By Moyoco Anno
Digital Book, 308 pages, 5.25 x 7.25 inches
U.S.$9.99 / CAN$10.99
In Sakuran, Moyoco Anno lifts the veil on life in the Edo period pleasure quarter, Yoshiwara. The story follows Kiyoha, sold into a brothel as a child and forced to work as a maid and her rise to prominence as one of the top-ranking courtesans in Yoshiwara. The allure of the “flower and willow world“ as it was called by artists in the day is underscored by the very real tragedy, heartbreak and difficult lives led by those seemingly glamourous courtesans. Will Kiyoha’s fox-like wiles give her a chance to break free of her gilded cage? Or will her fighting spirit ruin her chances of ever escaping the brothel?
Tokyo native Moyoco Anno was born March 26, 1971. Known as one of the major names in Japanese women’s comics, she is equally known for her iconic fashion designs and as a fashion writer. Her manga and books have attained considerable popularity among young women in Japan. Though she primarily writes manga for women, her most popular title in the west has been Sugar Sugar Rune, which was targeted at primary school-aged girls.
In a recent Japanese poll, she was voted the eighth most popular manga artist among females and thirteen in the general category. Most of her works have been adapted for film or TV, including Sakuran, Hataraki-Man, and Sugar Sugar Rune. In 2005, Anno’s Sugar Sugar Rune won the prestigious Kodansha Comics Award in the girls comics category.
“Anno’s unique style, with its huge eyes (even for manga) and fashion-influenced design, and her off-kilter female personalities are put into a Japanese period piece. Although perhaps best known here for the children’s series Sugar Sugar Rune, her josei work, Happy Mania, is closer in tone to this stand-alone volume...The demanding book rewards attention and is not for new manga readers; best for those experienced with the format seeking something a bit out of the ordinary for adults.”
“Moyoco Anno, the writer and artist takes a calculated risk by starting off with Kiyoha in full bloom of her brassy antagonism, and then jumping back to show us how she got that way, or rather, to show us how her always-extant stubbornness and bad attitude might well have been the only thing keeping her fire alive...Sakuran is further proof that a bad attitude can be a great thing.”
“If Sakuran sounds like a hectoring treatise on prostitution, rest assured it's not. Anno creates a vibrant, fascinating world, teeming with people from every walk of life. Though her female characters have limited agency, they nonetheless find opportunities to exert influence over their customers, improve their social standing, and choose their own lovers... It seems only fitting that the story ends not with the outcome that a modern reader might choose for this fierce woman, but with one that reflects the heroine’s own clear-eyed understanding of what she is. Highly recommended.”
—The Manga Critic
“Sakuran is a bit of a challenge for those who don’t read a lot of manga, because the story is very compressed. However, the fascinating subject matter and Anno’s jerky, expressive art should make up for that.”