Monday, December 8, 2014

Gokinjo Monogatari

A little-known series from a big-name manga artist, Gokinjo Monogatari (Neighborhood Story) is known in Japan as the second big success from mangaka Yazawa Ai and the original series from which Paradise Kiss was a spinoff. I'm not sure why, but ParaKiss was much more popular and reached a much wider audience, despite less character development, plot, and a smaller span. Regardless, both ParaKiss and Gokinjo are wonderful series worth a look if you haven't already.

It's cute, it's fun, it's crazy, it's unknown since no one gives it a chance.

Running from 1995-1996, the anime of Gokinjo Monogatari spans 50 episodes and 1 movie and covers the first 3 volumes of the manga. It follows Mikako (for ParaKiss readers, you remember her as the older sister of Miwako) as she deals with following her dreams of being a fashion designer as she struggles with her budding feelings for her friend and neighbor, Tsutomu. The plot covers their relationship and the relationships they have within their circle of friends, as the teens experience life, love, hardships, disappointment, and success for the first time.

The ups and downs are frustrating, but worth it.

Anyone who knows Yazawa's work remembers her typical art style: long limbs, circular eyes, big lips. If Nana is the more realistic end of her spectrum...Gokinjo is the other end. While I adored the art style reminiscent of the 60's and 70's comics (mostly due to the heavy amounts of linework), most if not all of my friends that I showed it to were screaming about their eyes burning from the attack of the noodle people. (And no, I'm not talking about xXxHolic this time.) Along with the exxagerated lengths this series goes to on the Yazawa scale, it pushes the boundaries further with its choices in colour and pattern design. Though at first jarring, eventually the odd, bold fashion choices grow on you as you come to know the characters and the world.

Yes, kids, they are.

The music in Gokinjo was quirky and fun, just like the series itself. However, it was also a touch frustrating, but not for anything it did. It's just so hard to find! I scoured the internet and i could only find about a quarter of the soundtrack, and i had to source it from youtube. It gets more annoying when it's because i was looking for a certain few insert songs they had. The music during the serious scenes resonated with me moreso since they were the contrast in the painting here. Although, despite being lovely, they did teach me one thing: The Dramatic 90's Saxophone Sound is Universal.


Gokinjo is really not a series for everyone. With the quirky, original art style, odd characters and plot, and the 90's teen drama vibe it marinates in, it's really solely in the camp of shojo buffs, and only die-hard ones at that. Still, I loved it, and would gladly watch it again. Funny thing, it makes me sadder that it's less known than its successor, since i liked it more than i liked ParaKiss.

Yazawa's habit of self-insertion doesn't seem to help matters either, even if it is hilarious.

Gokinjo Monogatari is quite hard to find; Yuurisan Subs did it in english, and a group called Sôai No Naka (aka [S`n`N] ) did it in french. However, these seem to be the only results i can dig up.

Use your computers, people. FIND ME MORE.


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