Friday, February 26, 2010

License Request: Tokyo Crazy Paradise

So, you've been reading the Shojo Beat line. In particular, you're a fan of Skip Beat! You like the characterization, the strong female leads, and the dramatic posing. You want more! Has this author done any other shojo?

Why yes, yes, she has! In fact, if you turn over your Skip Beat volume to the back, Viz will tell you! Skip Beat is from the author of Tokyo Crazy Paradise! Fantastic, you think! When did Viz release that one? Well, ahem, they haven't. Tokyo Crazy Paradise remains unlicensed.

Is it too long? Not really. At 19 volumes, it's shorter than Skip Beat. Does it have a naive and romantically dense yet strong and spunky heroine? Why yes, yes, it does. Does it feature lots of hot bishonen guys, including a brooding male lead who teases the heroine out of love and is too serious for its own good? Yep, it's got that too. Does it have chain whip fights? Oh, you bet it does! Sometimes the heroine gets spattered in gore! All this and the usual humor and drama mix we've come to exp--

...wait, back up a second. Chain whip fights?

OK, perhaps I should explain what Tokyo Crazy Paradise is about.

Yoshiki Nakamura had been writing for Hakusensha since 1993, and just had a small 7-volume success with MVP Wa Yuzurenai! In 1996, she started this new manga, but the tone was decidedly darker - at least the background was. This was not unusual for mid-1990s Hana to Yume, which still featured Descendants of Darkness and was a lot less fluffy than it is today (though it still had its share of fluff).

The series takes place in a dystopian Tokyo in the year 2020. Despite advances in technology, the main problem is that men greatly outnumber women. This means that most women who venture outside end up getting sexually assaulted - in fact, that's how the series begins, with Tsukasa, son of a cop family, rescuing a woman from some rapists. Notably, everyone else on the street had been blithely ignoring the scene.

Unfortunately, Tsukasa's parents were just killed, leaving he and his three brothers homeless. Desperate, they turn to his school classmate Ryuji... who also just lost his father, and is now the head of one of the largest yakuza families in the city. Needless to say, he does not take kindly to favors from the offspring of the police. Eventually, however, they work to catch the killer, and Tsukasa ends up as Ryuji's bodyguard.

This is probably a good thing, as Ryuji is one of the very few to know Tsukasa's secret: he's actually a she, having dressed as a boy her whole life in order to avoid being assaulted in this Crazy Paradise. (For those worried about spoilers, we find this out on Page 20 of Chapter 1, so...)

The story then moves in the usual shojo pattern: guy likes girl and is jerkish to her to show it, girl gets angry with guy and completely misses that he's fallen for her, rival for guy shows up, rival for girl shows up, etc. Balanced against this is the far more serious plot of rival yakuza gangs fighting for power, and how various pasts end up being connected. Tsukasa, being Ryuji's bodyguard, also gets most of the big fight scenes in this manga as well. She is no delicate flower. And being the daughter of cops, she is not very fond of yakuza either.

There are a few drawbacks to licensing this, of course. At 19 volumes, it's still long (for shoujo). It's much darker than Skip Beat (major, likeable characters die), and thus hard to sell to teen girls with a 'from the creator of!' blurb, as Viz does the reverse for now. On the other hand, Viz has been known to release dark and violent shoujo (Descendants of Darkness, also from Hana to Yume - see above), so this isn't too alien to them. And the overall tone is a dark background and plot interspersed with fun comedy and romance. Lastly, it's also completely scanlated online, which is a big drawback these days. (On the bright side, the scans of the latter chapters can be utterly crappy - fans would appreciate a decent volume.)

But overall, come on. It's a fighting young crossdressing girl being bodyguard for a brooding blond hunk. From the author of Skip Beat. This is marketable.

7 comments:

  1. You know, I really want this now. I love crossdressing girls and dark shoujo.

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  2. IIRC this was the same time Angel Sanctuary was running in Hana to Yume as well, so there were quite a few darker series. (Well, it seems like there's always something in HtY from Yuki Kaori and she's always writing dark bizarre crack.)

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  3. I was working on a column for my site about exactly this! Too slow, I guess. It was pretty much done, but I had to hold off for a break in content to use it. Anyway, I want it licensed too! I desperately want it for my shelf.
    I tried to figure out the reasons it wasn't licensed yet, and I found them, but they didn't make any real sense.

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  4. I recently fell into reading scanslations at work, and read about three volumes of Tokyo Crazy Paradise before dropping it for something more entertaining.

    It's quite obvious that this is an earlier work than Skip Beat. The writing is pretty pedestrian, the pacing is awful, the world-building is charmless, and the characters are fairly bland. It just doesn't have that giddy spark of madness which lights up Skip Beat like a catherine wheel.

    In general, I had the same reaction to it that I did to Tsubasa: Those With Wings - an uninspired early book from an artist who got her shit together elsewhere. But what do I know? Fangirls buy similarly crap Matsuri Hino manga by the baleload.

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  5. I've actually always preferred TCP to Skip Beat. Probably because it's not so 'girly.' And I love my girly stuff. I love the darkness of it and in later chapters I find Tsukasa to be truly amazing.

    I would definitely fork over the money for this if it were licensed. The scanlations start out poor and only get worse. When it comes to series I really love I'd prefer to have 'real' translations sitting on my shelf to reread rathe than dealing with clunky, buggy websites.

    I don't think VIZ is the best choice for this manga. Most of their releases are heavily categorized between shonen and shojo. They even license obviously josei titles as shojo. There are other companies better suited to a series that is both romantic yet very violent. The only reason VIZ may qualify as a better choice than some is because it has a tendency to license really long series, i.e., Hana-Kimi, Bokura ga Ita, SA, Naruto, etc.

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  6. I wouldn't be so sure that they wouldn't use a From The Creator Of sticker. The early volumes of Death Note say "From the Artist of Hikaru no Go", and the two series are obviously quite different, with polar opposite fan bases. The thing is, many people are fans of a creator,not just a work, making Creator stickers a VERY good marketing tool.

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  7. i'm a skip beat fan and, i happen to see the title, TCP... and....
    well....
    Its one of the best i've read XD Sure, the drawings and some contents are N.G. but the story line, the plot itself, action, and mix of romance/comedy are perfect match XD Of all the tsundere anime girls i've seen, Tsukasa Kozuki is a super hero X) She has the same justice-pride as Misaki from maid-sama, the same inhumane strength as Sunako from yamato nadeshiko, and the way she think is the same as Kyoko from skip beat XD for me, she's one of the best XD too bad it didn't became an anime T^T my heart aches becoz of this T^T a perfect anime story that never reached the point where it becomes an anime and share its awesome story T^T to be honest, i did kinda bored while reading some parts but...heck yeah! i still had fun reading it to the last and its d best next to skip beat XD

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