Title: Billion Girl
Author: SAKAI Miwa
Asuka Comics 2001
Hana to Yume Comics 1999
Billion Girl! Here is another series by one of my favorite mangaka, SAKAI Miwa. I know every time I talk about a series by this author, I start off the summary saying the same thing, but I can’t help it 🙂 SAKAI Miwa is one of my favorite mangaka. I think it is because she shares a lot of the same manga fetishes I have (like teacher-student series, and large age gaps) so she always produces series that push my happy shoujo buttons ^_^ Her art style can be a little funny at times (oddly rounded chins) but there is something delicate and feminine about it that I really enjoy. Most of SAKAI-sensei’s works actually fall into the “josei” category (aimed at older women in their 20’s+ instead of teens) but in this case we have a solidly shoujo series. Something interesting about this one is that volume 1 was originally published by Hakusensha under their Hana to Yume manga imprint, but something must have happened, because she switched publishers, and volume 1 was republished, this time over at Kadokawa in their Asuka Comics line. The series continued for many more volumes under the Asuka imprint. I have both versions of volume 1 (the cover for the Hakusensha version can be seen here) and there ARE some differences. A lot of small changes to background and clothing screen tones were made in the Asuka version, and some panels were even re-drawn (like this for example). The Hakusensha volume has one more chapter included that was pushed over into volume 2 of the Asuka edition. Anyway, the story itself here is silly and fun, and worth checking out.
OOBA Kanako is a 16 year-old girl about to start her second year of high school. She’s an average-looking girl, rather short, with long hair she wears in brainds, and glasses. Kanako comes from a family who runs a confectionery shop, selling traditional Japanese sweets. Her family has run the shop for 3 generations now, and it is very important to them. However, thanks to the failing economy, the shop has been doing poorly lately. Add in some debt to loan sharks and other lenders, and things are starting to get seriously bad. At the beginning of the story, Kanako is aware that there are some financial issues in her family (she never gets an allowance, and she has to do everything she can to economize) but one day when she gets home from school, she is forced to face just how bad things really are. Everything in her house has been red-tagged and is being repossessed! Her family is now completely broke! Bankrupt!
Oh no, what will Kanako do? At school, she has two unlikely allies who sympathize with her troubles. The first is the handsome (yet kinda girly) Amamiya. He is very casual and friendly with Kanako, and is almost like a best friend. He listens to her troubles and offers advice. Their classmates suspect they are dating, and Kanako has to work hard to convince them she and Amamiya are just friends. Kanako’s other friend is Oshinari, a surly boy who actually likes Kanako. Both of them worry about Kanako’s suddenly dire financial situation, especially after she reveals that her father has run off and is missing! Surely he hasn’t killed himself over the debt? Kanako is horrified at the thought.
Alas, suicide is not the case. Kanako is relieved to discover that her father has returned home at last, and is then amazed when he announces that their horrible debt has been repaid in full! But how could this be? Kanako’s father admits that the problem was not solved without an entirely different price. While he was away, Kanako’s father encountered a strange man who looked like a homeless vagrant. The man said he was actually a customer of the confectionery shop, and when he heard about their troubles, he offered to pay off all the debts… in exchange for one of the OOBA family daughters! Feeling pretty desperate, Kanako’s father agreed to the deal, and soon enough, the vagrant appears at their house, ready to collect his bride!
But who will he marry? There are 3 OOBA daughters. Kanako, at 16, is the youngest. However, her selfish and petty older sisters are refusing to cooperate, so Kanako volunteers herself as a sacrifice– she will marry this man and save her family!
Oh, Kanako, how noble of you! It isn’t until later that the reality of her decision sets in, and Kanako realizes how stupid she was. She doesn’t even know his name! She can’t marry some weird vagrant! Ahh, but he is a vagrant with money, right?
Oh yes, he has money all right. After being given one week to prepare herself, Kanako’s new husband appears at her school to bring her back to his house. They have both signed the marriage contracts, so they are technically man and wife. How can she be married to this stranger??! Kanako’s world is about to be turned upside down. This vagrant, with his vast amount of money, isn’t actually a vagrant at all, but he is actually a dashing and handsome heir to an insanely wealthy and aristocratic family! He also happens to be a famous novelist who writes erotic fiction! Only in shoujo manga do these situations happen! The reason he married Kanako was so she could bear his children and continue his family line! Poor Kanako, her crazy new life is just beginning!
The series follows Kanako, who is used to a life of thrift, as she adjusts to suddenly living with this impossibly wealthy and eccentric husband. She has her school life and home life to juggle, and a husband who is not your average guy. He is larger than life, and Kanako is swept up into his unusual pace very quickly! Will she ever be able to adjust to her new circumstances? Can she bear this man’s child? Let the fun begin!