There are certain shojo manga that have a special feel to them, and Ai Yazawa’s Neighborhood Story is one of them. Now, as Viz Media picks up the series again some 28 years after its initial release, everyone finally gets a chance to watch and appreciate it.
If anyone has read or watched Paradise Kiss, some of Neighborhood Stories will feel familiar. The film tells the story of Mikako, the older sister of the supporting character Miwako in that series. She is a young woman studying at Yazawa Art Academy to pursue her design and fashion dreams with her childhood friend Tsutomu Yamaguchi and other friends. Like shojo manga, it is a love story. However, this is also a coming-of-age story that could even be considered to have some slice-of-life elements, as we see Mikako become an independent individual and decide what she wants in life, while witnessing interesting interactions. with her and her friends. It’s the balance of all the themes that have started to make it feel a little different.
Much of why Neighborhood Story is so worth reading and what makes it a remarkable Ai Yazawa manga is obvious just by looking at it. This is a gorgeous series. All of the characters are extremely fashionable and wear distinct styles. Mikako always wears strange outfits “of her own creation”. There is this sense of diversity and everyone is celebrated. From Risa to Mikako to P-chan. It looks Unlike all the other shoujo manga out there, this is a big problem and something that continues to happen with the mangaka’s other series like Paradise Kiss and Nana.
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The rest is how Neighborhood Story handles various issues, even in the first volume of the manga. Mariko is an example. She has a certain reputation at school, both in terms of appearance and past relationships. Some of the main cast even initially just called her Body-ko, objecting to her. However, as Tsutomu gets closer to her, she becomes part of the main character’s group of friends and as we learn more about her story, we see these surprising depths. In several chapters of the manga, Ai Yazawa provides backstory and exposition to explain Mariko’s behavior and attitude, demonstrating her truly kind nature and highlighting important character development. which you wouldn’t expect from a shoujo manga.
Then, the same situation happened to Risa. We learn more about her family life and what she does outside of Yazawa Academy. For those who haven’t read the Ai Yazawa manga series before, this will be quite a surprise. (As a sequel to Neighborhood Story, many of the characters and people related to them also appear in that shojo manga.) Again, it’s a theme that occurs in everyday life, but they We don’t often see it appear in this form of media. Especially in the original series that aired in the mid-1990s. But it’s handled very deftly, realistically and in a conventional way. More attention is paid to how Mikako realizes her relationship with Risa and develops because of what she did and didn’t know and how she handles it than the actual situation international. It’s a very mature and reasonable approach, with no negativity or drama surrounding Risa.
Honestly, I feel like Neighborhood Story is a shoujo manga worthy of praise, and we should celebrate the fact that Ai Yazawa series has finally officially appeared outside of Japan. It is a story that should have been told around the world a long time ago. Especially after seeing how well Paradise Kiss and Nana were received. It’s another legendary story, one with an incredible style and story rhythm, and I felt it was revolutionary at the time. Those who give it a chance will not regret it.
Volume 1 of Neighborhood Stories is currently available via Viz Media, and there’s still no release date for the shoujo manga’s second volume. There is a special edition cover variant at Kinokuniya store.