[From June Issue 2013]
“Youkan Club” is a manga which was first serialized in a magazine in 1981. The well-paced plot revolves around six super rich and eccentric male and female high school students and contains suspense, action, horror and romance. Read by readers of all different ages, no matter what their gender, even today, the work occasionally appears in magazines.
The six main characters all attend Saint President Academy: KENBISHI Youri, an excellent fighter and daughter of a wealthy family; sharp minded KIKUMASAMUNE Seishirou whose family runs a large hospital; graceful HAKUSHIKA Noriko whose parents are a Japanese painting artist and a master of a tea ceremony school; mechanical whizz kid SHOUCHIKUBAI Miroku who is the son of the superintendent general of the Metropolitan Police; the fashionable KIZAKURA Karen whose mother is a jeweler; and the handsome playboy Bidou GRANDMARNIER who is the son of the ambassador of Sweden.
The word “youkan,” in the title means either having free time or having too much time on your hands. The six main characters who are very good friends are also members of the student council. Bored of their unchanging routine, the group name themselves the “Youkan Club.” Because every member is an eccentric and stands out at school, other students admire them.
The first episode begins when Karen’s mother mistakenly sells an imitation jewel to a customer. To help their friend out, the Youkan Club plans to switch the fake jewel with a real one at a party. On top of this, a chain of events unfolds in which Youri is kidnapped, a murder is committed and they come into contact with supernatural forces. The main characters all make use of their special abilities to solve difficult cases.
Besides the main characters, other highlights include family members, pets and the different villains that appear in each episode. Many offbeat characters, such as Youri’s father, Mansaku, and Miroku’s father SHOUCHIKUBAI Tokimune, appear and have an important part to play. Additionally, depictions of the luxurious and extravagant lifestyle of the wealthy characters mean that readers never get bored. They take cruise trips on luxurious passenger liners, and Mansaku even flies his private jet to Hong Kong just to eat gyouza (dumplings).
In an interview on the Youkan Club official website, the author of these manga, ICHIJO Yukari says, “I want to depict what I can’t do myself in manga. Stories that are ‘so delicious’ they’re like a dream.” The greatest charm of this manga is that, though it is about Japanese high school students, it depicts an imaginary world that is completely different from our own daily lives.
An official fan book was published in 2002 which included an introduction to all characters in the story, an interview with the author and secret behind the scenes stories about the production. In addition, it has been adapted into an animated cartoon and was broadcast as a serialized TV drama.
Text: SHIBATA Rie