“Happy Mania“ is a Japanese manga series by Moyoco Anno.
Set in Japan from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s, it comically depicts the eventful life of Kayoko Shigeta, a woman in her twenties, who repeats self-defeating behaviors because of her over-dependence on love.
Kayoko Shigeta, nicknamed “Shigekayo” (24 years old) lives with her best friend and roommate Hiromi Fukunaga, nicknamed “Fuku-chan” (29 years old) at an apartment in Tokyo, working as a part-time worker.
Shigeta is a woman called “a runaway locomotive of love“. She is over-dependent on love. She has sexual relationships with men she has just met and falls for on that day.
She is pursuing passionate love, but her relationships with lovers don’t last long because she is always controlled by her temporary romantic feelings and she always falls for men with problems.
She always suffers financial hardship because she prioritizes love over work and she can’t keep doing a job.
Fukunaga is a career woman who works in the cosmetics industry. She marries Hideki Tōdō, her lover who works at a trading company, after many twists and turns, such as adultery, marital separation, and cheating.
Shigeta works part-time as a clerk at a bookstore, where she meets a workmate, Shuichi Takahashi (20 years old). Takahashi is a University of Tokyo student and a son of a decent family.
Takahashi falls in love with Shigeta, and he proposes to her. Shigeta gets engaged to him twice, but she calls off her engagement twice because she is a love supremacist and she can’t find happiness in marriage.
Takahashi embarks on a journey to forget about Shigeta. He begins to help a beekeeper with his work.
He becomes close to Takako Kawaguchi (21 years old), a daughter of the beekeeper.
Though Takako had never been in love, she falls in love with Takahashi, and she develops a strong desire to marry him.
Takahashi gets stung by a hornet and loses his memory. He goes back to Tokyo to recall who he is.
Takako pretends to be Takahashi’s fiancée while Takahashi is losing his memory, and she starts living with Takahashi’s parents.
Takahashi gets his memory back, and he marries Takako.
Takahashi divorces Takako and he makes the third marriage proposal to Shigeta because he can’t forget about Shigeta.
“Happy Mania“ is a long-running series that was serialized in “Feel Young“, a monthly manga magazine for adult women, in 1995–2001.
It is a romantic comedy manga mainly targeted at women in their twenties. It depicts the unprecedented way of life of a love supremacist woman.
The stylish drawings with rough touches in an illustration style are characteristic.
Like many other manga works for adult women since the 1990s, it includes sexually explicit contents.
In Japan, the books of eleven volumes in total were published by Shodensha in 1996–2001.
The pocket edition books of six volumes in total (2001–2002) and the new edition of eight volumes in total (2009–2010) were also published by Shodensha.
As of December 2020, the total series circulation has exceeded 3.3 million copies.
The live-action TV drama series based on the manga was aired on Fuji Television Network in 1998. Izumi Inamori played the role of the main character Kayoko Shigeta.
The traditional Chinese version of the manga was published by Sharp Point Press in Taiwan in 2002 and 2003.
The English version was published by Tokyopop in 2003 and 2004.
The French version was published by Pika Édition in 2005 and 2006.
The German versions of volumes 1–6 of the books were published by Carlsen Comics in 2005 and 2006.
The Italian version was published by Edizioni Star Comics in 2006 and 2007.
The sequel “Go! Happy Mania“ was published as a one-shot prototype in “Feel Young“ in 2017, and it has been serialized in the magazine since 2019. Set 15 years after the ending of “Happy Mania”, “Go! Happy Mania” portrays the later life of Shigeta, who turned 45.
“The Employment Ice Age“ as a Time Background
In “Happy Mania“, the main character Shigeta is depicted as a woman who couldn’t get a regular job after graduating from a university and works part-time to make ends meet.
In Act. 32 of Volume 7, her resume says “Meiji University, no job history“.
This character setting reflects the social situation in Japan at that time, i.e., difficulty in finding employment in the 1990s, called “the employment ice age“ in the Heisei recession period after the bubble economy collapsing.
What is Happiness for Kayoko Shigeta, a Woman Falling in Love with Love?
“Happy Mania” caricatures the dilemma of a woman who can’t get married because of pursuing the pleasure of pure love.
In Act. 8 of Volume 2, Takahashi expressed his love to Shigeta, but Shigeta says to him, “I don’t like a man who likes me”, and she flees from him. She is always pursuing the pleasure of loving rather than the happiness of being loved.
Shigeta can’t find happiness in marriage because what she wants is not a marriage partner but a romantic love interest.
Shigeta eventually decides to marry Takahashi, but in the final episode (Act. 62 of Volume 11), on the day of her wedding, she shouts, “I want a boyfriend!!” in a wedding dress.
To her, marriage is not the fulfillment of love. Shigeta is a woman falling in love with love. What she wants is tremulous euphoria gained from being in heart-throbbing love. Shigeta herself describes it as “the kind of happiness that can make my body tremble” (Act. 62 of Volume 11). Her romantic desire is never satisfied by marriage. In that sense, it could be said that the character Kayoko Shigeta in this work is kind of an embodiment of romance (as transient and intense love) itself.
The Characters Shigeta Had Relationships with
Shigeta has sexual relationships with all of the following characters except Eri and Maruyama.
- Takada: A customer who comes to the bookstore where Shigeta works part-time. He gives Shigeta his phone number.
- Mitsuhiro Okura: Shigeta’s workmate at the bookstore, Yūko Tanabe’s boyfriend. He has an affair with Shigeta.
- Tokieda: A 19-year-old club DJ. He is always going out with many and unspecified lovers.
- Kunihiko Sakai: Shigeta’s classmate in the first year of high school and a son of a cult founder. He is arrested for abducting Shigeta.
- Goro Kishiwada: A young potter. To get close to him, Shigeta becomes an apprentice with Kishiwada’s master Umemoto. Kishiwada had relations with his master’s daughter Midori, but Midori elopes with another man. After that, Kishiwada embarks on a journey to China, leaving Shigeta.
- Kiyotsugu Ōkōchi: A man who works for the same company as Hideki. Though he is married, he has adulterous affairs with Shigeta.
- Yūsuke Manda: Shigeta’s ex-boyfriend. Shigeta lives with him at his apartment for a while.
- Eri: One of Shigeta’s coworkers when she worked at a hostess bar in Tachikawa. A tall and beautiful woman with an androgynous look. Eri confesses her love to Shigeta.
- Tamekichi Kato: A self-proclaimed novelist living in Kyoto. He is delusional and has a lot of debts.
- Maruyama: A plump office worker with a warm personality. Fukunaga introduces him to Shigeta as Shigeta’s matchmaking partner.
- Tajima: An employee of the editorial company run by Shigeta’s friend Mariko Nakamura. A womanizer. He is Mariko’s boyfriend, but he also has relations with Fukunaga and Shigeta.
- Tadashi Kayama: A young master of an old inn with a hot spring in Hakone-Yumoto (Kanagawa Prefecture) where Shigeta stayed. He tries to make Shigeta the young landlady of his inn.
- Shuichi Takahashi: Shigeta’s workmate when she worked part-time at a bookstore. A University of Tokyo student (he later dropped out of the university) and a son of a decent family. After calling off her engagement to Takahashi twice, Shigeta eventually decides to marry him.