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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogFive Nakayoshi Manga Everyone Needs to Know About

Five Nakayoshi Manga Everyone Needs to Know About

By Catarina Guedes-Almeida
March 11, 2022

Did you know that many of the popular manga we know and love today were originally posted in the iconic Nakayoshi manga magazine? 

What is Nakayoshi? 

Nakayoshi is a best-selling manga magazine first issued in December of 1954 and continues to publish new manga alongside colorful advertisements, posters, stickers, and other small gifts. The featured manga are published in increments, also known as serialization. These types of manga magazines are often called ‘phone book magazines’ because they resemble the size and thickness of phone books. 

Nakayoshi means ‘Good Friends,’ a representation of its target demographic. It’s a shoujo manga magazine meaning it publishes manga targeted for young girls. There are also shonen magazines aimed for young boys and each genre has its own differences, as you can see in this shonen vs shoujo article. For the shoujo genre, the characters are often young schoolgirls who wear Japanese school uniforms and have a crush on their senpai (upperclassmen). 

Three men read manga magazines in a Japanese convenience store at the magazine rack.
Manga magazines are still really popular in Japan, with many people reading whole sections of the manga in convenience stores. Image via Shutterstock

The cover of Nakayoshi is often bursting with light, colorful prints and flowers, creating an overall feminine look. Plus, Nakayoshi also has a trend of publishing manga related to magical girls, as we’ll see further on in this article.

In fact, many popular Japanese anime and manga began through Nakayoshi before being assembled into volumes. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Nakayoshi manga series.  

Sailor Moon

“Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight, never running from a real fight, she is the one named Sailor Moon!”

Everyone knows that Sailor Moon is a classic and the ultimate magical girl, but did you know that it used to be published in Nakayoshi? Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Takeuchi. Between 1992 and 1997, 60 chapters of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon were serialized in this phonebook magazine. Actually, Nakayoshi continues to pay homage to this timeless manga, even releasing two original illustration special stickers in the March 2022 issue for Sailor Moon‘s 30th anniversary.

A display of Sailor Moon, one of many popular Nakayoshi manga, with silhouettes of the characters on top and magazine covers featuring the characters underneath.
Yup, the original Pretty Guardian herself first premiered in Nakayoshi. If you look at the top row on the left, you can see the Nakayoshi magazine logo: なかよし. Image via Shutterstock

Sailor Moon’s whole persona and action-packed plot introduced a unique aspect to the shoujo genre. To give a brief description, schoolgirl Usagi Tsukino receives magical powers that allow her to transform into her alter ego Sailor Moon to fight villains and protect the Earth. Interested in learning more about Sailor Moon and her secrets? Check out this article on Sailor Moon’s origin

Inspired by magical girls like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura? YumeTwins sends everything from Japanese plushies to stationery and more to make sure you can be your best magical girl self wherever you are! 

Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura is another all-time favorite magical girl anime. This classic is one of many iconic CLAMP anime and manga and was originally published from 1996 to 2000 in Nakayoshi.

Sakura Kinomoto, a 10-year-old girl, discovers magical powers after she accidentally frees a set of magical cards into the world from a magic book called the Clow. The story revolves around her efforts to retrieve these cards before they wreak havoc on the world, becoming Cardcaptor Sakura. Aspects like her iconic poofy dresses and star wand all contributed to the kawaii aesthetic of magical girls, influencing the shoujo genre. 

Shugo Chara!

A boy cosplays as Amu Hinamori, a character from Shugo Chara!, a popular Nakayoshi Manga, wearing a modified school uniform and pink wig at an anime convention.
Shugo Chara! is one of those series that many people know for its cute designs and the inclusion of magical boy characters. Image via Shutterstock

Shugo Chara! involves elementary school girl Amu Hinamori who, on the outside appears lively and outgoing, is actually introverted and shy. This original series was published through Nakayoshi from 2006 to 2009 with an added sequel series published in 2010. 

One day, when she wishes to be a better version of herself, she discovers three eggs in her bed that hatch into her guardians. With these guardian characters, she’s able to have a full out magical girl transformation complete with a new outfit and special powers. Shugo Chara! not only has kawaii magical girls, but it also has magical boy characters such as the striking catboy, Ikuto Tsukiyomi.

Tokyo Mew Mew

“Mew Mew style, Mew Mew grace, Mew Mew Power in your face!”

Tokyo Mew Mew is another big magical girl anime but with a twist! Published in Nakayoshi from 2000 to 2003, Tokyo Mew Mew gave us the magical catgirl we always wanted. The story begins with five girls who were infused with the DNA of endangered animals, giving them special powers to protect the earth from aliens. 

Each girl transforms into a ‘Mew Mew’ with a mandatory magical girl transformation. The main character, Ichigo Momomiya, transforms into Mew Mew Ichigo (ichigo also means strawberry in Japanese) with the DNA of an iriomote cat. The other five Mew Mews each have their own transformation with special animal powers as well. 

Their names are Mew Mew Mint, Mew Mew Lettuce, Mew Mew Pudding, and Mew Mew Zakuro (also known as Mew Mew Pomegranate). Whew, that’s a lot of Mew Mews but each girl represents different abilities and portrays the power of friendship.

Nakayoshi continues to publish Tokyo Mew Mew related works, like the 2003 to 2004 sequel as well as an all-new spinoff series called Tokyo Mew Mew Olé! that focuses on a new team of male Mew Mews. 

A card that says "Do your best Japan" promoting the Tokyo Olympics with characters from various anime and manga, including from Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure, two popular Nakayoshi manga.
On top of Sailor Moon, Nakayoshi also published the insanely popular Pretty Cure series and a classic from the same creator as Astro Boy. Image via Shutterstock

Princess Knight

Let’s go back in time to Japan in the 60’s where Princess Knight was shaking up the manga world. One of the earlier manga to be released in Nakayoshi, Princess Knight is definitely one to remember. 

The first remake was serialized as a sequel in Nakayoshi in 1958, with a third remake running from 1963 to 1966. Written by the same creator of Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka, many think of it as the very first story manga for girls in Japan. 

The plot revolves around Sapphire, a princess born with both a boy’s heart and a girl’s heart due to a mischievous angel.  She is then raised as a prince since she was reported as a boy at her birth by mistake. 

Because of Sapphire’s androgynous looks, she is both able to fight evil disguised as a prince and have a love interest with a prince named Franz. The idea of gender-bending, used greatly in Princess Knight, would then become a common trope in both shoujo and magical girl stories. 

From Sailor Moon to Princess Knight, these are only a few examples of the many manga that Nakayoshi has published. Each one has its own kawaii characters and innovative stories that left an impact on multiple generations. 

Are phonebook manga magazines like Nakayoshi still important today? Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Catarina Guedes-Almeida

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