Reading 16+ Manga since 2007

There is an explanation for this. Lets start with what I read that stirred this memory.

The Fushigi Yuugi series is loosely based on the legend of the Four Gods from China. The original manga told the stories of the priestesses of Suzaku and Seiryuu, and spanned 18 volumes released between 1992-1996. A prequel series following the priestess of Genbu then began in 2003, titled Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden. The new series, Byakko Ibun, will cover the fourth priestess of Byakko, and its timeline falls between the original story and prequel Genbu Kaiden– My AnimeList

Essentially, Yuu Watase is continuing the Fushigi Yuugi series! This is great news for fans everywhere, including me. Yuu Watase is one of my favorite mangakas and her series, Fushigi Yuugi: The Mysterious Play, is one of the first manga series I took seriously when I first started watching anime and reading manga. How dedicated was I? I got all 18 volumes. Some I bought and some I received as gifts. Before you attack me with “you could have just read it online.”

  1. My mom imposed high restrictions on the Internet. At some point I was convinced YouTube was dangerous and meant for only adults.
  2. Do you think I could tell her I wanted to read manga online and expect a casual answer. No. I was too scared of the consequences. As a child, I hated being lectured or scorned so I’d try my best to do everything right.

How did I end up with an 16+ manga at the age of eleven?

So during one of the many family outings to the mall I went into one of the bookstores and saw a manga left on the magazine shelf. Back then, the only anime I had known was the English dub of Tokyo Mew Mew, Pokemon, Digimon, and F-zero they kindly showed on one of the kids channels. This was before I moved to United Arab Emirates. Can you imagine the disappointment ten year old me had felt when I found out that we didn’t have that channel anymore? My disappointment grew worse because most of the kids at my new school didn’t even know what anime was.

[I’d like to add that it was just a miscommunication because most of the Arabic dub anime was aired on Space Toon and I used to refer to the channel I knew. I believe one of the most popular ones might have been Detective Conan which I didn’t know at the time. I have university friends who still remember the theme song! Eventually I met friends who knew what I was talking about and they introduced me to new animes. Also manga means mango in Arabic so you can imagine how confused most of the kids were. ]

Let us get back on track. So before buying my first manga I was already aware of anime and its style enough to distinguish between comics and manga. Without hesitation, I grabbed it and ran to my mother and asked her to pay for it. She was definitely distracted. How do I remember this? She bought it without flipping through it or interrogating me about why I wanted it. I was so overjoyed! My very first manga!

dancing animated GIF

It wasn’t long before I realized that I had crossed into the uncharted lands of ecchi and shoujo.

  1. The manga’s name: Pastel by Kobayashi Toshihiko
  2. I discovered for the first time that you read a manga from right to left
  3. It was volume 4 but I didn’t care
  4. An unintentional grope scene came up and I started panicking. All I could think about was how many hiding places in my room I could use to I hide the manga. C’mon, which parent wouldn’t flip if they caught their eleven year old with 16+ material?

The guilt

There is always an age rating at the back

There was one. But the fucking price tag covered it, I was blinded by excitement, and my mother was too distracted. The perfect recipe to accidentally purchase a 16+ manga.

Did I stop reading it? Heck no, I bought the next available volume 8 years later. Eventually I did find the rest online and continued reading it. It is still an ongoing series. KHA-A-LAS, present happy ending already.

A similar scenario happened again.

Probably around the same year, I was left alone with my little sister ,for some reason I can’t remember, at the mall. Eventually, I convinced my little sister to come with me to a nearby bookstore and there I saw it on the bookshelf: Volume 2 of Fushigi Yuugi: The Mysterious Play by Yuu Watase. But back then all that my brain processed was:

  • Manga!
  • Pretty cover!
  • Manga!
  • Not expensive!
  • Manga!
  • Where is mom?!

The employee explained to me that it was the last copy of any manga to be sold in that store. I understood it as, “It is faith, you must buy this manga. You are the chosen one!”

Despite having my mother’s full attention, she bought it for me. I was even more convinced it was faith.

I later peeled off the price tag in great anticipation…only to discover that it was another 16+ manga

After many nervous months, reading older teen manga became a secretive, casual habit. The funny thing is that when I finally turned 16, the excitement sort of died and I jumped back to reading the cute stuff and later discovered shonen. Later, one of my best friends introduced me to yaoi and the whole secretly-reading-inappropriate-manga cycle repeated. Honestly, I feel a good number of us have been there or still are.

Despite with some flaws in the story, Fushigi Yuugi will always have profound, sentimental value to me despite what people say about it. I’ll post a reflection on it soon. Overall, I’m happy she is continuing the series.

Click here to read about the different manga genres.


P.S. I recently told my mom about the 18+ manga I read and she gave me the look…I love you mom.