Shoujo Club Supplement, 1949

A small (approx 4″ by 6″) stapled pamphlet, this is an illustrated story called Satsuki Hime 五月姫, which seems to translate as “May Princess,” written by Manabe Kureo 眞鍋呉夫, with pictures by Watanabe Ikuko 渡辺郁子. 42 pages long on newsprint.

I would have guessed it to be pre-war, but it’s an early post-war publication. Though I’m not able to read the Japanese, the illustrations have a very classic shoujo look, reminiscent of artists like Hiroshi Katsuyama and Junichi Nakahara.

The inside cover spread, capturing the pensive tone of much shoujo literature and illustration, the only full-color art in the interior of the book.

The story seems to be in the classic shoujo genre, a schoolgirl friendship, wistful and sad in tone. The delicate illustrations, printed in two-color (read and black) apart from the covers and an inside cover spread, which are full color are delicate and sensitive (contrasting charmingly with the cheap, off-register printing). They show the passage of time via the changing seasons, and various youthful activities, like a party game of blind man’s bluff, and focusing on two main characters, clearly close friends. Toward the end the story turns tragic, with illustrations of one of the girls in a hospital bed, and then her friend bringing flowers to a grave.

The red ink used in the illustrations is also employed for decorative floral designs on the text pages, interestingly printed over the text itself in spots.

This fragile publication evoking nostalgia even for someone who wasn’t born at the time or anywhere near Japan, is one I collected through Yahoo Japan Auctions in 2016, at a cost of 1200 yen (a little under $9 USD).

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