Biography

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Born on December 29th in Suginami, Tokyo, Japan, Yoko Hanabusa was, as a child, spending much time on drawing pictures such as Obake no Q-tarô (by Fujiko Fujio) and shôjo manga characters. Despite her eagerness to draw manga works, some of which she drew with a pencil on a pile of rough paper and sixth graders in her classroom enjoyed reading them with great pleasure, she thought that becoming a piano teacher was an ideal future for her, and did not think that she could become a manga artist.

During her school days at Yamato High School in Kanagawa Prefecture, she learned for the first time how to use a dip pen for manga drawing. Now she belonged to an amateur manga club in the school, and, feeling that she was not talented enough to play piano, began to send manga manuscripts to publishers. She tried a first-time mangaka contest of Shôjo Comic (Shogakukan), a manga magazine that first appeared in 1968, some years later than the two market competitors of Shôjo Margaret(Shueisha) and Shôjo Friend(Kodansha), and her name appeared in the magazine as a “One More Step!” contestant for publication. Since then, she had seriously begun to think of becoming a manga artist.

Once again she sent a manga manuscript to Shôjo Comic‘s contest, but her name could not be found anywhere in the magazine. It was a big contest for first-time manga artists held twice in a year, and she thought such a contest as that would not be for her. In the meantime she passed the entrance examination to Kokugakuin University in Tokyo, and before the start of its academic year she had some spare time during which she drew another manga manuscript and sent it, this time, to a contest of Kodansha’s Shôjo Friend. She won “the Prize for Effort” with the manga, and received 3,000 yen (about 24 US Dollar) as prize money. Afterwards she continued to send her manuscripts to Kodansha.

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Yoko Hanabusa in a party celebrating her 30th anniversary of her mangaka debut

In the first year of the university she was hospitalised, and, from her sickbed, kept on sending manuscripts about which Kodansha gave valuable advice to her. Feeling uneasy about campus life, she was absent from the university for another year, and drew more manga manuscripts. She won the Silver Award in Shôjo Friend‘s contest, and thought, without a doubt, that she could become a manga artist.

However, things did not go as she expected. Now she had to think of job serching as a university student near graduation, and, being two years older than other fourth-year students, that made her feel to be at a disadvantage, she decieded to stop searching jobs and instead to continue to draw as many mangas as possible. In terms of making a debut as soon as she could, Yoko Hanabusa brought her manuscripts to Akita Shoten, a manga publishing company that at the time had just entered the shôjo manga magazine market with Hitomi. There, she finally debuted with Koi wa Happy Snow ni Notte in the Désir magazine, the Extra Winter Issue of Hitomi, in December 1978.

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Premier Muguet
(Hitomi magazine’s cover)

In 1979 she started to draw a serial manga entitled Premier Muguet, a romance story written by Kyoko Mizuki who is well known for being the author of Candy Candy. Influenced by Mizuki’s historical romance theme and Princess Diana’s visit to Japan in 1986, Yoko Hanabusa had a thought of a new manga formula, that was a “princess-like” manga. Although at that time the school life of heroes and heroines was the norm as a popular theme in the publications of shôjo manga, she asked her chief editor of Hitomi for permission to draw a new manga entitled Lady!!

Lady!! became popular among Hitomi readers and the chief editor let her continue to draw it. Soon this manga was spotted by Toei Animation that had been searching for a Candy Candy-like story, and thus was turned into an animated series entitled Lady Lady!! that was aired from October 1987 to March 1988 on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) and its network-affiliated stations. Hello! Lady Lynn, the second season of Lady Lady!!, followed from May 1988 to January 1989 as the character products of this anime series were selling well. Hello! Lady Lynn was aired on TV Tokyo as the key station.

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Three different editions of Yoko Hanabusa’s masterpiece Lady!!

In 1991 the publication of Hitomi was discontinued halfway through the serialization of Lady!!, and the manga was thought to be cut off forever. However, Akita Shoten published Lady!! volume 12, the final volume you never see in the Hitomi magazine, for which Yoko Hanabusa drew to keep on creating Lynn’s story.

During the serialization of Taimu Purinsesu (Time Princess) in the manga magazine RunRun published by Kodansha from 1990 to 1993, Yoko Hanabusa began a new approach to her manga skills by drawing works in the field of mystery, such as Crystal Labyrinth and Peacock and Tiger Eye, both of which appeared in Akita Shoten’s Fushigi Mystery magazine.

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