Shoujo sosuu

At this very moment, I should be having a great time in the hot springs of Gunma prefecture, but a last minute volcanic eruption in Iceland kind of trashed my plans for the whole week, and I am rotting away in my room instead. So now that everything is canceled, I'll try to blog a little for a change.

For starters, I'd like to introduce the first volume of Shoujo sosuu, literally “young girl prime numbers.” It's the latest all-age manga by Nagatsuki Misoka (serialized in Kirara Forward) whom you may know for his LO-published story-heavy eromanga A day in the life, or his later 4-koma HR. Shoujo sosuu doesn't have a lot to do with prime numbers, but it certainly does with young girls. It's the everyday life story of Anzu and Sumire, two twin middle school girls with somewhat constrasting personalities, and of their older brother, their friends, their acquaintances and so on. A standard setting perhaps, but with a rather unique spin on several levels.

Anzu and Sumire at the beach. As I don't have a scanner, this is a magazine scan, not quite as smooth as the tankoubon version.
Anzu and Sumire at the beach. As I don't have a scanner, this is a magazine scan, not quite as smooth as the tankoubon version.

For one thing, Nagatsuki-sensei has a peculiar art style; in particular, he draws his manga in greyscale instead of black and screentones; this fits the mellow atmosphere of the story quite well. His characters are really cute, and a noticeable improvement over A day in the life. Except mouths, which for some reason are really off in many panels, unfortunately.

The narrative structure is also interesting. As usual in the slice-of-life genre, nothing too consequential seems to happen (although character relationships do evolve in ways that are apparent even at this early stage). But Nagatsuki-sensei takes this idea one step further, by consciously avoiding the resolution of narrative tension in individual chapters. There can be a build-up of some kind, and suddenly the focus shifts to somewhere else (especially from Sumire to Anzu or the other way around when they are not together), or someone falls asleep, and an ellipsis follows. I'm not sure yet how I like this, but the change from the more usual one-punch-line-a-chapter format of slice-of-life comedies is not unwelcome.

The main draw of Shoujo sosuu, however, is probably Nagatsuki-sensei's fascination for young girls showing on every page. He loves their body lines, their moody quirks, their spoilt child antics, their joie de vivre, and succeeds pretty well at conveying that love to the reader (not that it was too hard in our case, I confess). This passionate dissection of youthful cuteness may be the “decomposition in prime factors” that the title is alluding to.

The older brother character, Fujio, a stout bearded guy in his early twenties, acts as an author surrogate of sorts. He is a professional figure designer—in the business of making cute things (a kawaii-ya-san, to quote the obi strip)—and also admits to not being insensitive to his twin sisters' gentle sensual beauty, although he doesn't do anything improper.

“Why are young girls always so gleaming?“, Nagatsuki asks on the cover flip. “Why not try and elucidate this eternal mystery once again together?” Well, why not indeed?

7 comments for ‘Shoujo sosuu’.

Differences with Ichigo Mashimaru ?
Is there a scantrad team on it ?

Like I need to like little girls more than I already do :s

I had seen the cover illustration many times before, and I can't say I'm not interested, particularly after having read that. The probability that it will bore me to hell seems to be non-zero, though.

Anyway, it's always a great pleasure to read your writings. Thanks!

Seems pretty nice, just got the first scanlated chapter after reading your article, I'll try it :)

(... Wait a sec, this was published april 18th, and a scanlation for chapter 1 popped up... april 18th ? Wow, how strange ~)

I hope your week-end wasn't that bad even if it ended up being disappointing

@QCTX: it doesn't have a lot to do with Ichigo Mashimaro, which is a gag manga featuring characters that are to large extent moe fantasies (not a criticism mind you, I am worshipful of Matsuri-chan). Shoujo sosuu takes a more realistic look at young girls, and doesn't really aim for comedy at all (although it does put a smile on your face more often than not). At any rate, there isn't any Miu-like boke character.

As for scanlations, I don't follow those things but FFenril seems to say something exists.

@Enthousiaste: I see how it could become boring along the way. I was never really impressed by Takamichi's attempts at writing manga, for example (partly because his girls from the country aren't really my thing, but I don't find his stories grabbing either), and it seems that there's a lot of similarities between the two. But Shoujo sosuu reads a lot more easily, at least as far as I'm concerned.

@FFenril: spent a good part of the week-end making phone calls and going to travel agencies to cancel everything, but it was pretty uneventful otherwise. Made a few nice manga purchases though; more on that later.

That's a shame!

I can't quite work out where you live, but it must be in Europe judging by the interruption by the volcano and in a French speaking country judging by your blogroll so that narrows it down to France, Belgium, Luxembourg or possibly Germany.

I really want to go to Gunma-ken hot springs too! Which one were you going to go to? I need a recommendation!

I'm in Japan right now, but some relatives planned to come over and we were going to make trips around Kantō together. I'd booked a night in Shima-onsen which came highly recommended by Japanese colleagues. I can't tell you how great it is myself though; but I went to Minakami-onsen also in Gunma-ken a few years ago and that was pretty nice as well (I almost said “cool” but that'd be a poor choice of words :p).

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