Pink is a manga about a Japanese girl named Yumi, a beautiful girl in her early 20s. During the day, Yumi works as a regular office lady, but by night, she works as a prostitute. Yumi needs her two jobs to make ends meet. She also needs the extra income to feed her unusual pet, a crocodile, which she keeps in her apartment. Working in an office is quite normal for young Japanese women, but keeping a pet crocodile, and being a prostitute makes Yumi stand out. In truth, few girls are like Yumi, however, many readers can empathize with her. Young women love their "something", symbolized by her pet crocodile, and they can also identify with Yumi's "wild at heart" nature.
Words cannot describe how much I love Pink. It takes all your refined, inked, resplendent, and glamorous Shoujo Art and throws it out the window, then proceeds to feed the remains to its crocodile, all while stylishly donning on an Alexander McQueen fluffy crazy-suit and waltzing in the street like a cross-dresser out of a Harlem Ball.
Like any other Okazaki comic, the art is exactly what it needs to be, and nothing more, nor less. When its stylish, you know its stylish. When its comedic, you know its comedic. When its bitter, you know its bitter. I think Pink better exemplifies what Hayashida Q said
of her own manga Dorohedoro, that its "a song with really dark lyrics, but a melody that's so happy that you want to dance to it".
Pink makes me actually want to be a Mangaka, because (like some of the comics of Sam Alden) it tells me that you can make something amazing without giving a shit about piling on detail like make-up. Of course whether you can actually know the line well enough to make it is a whole different matter. When I flipped through the whole book again I noticed one spot where the lines falter a bit (that is, when Keiko is crying but her eyes are a bit off), but only one spot. Everything that is necessary to be conveyed, is exactly conveyed. Yea you can tell Inio Asano, Charles Burns and Herge to screw off because Okazaki knows exactly where its at all the time.
You could also say that the story is, like most underground type works, one with a non-plot. A call-girl, her sister, her lover, her mother. And a crocodile. If I see anyone else try to analyze what Croc means, I'll tell them 'it means exactly what the hell it means', because that's what it means, a bloody ass crocodile. Pink taught me that its bloody awesome to own a crocodile, Capitalism be damned.
Pink tells you a lot of things. It tells you that even if you're a person in a soul-sucking office job, who also has to go down on sleazy old men for a living, its okay if you own a fucking crocodile. It tells you that you can be a novelist who is "deeper than Castaneda, funnier than the Tunnels, using larger fonts than Eimi Yamada, selling better than Jiro Akagawa, and televised more than Shizuko Natsuki". It tells you that talking about Toshio Shimao and Louis-Ferdinand Celine is boring because ""Zines, TV and comics do the job in our times". It tells you that "grown-ups are horny and dishonest and so damn complicated" so "being a kid rocks". It also tells you that apple pie is "so super-sweet and full of apples". It tells you all these things through its miniscule but vibrant cast, and half of the time its the lines that does the talking.
Existential Crisis and Tragedy be damned, you can go live on a tropical island.
Most importantly Pink shows you that being surrounded by nice things feels nice, because it can help you get through the times. Whether it clothes, or food, or a crocodile, or apple pie, or a novelist's dream, the main thing is whether it can help you get through the times, and then later help others to get through the times. Whether its plastic surgery, or a corpse, or binge eating and purging it all, or an abusive client who is good with his genitals, or a loser boyfriend, or just looking at the person you love, the main thing about all these things is whether they can help you get through the times. And Kyoko Okazaki doesn't want anything more.
Pink by Kyoko Okazaki
Long-Winded Review #6 (crocodiles are cute fuck you edition)
Pink is a manga that just doesn't give a fuck. Pink is both anarchic and capitalist. Pink is both punk rock and pop. Pink is both sour and sweet. Pink is pink.
On a surface level, this might come across as a simple humorous slice-of-life story with no plot. And really, it's not much more than that, and that is exactly the point. Pink's philosophy is "fuck assumptions, fuck how you're supposed to feel, fuck all that" This philosophy is perfectly embodied by Yumi owning a fucking crocodile that just hangs out in her apartment,
because why the fuck not? This line of thinking permeates the entire manga and it might not be obvious at a first glance, but that's exactly the point. You don't need to be deep and stuffy to send a message to your readers, you can embrace the ridiculous shit life throws at you and laugh it of. Get yourself some sweets, have some casual sex, buy some cool stuff, and move on.
You can be an office worker with a side-gig as a call girl, own a cute ass crocodile, enjoy fucking old men, enjoy eating sweets and hanging out with your bratty little sister, fuck and befriend your step-mom's young boyfriend, embrace capitalism because buying things is fun, enjoy sex with a rude and verbally abusive man that robbed you because fuck it the sex was amazing. Had a bad day? Fuck that, do something fun right now. Life goes on, and why dwell on the negative? Buy some cute clothes and move on.
The art reflects this perfectly as well. Most of the time, Okazaki's pencils are loose and cartoonish. Some might call it amateurish, but it's intended to be just as it is. It emphasizes Okazaki's unique sense of humor and the philosophy of the book. The comedic timing is absolutely flawless and I found myself laughing every other page. I love the exaggerated expressions, I love the ridiculous situations the characters get into, I love the fact that no fucks are given. Just enjoy a damn manga and have fun. All that matters is getting through the day in whatever way makes you happy. Enjoy the here and now.
This manga gets a 10/10 from me. Its unique charm, its humor, its shamelessness, its casual depth is unmatched. Pink is loose and free. Pink is sugary and chewy. Pink is one of a kind. It doesn't take itself seriously, and neither should you. Life is ridiculous so get yourself a cute ass crocodile.
Life is quite a volatile fellow, you’ll never know what it’ll throw at you, whether it be an opportunity or a nonchalant crocodile.
Kyoko Okazaki is known for implementing controversial dark but real themes in her works such as sex, prostitution, drugs and homosexuality. Her brilliant work, "Pink" is no exception to some of these aspects."Pink" tackles on the introspection of its witty characters, sexual relations, and their frivolous nature which really work for the story’s essence.
We are introduced to 22 year-old Yumi who works part time at a small office. Yumi is quite the ebullient young woman who tries to
confront life with a positive vibe - even though her position and utter circumstances are far from it. In order to feed her voracious crocodile - who sports a fine pair of lenses - she must sell her body every night to make the proper dough. One would think she would detest such a disgraceful act, but ironically she brushes it off casually and continues on with a gleeful smile - albeit beneath that carefree nature lies jaundice and family issues.
We're also introduced to Yumi's young precocious step sister Keiko, the candy and prince fascinator but also the insightful one. Her mother being Yumi’s stepmother, Yumi detests her and does her best to ignore and ridicule her in her thoughts. Knowing full well that her stepmother favors the life of luxury and does not truly love her father.
Now, enter Haruo, a young college student with aspirations and dreams of becoming a respected novelist in the literary world. He is quite the sharp yet flawed man who makes his earnings by serving as a gigolo for Keiko's mother, a gigolo being a man who is paid/financially supported by an older woman to be her escort/lover. Haruo is an inquiring young man who wishes to expand his intellect and his "powers of observation" to aid in writing his novel. He ends up meeting Yumi, Keiko and the ever conspicuous croc, forming a unique, intrinsic bond.
I found the main set of characters to be quite dynamic and enjoyable through their interactions. Even though their situations may be ridiculous and off handed, they always seem to enjoy each other's company. As for the sexual content. It didn’t feel oversaturated or shoved into the writing like I thought it initially would. It had its purpose and meaning.
(Tip: Don’t read in public unless you want people leaning your way).
Pink’s form of storytelling is through the different point of views from various characters. Most had their own moments of soliloquy and internal reflections. I rather favored this since it let the reader understand the real motives behind their facade like nature.
The overall plot flowed smoothly and the pacing was quite good, though the romance felt a bit forced in the beginning due this ambiguous feeling I felt between the set characters, that is until it their lustful relationship turned into an intrinsic one as the plot progressed. Pink sports a rather unorthodox, minimalist yet vibrant art style which is reminiscent a vintage comic strip. I found this to be refreshing and different - really digging Okazaki’s signature style. As for that croc, i personally feel that this reptile may represent an array of things, hell - it may not symbolize anything, just a simple red herring left by the mangaka.
From my perspective, I believe that the croc represented Yumi's reason for living - her merit existence and vividness. Without it, she would become solemn and quite cynical. The pigmentation of pink was also brought up a couple times, representing happiness; a vibrant color in contrast of the gritty reality which the characters face blindly.
Overall, Pink is a great read with a fairly strong execution in the end. The story was not too overly complicated, neither was the frontal premise. Even so, the characters are what knitted the story together into an enjoyable read. I highly recommend this work, but be warned - since it showcases heavy sexual material which is not appropriate for the younger audience.