dog world, only a few may even get noticed in the English speaking sphere and here are some of the few I know and would like to share.
Obviously, spoilers alert.
The Current: Act-age.
Writer: Matsuki Tatsuya. Artist: Usazaki Shiro
Published: Weekly Shonen Jump in 2018 (Shonen)
Scanlation: Viz, then Fallen Scans
Summary: Kei Yonagi comes from a poor family. Her father ran out on her and her two younger siblings, leaving her to fend for the family herself after their mother’s death. When the opportunity comes to chase her dream of becoming an actress, Yonagi jumps at the chance. Catching the eye of Director Sumiji Kuroyama, Yonagi’s opportunity to shine has come.
First Volume Cover Review: While pretty and alluring, it would probably be the contender for the all-time laziest, cheapest and bland WSJ cover due to the lack of pizazz that make it stand out. The cover by itself has nothing that says acting at all and if you lie to me saying that it is a high school rom com published in WSM, I would not believe you because even WSM as generic as it is, would make their mangakas draw covers that would at least gather your eye balls for 5 seconds before shopping for the new generic looking volume of Days or the 100% watered down volume of Daiya no Ace Act 2.
Thoughts About The Manga: Enough ranting about the cover will be styled from now on, because after some cynical interest at the start (oh an acting series, wait, this is on Jump?), it became one of my surefire reads when the English translations became more constant (especially when Fallen Scans suddenly released 10 translated chapters in order to celebrate somebody’s wedding) while the story doesn’t feel dumb enough to make me enjoy the it. Japanse readers kinda agree, as it is somehow 1 of the 2 notable (other being Jujutsu Kaisen, another surprise to the English speaking community) 2018 WSJ titles that didn’t pop out and then die immediately to the point where Jump literally released 2 gag mangas that says desperation.
(But then again, with how unorthodox mangas are given the most love in WSJ, maybe that art inspired manga would be love enough to stay for 4 volumes).
What I Like About It: It is something unique for Jump and the story & art are able to meld well in making a story that could resonate with young adults. The acting scenes and especially the acting techniques used are quite fun as well. Also, since it is Jump, it means weekly, which means the plot would have a decent pacing compared to the next two reminders and recommendations.
Gripe: The artist has cover pages that has more interesting art than the volume covers would ever bring.
Interesting Tidbit: Death seems to be the biggest trend on Kei’s first acting year. Her first scene being an extra include seeing an innocent child getting killed (though for that type of film it was quite expected), her first major role is about a killing game and currently she’s now acting as a man who knows that he’s going to die. Also, one of her befriended rivals ended up starring a high schooler who had just killed a person, and that girl is the apex of the acting industry.
The Legacy: Glass Mask
Mangaka: Suzue Miuchi
Published: Bessatusu Hana to Yume, Hana to Yume in 1976 (this manga could even be my mother), currently on a hiatus that even the mangaka admits she’s should have already end this.
Scanlation: Shoujo Manga Maniac… 3 years ago.
Summary: Chigusa Tsukikage holds the rights to the play “The Crimson Goddess,” a lost masterpiece that many would love to see brought back to the stage. Tsukikage, however, won’t allow the cherished work to be diminished by an actress who isn’t worthy of playing the title role. Fortunately, she has found two young actresses that just might be worthy: Maya Kitajima and Ayumi Himekawa. Though both actresses are exceptionally talented, only one can win the coveted role.
First Volume Cover Review: That’s more like it. Take note Act-age, even with the typical restrictive Hakushensa cover, it still tells the supposed brief. Maya (who here is blonde until the mangaka decided to make her hair brunette) is determined to become an actress, shown by the fires surround her as she wears her own glass mask as described by her mentor Tsukikage. Just some visual cues and you already have an idea abo0ut the story (Shanimuni Go! isanother first cover Hakushensa cover that I applaud for doing the some thing).
Thoughts About The Manga: I started noticing this manga using Tv Tropes (maybe from some parts of the acting section guided me here) and had already read some of the tropes used. Kinda found it interesting and boy it is very intersing, when the story is focused on the acting the art really showcased their intensity and visual appeal and you can really find the two rivals, Maya and Ayumi quite rootable looking from different aspects to the point of being scary. However, the story is still on hiatus and the English translation ends at whether Maya & Ayumi would finally able to see who would get chosen (which still has another 10 volumes to go, for some unexplainable reason).
As for why this is called the legacy, it has come aspect where it ages well to be readable even in 2018 and is something the Japanese would regard it as a part of their culture.
Strongest Moment: The Helen Keller arc, showcases how the 2 actresses portrayed their roles. Never I have though that the teacher would have the experience way more intense that what I’ve seen in my Chinese Textbook about Helen Keller. Also, with many other mangas that I’ve known focuses on 80% film and 20% theater, this will be for the fans who wanted an acting manga that is 80% theater and 20% film.
Gripe: Granted that Maya & Ayumi are a league on their own, but other filler actresses, they mock, they tried to act and utterly humiliated by Maya & Ayumi again and again and they run to their mama, never seen again. Which can be quite annoying and showcases too much to having 1 star actress focusing on beating one other, while Act-age shows some arguments for why having a consistent acting schedule (nobody does anything too crazy) is good for everyone involved.
The Classic-Skip Beat
Mangaka: Yoshiki Nakamura
Published: Hana to Yume, 2002 (Shoujo)
Serialized: Currently, Impatient Scans & Manga Stream
Kyouko Mogami lived solely for her childhood friend Shoutaro “Shou” Fuwa. She follows Shou to Tokyo so that he may realize his dream of becoming a famous singer. When his dream is realized, Kyouko overhears the truth behind his decision to bringing her with him: he was using her as a maid.
Shocked and enraged, Kyouko swears to take revenge by outdoing him in show business. With a new look and a new attitude, she joins LME, the agency where Ren Tsuruga (Shou’s rival and the #1 actor of LME) works, in the hopes of achieving her goal of destroying Shou’s pride.
First Volume Cover Review: Hard to think that a 30 year old manga has the best of the 3 mangas I’m currently reviewing (the fourth one doesn’t even stand a chance because it is not initially about acting in the first place). The cover shows Kyoko posing and surrounded by lilies in an ironic way, as it represents thankfulness and desire for enjoyment, something that Kyoko doesn’t have when she started out her first journey. Accidentally, there is also a very thick orange border that pairs up with a smaller green border, creating an ugly combination, but if you connect the color orange with the lilies, it can mean pride, rebirth, passion and hatred, which describes Kyoko more when she first started.
Thoughts About The Manga: Heard about it from Tv Tropes (again) and starting reading half of the current updates in for 2 consecutive days about 2 years ago, so my memories for this manga is quite hazy. Thinking about the manga again, while the story dabbles on the entertainment industry, it is more about the actors behind it, where some of them have really heavy backstories (which of course, includes Kyoko and Ren) that would be explored and forgiven using acting.
Strongest Moment: While there were some good moments in acting, some of the things I remember most is when Kyoko actually uses her acting abilities in real life during the filming of Box “R”, where she uses her Natsu persona to deduct who threw her off the stairs. Also the part where Kyoko and Ren play as siblings in real life as Cain & Setsuka, where they exudes sexuality and confidence between each other.
Gripe: Very lengthy with the arcs as in the filming of Dark Moon took around a year In-Universe, but would take about 19 volumes just to free Kyoko and Ren to do other stuffs, even though it is just another type of job they did before moving to another more important arcs, it’s quite jarring . Paired up with a monthly schedule, you need to have a really long lifespan to be patient and read the latest releases. Also, it can be quite aimless at times due to the absurd length of the film plays.
The Wildcard: Haruka 17
Mangaka: Sayuka Yamazaki
Published: Weekly Morning, 2004 (Seinen, complete with 2 volumes more than the tilte)
Serialized: Currently, Dayment Scans
Miyamae Haruka, 22, is a soon-to-be graduate and at first glance a very unremarkable looking young woman. No one will even stop to help her up when she falls and each time she applies for a job, she’s blithely passed over. Things are getting desperate and if Haruka cannot get a job soon, she may become known as a jobless university graduate — a very unenviable title for any young graduate to bear.
So Haruka decides to lower her expectations. She goes to apply for a job she found on an ad and is shocked by how flippant the interview is. Little does she know, the job she really wanted is already taken and she is now interviewing for a spot as the newest idol… who is supposed to be 17 years old!
And so begins the birth of a new idol, Haruka 17, and follows the adventures and ordeals Haruka must go through as her star rises. She discovers that the world of an idol can be sleazy, terrifying, and a cruel competition. With the positive and negative relationships she develops with the other people around her, she begins to discover herself as well.
First Volume Cover Review: Kinda just her doing her first job as an gravure model, where everything is cheery but fake, like how most of the drama would be generated.
Thoughts: The author definitely milked the word “seinen” and put the uglier parts of entertainment industry: sex as bargaining chips, corporate power plays, scandal blackmailing and idol worship. Another thing is that Haruka had it the hardest out of the 4 heroines (Maya has insane talent, ditto to Yonagi with the aid of friends and the existence of well-being and Kyoko actually joins the strongest side at the start), where she simply joins the industry out of desperation and suddenly found herself becoming a pawn where the strongest is willing to crush her company. Thus there is a value for it to exist, even though it is not that well known outside Japan.
Strongest Moment: While some parts of the seinen demographic tends to be about blood, corruption and despair, the most memorable moment for me is easily the personal circumstances made Haruka to join Fine Pro, the top dog that is targeting Haruka’s agency voluntarily
Gripe: Her supposed university level education, which is often glossed over like everybody glossed over her at the first chapter. If the mangaka didn’t want to focus on her intelligence and instead focus on her character and talent, why bother making her a university graduate at all?
So here are the 4 mangas that is about acting, what are your thoughts or new recommendations?