These past few years, one of the trends in Japanese romance manga has been having an age gap between the lovers. Keiko Nishi’s “Otoko no Issho” (A Man’s Life), which was made into a live-action film, is about a single woman in her thirties, who falls in love with a university professor in his fifties. Another well received manga by the same Keiko Nishi is “Koi to Gunkan” (Love & Battleships), published in the shojo manga magazine “Nakayoshi”, about a 13 year old middle school girl who falls in love with the handsome 41 year old town mayor. Another sensational manga with an even larger age gap is “Fantasy” by Hato Okachimachi, which tells the tale of a relationship between a 14 year old middle school girl and a 59 year old police officer who is nearing his retirement.
Otoko no Issho
Other examples include “Love, Hate, Love” by Moko Yamashita, the sad love story of a 28 year old virgin ballet dancer and her 52 year old neighbor, and “&” by Mari Okazaki, a story about a 26 year old nail stylist and a 45 year old surgeon who love each other passionately.
In real life, woman who like men over 40 are called “Karesen” in Japanese. These woman no doubt appreciate the security an older man can provide (including but not limited to financial security) and their broad life experience. In these respects, men of their own generation often fall short.
On the other hand, there are some cases where the woman is older, such as in last autumn’s popular drama “Kyou ha Kaisha Yasumimasu” (“I’m taking the day off”, based on the manga by Mari Fujimura). It tells the story of a plain 33 year old woman, who has never had a boyfriend, who falls for a handsome 21 year old university student. It was very well-received by woman of that age group. Another unusual work is “Udon no Onna” (Noodle Lady) by Est Em, where a 35 year old lady who makes noodles in a student cafeteria is attracted to a 20 year old male student.
When you really love someone, age is just a number! In fact, the more obstacles, the more passionate lovers become. There are an abundance of good plots that can be done with an age gap romance and this is a trend that will no doubt continue to flourish!