This is a weird grey area of cross over that I never anticipated being something real and legal. I also never anticipated it to be something I would ever get around to reading. Awhile back I saw on MAL the title “Ayumi Hamasaki – Miracle Passion” in the manga section. Without much thought since I use to be a huge Ayu fan when I first started listening to Jpop, I put it on my Plan to read list. Destiny led me to seeing a used copy on Mandarake in good condition for 100yen. Literally not even a dollar USD, and I immediately scooped the copy up along with a few other titles.
Now I’ve managed to read it cover to cover in Japanese! It’s the 4th manga I’ve read in it’s entirety in Japanese! It made me pretty nostalgic for the early 2000’s, given the art style. Secondly, it gave me a topic of conversation with my co-workers so it deserves a write-up this month. Before diving too deep into the manga itself, it’s pretty important we actually talk about the real life woman in this series.
Ayumi Hamasaki was born October 2, 1987. She grew up raised by her mother and grandmother in Fukuoka. To supplement her family’s expenses she began modeling for local institutions such as banks. In 1993, she moved from Fukuoka to Tokyo to pursue a career in modeling and acting.
Unfortunately, modeling did not pan out since she was deemed ‘too short’. Her acting career was short lived with her only appearing in seven productions; none of which were well recieved. In 1998, she re-started her career with Avex as a solo artist and has since flourished. Not only is she an actress, model, singer-song writer, but also a composer and has a heavy hand in her musical career and style.
This manga isn’t doing too much beyond telling her biography with some very mid-2000’s style art. It gives some unique insight to the singer, showing how her trips to New York influenced her to title all her songs in English. Even has a pretty big fan of hers, I never knew she had been to New York in her youth! I also never knew she had started off as an actress! I’m now more inclined to try and find her old works (and a few new-er ones) and give them a watch.
For fans of the singer, I think this is a solid read to remind you of her humble beginnings. Ayumi Hamasaki didn’t get the title ‘Empresses of Jpop’ without a reason. She hustled really hard from a young age and stumbled over and over again. I won’t say she’s a perfect example of ‘rags to riches’ story, but she certainly experienced some significant changes in her life through becoming a singer.
Given this was published in 2001, it’s a bit limited in the scope of Hamasaki’s career. I mean, there’s now 18 more years of material she’s produced since then afterall. The manga serves as a bit of a time capsule in manga form. Art was a lot simplier back then, and so was the period of time itself.
My only gripe was the inconsistent use of furigana at times. Some pages would be completely devoid of furigana, and others would be completely filled with it. It could be argued it was used artistically to fit the mood of the page but it might just be an indicator of age.
As said earlier, this story isn’t re-inventing the wheel or doing anything too fancy as a story. It’s a snapshot of Ayumi Hamasaki’s life when she was still rising to the title of ‘Empress of Jpop’, with art that really embodied that period of time. Even for me, a casual fan of her music it was really enjoyable and a genuinely learned a lot from it. It’s not something you need to hunt down ASAP but for fans of the Empress, it’s worth the read.
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