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Four Shojo Stories Paperback – CLV, March, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

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Gr. 8^-12. These four graphic novels in one volume constitute a fascinating introduction to the world of shojo manga, comics created by Japanese women for Japanese girls and women. A brief introduction by translator Matt Thorn gives a history of the genre and information on the three artists in the collection: Keiko Nishi, Moto Hagio, and Shio Sato. The black-and-white illustrations are primarily pen and ink, although some cleverly incorporate watercolor-like techniques. Nishi, in particular, utilizes unusual angles and perspectives to emphasize a character's mood. The artistic styles of all three artists are clearly geared toward women, but the stories will appeal to both sexes, encompassing a wide range of subject matter--from an sf tale imbued with elements of philosophy and religion to a realistic story about a philandering husband who finally realizes where his loyalties lie. These are not lightweight comics. Even the straightforward "romance" tale offers thoughtful characterization and real poignancy. Highly recommended for any collection that includes graphic novels. Debbie Carton
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Viz Communications; First American edition edition (March 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569310556
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569310557
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,618,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "shemayal" on December 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
In his introduction to this wonderful graphic novel, translator Matt Thorn called shôjo manga: "...a unique forum in which Japanese girls and women can discuss and debate among each other (and now you) what it means to be a Japanese girl, woman, a human being in relationships with other human beings." The hallmark of all shôjo manga is its focus upon human relationships and emotions; it is the characters that drive the shôjo manga tale, not external conflict or action. This introspective, personal focus confers upon shôjo manga an amazing literary quality unique to the comic books of any culture or country.
Four Shôjo Stories is definitely the best compilation volume of this unique art form ever printed in English-translation. Each of the four short stories contained within was originally serialized in comic book form in Viz Communications extremely short-lived Viz Flower Comics imprint, and was selected for its maturity and literary quality. It shows. Unlike many examples of shôjo manga, which span multiple volumes and thousands of pages, Four Shôjo Stories contains only short tales with definite conclusions. The book is truly stand-alone, and is all the better for being so. These are not "just comic books". The stories are equal parts philosophical and poignant.
I've included brief summaries of each of the four stories, but, unfortunately, no poor words of mine will prepare the reader for the quality, sophistication, and delicate beauty that each of these tales possesses.
"Promise" by Keiko Nishi A mysterious boy swears to a little girl that they will meet again. Years later, the boy reappears, somehow unchanged, and teaches the now embittered girl how to live. Raw and emotionally charged.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Four Shojo Stories" is one of the best manga collections that I own. The collection was assembled by translator Matt Thorn, who was doing his Doctorate studies on Japanese Shojo manga, a media form he felt was unique to Japan, and missing from American comics.
Each of the stories is of the highest quality, both in writing and art. It is not often that young girls are given something with this level of maturity and respect. A far cry from Sailor Moon! And an even farther cry from She-Ra and Strawberry Shortcake!
That being said, as an adult male I was able to enjoy each of these stories for the intimacy and storytelling, as well as the universal emotions that they express. Japanese, American, or what ever country, there is something to relate to and cherish here for everyone.
A real shame that it is out of print. Definitely worth tracking down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Smith on June 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's difficult, but not impossible, to find a reasonably-priced copy of Four Shojo Stories, which was pulled from shelves shortly after its publication due to the compilation not being authorized by the Japanese publisher. It's probably the only real manga rarity in English due to that fact, so snagging it for $40 isn't really a bad deal.

Of the four stories included in the compilation, two are sci-fi works by shoujo creators and the other two are by josei artist Keiko Nishi. I liked those by Nishi least, though they weren't bad. The second one in particular had a melancholy vibe that I liked, but none of the characters were sympathetic.

I'd expected to like Moto Hagio's "They Were Eleven," since I've seen it praised before. I wasn't disappointed. It seemed to drag a little initially (at 120 pp, it was by far the longest story in the collection) but picked up steam and by the end it was clear that all the stuff that happened at the outset had served a purpose. Fans of sci-fi in general but also fans of shoujo series that feature what I call "gender hijinks" would probably enjoy this story.

The surprise for me was Shio Sato's "The Changeling." I'd never heard of Sato before, but I liked her story just about as much as Hagio's. In it, a competent and boyish female space pilot received a signal from a previously uncontacted planet and went to investigate. Her opinions on the inhabitants she encountered were thoughtful and different than I'd expected. The story stuck in my head after I had finished and made me wish something else by Sato would get licensed. It also had a cute final panel.

While the contents of Four Shôjo Stories might not be uniformly stellar, they're still enjoyable. It's too bad they probably won't see the light of day in a readily-accessible, $8.99 sort of package any time soon.
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