I dated a lovely samurai by the name of Brenda Greggson by when I first started college. Her mother was Japanese and her father was a cheerful Southern gentlemen that sounds like Foghorn Leghorn when he gets excited. I call her a samurai because the girl knows how to handle a blade … a tradition that was passed down to her from her grandfather who happens to make swords in Kobe, Japan.
Anyway, even though we broke up, Brenda and I have become good friends in the Jerry-and-Elaine-mold (Seinfeld reference for those who didn’t catch my meaning) and she always brings me back something from Tokyo every time she takes one of her yearly trips. She even brought me a sword specifically made just for me.
So Saturday, she comes to visit me after having spent a month over there and hands me a manga entitled “Tango Kiss.” Leafing through it, I could see that it was about a young man who meets a girl he really likes and tries to impress her by attempting to become her new dance partner in school. The young man gets dancing lessons from this pretty girl and little does he know that this new girl giving him tango lessons is falling in love with him. The love triangle gets complex and in the end it finishes with the young man breaking his young instructor’s heart and end up with the girl he wanted to impress in the first place.
I was astonished after reading it to the point that I almost wept. You see, “Tango Kiss” isn’t about some fictitiously created characters. The young man in the manga is me and the girl whose heart was broken in the end was Brenda. Brenda wrote the story of our meeting, our courtship and finally the heartbreak here and went to Tokyo where a company would translate it and hire on an artist to draw it. Then they package it nicely as if it were a manga you would buy in a bookstore. They made 20 copies of it for her in case she wanted to shop it around to publishers but she said her intention was just to do it for herself.
I’ve talked to many writers who dream of writing graphic novels and I encourage them to do so. I think Brenda would make a wonderful manga-ka from what I just read and I have to say that it would have been something I would have read even if it wasn’t about me. Animanga Nation would like to encourage all who wish to write manga and create. Enough that this month we will add some tips and articles about writing graphic novels from two writers (including Brenda). Maybe one day it will be one of our loyal readers’ manga we will be reviewing on this site.
Thank you, Brenda. I consider this the best gift you have given me from Japan. The next dance is ours.