This week, I caught wind of this group of artists who call themselves the Year 85 Group, alluding to classic shoujo manga super power group, Year 24 Group. Technically, it should be Year 60 Group (Showa 60 is 1985), but you know what, it’s a cute reference in respect to the ladies who revolutionized shoujo manga as we know it today. In celebration, they’re putting up a comic anthology called Hana Doki Kira!
Here’s what the anthology is all about:
26 artists with diverse skills and styles, with experience ranging from the fine arts to game design, were asked to consider what Shōjo personally meant to them, and to create art based on their interpretations. Known for its distinctive use of flowery imagery, magical plot devices, and romantic themes, Hana Doki Kira takes its title from the same three key elements of the Shōjo world– ‘Hana’ meaning flower, ‘Doki’ echoing the sound of a pounding heart, and ‘Kira’ the impression of sparkling beauty.
While Shōjo is a subgenre of Japanese comics that is targeted towards young girls and women, it can be enjoyed by anyone, drawing upon the shared spectrum of human emotion. “It has been said that Shōjo is a mirror that reflects the heart of the reader,” says illustrator and Year 85 Group member, Rebecca Mock.
Resumes from the artists in the book include clients such as the New York TImes, Lucasfilm, Juxtapoz, BOOM! Studios, Random House, Rock Star Games, and Womanthology, but regardless of experience, all were brought together by their mutual love of the genre. Supporting the project will not only expose the viewer to new works, but will also support the artists directly. Proceeds from the project that exceed the production costs of the books and rewards will be used to compensate the artists for their time and work.
Hana Doki Kira is using the Kickstarter platform to raise $9,500 in 31 days during the month of November, with the intention to print a limited number of books in a distinct limited color palette. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform which will allow the artists to directly interact with friends and fans. People are encouraged to pledge any amount, with rewards starting from $5 for a digital PDF of the book to higher levels of compensation which include limited art prints and oneofakind art commissions. Money will only collected if the project reaches it’s goal, but should the project exceed its base funding goal, push rewards offering upgraded binding, foil stamping, and bookplates, are also in place.
“It’s really important for us to give back to the community,” says art director, designer and Year 85 Group member, Annie Stoll, “A portion of the books created will be donated to libraries, girls’ clubs and anime clubs to help foster and inspire the next generations of Shōjo artists!”
I usually shy from kickstarters (especially those kickstarted by established companies) but dangle indie, shoujo, and comic at me, I’ll be looking. I think it’s a good effort and I’m quite interested with how they’re gonna pull it off. Hopefully, they manage to get enough backing because nowadays, comics needs more shoujo love.
I also had a chance to talk to the creators on their thoughts on shoujo and how this reflects in their works in Hana Doki Kira!
Other than the beautiful aesthetics, I always enjoyed shojo manga. It exposes a girl’s insecurities when she grows up, and yet realizes that becomes her strength.
My work reflects on the images of a girl’s transformation both mentally and physically. Some of the images hides the girl’s face, but staring into the reflection of who she is through a window. The window reflects their inner self, on who she wishes to be. It is only then in the final illustration that through courage and acceptance, she is able to change.
And how does your work in Hana Doki Kira reflect this love?
Females can be the lead, but they also don’t have to be! Most stories focus on female leads but there are some where a male is the lead. Basically, gender isn’t dependent on what role the character plays, which is beautiful. The girl can be diminutive and shy or strong, bold, powerful and protective. Male characters can be macho, or they can be supportive, loving, gentle and understanding.
My work starts with a girl who finds herself a bit lost but, with some support, kicks some major butt and isn’t afraid to question the world around her. It’s a glimpse at my favorite things about shoujo – growth, strength and whimsical surroundings.
I was always drawn to the beautiful lines and cross hatchy eyes of shojo characters. For me the gracefulness in the art of shojo always intrigued me. And when I would read (or watch) a really great shojo, I’d find myself getting super caught up in the drama and emotions of the characters. I didn’t always agree or understand the choices that they made, but I always appreciated the atmosphere of longing, fleeing moments and the wishes of the hearts of young girls. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention my enchantment with gorgeous bishounen.
My work reflects on the atmospheric influence shojo has had on me. My comic is virtually wordless and is more an exploration of emotions in a cathartic beauty and fleeting moment of discovery.
Elisa Lau – http://www.pinkimoon.com/
What do you love about shoujo manga?
I love the aesthetics, from the soft flowing line works to the relationships among lovers and friends. It taught us how to be strong individuals and never to give up on your hopes and dreams. It shows the vulnerability of the heroines and their journey to empowerment to overcome their obstacles. Of course, there’s also the note of awesome girl powers and sparkles everywhere.
And how does your work in Hana Doki Kira reflect this love?
When I first decided to participate in this project, I really wanted to write a love story. A story to show the hope of admiration and the fearof unrequited love. But as I was writing, the concept of “Hope” felt more important to me. To have hope, under all circumstances, is as essential as air that we breathe. Therefore, I chose to write a piece revolving “Hope”. My main character is a red panda that lost her way into our world. When she was about to give up on hope, she was given a chance to believe again through the love of friendship.