Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, there has been various debates about moe. Despite the critics, moe in general has eventually became mainstay in modern anime
I feel the main reason moe actually saved anime is of course the adaptations of Manga Time Kirara series and Houbunsha, a Japanese book publisher that is behind it all. The first few series in 2007 started receiving anime adaptions. The first being Hidamari Sketch and Doujin Work. After that, the rest was history after K-ON aired and became wildly popular.
Since the 2010s, there are usually anime adaptations of series from the family of Manga Time Kirara family of magazine air almost every season. Sometimes, there might be two that air in the same season. You might be wondering why I think Manga Time Kirara is the savior of anime and why these magazines are popular? I will explain why.
Before Houbunsha started Manga Time Kirara, let’s focus on the history of Manga Time, which is the predecessor that still exists today. Manga Timeis a spinoff of Weekly Manga Times and publishes monthly since 1981. That magazine primarily seinen 4-koma series and considered the flagship title for Hobunsha. It eventually received other sister magazines such as Family, Jumbo, Special, Home, and Original.
With moe’s popularity growing in the early 2000s, Houbunsha decided to create a spinoff focusing on moe 4-koma called Manga Time Kirara in 2003. It was a huge success that they eventually renew the magazine title and eventually added other sister magazines such as Carat, MAX, Forward (non-4koma series) and Miracle, which got canceled in 2017. These magazines originally targeted 20 and 30-year-old anime fans. With light novels becoming popular, they also had an influx of readers in their teens and early 20s.
After Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica aired in 2011 and gained a lot of popularity, the franchise received its own Manga Time Kirara sister magazine. It was titled Manga Time Kirara Magica. It contained primarily anthology of Madoka Magica related comics. Also, several spinoffs such as Oriko, Tart, Kazumi, Shizune, and Magia Record serialized in the Kirara Magica or Forward magazines.
So, why series from the Manga Time Kirara are popular? There are several reasons why. Most of the series serialized in these magazines tend to have several common themes. First off, they usually focus on a life of a group of cute girls focusing on an activity or premise. This can range from things such as working at a café, cheerleading, drawing art, or camping. While most of them are school girl series, some series don’t necessarily take place at school. For instance, New Game focuses on young adult women days of working at a video game company. While some of the series have male characters, they are only a few or none.
Regardless, the reason series from the Manga Time Kirara are so popular is mostly because of the escapism, nostalgia and in some instances, being the thing that relieves stress. Except for a few series that also have fantasy elements thrown in as seen with School-Live or Urara Meirochou, a vast majority of series can happen in real life.
While some of these stories have coming of age elements, one can relate to the characters from personal experiences. Maybe, you might have similar experiences during grade school, college or some point in your life. For instance, perhaps you enjoy drawing a lot of art work during high school and can relate to cute girls doing the same thing.
While the characters in the story might have done an activity differently, you might remember the good old days when you did the same. As expected, the feeling of nostalgia is powerful feeling, which can add to the enjoyment of these series.
Second is of course the escapism and Iyashikei. While I focused on Iyashikei before, it’s one of themes found in most Manga Time Kirara series. While these stories resemble real life, it’s easy to escape and enjoy the life of a bunch of girls having a fun and enjoyable life with little to no conflict. Most of these series tend to have detailed or beautiful settings, which adds to the escapism aspect.
Another reason these series are popular is because of the current economic situation. Believe it or not, most of the youth in Japan have lived through the lost decades. With low wage growth and the slow recovery, some feel that he or she might never marry and have children. In a way, watching these series can allow them experience some things they will never be able to experience.
Of course, this holds true in the western world. Most young adults still face struggles. This can range from student debt, underemployment, and other effects from the Great Recession. As a result, some may never start a family and have children who will experience life similar to the characters from these stories.
Lastly, Manga Time Kirara series tend to appeal a wide audience. Sure, Manga Time Kirara originally targeted anime fans in the 20s and 30s, mainly a male demographic. Believe it or not, these series also appeal to 10 and 20-year olds and females as well. It’s easy to see why, most of these series tend to have little to no fan service. Also, these series tend to have mostly or all female casts.
Of course, these not only appeal to males, but also females as well. After all, cuteness has an appeal to both genders. Not only that, a good amount of series from Manga Time Kirara tend to have yuri pairings or even school girl lesbians. Moreover, a good number of Manga Kirara Time manga series received English localizations such as K-ON, Kiniro Mosaic, New Game, Anne Happy, Hidamari Sketch, Harukana Receive and several others. Not only that, some series received their own video games, mostly on the Playstation Portable and Vita. This includes K-ON, GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Hanayamata, New Game and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka. That alone shows how popular these series are.
Overall, Manga Time Kirara played a big role of possibly saving anime. After all, the magazine has a lot of popular and well-known series such as Hidamari Sketch, K-ON, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka, Kiniro Mosaic, Yuru Camp, and New Game to name a few. Not to mention, Manga Time Kirara has its own mobile game, Kirara Fantasia. It features characters from series that came from the Manga Time Kirara family of magazines including some original characters. The original characters are drawn by mangaka who have series serialized from these magazines.
Still, Manga Time Kirara has a large influence on other moe 4-koma magazines and series. Other publishers such as Kadokawa and Ichijinsha have its own magazine that is similar to Manga Time Kirara. Believe it or not, some series like Hinako Note and Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san feels like it would come from Manga Time Kirara. In reality, these series are actually serialized in Comic Cune, a magazine that Kadokawa publishes. Either way, it’s easy to see where some of the series’ themes came from.
With what, what are your favorite Manga Time Kirara series? Feel free to share your thoughts and relatable moments from these series in the comments.