Pink

PinkSummary: Yumiko moonlights as a call girl because her day job doesn’t pay enough to feed her pet, Croc. Haru, an aspiring writer who has nothing to say, sleeps with a woman his mother’s age not just for the money but to work on his “powers of observation”. So when Yumi’s step-mom turns out to be Haru’s sugar-mommy, it is time for shenanigans. A little bit of drinking, a little bit of blackmail and a visit with Croc is enough to change lives and maybe add some color to a comfortable but bland life.

Published at the zenith of the Bubble era, women’s comics legend Kyoko Okazaki’s representative work captures, like no other graphic novel, the spirit of its times, when a nation lost something for good amidst the prosperity that made her the envy of the world. While the Bubble burst, that cynicism — and pink — have endured to this day.

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Pink, by Kyoko Okazaki 7.25

‘Pink’ is one of the first works by Kyoko Okazaki, a groundbreaking japanese manga artist. Originally published in 1989 as a 20-part serial, it has since been collected as a whole, and is considered a landmark in her remarkably long career.

It follows Yumi, a young woman who works as an accountant by day and is a call girl by night. She has a pet crocodile in her home, and has a terrible relationship with her stepmother, whom she has to see regularly to get her allowance from her dad.

One day, she discovers that her stepmom has taken on a young lover. Though she is rather understanding of this arrangement (thinking that her dad had done the same to her own mother), her little stepsister, however, is not nearly as forgiving.

Yum decides to track the young man down and finds in Haruo an aspiring writer. They become friends and eventually move in together. But this doesn’t go well with her stepmom at all, who proceeds to getting her revenge on her stepdaughter…

I knew nothing about ‘Pink’ before requesting it, after a friend recommended it. It’s a quirky mixture of cutesy manga and gritty real-world situations – for instance it’s surprisingly frank about sexuality, though it’s not especially graphic.

But, ultimately, it seemed a bit vacuous, much like its protagonist, who is focused strictly on instant gratification and consumerism (hence why she had two jobs and an allowance!). Perhaps there’s a cultural thing that I didn’t quite get.

Similarly, I felt like something was lost in translation; the way the dialogues flowed seemed off and there are exchanges that made very little sense to me. I suspect that I didn’t miss much, but perhaps the author’s intention got blurred.

Still, it was enjoyable enough that I might want to read more of Okazaki’s works. I think that perhaps other readers would get more out of it than I did, especially if they read it untranslated. In fact, I’d be curious to know what fans like about it.

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