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SUMIKA YAMAMOTO

There are not so many biographical data about this mangaka. She was born in Japan the 17th of June and belonged to that generation of authors of the 60´s that enhanced shojo expansion. This was done thanks to its enrichment with the incorporation of new and more sophisticated elements that could eventually differentiate it from shonen, and thanks to its diversification towards the most various and updated topics. Since the mid-80´s she has disappeared from the manga scene in order to cultivate spirituality.
Her most relevant manga is "Ace o Nerae!". This sportive shojo was product, as many other works from those years, of the great impact that the victory of the Japanese Feminine Volleyball Team at the 1964 Olympiads had among Japanese women. The fight for equal rights begun due to Japan´s democratisation after II World War was far strengthened by this great international triumph that also popularised sports throughout the nation. So that, it is not strange that a genre like shojo, candidate to deal with relevant and up-to-date issues for the feminine public, began to treat sportive stories.


INFLUENCES

From a visual point of view, Yamamoto´s art is clearly influenced by Osamu Tezuka (as for kinetic treatment of scenes of action) and Ryoko Ikeda (as for expressing emotions through graphic metaphors). From content point of view, it is possible that she was stirred by other shojo-mangakas, such as Moto Hagio or Chikako Urano, or even by contemporary films ("Silent Duel", Akira Kurosawa, 1949).


AN ANALISYS OF HER ARTWORK

She demonstrates to be an author of great sensibility and exquisite artistic elegance. Her pictures combine great esthetical beauty and an extraordinary sense of movement. She masters the art of the visual narration using successfully cinematographic resources. She also proves to know very well not also what women like but what are their feelings. The great emotional weight in "Ace o Nerae!" is visualised by putting especial emphasis in character design. Characters are often drawn in foreground, meanwhile backgrounds seem to have less importance. The latter can have a double function: being complements that merely situate the reader in the space (in this cases they are not drawn in detail) or being a symbolic representation or reinforcement of the story by its use in a metaphoric sense (kinetic lines, flowers, flames, lightening, fog, darkness...).

Another value of this author is the great variety of page compositions that she offers: from the classical design of vignettes, to double pages or tridimensional compositions. Contrary to Ikeda, and although their graphic styles and the intensity they both achieve in their stories are similar, Yamamoto´s pictures are more sober and her pages are less overloaded.


AN ANALYSIS OF CONTENTS

The reality of the situations narrated in "Ace o Nerae!" make me think that this manga could reflect some of the deeper worries and personal experiences of its author. A character so intense as Jin Munakata and his complex relation with his stepsister make me suspect of a possible personal projection of the author. It is difficult dealing with such unwavering feelings and succeeding so completely at the time of creating a sensation of bitterness so tangible. I am inclined to think that she based coach Munakata character on some true person she met. In fact, this manga appears to be a love poem dedicated to his memory.

The sagacious understanding of the feminine worries and sentiments that her mangas reflect is not casual. Yamamoto demonstrates having great perceptiveness and wisdom at the time of analysing feminine psychology. She is a skilled storyteller able to create intense climax situations and developing parallel subplots not only in order to reduce dramatisation but also to emphasise the main story line. She also includes humorous counterpoints as visual gags, with totally different graphic style, that back the narration guidelines.

Yamamoto´s characters do not seem to be stereotypes. They have complex personalities and unexpected reactions. That is why it is so simple for the reader to feel identified with them. Whoever teenager of whatever epoch could find it easy to see how his/her own worries are reflected in Yamamoto´s characters lives as they face challenges such as friendship, love, personal development, death...


CONCLUSIONS

Opposite of what many shojo authors do nowadays, Yamamoto and her contemporaries demonstrated that understading shojo was not merely drawing nicely but having a strict control of the work done both at a graphical and at a content level. The most renowned shojo authors of the 90´s have forgotten that what pleases more to the feminine public are everyday stories confronting feelings, character’s psychological development, intense emotions and floods of sensitivity. It is not necessary to create so complicate plots (RG Veda), neither involving a group of women in a shonen´s scenario (Sailor Moon) nor focusing specially on the shoddy aspects of romanticism (Marmalade Boy) in order to launch an original shojo comparable to the classics.

New authors should only have to make a bit of personal introspection in order to try to find their own feminine sensibility and apply it to their stories. Perhaps it is Rumiko Takahashi the author of the 90´s that better understands shojo and women. Although women have changed a lot over the past thirty years, their likes are still very similar.


HER WORK

"Sono Hitokoto ga ienakute" ("Without saying that very single word")
"Ace o Nerae!" ("Aim for the ace!", Margaret 1972-1975, 1978-1980)
"Kiss ni Goyoujin" ("With a kiss", Margaret, 1973)
"Nanatsu no Eldorado" ("The seven Eldorados", Margaret, 1975-1977)
"Hikkuri kaetta omocha bako" ("The toy that tumbled down", Margaret, 1978)
"H2O! Zendai mimon!" ("¡H2O! ¡Unprecedent!", Margaret, 1979)
"Ai no Ogonritsu" ( Shogakukan Lady Comics, 1 volume, 1983)
"Hakuran Seifuu" ("Cool breeze of knowledgement", issues 15,17 to 22 of Petit Flower 1983 - 1984)
"Hayami Daisuke Funsenki" ("The fighter Hayami Daisuke", issue 16 Petit Flower, 2 volumes,1983)
"Koi Shichaou kana?" ("Love alphabet", Margaret, 1 volume)


PUBLICATION DATES

(This information has been provided by Dennis Hirschmann (DHirsch82@aol.com) as well as the list of Yamamoto´s works above. I will like to thank him for all the documentary backing he has offered in order to enhance this "Ace o Nerae!" web page).

Ace o Nerae!
Shuukan Margaret, 1972-1975, 1978-1980

1st Edition, Shuueisha Margaret Comics
1: 1973/9/20
2: 1973/10/20
3: 1974/1/20
4: 1974/4/20
5: 1974/10/20
6: 1975/1/20
7: 1975/5/20
8: 1976/6/20
9: 1975/7/20
10: 1975/8/20
11: 1979/1/20
12: 1979/2/20
13: 1980/1/30
14: 1980/2/30
15: 1980/3/30
16: 1980/4/30
17: 1980/5/30
18: 1980/6/30

2nd Edition, Shuueisha Manga Bunko
1: 1978/12/31
2: 1978/12/31
3: 1979/1/31
4: 1979/1/31
5: 1979/2/28
6: 1979/2/28
7: 1979/3/31
8: 1979/3/31
9: 1979/4/25
10: 1979/4/25
11: 1979/8/25
12: 1979/8/25
13: 1981/6/25
14: 1981/6/25
15: 1981/7/25
16: 1981/7/25
17: 1981/8/25
18: 1981/8/25

3rd Edition, Chuuokoronsha Aizouban
1: 1989/7/20
2: 1989/8/20
3: 1989/11/16
4: 1989/12/20

4th Edition, Chuuokoronsha Chuuko Bunko Comic Han
1: 1994/10/18
2: 1994/10/18
3: 1994/11/18
4: 1994/11/18
5: 1994/12/3
6: 1994/12/3
7: 1995/1/18
8: 1995/1/18
9: 1995/2/18
10: 1995/2/18
11: 1995/3/3
12: 1995/3/3
13: 1995/4/18
14: 1995/4/18

Kiss ni Goyoujin!
Shuukan Margaret

1st Edition, Shuueisha Margaret Comics
1: 1973/6/20

Nanatsu no Eldorado
Dai 1 Bu: Shuukan Margaret, 1975 issue 26-43
Dai 2 Bu: Shuukan Margaret, 1976 issue 4-26
Dai 3 Bu: Shuukan Margaret, 1977 issue 32-45

1st Edition, Shuueisha Margaret Comics
Dai 1 Bu, Vol. 1 (1): 1977/4/20
Dai 1 Bu, Vol. 2 (2): 1977/5/20
Dai 2 Bu, Vol. 1 (3): 1977/6/20
Dai 2 Bu, Vol. 2 (4): 1977/7/20
Dai 2 Bu, Vol. 3 (5): 1977/8/20
Dai 3 Bu, Vol. 1 (6): 1978/1/20
Dai 3 Bu, Vol. 1 (7): 1978/2/20

Short-stories:
Dai 2 Bu, Vol. 2: "Esper Esper", Shuukan Margaret, 1976
Dai 2 Bu, Vol. 3: "BAKKASU wo sagase!", Shuukan Margaret, 1972 issue 11-14

2nd Edition. Chuuokoronsha Chuuko Comic Souris
1: 1990/11/20
2: 1991/1/10
3: 1991/2/3
4: 1991/3/5
5: 1991/4/5
6: 19**/**/**

Hikkuri kaetta Omocha Bako
Margaret (?)

1st Edition, Shuueisha Manga Bunko
1: 1978/5/31

2nd Edition, Shuueisha Girls Comics
("Hikkuri kaetta Omocha Bako H2O! Zendai Mimon!!")
1: 1990/1/8

3rd Edition, Chuuokoronsha Aizouban
1: 1996/4/25

H2O! Zendai Mimon!!
Margaret (?)

1st Edition, Shuueisha Manga Bunko
1: 1979/10/25

2nd Edition, Shuueisha Girls Comics
("Hikkuri kaetta Omocha Bako H2O! Zendai Mimon!!")
1: 1990/1/8


OTHER MANGAS WITH TENNIS THEMES BY OTHER MANGAKAS

(Thanks a lot to Dennis Hirschmann for providing this information)

Akaishi Michiyo / Ushi Jirou: "Moete Miko" (4 volumes, Bessatsu Shougakukan Shoujo Comic)
Ide Chikae: "Arashi no Tenniscourt" ("Saigo no Strike", 1 volume, Shuueisha Ribon)
Ishiwata Osamu: "LOVe" (30 volumes, Shougakukan Shounen Sunday Comics)
Itsuki Natsumi: "Hidari no Kei"
Kaneko Setsuko: "Doronko Advantage" (3 volumes, Shuueisha Ribon)
Kobayashi Noriko: "Kaze wo Oe!" (2 volumes, Shougakukan Bessatsu Shoujo Comic)
Kotani Ken’ichi: "Tennis Boy" (9 volumes)
Mahara Itsumi: "Doubles" (3 volumes, Shougakukan Ciao)
Miyawaki Yukino: "Kimi ga Tenshi ni mieru Toki" (1 volume, Shougakukan Ciao)
Shiga Kimie: "Smash wo kimero!" (4 volumes, Shuueisha Shuukan Margaret)
Murata Ibuki: "Koi no Shirushi"
Noma Miyuki: "Senkou no Saphiros" (1 volume, Hakusensha Serie Mystery)
Ragawa Marimo: "Shanimu ni Go! " (2 volumes, Hakusensha Hana to Yume)
Saeki Kayono: "Smash Meg" (6 volumes, Shougakukan Shoujo Comic)
Sasaki Junko: "Kaze no Umareru tokoro"
Sasaki Junko: "Smooth or Rough"
Takaguchi Satosumi: "Gin" (4 volumes, Hakusensha Hana to Yume)
Urasawa Naoki: "Happy!" (23 volumes, Shougakukan Big Comics)


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