Ep. 102: Not All Girls Are Stupid, by Minami Q-ta

After our episode on The Blood Red Boy introduced us to Minami Q-ta, the Mangasplaining gang take a deeper dive into their oeuvre with Not All Girls Are Stupid, a brand-new and blistering look at the difficulties of being a woman in your late teens and early 20s. A great chat came out of this, but this episode also ventures into NSFW topics, so maybe keep that in mind before you start listening.

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00:00 Not All Girls Are Stupid, by Minami Q-ta
49:00 Picking the last 3 books of Season 4 & Shout-Outs!

Not All Girls Are Stupid
By Minami Q-ta
Translated by Dan Luffey
Lettering by Brendon Hul
Project Manager: Matt Haaschl

Published by Star Fruit Books. Available in print / digital

Audio editing by David Brothers. Show notes by Christopher Woodrow-Butcher and Deb Aoki


Hello, Christopher here. Sorry about my microphone quality! I was traveling and didn’t have my good mic and all my settings were  incorrect, so I get a little loud and fuzzy at points, although David thankfully took care of most of that. Still, I’ll watch out for future episodes.

Also, Minami Q-ta doesn’t seem to list preferred pronouns anywhere, so we went with she/they interchangably throughout this episode. If we got that wrong, we’re very sorry! 

Video: Minami Q-ta at Comitia, an independent comics event in Tokyo, in November 2022. That’s Christopher and Deb talking off-camera.


Minami Q-ta was born January 13th, 1969, in Shimane Prefecture. Currently living in Tokyo, they have been a mangaka since 1992 and have published over 40 books of manga in Japan. According to their bio they have been married three times, divorced twice, have three daughters, two sons, and four cats. They’re also nonbinary and feminist. 

Q-ta’s work can be difficult to pin-down to a single genre, with their manga published by a variety of publishers and available through different sources. Their most recently published work in Japan that has been translated into English is Pop Life, a story about a single mom raising kids and it’s a lovely slice-of-life series… AND it was serialized online in Shueisha’s now-defunct Funwari Jump digital magazine… which is technically a seinen manga magazine that seems to have featured mostly slice-of-life and autobio stories written by women? Maybe magazine distinctions really DON’T mean anything anymore? Regardless, this holding page where you can read some of the old Funawari Jump series’ online is interesting! https://youngjump.jp/funwarijump/ 

Star Fruit Books is the first English language publisher of Minami Q-ta’s work. In addition to 2016’s Pop Life (two volumes), they have also released the short story The Blood Red Boy (2000) which we previously read on the podcast, and today’s work, Not All Girls Are Stupid (Japanese: 愚図な女ばかりじゃないぜ/Guzu na Onna Bakarija Naize) which was originally released in 1997 by Bunkasha. All titles are available digitally, but only Not All Girls Are Stupid is also available as a print edition from Star Fruit. As someone who has read all of them, I highly recommend that you check them out too.

Q-ta is still a very active comic maker, who self-publishes doujinshi and short stories that they offer at conventions and other events, including Comitia where Deb and I met her earlier this year. We talk about that a little later. But if you want to see what Q-ta is up to, the best place to do so is to follow their Twitter account @murasakibashi, for as long as that site lasts.


A one volume collection of short stories about sexuality, love, and the human condition, each colored with Q-ta’s unique perspectives. 

Starfruit Books

Which… hm… yeah. Like, that is all technically true. I’d add, like in the intro up top, that the title is also primarily concerned with the lives of women from their late teens and into their early 20s. The book primarily focuses on women navigating sexuality, desire, and “unbalanced” relationships, as they make decisions about what is or isn’t okay for them. It’s about understanding who you are and what you like, and who your partner really is, and what they really like, and figuring out if those things are compatible. It’s a shock to the system, in a good way, but it might be triggering for some due to sexual violence.

That said, let’s dig into the episode.

00:49: That was a throwback reference. David has previously mentioned that a couple of Mangasplaining books, when read on the bus, had quickly revealed themselves as  inappropriate for reading in that setting… But luckily Chip comes to the rescue in a few minutes when he was caught reading this at a Bennigans or something.

06:10  As mentioned earlier, David picked The Blood Red Boy to read here on the podcast back in episode 48, and it was a great episode. Go check it out. 

06:50 David mentions really appreciating this scene, where a woman realizes that the man she’s sleeping with doesn’t quite understand her, or himself. It’s the kind of moment that sets the tone for the book, coming just 16 pages in.

10:30  A lot of the stories in Not All Girls Are Stupid are about very unbalanced, off-kilter relationships where the people can’t communicate, and can’t quite find a level of compatibility, usually to the woman’s detriment (though not always).

12:15 As you saw from the video up top, Deb and I were lucky enough to meet Minami Q-ta when we attended Comitia in November of 2022. We bought a bunch of doujinshi, and I’ve been sort of slowly making my way through reading them… But it’s all in Japanese, and that can be a little tough, haha. We’re hoping that Star Fruit is able to publish more of their work in English.

12:38 [DEB:] For examples of those webtoons that are “about being bullied within an inch of their lives,” perhaps check out Get Schooled, a series about a maverick teacher who wields his own brand of justice against bullies. It’s on Webtoon and will be published in print by ABlaze.

Another pick on Webtoon is Viral Hit, about a scrawny guy who learns how to fight thanks to an obscure “MeTube” channel featuring lessons in hand-to-hand combat taught by a guy wearing a chicken mask. I know, right? Webtoons!?! Here’s the trailer from Webtoon so you can get a taste of this one:

13:10 While my mind immediately went to the work of Kyoko Okazaki and Moycoco Anno when reading these stories from ’96/’97 by Q-ta-sensei, I think Deb referencing contemporary manga creator Akane Torikai is a good match. Torikai’s first work in English is Sensei’s Pious Lie, a very complicated story about sex, abuse and all kinds of things.

Teachers, students, I’m sure it’ll all work out fine. Excerpt from Sensei’s Pious Lie.

Torikai-sensei is another manga-ka that has a good amount of work published in Japan but that has been scantly published in English (though at this point, all of her work is available in French from Akata Editions). It’s interesting because, as I get into a little later, she really doesn’t shy away from sex or nudity in her work. This creates uncomfortable moments for publishers that have to decide whether or not they’re really going to go all out to get behind a book like this when they’re deciding to license it, or if there are easier titles to pick up. It’s unfortunate, because she’s an author that has a lot to say and says it very well.

On that note, Deb interviewed Akane Torikai for Mangasplaining Extra a few years back, and that two-part interview is still online. It really gets into her philosophy of manga, as well as some of the themes of Sensei’s Pious Lie. Part One | Part Two

On THAT note, I should mention that I’ve been trying to get Akane Torikai’s Wandering Cat’s Cage translated and published in English for quite a while now. When the Mangasplaining Extra stuff came through, and we had the funds to just do it ourselves, I reached out to Jocelyne Allen to see if she wanted to translate it. Jocelyne said yes, AND that she was already talking to Torikai about coming to North America, which eventually led her to being a guest at TCAF and that that interview we just mentioned. So things have been in the works for a WHILE. But the wait is over — and you can discover Akane Torikai’s Wandering Cat’s Cage for yourself, as Chapter 1 will be released this week on Mangasplaining Extra!

A double-page spread from Wandering Cat’s Cage. Look for it on MSX this week.

14:45 [DEB:] Juuuust in case you might not get the “Riot Grrls” era reference, here’s a little video explainer about that particular aspect of the 1990s music and political scene.

17:30  Since I mention Kyoko Okazaki on the podcast, a quick reminder that we covered Okazaki’s Helter Skelter all the way back in episode 4 of the podcast, before most of you were listening (lol).

I should also note that in seven weeks, we’ll be talking about Kyoko Okazaki’s newest English language release, River’s Edge, out now from Kodansha. It continues the trend of being a difficult, provocative work, with nudity and violence and awful relationships and all that stuff. It’s going to be a heavy episode, but (spoilers) it’s a very, very good book.

19:20 [DEB:] David makes a passing reference to A Girl on the Shore, which is by Asano Inio (the creator of Goodnight PunPun, which we discussed in episode 89). A Girl on the Shore is a very NSFW manga one-shot that the book blurb described as “an intense teen romance.” It was originally published by Vertical in 2016, and was recently re-released as a new “Collector’s Edition” with new cover art in August 2023.

21:45  Chip mentions that he finds the book titillating, except he also thinks “titillating” is a dumb word that sounds childish. Instead, he says he “got a chub on” from some of the scenes of this book, and I am fully in support of this new-to-the-podcast turn of phrase. David and Deb on the other hand wisely distance themselves from their reaction to the sexiness of these scenes almost immediately. What image was Chip talking about here? It’s from “The Night I Left My Lover.”

Like Chip says, there’s some passion there, it’s a sensual illustration. And that sensuality is immediately undercut by the dude asking the lady if she’s f**king another guy. Because that’s the kind of book this is.

24:30 I love that Deb self-censors a story here (astute listeners will figure out what she’s hinting at in a few minutes), and then Chip just goes all in five minutes later. Truly, this is a top-ten episode of the podcast.

26:15 [DEB:] I grew up in Hawaii and I think PINEAPPLE ON PIZZA is GROSS and you can’t convince me otherwise. >_<

[Christopher:] I would never try to convince you otherwise, but this did remind me of when the late Anthony Bourdain had the same feeling as you, and then was made to eat his words, literally, in Italy of all places.

32:30  Yeah, honestly I try not to judge characters in works of fiction, but it’s really hard not to judge the work as a whole by the era it was written. Like, in “Preggers,” the pregnant woman has a beer! GASP! It’s been drilled into me since childhood how bad that is and must be avoided (Ontario, Canada has even more liquor warnings than anywhere I’ve seen in the U.S.).

Chip brings up a better example, where a woman has just left her boyfriend and reflecting on the conversation in a cab.

It’s wild that the author didn’t show the slap, even though it showed most of the fight they had. It was just stated plainly, as a matter of course, which makes it really land differently in 2023 than how it probably did in 1997.

34:30 Speaking of, the sequence where a young woman beats the stalker that’s attacking her and drags his unconscious body into an alley… That’s a whole f**king thing that I honestly did not see coming while flipping the pages of this book.

That said, I can’t believe Deb said this guy looked like Astro Boy. My day is ruined.

36:00 The stories in this book are really interesting, starting with adult women in their 20s, dipping back to high school for a two-parter and alternating in that way more-or-less throughout the rest of the book. But right in the middle is the story “Preggers”, of which we showed some panels up top, and it feels VERY much like autobiography, whereas the rest of the stories in this title have a feeling of being informed by real events, but being more fictionalized. The story is a bit like a ‘rest’ before digging back into some of the heavier themes of the book, and it’s really great.

Tonally very different than the other stories in this collection is the pregnancy story. Deb talked about it too. It’s got a very different vibe to the rest, though still great.

David loved the sharply-observed notion of dudes changing when they see their kids being born, or when they have daughters especially…

Deb really dug into the depictions of childbirth earlier, and the recrimination that our lead put herself through…

38:00 I messed up, Blood Red Boy and Not All Girls Are Stupid are only about 4-5 years apart. I don’t know why, but even while I was reading the dates, I was thinking that these stories were written in ’86 and not ’96.

38:30 Oh, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but the cover of the Star Fruit Books edition is… unique to the Star Fruit Books edition. Here’s the covers of the English and Japanese editions:

There might be an older edition that used a different cover, but if so I can’t find it.

I love that Star Fruit went with the color artwork from Q-ta-sensei for this cover, and incorporated it into the wrap-around as well. I think treating it with a sort of faded style works well too, nice stuff.

43:47 [DEB:] When Christopher mentions going to (Susumu) Higa-sensei’s house to ask him if we could publish Okinawa in English, he’s not exaggerating — Christopher, Jocelyne and Andrew visited Okinawa several times, including one time to interview Higa-sensei at his home. You can see some of the photos from this visit on Mangasplaining Extra!

46:05 [DEB:]Nakayoshi lies!” is me being an old bitter hag hating on the idealized, cute romances with usually happy endings depicted in shojo manga magazine Nakayoshi. Published by Kodansha, and originally the home of shojo hits like Candy Candy and Sailor Moon, Nakayoshi means “good friends” and has stories generally geared to the sensibilities of tween girls. Go check out a recent issue of this long-running shojo magazine and you’ll kind of get what I’m saying here…

47:35 In Chip’s final thoughts, he and David mention again how strong the short stories are with often very ambiguous endings. The second story in the book has probably the best “Wait, did that actually end?” moment in the book. No big “The End”, no nothing. Just… this.

And that’s this episode of Mangasplaining. I think it’s safe to say we really loved this one! You can get your own copy of this now from Starfruit Books’ website. You can read more of Q-ta’s work there, or over on Azuki.


49:00 Alright everybody, it’s time once again to pick new books… The last books of the season! Don’t worry though, there’s basically three months of episodes (many already recorded!) between now and the end of the season, so we’ll probably take Christmas off and come back in January with Season 5!

First up, Deb wants to pick a recent find that she thinks is absolutely hilarious, The Yakuza’s Bias. Created by Teki Yatsuda and published by Kodansha, The Yakuza’s Bias is about a high-ranking Japanese gangster who gets hooked on K-Pop boy bands thanks to the influence of the gang boss’ daughter. We’ve had a lot of luck introducing Chip to Yakuza stories and he’s loved most of them, problematic elements aside, so this seems like a really good suggestion!

David wants to read Heavenly Delusion by Masakazu Ishiguro from Denpa Publishing, which just got an anime. This’ll be an interesting pairing with Akira Volume 5, which we’ll read the following week.

Christopher asked the crew if we could jump right into Season 5 with his pick, with a title… that isn’t even a manga really! It’s instead, the non-fiction Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics by Frederik Schodt, first published by Kodansha allll the way back in 1983! Christopher buried the lead here (after he did such a good job with David’s pick), not mentioning that this book includes about 96 pages of ACTUAL manga in it, by way of example of what Schodt is talking about.

That makes the end of the season:

  • Ep. 103  What’s Michael? by Makoto Kobayashi (Dark Horse) + Garfield / Heathcliff
  • Ep. 104 Blood Blockade Battlefront by Yasuhiro Nightow (Dark Horse)
  • Ep. 105 Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto (VIZ Media)
  • Ep. 106 Nejishiki by Yoshiharu Tsuge (D&Q)
  • Ep. 107 Eniale & Dewiale Volume 1, by Shirahama Kamome (Yen Press)
  • Ep. 108 Cherry Magic Volume 1, by Yuu Toyota (Square Enix)
  • Ep. 109 River’s Edge, by Kyoko Okazaki (Kodansha)
  • Ep. 110 The Yakuza’s Bias Volume 1, by Teki Yatsude (Kodansha)
  • Ep. 111 Heavenly Delusion Volume 1, by Masakazu Ishiguro (Denpa)
  • Ep. 112 AKIRA Volume 5, by Katsuhiro Otomo (Kodansha)
  • Ep. 113 Season 4 Retrospective

Season 5: Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics by Frederik Schodt (Kodansha)

Whew! That’s a humdinger of an end of 2023.

Alright, it’s time for SHOUT-OUTS!

CHIP has been writing Daredevil for Marvel comics for a few years, and takes a second to shout-out new series writer Saladin Ahmed! The first issue is in stores this week, coincidentally enough. Go take a look at your local comic book shop.

CHIP also says that the movie Blackberry was very good! (Deb is referring to Blueberry, which is a western series by Moebius, which couldn’t be further from a movie about a mobile communication device.)

DAVID shouts out the new Mission Impossible trailer!

DEB gives us another manga to love, with Katsuhisa Minami’s The Fable. This surprisingly wild, funny and action-packed manga is about a hitman who’s been told to lay low for a year, but ends up messing up the assignment through no fault of his own… It’s available from Kodansha and on the K-Manga website.

CHRIS’ shout-out is truly awful. But in case you want to see what we all look like as hedgehogs, here’s the first image search response for “_____ the hedgehog” with each of our names.

And that’s this week in Mangasplaining! This episode is also available wherever you get your podcasts, so please subscribe and leave a review, so others can discover our show. 

Also, if you’d like to get the latest episode delivered straight to your inbox along with exclusive interviews, articles and new chapters of manga you can’t read anywhere else, subscribe to our Substack newsletter. See what you’re missing at Mangasplaining Extra!

Next week on Mangasplaining:
Get ready for the episode that was maybe supposed to be episode 100 before we added some bonus episodes in there, it’s the orange kitty trifecta of What’s Michael, Garfield, and Heathcliff. It’s gonna be a wild week.

Thanks so much for listening! Please support your local comic and manga specialty shop when purchasing these books, and you can find one near you at comicshoplocator.com. You can also check your local library for print and digital lending options, they have TONS of manga! Finally, thanks to D.A.D.S. for their musical accompaniment for this episode.

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5 Responses

  1. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    I love what comes up in the episodes when you discuss josei (or, as was mentioned in the shownotes a few weeks back, however you wanna define… manga targeting primarily an “older than typical shojo” demographic…)

    I’ve read both of the previous English Minami Q-ta release, and greatly liked them, but I admit, I also was a bit surprised when I first got my copy of this book. The description and their previously released work didn’t prepare me for I guess the rawness. And I think it’s become my favourite of their releases so far.

    I’m a big fan of the open ended short story format in general—I think it was Chip who described it perfectly how you’re surprised when a story ends, and yet it felt like a perfect ending. In terms of previously released English titles I think this felt to me like the great 6 volumes of Erica Sakurazawa Feel Young stories Tokyo Pop released in the mid 90s during one of their several failed attempts to bring josei to the market, but with a *bit* more of a Kyoko Okazaki edge, and this certainly has Kyoko Okazaki’s art influence in the character designs. (Actually, some of it reminded me of the other Okazaki from Feel Young who TokyoPop tried twice to market, the equally great but a bit less grim Mari Okazaki, particularly her short stories they published as Sweat and Honey.)

    One thing that came up in the podcast made me think why this style of short, sometimes brutally realistic (yet not Kyoko Okazaki nihilistic) josei manga meant so much to me when those works did come out when I was in my 20s, and do now, was the approach to sex. I don’t want to take away from the fact they are explicably about the female experience by any means, but when I was figuring out the gay landscape in my late teens and twenties, at a time when I never had any long term relationships and had a lot of casual, “what is this?” sexual ones, I definitely could at the time relate to issues of being in sexual situations where, while I never saw them as assault by any means or even (at the time) as coercion, I just went along with things because I felt like that was what a 20something year old gay person does and it shows how adult you can be (I suspect, but am not sure, that would be something gay men would relate to more with women—to some extent anyway—than straight men, but as Chip’s anecdote shows, maybe not entirely.) Certainly, I never got that kind of frankness about sex that wasn’t meant to titillate in the gay (well BL) manga, let alone shonen or what else was being published. I will say around the same time I was reading a lot of Banana Yoshimoto whose short novels were trendy in English translations at the time, and shares a similar style/vibe (with a bit more of a magical realism element.)

    (I LOVED Deb’s description of this volume as “light hearted yet stark.”)

    So it was fascinating to read that kind of story now that I’ve reached 40, and relate back to reading similar manga 15+ years back, and how it reflects my own experiences and changes in experience. Which is not to take away from Q-ta’s unique quality. In these early titles especially, I think there certainly is a big difference from Pop Life—they were published by relatively obscure minor companies and magazines, whereas Pop Life was in seinen magazine Morning and all the differences that that, along with Q-ta’s own difference in age and experience, brings. (It’s fascinating to me just how many female and non-binary mangaka move from doujinshi and relatively more fringe manga magazines, to josei magazines like Feel Young which tend to still attract some of that element, and then ultimately more and more to seinen magazines, and very often Morning specifically. I have a feeling if Kyoko Okazaki, whose career follows the early stages of that route, were still able to work she might be doing seinen now too.) Of course Q-ta still seems to have a VERY prolific doujinshi side shuffle.

    Anyway, thank God that at least one of the new micro publishers is showing interest in these works, because this year has proven an even more depressing year from the major English publishers than previous ones when it comes to josei releases.

    Quick side notes: I’m very excited for the episode devoted to Kyoko Okazaki’s River’s Edge (I always forget how far in advance you bank these episodes until I hear the shout outs at the end…) Back, again in my early 20s, I was really into her works when a half dozen were released in French, but River’s Edge made the strongest impression on me (err for good and bad in hindsight,) and I was really disappointed when the low sales of Pink and Helter Skelter caused Vertical to put on indefinite hiatus their plans to follow them with River’s Edge what seems like years ago.

    So, I’m still kinda shocked to have a copy in English and from Vertical—and so well translated. Look forward to everyone’s thoughts on it I mentioned what a bad year it’s been for major publishers releasing josei in English, but it is hard to complain when we got River as well as Seven Seas’ release of Yumi Tamura’s Don’t Call It Mystery (which I think may be Flowers magazine’s biggest crossover hit.) I was a fan of Tamura’s epic classic fantasy shojo, but Mystery shows that she really is at the top tier of the more mainstream mangaka working, and I think it’s the best continuing series currently in English (I could go on and on about just how brilliant it is.)

    Also glad to see Deb chose Yakuza’s Bias which, if Yama Wayama’s Let’s Go Karaoke! didn’t exist, would be my all time favourite yakuza comedy hands down. I only checked it out because I was such a fan Teki Yatsuda’s previous, and breakout, hit, Far From Home. Which was a single volume, high melodrama BL that seemed to mix Banana Fish with My Own Private Idaho and throw in some anti-gay religious persecution into the mix and was my favourite BL release in a long time (I’m a 70s shojo fanatic—I live for this stuff, though it did have a more realistic take than a lot of BL.) Obviously Yakuza’s Bias is a complete 180 tone wise, but Home had such amazing art, I was willing to see what Yatsuda did in a different genre (she has started another tragic sounding but longer BL this year as well, so seems happy going between the two genres.)

    And FINALLY you’re committing to Manga! Manga! and I’m thrilled! I know I’ve said it in the show notes before, but Chris (If you’re reading this) I *really* do think you are worrying too much about just how long it may take to read. There are a lot of pages, but they’re filled with pictures, and I know I might read books quicker than some people after years of lit grad studies, but it really does read quickly (honestly, I’m not sure if it’s gonna take all that much longer than getting through something like the ParaKiss brick of a book or some of the wordier seinen manga titles. I honestly would lay down money on Chip making a quip in the podcast devoted to the volume about how quick a read he found it…

    • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

      OH! And so far Wandering Cat’s Cage is at least as wonderful as I expected it to be. Thanks to everyone for bringing it over.

  1. September 15, 2023

    […] Let the Mangasplainers convince you to read Not All Girls Are Stupid, “a blistering look at the difficulties of being a woman in your late teens and early 20s.” [Mangasplaining] […]

  2. September 20, 2023

    […] Ep. 102: Not All Girls Are Stupid, by Minami Q-ta (Mangasplaining) […]

  3. January 12, 2024

    […] Ep. 102: Not All Girls Are Stupid, by Minami Q-ta […]

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