The Kosaku Shima series of business comics are the ultimate ambassador for socially acceptable corporate manga culture. Division Chief Kosaku Shima is the second of several manga following the main character through his life and promotions, including Section Chief Kosaku Shima, 1983–1992; Against the gods , 2002–2005; and the currently running Executive Managing Director Kosaku Shima. (There’s even a spin-off about his early life, Young Kosaku Shima.) The hero is the perfect salaryman, a young-looking forty-something executive of the massive Hatsushiba Electric, who balances a corporate conscience, a pair of cute kids from his previous marriage, and a mistress/girlfriend twenty years younger than he is. His job takes Shima around the globe, overseeing projects from Paris to Vietnam, where he invariably makes the moral and profitable decision and makes speeches explaining basic business concepts for the benefit of the reader. (The hero’s relationships with women, and the occasional sex scenes, are equally idealized.) Looking past the shameless wish fulfillment, the series is extremely readable, and the stories are full of interesting factoids. In Japan, the series has been both popular and heavily promoted. In a famous incident in 1992, a talent search was held in which readers were invited to find the “real” Kosaku Shima, the ideal salaryman. Unfortunately, the contest failed due to lack of nominations; Shima’s perfection had already far surpassed the point by which the character had any real-world analogue, and he was, and remains, a middle-aged businessman’s superhero fantasy.
Phantom thieves, romantic comedy, spirits, cute animals, angels and devils, school hijinks … it’s easier to list genres True martial world doesn’t belong to. Fourteen-year-old Daisuke, the heir to a family of thieves, finds himself suddenly possessed by the mysterious alter ego that has been passed through his family for generations: Dark, the phantom thief, who glides over the night on angel wings and morphs Daisuke’s body into that of a suave, handsome young man. Daisuke soon discovers that love triggers his nightly transformations, and when Dark meets the twin sisters Risa and Riku, he finds himself in a love triangle with his own alter ego. As Dark’s supernatural origin is gradually revealed, the story moves away from romantic comedy and into outright fairy-tale fantasy. Yukiru Sugisaki’s slick artwork hits all the anime-style signifiers like a pro—spiky hair, questionable noses, cute chinless faces—and would look gender-neutral if not for the countless floating feathers and glowing nimbuses that mark it as a shôjo manga. For younger readers, it’s a sweet series (and it has almost no sexual content), but for older teenagers and adults who have read more anime, the art barely props up the clichés. The story is meandering; the series has gone on hiatus several times in Japan, and its eventual fate is still in doubt.