Manga is a genre that has so much variety that at times, for even the most experienced, the task of finding the right choice that suits you can be challenging. With new manga coming out almost every week in Japan it seems, there’s always something fresh that tickles your fancy andtakes you on a new adventure. Arina Tanemura decided to make her way into this large pool of mangaka and focused primarily on the shoujo genre, which focuses mainly on younger girls compared to the Josei, which caters to the older female audience.
Most mangaka are usually male and so having more female mangaka make their appearance in this large society is a wonderful, and satisfying feeling. Arina made her debut with a one shot publication called Niban me no Koi no Katachi, but it was when she released I.O.N. in 1997 that she became a household name for many. With many accolades to her now successful name, we’re going to jump right into the mix and provide you with some of Arina Tanemura’s most notable works, so be sure to check out these fantastic choices after reading!
5. Neko to Watashi no Kinyoubi
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shoujo
- Volumes: 11
- Published: February 2013 - November 2015
Ai has an immense love for anything that’s adorable and sweet, but she also has a strong infatuation for her senpai who’s a well known figure in her school. Before Ai can come up with a clever way to confess her feelings for him, her aunt suggests that she help tutor her little cousin Nekota. After an incident that led Nekota to the hospital and Ai having to take care of him, Nekota finds himself falling in love with her over time. To Ai, this was just a normal thing that young children experience, but she soon finds herself slowly gravitating towards him as well, and her memories of senpai start to wane into the distance.
Arina is truly known for her works that pay attention to relationships and tries to make the main lead unique, with a story direction that’s provoking. In Neko to Watashi no Kinyoubi, Ai is a young girl who is really stubborn in her ways and finds it hard to resist her senpai. Her senpai also has strong feelings for her as well, but because of Nekota’s sudden intrusion it creates somewhat of a gap between them and that’s where all the wacky stuff happens. The story gets funnier when Nekota can’t seem to resist Ai and throws himself at her demanding sex countless times, despite knowing she’s much older and they’re cousins. It’s certainly a different take on the more riveting works of Arina Tanemura’s library, but it’s random comedy paired with a love that by today’s standards is quite strange, is still a gem in its own right and we highly recommend reading it for the laughs.
4. Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
- Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Supernatural
- Volumes: 7
- Published: December 1997 - June 2000
Maron has a secret that her high school peers don’t know about. Maron maintains her pretty and innocent high school student demeanor throughout the day, but when the night arrives, she transforms into a demon slaying superhero named Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, who is the reincarnation of Jeanne D’Arc (Joan of the Arc). This superhero job becomes a challenge for the young Maron as she not only must expel these demons from possessing paintings and rid of evil spirits, but the police aren’t too pleased with her and they claim that she’s the real culprit behind it all. To prove that she’s no criminal and is out to save the town from chaos, Maron pairs up with an angel named Finn, and the two fight together to battle evil during the night while she tries to maintain her image throughout the day.
Arina really tries her best to keep characters interesting, whether it be their dark gripping story, or the main character’s passion to overcome obstacles while experiencing traumatic events in the past. In Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, we can certainly see some of that in terms of Maron and her determination to stop threats from further harming the town, but also has the tough obstacle of really sustaining her clean slate image in her daily high school life. She knows that if word gets out of her real agenda, it could cripple her reputation and put her in hot water. Not only does Maron deal with her own personal journey, but her encounters with many villains share a story of their own as well. You come to understand their purpose and even grow a liking to them because they have a good side that you’d never assume was there initially. With various plot twists along the way, and a fair amount of romance at times to keep you immersed, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne takes you on an adventure with a young girl trying to truly discover who she is.
3. Time Stranger Kyoko [Jikuu Ihoujin Kyoko]
- Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 3
- Published: August 2000 - August 2001
Kyoko, despite being the princess of Earth in the 30th century, doesn’t want anyone to know of her true nature in fears that many may turn a blind eye to her. She makes a conscious effort to go to school in a normal manner like everyone else, and keeps a low profile to ensure she can focus on what she needs to do to climb the throne. The king issues an ultimatum to her which states that she can live out the life she desires, but must revive her twin sister Ui, who has been trapped in time ever since she was born. With this condition now weighing on her shoulders, Kyoko must now try to save her sister’s life from turmoil.
What surprised many Arina fans of this series was that, compared to her more powerful pieces of work, Time Stranger Kyoko ended a little quicker than expected. That isn’t to say the series is terrible, but it certainly will feel as if the minute you pick it up to read, you’re hungry wanting more as it finishes very fast. Much of the characters in the story provide some lasting appeal and you’re overjoyed by Kyoko’s determination to recruit more warriors to fight by her side, so that she can ascend the throne with confidence. The story certainly carries the weight, but perhaps where things start to wander off is in the character backstory. We are greeted with a large variety of supporting roles which brought a lot of hype and excitement but over time, due to the volume count being comparatively low to her other works, we didn’t get an opportunity to see an overall shift in pace. In spite of that, Time Stranger Kyoko is still a must read for any fan of Arina’s work as she still maintains her very true essence in terms of a character who must struggle to come out of a dark past, in order to create a brighter future.
2. Shinshi Doumei Cross
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 11
- Published: August 2004 - June 2008
Haine is given away to the Otomiya family after a large monetary exchange was finalized between the two families. Now part of the Otomiya structure, Haine is given the role of student council at the prestigious Imperial Academy, a private school for the aristocracy. Despite having the credentials to belong on the student council, Haine finds it very challenging to deal with various students who have many secrets, with her president Shizumasa Togu being one of them. Haine is deeply in love with Shizumasa and has been since reading the picture book he wrote during his childhood. Now that she’s closer to Shizumasa than before, things start to change around her abruptly, as darker secrets start to unfold on their own. Haine starts to question her life as to why she’s in love with Shizumasa, and just why her parents sold her to begin with.
Much of the story focuses primarily on the relationship between Shizumasa and Haine, while giving us a glimpse of how other characters play a role in the series. Tanemura loves to throw her readers off course and Shinshi Doumei Cross is no exception to her rule, taking you on an adventure throughout the well detailed story. While you might have a love hate relationship with Haine’s very air headed and stupid behavior, you start to better understand why she behaves the way she does once you dive deeper. At times you want to throw a table at her for her foolishness, but then find yourself laughing because you can relate to her random ways. Despite this, Shinshi Doumei Cross is sure to please you as it takes in various directions, there’s also some additional stories included in the manga, and with Tanemura’s notoriously clever approach to keep you guessing you’ll never grow bored as you read further into the plot.
1. Full Moon wo Sagashite
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 7
- Published: December 2001 - April 2004
Mitsuki has been very talented from a young age, and she’s grown to become a skilled singer. Her passion to sing grows each waking moment, but her dreams come tumbling down in front of her as she’s been diagnosed with a severe tumor in her throat, which prevents her from singing. Totally defeated by this tragic turn of events, she prays to the world and asks that she can somehow sing again and rid of this burden that’s taken away her one true love. One evening, that prayer was answered, as two shinigami appear in front of her and transform her into a young adult, giving a temporary recovery from her illness, which allows her to pursue her most cherished career as a singer.
One notable thing that you’ll come to realize and admire in Tanemura’s work is that it’s very stylized and the art direction is pristine. In Full Moon wo Sagashite, you’re enamored by all of the wonderful artwork that really goes along well with such a touching story. As we stated earlier, Tanemura’s goal is to capture the attention of the reader with a tale that deals with tragedy, which then blossoms into a wonderful ending for the main character. Mitsuki had to deal with a very serious obstacle in front of her that would not only destroy her career, but perhaps place her life in danger as well. It’s so hard not to love Mitsuki because she shows so much determination and faith knowing that things will work out in the end.
She never gave up on her dreams, and despite the major obstacle that lied in front of her, she managed to overcome it with the help of two special beings who helped change her life. We can all certainly relate to Mitsuki’s turbulent times because we’ve all had dreams come crashing down, but then by the grace of the gods and the universe, everything works out for us in the end. Arina Tanemura’s message in Full Moon wo Sagashite was very direct and made sure you understood exactly what was happening at every moment in Mitsuki’s life, so that you could close the book knowing you’ve taken something very valuable away from this incredible story.
The remarkable trait that Arina Tanemura has is her innate ability to point out the truths of our lives, and manifest them into various volumes for our own enjoyment. You’re constantly taken out of this world which is full of chaos and turmoil, and are pulled into a world that feels tangible yet it all is a dream in the end. You get constantly wrapped up in various character plots, while trying to piece together the many parts of the story’s puzzle so that you can pick up from where you left of. If you had a chance to read any of Tanemura’s classics, let us know which of them you loved most and share your feelings below!
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