Title Page(s)
Toki*Meka Released
A look at Naoko's latest work

Earlier we reported that Naoko Takeuchi, the creator of Sailor Moon, was working on a new manga after a long leave of absence during which she got married and had a son. The new work, "Toki*Meka" was published in the September issue of Nakayoshi (the same magazine that ran such manga as "Sailor Moon," "Magic Knights Rayearth," and "Mysterious Thief Saint Tail"). Nakayoshi is published a month ahead of time, so the September issue was actually released around August 3. In North America, it's available for purchase on AnimeNation.com.

Toki*Meka is a story about a super-genius girl named Hoshiko Hana who has never had any friends in her 12 years of life. Since she's the foremost cybernetics engineer in the world, she decides to create a "Cute, Sweet, Clever, Compassionate Ideal Girl-type Friend Robo" to be her companion.

Hi!  I'm Meca!
Hoshiko is astonished to find her creation already up and about
On the stormy night of the robot's completion, while Hoshiko is picking out clothes for her new friend, a bolt of lightning strikes. This prematurely activates the robot, but because of the energy surge she winds up being just a little "odd." Thus Meca Hanayori is born! (In the series title, "Meka" is written like "Mecha" as in "robot;" in the story, the robot's name is pronounced the same way but is written (in Japanese) like "Flower Bud." The English spelling of her name seems to be "Meca" judging by her cap in the title image.)

The TV said "Baka." Hope it wasn't too expensive...
Meca has a few screws loose -- literally! She has a tendency to mechanize household objects, turning things like stuffed animals, a television and a mannequin into semi-intelligent robots. She's also just a little too spunky for her own good. Meanwhile, if anyone says the word "Baka" ("idiot") in her presence, she goes berserk and smashes everything in the room, then snaps out of it and doesn't remember doing a thing.

Hoshiko tells Meca not to follow her to school, but she does anyway. Everyone at Hoshiko's elementary school calls her "The Professor" because she's already smarter than the teachers; she just comes to school because "it's her duty." When Meca sees that Hoshiko doesn't have any friends, she decides it's her mission to hook Hoshiko up with a cute guy in her class named Takeda. Takeda and a group of his buddies used to tease Hoshiko when she was little, but now she has a secret crush on him (which she doesn't even realize herself).

Poor Hoshiko now has more on her hands than she bargained for: a semi-psychotic matchmaking robot trying every trick in the book to get her and Takeda together! No trick is too sneaky, no makeover is too wild, and no inanimate object is safe!

Pleased to meet you all!
Meca meets Takeda
The story fills 60 pages (it's a "special" and not a regular story - it even has one color page in addition to the two-page title image) but leaves the ending open; it would be quite possible for Naoko to turn it into a monthly series, assuming she and Kodansha (publisher of Nakayoshi) are willing. In fact, the final page has a box running down the side that says "If you want these weird two to appear again, send in your fan letter!"

As an aside, one should note that North American manga anthologies pale in comparison to the real thing. The American magazine "Animerica Extra," typical of North American manga magazines, has four stories for a total of about 120 pages, all of which are Black & White; its cover price is $4.95.

Nakayoshi has around eight stories (two of which are 60-page specials) for a total of 550 pages, each of which has at least a full-color title page (Toki*Meka has two full-color title pages and the first page of the story is in color). Each issue also comes with a pack of extras like calendars, zippered pencil pouches, fridge magnets and lockets. Also, each story is printed in its own color of ink; instead of all being Black & White, some are Red & White, Green & White, etc. How much does this cost in Japan? 450 yen -- approximately $4.50.

While we understand that Nakayoshi has a well-established market and grew to this size over time, we still hope that someday such publications would be released in North America.

back to SOS Page (graphics-rich)
back to SOS Page (fast-load)