Del Rey Books has announced two new shoujo manga series for the fall. Del Rey Books, a division of Random House, was the first major U.S. publishing concern to enter the burgeoning American manga market, releasing its first quartet of manga titles in April to great effect (see 'Del Rey Manga Line Launches Strong'). Del Rey's strategy is to concentrate on a few manga series with major sales potential. Thanks to an agreement between Del Rey parent Random House and Kodansha, one of Japan's leading manga publishers, Del Rey has access to some of the top titles in Japan. Tthe two new titles announced by Del Rey are both shoujo series, perhaps reflecting the best of the Kodansha's new titles, but also a likely reflection on the nature of the American manga market, which is dominated by young female readers.
The first new Del Rey title announced is The Wallflower (Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge) by Tomoko Hayakawa. Like Saiyuki, Knight Hunters, and numerous other titles that are popular here in the States, The Wallflower features four handsome lads (bishonen) -- no plug uglies need apply. The quartet of beautiful boys in The Wallflower is given the task of remaking their landlady's niece. Bishonen titles provide plenty of eye candy for female readers and this 'makeover' saga follows in a long tradition of female-oriented entertainment that extends back to Cinderella and beyond.
The other new Del Rey series, Othello, is not a Shakespearean adaptation, rather it's the story of a meek, submissive high school girl who is continually pushed around until at last she snaps and her assertive alter ego appears ready to kick butt and settle some serious scores. The trials and tribulations of adolescence are a key source of shoujo storylines, and books that mine this fertile territory, like Tokyopop's Fruits Basket, have been extremely popular here in the States.