SUPPLI (Suppli) (???) • Mari Okazaki • Tokyopop (2007-ongoing) • Shodensha (Feel Young, 2004-ongong) • 7+ volumes (ongoing) • Jôsei Office Drama • 18+ (language, infrequent nudity, infrequent sex)
Fuji is a 27-year-old office worker at an advertising firm, who works overtime and sleeps in the office, or comes home to a dirty apartment and an incommunicative boyfriend. When their seven-year relationship suddenly ends, she throws herself even more into her work, seeing the office world around her with new eyes. In the very limited pool of translated jôsei manga about Japanese working women, Suppli draws comparison to both Happy Mania and Tramps Like Us, but it’s by far the most sober and serious of the three. As Fuji negotiates “the balancing act of being a woman and having a career,” she finds herself attracted to male coworkers, and envies and admires other women who seem to navigate the tightrope better than she does. It’s no simple feminist parable, but neither is it a fairytale romance like Tramps Like Us; as suits her personality, Fuji faces the glass ceiling with alternating hope, insecurity and resignation (“It’s the professional’s job to keep motivated. It’s a woman’s job to be cute”). Although the story isn’t about the specifics of the advertising industry, the work element is taken very seriously; the characters drink, flirt, have sex and regret it, but in the morning, they’ve still got to pull that all-nighter and finish that big team project the next day. Okazaki’s artwork and characters are coolly attractive, a world where everything shines and gleams, from the glass and metal of office compartments, to the impressionistic imagery of plants, water and fish that swim between the panels. It’s a fitting art style for this detached story set in a “floating world” of cool beauty.
A brief word on josei (adult women’s) stories; they’re one of the least translated genres of manga, which is why I can only offer them together with shojo manga. Tokyopop’s “Happy Mania” and “Tramps Like Us” are classics, the work of Erica Sakurazawa is interesting, and VIZ has recently gotten into the game with titles like Fumi Yoshinaga’s “All My Darling Daughters”. The stories of Kan Takahama, from Fanfare/Ponent Mon, are also worth checking out. Not all josei manga are serious stories (or satires) of women in the Japanese workplace; manga adaptations of Harlequin Romance novels, or their Japanese equivalent, are also common. In the case of Suppli, it’s both an excellent story, and I love the aquatic colors on the covers.
Today’s winner is Angela P. of Florida! Congratulations, Angela! We also have a new winner’s photo, from Lisa A., aka DuneDigger on deviantart:
Congratulations, Lisa! I’ll keep sending out manga, like a person working in the boiler room of a locomotive, shoveling coal to keep the manga engines of this country running. (Yes, this is a special patriotic episode of “365 Days of Manga.”) See you all tomorrow!