Yumi, an attractive young office girl, spends her nights as a prostitute to afford her pet alligator. There’s little point in burying the lead here, I’m sure you’re curious. However, before you jump to conclusions, this is not a pornographic work.
Most American manga readers are familiar with shonen (manga targeted for little boys: Naruto, One Piece, Dragonball) or shojo (manga targeted at little girls: Sailor Moon, Vampire Knight, Fruits Basket). However, manga is pervasive in Japan and just about every demographic has its "age/gender" appropriate library of titles. Pink is considered one of the first groundbreaking manga for the Josei genre written for modern, adult women. It features mature storytelling, nuanced characters, and themes that deal with controversial or complex situations. Josei stories, and Pink’s author, Kyoko Okazaki, as a founding creator in the genre, are not shy about much of anything whether it’s empowered women, drug use, alternative sexualities, or street culture.
All that said, Pink’s interior art is playful. The alligator wears glasses. Our young Yumi would do anything to keep him by her side. She’s certainly odd, but as a reader you find yourself sympathetic to her idiosyncrasies. She’s a character fighting alone, against a larger world that doesn’t share her values, to protect the joy she has in her life. In the face of long hours at two jobs, unsavory tasks, and the judgment of friends and family, she keeps moving forward because she knows what matters most to her. As a reader, the realization dawns slowly: we all have a secret heart, a happiness we strive to protect -- an alligator of our own.
~ Sarah Martinez