Paradise Kiss (20th Anniversary Edition) by Ai Yazawa
Read before: Yes, just not this particular omnibus presentation
Ownership: Bought as a treat once I found it existed.
Spoiler free review: No
Series: Paradise Kiss, this edition contains the full series.
Content warnings: Nudity, mild violence, mild sadomasochism, sexuality/sex
Paradise Kiss was one of my first mangas I ever read and to this day I still love it. It is about a young student, Yukari, who is trying to find meaning in her life and is doing her best to fulfill expectations, until she accidentally gets “discovered” by a group of fashion design students who think shed make the perfect model for their final project.
The full story follows Yukari and George, alongside the rest of the atelier and Yukari’s own friends and family as she initially rejects the proposal to be a model and then realises that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So she “joins” the atelier as their model and starts spending more and more time with them, which also means more time with George, with whom she establishes a relationship.
The manga is full of fashion desing, lots of amazing looks, a lot of relationships happening and things going on and it is just a delight to read, or at least it was to me. One thing ot mentionis that George has an interest in sadomasochism and can be manipulative nad abusive at times to Yukari, but it is part of the story that their relationships develops as it goes. There is also the relationship of the other atelier members and how they visualise George.
Overall, it has a special vibe and the young me that wanted to be a fashion designer loved it, plus it explores bisexuality, has a queer character and a lot of representation and alternative ways of life that show that it isnt all one way to make it and way to live. On top of that, the story doesn’t end when Yukari models for them, instead it suddenly opens a world of opportunities for her and a modelling career, so it is a good interesting show of what choices one can make and opportunities that we take or not.
I cannot recommend this enough as a manga to read, however, as per above I do highlight that it has some interesting topics and some content warnings that are there for a reason. This isn’t all honey and fashion and good vibes. It has a lot of tough topics and a lot of hard moments.
If manga isn’t your thing, you can always go the anime or live action way. I have watched the anime a few times but still haven’t the live action. It is good fun and only 12 episodes long. And overall, regardless of format, it is a well contained story that shows many sides of a coin and about making choices and taking opportunities.