Yukarism, Vol. 1

By Chika Shiomi. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this new shoujo series going in. I was pleased to see it ran in Betsuhana, as Hakusensha licenses have been very slim ever since Tokyopop collapsed. I hadn’t read either Yurara or Rasetsu when Viz put them out, though, and mostly what I knew was ‘does supernatural romances’. And I suspect that’s what this is as well, but at least for the first volume, the romance is very much on the back burner. No, this is a manga that draws you in very simply: the premise is terrific, and you want to see more of the characters. In the end, that’s what makes for an exciting title.


Our hero is Yukari, a teenaged author who’s already famous for the astounding realism of his Edo-era works. He meets a girl who’s infatuated with his books, but she’s shocked to find that her impression of him is almost 100% wrong. Writing for Yukari isn’t so much writing to please an audience or even himself, but merely being able to conjure up the Edo period. At first we think that this series is going to start the girl, Mahoro, and deal with her goofy attempts to get the quiet, reserved guy to like her. But then Yukari collapses, and when he wakes up he finds himself in his past life – as an Oiran in the Edo period.

Yes, that’s Yukari on the cover, both as his present-day writer self and his past life. He’s not particularly good at imitating his past self’s attitude and mannerisms – or even getting the walk right – but seems to be picking it up as he goes along. Moreover, many of the people he sees in the past also seem to be reincarnated in the present, though they may not realize it – including the Oiran’s beleaguered bodyguard, who reminds him of the girl he’s just met. Why is he time-skipping? Well, we don’t find out in Volume 1, but given this series is only four volumes long, we should know very soon.

This is very likeable. Yukari is a bit standoffish, but he’s not a jerk like many shoujo heroes start off as. Mahoro’s a bit eccentric, and a bit quick to jealousy, but also comes across as very likeable. It will be interesting seeing whether Yukari can jump-start the past life memories in others – towards the end of the book we see Mahoro immediately despising a new arrival, but having no idea why – the reader has already guessed it’s actually her unconscious recall. The art, as you can imagine given it’s an old pro and this is Betsuhana, is also gorgeous, with just the right amount of superdeformed silliness to add spice.

So I’d actually call this series a mystery more than a shoujo romance. What’s going on with Yukari? Is he doing this in order to solve how “he” died in the past? Will memories of their past lives screw up any relationships in the present? I’m not certain, but I definitely want to know more. A very strong debut here.

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  1. I’m another reader Hakusensha-shoujo fan who (for whatever reason) never read Rasetsu and Yurara, and you’ve convinced me to check this one out :) Reading the review stirred up memories of NG Life, Oyayubihime Infinity, Tears of a Lamb, and even VB Rose (Yukari…), which are all great associations in my mind. Yay!

  2. Wow! That sounds obscenely good. I had to stop reading half way through your post so I could keep from spoiling. Thanks for the rec!

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