Much as we'd all like to see Kodansha Comics go the extra mile and start licensing from Morning, Evening, Kiss and Be Love, I think it is fairly safe to say that when NYAF rolls around this year, you're going to be seeing a lot of Shonen Magazine and Nakayoshi titles. It's simply safer to put out a title you know has a built-in market, and cute shoujo romance for teens is one such market. So I decided to take a look at the most recent Nakayoshi and see which of their unlicensed long-running series looked like they might come out over here.
It was rather surprising, mostly as there are so few long-running series. Almost the entire magazine consists of stuff that's either brand new, or started last year and only has one collected volume to date. It's a marked contrast from something like, say, Shonen Jump, where even the mid-range titles like Medaka Box just hit Volume 10. So, to start with, I eliminated for consideration any series that had 1 or fewer volumes. Though I do suspect that once Kimi no Neiro (by the author of Orange Planet, Instant Teen, etc.) gets a few more under its belt that the licensors will come calling.
I also eliminated Hell Girl R, as I seem to recall Hell Girl didn't do as well as Del Rey thought (plus I honestly didn't really like it that much), and Arisa, which of course is already coming out over here, and at 7+ Volumes is Nakayoshi's oldest running series (not counting the gag comic Wankorobee, and considering PreCure and Hell Girl spinoffs to be new series, rather than the same franchise).
This left a grand total of 1 title, which of course is the one in my header. The author, Ema Toyama, is also familiar to North American fans from her series I Am Here!, the 2nd omnibus of which ships from Kodansha next month. Toyama-san is a rather busy author, currently having five ongoing series, including two in Nakayoshi; the other, Kamikami Kaeshi, is about a shut-in who has gods in her hair, and recently ported over from sister magazine Nakayoshi Lovely. She has Hyakuen!, which is about two contrasting female roommates, one extravagant and one thrifty, running in Square Enix's Gangan Online; Pocha Pocha Suieibu, about a swimming club, in Houbunsha's Manga Time Family; and the entertainingly named GDGD-DOGS, a shoujo manga series with a reverse harem that's running in Kodansha's new-ish magazine Aria.
And then there's Watashi Ni xx Shinasai!, which is at 6 volumes and counting. The title translates loosely as 'Do xx to me!', a title that will no doubt have to be changed when it comes out over here, as it makes it sound far racier than it is. The heroine may sound very familiar to those who have read Tokyopop's The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko: Yukina loves to look at people and make observations about them to herself, being instantly aware when a girl cut her hair wrong that she was trying to imitate an idol singer, or that a guy plays too many RPG games. Unfortunately her skin is cold and her eyes far too sharp, so she does't have anyone who's willing to get close to her.
She also has a secret she's concealing from her school: she's a famous cell-phone novelist who everyone adores. Unfortunately, she's not all that good at romance, mostly due to her complete lack of contact with anyone except her cousin. Her characters always stay good friends, and she's getting more and more letters getting frustrated with this. So she tries to figure out what to do about it. As she wanders the halls, she runs into a girl confessing to Shigure, the #1 guy in class. He turns her down nicely, and everything seems fine... till he drops a notebook that shows dates all the girls in class confessed to him, and tick marks by their names. Yukina's is the only name not checked.
When she confronts him with the notebook, he admits it, and sneeringly notes that it's far easier to go through life being nice to the boys and girls and adapting his personality to please. He expects her to be disappointed and rush off. He is sadly mistaken. She was stressing about how to get a guy to pretend to fall in love with her for 'love experience' in her cell-phone novels, and now she can use him without feeling guilty, by blackmailing him. And thus is born a very odd partnership...
If this sounds somewhat cookie-cutter to you, welcome to shoujo manga. But it certainly sounds good to me. I like observant heroines who don't take crap from guys, and this one also looks to have a fun side (she confronts him by asking "Did you drop this golden notebook, or this silver notebook?"). Now to be fair, this may not last; given the lead is a cold personality, I fully expect the hero to get her all flushed and twitchy, especially given the basic premise. Still, it sounds like it could do fairly well here, and given Kodansha Comics' tendencies and the lack of other huge Nakayoshi series, I would not be that surprised to see it over here sometime in 2012.