Tag Archives: fashion

Sewing Manga

March is National Craft Month (among other things). So being a crafty person, I thought I would do some features about crafts in manga. I already did one post back in 2009 about some handicrafts, but it was focused more on knitting. This time, I’m expanding to sewing and fashion.

vb rose 1V.B. Rose is about Ageha, a girl with a serious big sister complex. When her older sister announces she is getting married, Ageha is against it at first, but goes with her to the boutique where the dress is being made. There she meets Yukari and Mitsuya, the two-man team that run Velvet Blue Rose. But when Mitsuya’s hand it hurt, Ageha volunteers to help keep her sister’s marriage on track. V.B. Rose features several kinds of crafts. Dressmaking the main one, with wedding dresses being the main focus. There is plenty that goes into making a wedding gown, designing and sewing the gown, and making the accessories such as corsages, beadwork, and the veil. Ageha also has her own skills as she enjoys making purses and bags, impressing Yukari and Mitsuya enough with her work that they let her help at the shop when she offers. This series is 14 volumes long and was published nearly complete by Tokyopop. They got as far as vol 13 before they shut down. It is now out of print.

parakiss1Paradise Kiss follows the story of high school student Yukari who becomes tangled up with four college fashion designer students as they prepare for the fashion school final and want Yukari to model their gown for them. She is drawn into the world of fashion professionally and into the romantically into the arms of George, the charismatic leader of the group. Dressmaking is shown in detail, from the design, to choosing the fabric, to putting on the flourishes. The story is as much a romance as it is about fashion and dressmaking. This series was first published by Tokyopop, and was rescued by Vertical, Inc., that published it in three volumes. It is still in print, but it is unknown for how long.

Stolen Hearts v1Stolen Hearts is about Shinobu Okuma, a petite girl and Miharu Koguma, a boy who looks intimidating, but is really gentle. Koguma’s grandmother owns a kimono shop and needs models to wear the kimonos as advertisements for her shop, and Okuma is tricked into helping by Koguma. At Koguma’s grandmother’s shop, kimonos can be bought or custom-made, and Koguma’s other brothers help out with designing and making the garments. It was licensed by CMX, but only 2 volumes were released before CMX went under. The series went for six volumes and is now out of print.

Buruki no Kazume Buriki no Kanzume is about Nabiki Oukawa, a girl who dreams of being a stuffed toy maker. Itsuru Fukamachi wants to be a silverwork designer. They both join Kousei High’s Crafting Club, intent on working hard to become professionals in their chosen fields. They both have their obstacles to overcome. Fukamachi’s father opposes his choice of professions, while Nabiki’s grades threaten her club activities. Since it’s set in a crafting club, there more crafts that the main characters stuffed animal and silverwork. Beading, glass work, and woodworking also get shown. This series is complete in one volume and was published by Hakusensha. It is currently unlicensed.

Handmade PrinceHandmade Oujisama is about Michiru Asaba, a successful fashion magazine editor who is dumped by her boyfriend because she can’t even sew on a button. Lacking in sewing skills, she decides to make a change and goes to a sewing class run by Shou Igarashi, who has been given the nickname “Handmand Prince.” This title looks cute, and has an older lead, something that appeals to me. This is another one-shot volume. It is a josei, and was published by Shogakukan. It is currently unlicensed.

OsenOsen follows Sen Handa, nicknamed Osen. She is a popular hostess at the longstanding restaurant Isho-an. As well as being a good hostess, Osen is a “jill of all trades.” She is a master chef, entertainer, potter, and art connoisseur. She uses her many skills to solve the problems that pop up around Isho-an. While crafting isn’t the focus of this series, it still sounds really interesting, and has a cool-looking female lead. This series is 16 volumes long. It is a seinen and was published by Kodansha. It is currently unlicensed.



Paradise Kiss Volume 3

As the much-anticipated Yaza Arts fashion show gears up, an unexpected visitor from George’s past makes an appearance. Yukari’s modeling career heats up just as George makes an announcement that shocks the ParaKiss group to the core. George is hearing the siren call of the City of Lights, but where does that leave Yukari? Will she find the key to Paradise?

Paradise Kiss 3By Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fashion
Price: $19.95
Rating: ★★★★★

In this final volume of Paradise Kiss, fashion takes a back seat to all the relationship drama that is going on. George and Yukari’s relationship remain turbulent and with the introduction of Kaori Aso, an important female friend of George’s, things just go to an 8 on the Richter scale. The reason behind the complex relationship between Miwako, Arashi and Tokumori is finally revealed, as is Isabelle’s past. The series ends with everyone having to make choices about their future, the biggest in question being George and Yukari’s; do they have one together?

While fashion was a backdrop, the focus of this series has always been on George and Yukari, and with the fashion over, that focus just intensifies. Yukari, who wants to be the center of George’s universe gets booted out of the limelight as Kaori Aso, a close friend of George’s, comes back to Japan to see the fashion show, but more importantly, to try to convince George to continue designing. Yukari gets a lot of shocks during this meeting, as she learns George has shared many things with Kaori that he didn’t with her. The realization she comes to from this is harsh but true; she more of a dress-up doll for George than an equal partner in their relationship. I was disappointed when even after realizing this, she was still willing to go along as long as she was with him. I really expected better from Yukari.

The Miwako-Arashi-Tokumori relationship finally gets some attention in this last third as the root of Arashi’s jealously is revealed to both Arashi and the audience. Tokumori is a great character, the only real voice of reason in all the madness. Even though he has been Arashi’s rival for Miwako, he gives Arashi the pep talk he needs to accept Miwako’s feelings. Their talk is one of my favorite scenes of the volume. I also really enjoyed finally seeing more of Isabelle outside of the atelier, and seeing how she became the person she is now.

The big question of the volume, and really the whole series, is, will Yukari and George stay together? Yukari and George are fine together as friends. Yukari was a muse for George, inspiring him to create some great things. George also helped Yukari get out of her rut of being a student and find something she could enjoy and be passionate about. But as a couple, I never liked them together. They didn’t fit well for me. There was a lot of passion, both in their feelings and their interests, but I didn’t feel any love between them. If Yukari were to follow George, I think she would suffocate in that relationship, and George wouldn’t really be happy with Yukari not taking advantage of her full potential. The way Yazawa ended the story was just right. Everyone ends up with just who they should.

Paradise Kiss is a great story filled with rich and colorful characters. It’s fashions are outrageous but fun, and the drama of the relationships are a bit over the top, but just realistic enough to ring true. This is a series that should not be passed up, especially since readers have been given a second chance with it. Do regret not picking it up. This title is a Buy It Now.

Paradise Kiss Volume 1-2

Yukari Hayasaka is a studious, straight-laced high school senior, racing toward college exams yet with no real sense of purpose in her life. One day she’s kidnapped by a troupe of fashion design students and whisked away to their lounge-like atelier. There they ask her to be their model for their school fashion show. At first she resists, scornful of the odd-looking design students, until George, the lead designer, uses his wiles to join them while forcing Yukari to take a good, hard look at her life.

parakiss1By Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fashion
Price: $19.95
Rating: ★★★★½

I first read Paradise Kiss two years ago for its Manga Movable Feast. The series was originally released by Tokyopop, who has since gone the way of the Dodo, and at the time I could only get a hold of the first volume. But Vertical, Inc. has, in its infinite wisdom, rescued this title and re-released it not only with a new translation, but also as an omnibus edition. With a much better translation and bigger chucks of story, these two volumes really delve into the characters and starts to give glimpses of the fashion world.

In these first two volumes, we not only meet all of the characters of Paradise Kiss, but see the complex relationships that Yazawa has set up. Miwako and Arashi are childhood friends who have become lovers. Arashi has piercings all over his face and looks scary, but is actually kind and the most responsible of the group. Miwako is very childlike and refers to herself in the third person. She becomes Yukari’s first close friend that she can confide into. Isabelle is a male transvestite who likes to cook and worries about Yukari as well, but doesn’t push too much. She really doesn’t get as much development as the others. And then there’s George, or Jorji. He is the leader of the group and prodigy designer. He is suave, handsome, and at times real jerk.

Yukari gets dragged into their world as her college exams approach. She doesn’t take their request for her to be their model, or even their work seriously at first. But when she learns about how hard they are working to make their dreams of creating their own label of clothes, she has more respect for them. They have a dream, a goal for their lives. She’s just been going through the motions, trying to appease her rank-hungry mother. Being with Parakiss and George, gets Yukari thinking about her life and her future, and what she wants to do with it rather than just what her mother wants. She also becomes romantically involved with George, who is a complex person. Yukari’s emotions get bounced around like a pinball as he manipulates her feelings leaving both the reader and Yukari wondering if his feelings for her are real.

parakiss2There is a third side to the Yukari-George relationship. Hiro Tokumori is a class mate of Yukari’s who also, co-incidentally is a childhood friend of Miwako and Arashi. He starts out as Yukari’s crush, and seemingly not interested in her, but as she gets more involved with Parakiss and George and less involved in school, he starts to worry about her. Hiro is the complete opposite of George. He is never manipulative of Yukari, but he does speak his mind, and his words get Yukari thinking rather than just reacting. As he becomes more involved in the story, I found I was liking him more and more. He’s a better match for Yukari than George. He is understanding her feelings without the manipulation.

I really enjoyed these first two volumes of Paradise Kiss. It was great watching Yukari start to grow as a person, and face some of the things she’s been avoiding. She finally finds something she wants to do, modeling, thanks to Miwako’s sister, Mikako, who is already a famous fashion designer. She confronts her mother about her life’s direction, and finally wins some freedom. She even learns that, once it is her own choice, college might not be as bad she thought. But she is still growing up in other ways, especially emotionally. She makes George angry at her over a choice she made that was more about her inexperience than anything else.

If you missed Paradise Kiss the first time around, don’t make that mistake again. Vertical has done a terrific job with this re-release. The volumes are larger than a regular manga volume, and just thick enough to give good chunks of story, and still be comfortable to hold. And you won’t want to put these volumes down. The story is very addicting, as you have to know what happens next. It was very difficult to reach the end of volume 2 and realize I had to wait for the next. Ai Yazawa’s artwork is realistic with a few comedic moments, which mostly involve Arashi punching George. The series is also rather self-aware, at least among the Parakiss crew, as George and Isabelle are seen reading the magazine the series was serialized in, and are constantly making references to events being in previous chapters. Paradise Kiss is a fun, funny, and sometimes frustrating series, but it is worth every moment.

Review copies provided by publisher.