In American Dawn, one of the supporting characters is an old senpai of Asa's--a girl named Sayoko Igarashi, who is a year older than Asa is. Sayoko makes her nature plain in AD, when she pulls a switchblade on Amanda, the primary antagonist of the series; Sayoko spells her name using kanji which mean "fast blade" even though her family name isn't anything like that.
When Asa was going to Itabashi Junior High school, she was bullied a lot because of her naturally chapatsu--"tea-colored"--hair. Itabashi had strict rules against dyed or bleached hair; since it was her natural color, Asa was in the clear, but the other girls wouldn't listen to her explanations.
The teasing stopped when Sayoko--suffering a nicotine fit after her mother had confiscated her smokes--made it clear that the teasing was over now. But how could she make it stick?
Sayoko was the founder and leader of a girl gang called the Seven Sisters.
Sayoko's gang was the first and only gang in the history of Itabashi Jr. High. It's a private school and the people who are attending that school are there because they wanted to be there. But Sayoko is not an ordinary girl, and by the time she enters 8th grade she's royally sick of the cliques and the peer pressure and the inane, vapid stupidity that is junior high. One year later, the students of Itabashi Junior High know not to annoy her. At the same time, she's managed to keep it "under the radar" so that she's not expelled; to the faculty, the Seven Sisters generally appear to be no more than a clique of seven girls from all over the school.
So that's when Asa comes in, gets bullied, and Sayoko--having recently lost a member of the gang to graduation--brings her into the group. Asa joins the gang but, when her family must move again due to her father's job, she leaves Itabashi and loses contact with Sayoko entirely. Sayoko's family moves to the US shortly after that, but Asa doesn't know that, and it's a surprise for her when she meets up with Sayoko in the US in the first several pages of American Dawn. All of this is pretty much part of the canon.
And so this evening while I was thinking a bit about Japanese names, I realized it would be interesting to have a gang of sukeban with virtuous names: Truth, Charity, Mercy, etc.
Then my brain did its little integrating trick and SubaruCo was born.
"Subaru" is, of course, the Japanese name for the Pleades, the "Seven Sisters". Japanese female names commonly end with "-ko", the kanji meaning "child". So, for example, one spelling of "Honoko" could use the kanji for "truth" and "child". And there's the pun of "Co" being short for "company".
(Oh, and Sayoko's car in the US? An Impreza WRX. A Subaru. I just remembered that detail now. My brain is insidious.)
Why not have it be a series about Sayoko's gang? It could show the beginnings of the gang, how Sayoko recruited members, etc; Asa's part in the story is not large, spanning only a few months, and it wouldn't hurt to have the tie-in. And Sayoko, I have found, is a really interesting character.
Then comes the problem of coming up with six other girls to be in her gang, of course, and good character designs for each, plus--in the tradition of sukeban stories--a signature weapon for each. (Even though they don't attend many rumbles, and most of those off-campus, because they can't afford to show up at school with injuries which would elicit inconvenient questions from the faculty.)
I'd like to work on this one. But let's face it: I'd like to work on all the projects I've got in front of me, but there are only 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and one of me; and I only have two hands and one brain. And a limited supply of "round tuits", come to think of it.
What I need to do is get a job as a manga editor. That way I could talk to artists in the magazine's stable and say, "So-and-so, I think you should do a story about XYZ." Of course the artist would get 99% of the credit and the money, but he'd be doing 99% of the work, too; and that way at least I'd get to read and enjoy the story without having to create it all myself. (Of course, this makes rather light of the fact that I would have to be able to fluently read, speak, and understand Japanese. Nothing is ever easy.)
As it is, I could give up everything else tomorrow, concentrate solely on drawing manga, and still never get anything accomplished. There are too many good ideas in my head which pop out at approximately random intervals, and they frequently are ideas which aren't any good for prose. In the past I tried to make them work anyway but gave up when they didn't; now at least I understand the difference between a story that will work as prose and one which will only work as manga.
SubaruCo brings the list of manga series to five:
- American Dawn
- Magical Angel Selene
- Crisis Angel
- Megumi's Diary
...and I feel like there's one I'm forgetting.
Of the five, only American Dawn and Megumi's Diary have more than a few pages of layouts. All but SubaruCo have character designs completed and basic story frameworks constructed. I know what each one is about, how the overall plot goes, and who's who (except for the latter one, of course, since I just thought of the premise about an hour ago) but that's about it.
And that doesn't include the bits-and-pieces things I've done here and there, the germs of ideas which haven't generated enough thought to end up as series. One is about a young college girl named Shiho Murayama, who is in love with a man she's never met but whom she dreams about all the time. I never worked out how to tell the story without ever showing the mystery man's face or name; nor did I quite figure out how I wanted to show that she was dreaming everything right up until the moment she met the guy for real--oh, each chapter would have shown her going to sleep or something, and then having a dream, but I couldn't work out the mechanics of telling the story, and it really didn't catch my attention well enough to work out the flow of it. I drew several half-assed pages to noodle the idea out but I couldn't get it nailed down concretely enough to do anything serious with it. (Shiho was really cute, though.)
But I'd wager that the next time I sit down to draw, I'll find myself thinking about character designs for Charity, Truth, Mercy, et al....