I got a manga order yesterday which included the 3rd and last volume of Happy End, a wonderful series by Aikawa Natsu whose manga are usually very melancholic but beautiful. The first part of the series ran in Bessatsu Margaret (Betsuma) but later it was moved to The Margaret (also published by Shueisha, a sister mag of Betsuma). I was quite sad about this because I really liked the manga as it wasn’t just average, shallow romance stuff. I thought it was really interesting to read about the life of an aspiring mangaka because it’s that side of manga you rarely get to read about – the life of the creators. It’s a truly moving story about adolescence, realising one’s dreams and finding one’s place in the world.
I sort of expected that the majority of the readers of the magazine would find it too quiet and melancholic and I was probably right. On the last few pages of the book, Aikawa writes about how she struggled to create that title she’d always dreamed of but how she encountered a lot of problems during the serialization.
She knew Happy End was a bit different than her previous titles (which are all short stories) and I feel the same about it: It is so much more like real life, it’s incredibly moving and touching and beautiful and serious without ever being cheesy at all. It’s so mature. And that’s probably what the majority of the Betsuma readers couldn’t get used to.
I’m a bit disappointed in both the magazine editors and the readers. It’s the readers who decide which manga keep running in the mag because there are enquete cards in every issue of it. I have the impression that shoujo manga that’s poetic and meaningful and disturbingly shocking or cheesy is just not as popular as the romance stuff that’s mainly running in Betsuma. But hey, let’s face it, to most people manga is just entertainment, and I can’t blame them for that…
The worst part of it all is, though, that Aikawa Natsu writes in the last paragraph of the last page that she is not drawing/writing any manga at the moment and that she never will do so again in the future. It was such a shock to read that. I really love all of her works and that makes me a very very sad Aikawa fan ;_; I hope she finds the right way for herself to express her creativity and to live a very happy, satisfied life. She really deserves it. ♥