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.
"'All work is prostitution' according to JLG, and I agree. Amen. There are those who think it, those who try not to know it, those who pretend not to know it, and so on, but I repeat:
'All work is prostitution.'
And all work is love as well. Love. Yup. Love."
-Kyoko Okazaki, PINK (Afterword)
[This is a spoiler-free review!]
Yumi is a beautiful and captivating 22-year old part time office lady, part time prostitute who lives alone in an apartment with her pet crocodile, lovingly named "Croc" for short.
Bet you didn't expect a story like that from such an innocent looking cover, eh? But, it's like the saying goes; "never judge a book by it's cover". It's especially the case for this manga, written by the one and only josei mangaka Kyoko Okazaki.
While most people know Okazaki for her thrilling must-read manga "Helter Skelter", "Pink" is yet another tale spun by one of the most brilliant female mangakas out there.
Now, just a fair warning; this manga has a ton of nudity in it (as obvious by the main character being a prostitute), so if nudity isn't your thing, I would recommend proceeding with caution while reading this manga. However, this isn't a hentai; the scenes aren't supposed to make you horny. They're more to show Yumi's job and her everyday life.
Now getting that out of the way, let's begin with the review.
STORY - 7
Honestly, while Pink is a great manga to read, the story isn't it's strong factor. Usually, this would be bad, but, as I'll get into later, the characters make up for it a ton.
The problem with Pink's story is that it's all over the place; when you're at the part when you want to learn more about Yumi, you switch over to another character's POV, and when you want to learn more about the other characters, you switch back to Yumi's POV. However, this only really bothered me as someone who likes to have a story dedicate it's time to one character only before progressing, so this may not bother many people.
ART - 9
Kyoko Okazaki's art style is fresh, exotic, and, even for a manga released back in the 1980's, feels "new". There were some hiccups here and there with how the character's looked, but for the most part Okazaki's art style is simply exquisite and bubbly to look at.
CHARACTERS - 10
This is where Pink is the strongest; it's character department. Honestly, there are only really 4 characters that matter; Yumi, her half-sister, her step-mother, and Haruo, a college student Yumi meets by chance one day.
Yumi herself is a 10/10 all on her own since she's so different. How many mangas have you read in which the main character is a proud prostitute who lives a double life and lives everyday to the fullest? And I think the fact that Yumi doesn't mind being a prostitute is also a good thing. If the manga was written as Yumi being depressed about having to be a call girl, it wouldn't have been very fun to read. However, the entire subject of Yumi being a prostitute who doesn't really care if her job is "weird" and having it come off as comical and fun is refreshing. Honestly, one of the funniest points in Pink was when Yumi and Haruo were eating dinner and Haruo asks how Yumi got her hands on so many clothes when she had told him earlier she was broke. While sipping her soup, she calmly tells him "I went out and made some" as if it was no big deal while Haruo realizes exactly what she means.
My second favorite character would have to be Yumi's half-sister, Keiko. Her interactions with Haruo were hilarious, and it was so nice to see that she and Yumi got along, even though Yumi and Keiko's mom have a poisonous relationship throughout the manga. Keiko is exactly how a rich kid acts; she's snobby, a brat, and has no filter on what she says. After watching countless anime and reading countless manga that have a child character who acts like an angel, let me tell you seeing Keiko as a reality check is a riot. All in all, the characters are great.
ENJOYMENT - 9
I don't think I have to really explain myself here; Pink is just a fun ride, through and through. There were pages that had me laughing, pages that had me sighing, and the ending which made me want to cry. Pink is a manga that I'm sure anyone can really have fun with, no matter how they view prostitution, money, and sex.
OVERALL - 9
If a comical prostitute with a pet crocodile that is a strong woman sounds like the protagonist for you, Pink is a great manga to read. Characters you'll fall in love with, moral ideas / issues you'll toy with in your head, and a memorable art style all wrapped up in a package of a single one-shot manga by the famous Kyoko Okazaki is pretty much guaranteed great. Pink is a manga that you honestly won't regret picking up.
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.