Sunday, February 3, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ai Yazawa draws two pages...

A few years ago, a friend of mine visited Kyoto and brought me the first two volumes of Ai Yazawa's manga series Nana as a souvenir.  I read them and became instantly addicted.  I understand now the attraction of soap operas for their fans.  You obsess over the characters and all the twists and turns and tragedies.

Unfortunately, Ms. Yazawa experienced mysterious health problems severe enough to require hospitalization and the abrupt ending of Nana.  The last episode features a cliff-hanger, which makes fans even more anxious to see what happens next.  Producing a comic is taxing work, mentally, emotionally and physically, so it's easy to understand why Ms. Yazawa hasn't resumed work.  While the cliff-hanger is frustrating from a fan's perspective, my biggest concern has been for the mangaka's well-being.  Even if she never produces another installment of Nana, I wish Ms. Yazawa a return to complete health and happiness.

She's been out of the game for more than three years now, but she's never been forgotten.  And this past week the manga/anime world was abuzz with the sudden appearance of two pages written and drawn by Ai Yazawa!  What a nice surprise!  They're not Nana story pages; they're simply a short visit to "Junko's Room," the charming "bonus" feature found by American readers at the back of each Nana volume.

I can't read Japanese, and only a smattering of French, but the translation into the latter language seems to show Ms. Yazawa at her self-deprecating best, that fun, self-snarking voice very much intact after all this time.

As excited as I should be for even the merest prospect of new Nana, what this represents is a hopeful baby step towards Ms. Yazawa's re-emergence from a long period of medical uncertainty.  I take it as-- and hope  it truly is-- a sign she's very much improved.  It's probably dumb to offer advice to a stranger who no doubt has doctors giving her much better prescriptions (and who will never read this), but I want her to be careful and not over-tax herself.  She's given fans a fantastic story to love and treasure even if it's incomplete and she certainly doesn't owe us anything.  But she owes herself a long and happy life.

So thank you for these two pages, Ms. Yazawa!  All the best to you!