Dear Readers: Help Me Find Some Manga Prostitutes!

Hello there, my dear readers!

For the sake of a post that I’m trying to write on prostitution in manga, I would like to tap into your collective mind.

If any one can think of manga that has elements of prostitution in it, whether it be instances of compensated dating or characters who work as prostitutes, please give me as many details you can in the comments section. (If we’ve already talked on Twitter, you don’t have to share with me unless you have something new to add.)

If you can think of a manga that seriously explores prostitution and the people who participate in the sex industry, I would be especially interested in information about it.

Even if you can only provide me names of manga that mention prostitution or compensating dating, I’d greatly appreciate it!

And now, a poll!

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52 Responses to Dear Readers: Help Me Find Some Manga Prostitutes!

  1. Yan says:

    Ciguatera by Furuya Minoru. The specific prostitution scene takes place in chapter 3 but the character (prostitute) is built up around chapters 1 through 12.

  2. Kimi-Chan says:

    Confidential Confessions volume 3 (Tokyopop)
    Kano’s Lovers and Souls
    Gerard to Jacques
    The Other Side of the Mirror
    Games with Me ( and Kindle for English ed)

    • I knew about the first three, but can you tell me anything about The Other Side of the Mirror and Games with Me?

      • Cait says:

        I’ll help with those. The female lead in Other Side of the Mirror is a failed prostitute in that she tries to be one by soliciting the male lead, but it turns out he’s destitute and can’t pay her the next morning (whereas he was drunk the previous night and thought the sex was casual, not for money). They fight with one another, but ultimately become a couple after they both leave the city and settle into a small town.

        Games With Me is about a young asian man in a male brothel in Chinatown (seems to be late 19th century San Francisco or something) and his occasional trick in an opium-addicted American man. The prostitute had some sort of illness or accident as a child and mentally is not exactly an adult, even if his body has matured, but he doesn’t seem to mind being a prostitute and falls in love with his trick. The story is set to be two parts, but we only have the first part so far.

  3. sdshamshel says:

    The main character’s love interest in Initial D, Mogi Natsuki, has a sugar daddy early on in the series.

    There’s also Anno Moyoco’s Sakuran, though that’s more old-Japan.

  4. Cait says:

    You probably already had these:

    NANA (Shin)
    Banana Fish

    And another BL:

    Blue Sheep Reverie
    -Specifically the seme character solicits prostitutes early in the series (but there is additional stuff going on at the end of volume 3). Some might assume he is doing so after the start of his physical relationship with the series’ uke in order to make him jealous, but I would disagree. He does it as a matter of convenience and because the uke’s early betrayal makes it hard for the seme to trust him. The uke, likewise, does not regard his hurt feelings as “jealousy,” but as evidence of his lack of value (professionally or personally) to the seme.

  5. A good portion of volume 5 and 6 of Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden take place in a brothel.

  6. lys says:

    Someone else mentioned Sakuran, which was one I thought of. There’s also a movie version, which is quite gorgeous.

    Kaze Hikaru was my other thought. It’s another historical setting, and prostitution isn’t the main point of the series, but there are various characters in the story who work in that profession. It’s an interesting portrayal because it’s rather matter-of-fact, “this is how things were back then.” It’s a long series so I’m sorry I can’t remember specific volumes that deal with the topic more (and my books are currently in a box as I prepare to move) but I think a couple of the characters show up fairly early in the series.

    Oh, and Gals! (CMX) has a compensated-dating storyline pretty close to the beginning of the series (pretty sure it’s in volume 1), if I remember right.

    Oedo wa Nemuranai is about an oiran/courtesan. She runs off with some guys with big 80s hair and has crazy historical-Japan adventures for most of the story though, so it might not be that relevant to your post.

    Gah, I keep thinking of more!! I clicked the “brothel” tag on MangaUpdates (which brings up mostly yaoi…) and as I was clicking through I remembered Oyayubihime Infinity (CMX again). Characters have memories of past lives, again in old-Japan. The main character’s past self worked in a brothel. It’s a little different from the other examples since it mixes up modern life and historical (as seen from modern perspective)…

  7. Kris says:

    Ooku The Inner Chambers is an obvious one. Chie visits the female brothel district in…volume 3 I believe, and finds it a dilapidated, disease ridden pit. She transforms it into a cheap male brothel district by sending many of her retainers from the Inner Chambers there in volume 4, so women can find cheap, clean men for their seed.

    I’m not sure about the manga (though I’m sure it’s in there, too), but the Samurai Champloo anime has several instances of brothels. One young girl is even taken into one to repay her father’s debt.

    House of Five Leaves also has a brothel.

    I’ll Give it my All…Tomorrow. The main character visits…what I guess is a call girl love hotel, and he runs into his daughter who has been working there.

    Sarasah. I don’t know that it’s strictly a brothel, but within the compound where the soldiers/students train, there’s a group of women who are basically there to serve the men.

    Most of those are feudal era type of stories, so I’m not sure how useful that will be to you.

    • Knew about Ooku (I find the night-calling a very interesting form of prostitution and adaption to the male population decline) and I just read vol. 4 yesterday, but thanks for the reminder!

      Thank you for all the other info, I didn’t really know about it. ^_^ Feudal era stories are fine too. It gives some insight into Japan’s past and how modern creators feel about it.

    • lys says:

      Man, when it comes to making connections between manga my brain just goes a little crazy. Kris’ mention of “call girls” reminded me of Sexy Voice and Robo—the 14-year-old main character has a job having “adult” phone conversations with guys who pay to call her. Is that close enough to the topic?

      • Hmmmm. I know phone sex is considered a sex industry job, but I feel like the lack of physical togetherness kind of separates it from normal prostitution or enjo kosai.

        Putting aside my feelings, I’ll include it to be thorough.

  8. Cait says:

    One last example and then I think I’m out of them that haven’t been said already:

    Love Mode by Yuki Shimizu (BL)

    The entire series revolves around a Call Boy club and numerous characters either are male prostitutes or customers (and one is the business’ owner). Prostitution is never presented as something awful, though as it is such a big part of the series it is used as a plot device a few times.

  9. Apple says:

    I seem to remember multiple scenes from Peach Girl with prostitution. I have a feeling you already know about those, but if not let me know and I’ll look up the book/chapter #s 😀

    • Hmmm, I haven’t re-read Peach Girl in years, but I haven’t picked up a volume since number 6 or 7. Do you remember anything after that?

      • Apple says:

        I seem to remember two different examples–Sae hires a prostitute/guy to confuse Momo into thinking that she slept with him, and then also Sae was prostituting herself at one point.

        *runs off to book shelf*

        Oh, so I found possibly another scene. So in book 6, Sae hires this guy that is either an actor or a prostitute to pretend he slept with Momo/take pictures of her in bed. Then in book 7, Toji and Momo try to “teach her a lesson” by doing the same thing back to her, except they accidentally stick her in the room with the wrong guy, who thinks that Sae is the prostitute and that he has already paid money for her.

        Then at the end of book 4/beginning of book 5 of the “Change of Heart” series, Momo and Kiley are walking along and see Sae with an older man, and it comes out that she has not only been prostituting herself (for real this time) but that she has also been posing for nude photos.

        Hope that is useful 😀

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  11. I’m not 100% sure it’s in the manga (haven’t read it), but I’m almost certain it is, since it was her introduction in the anime. In Super GALS — the manga is just called GALS, I believe — one of the main trio of girls, Aya, starts out doing compensated dating, even though she’s considered one of the best students in the school. She doesn’t like studying, though, and wants money to have fun and buy cute clothes and accessories. She never goes as far as to have sex with any of her clients, but she’s considering it when Ran shows her there are cheaper ways to live as a kogal and gets her to stop.

    – Zoe Alexander

  12. einhorn303 says:

    Would that include ero manga? Because that would be a ton, obviously.

    • For the sake of not making the discussion wildly long, I’m not going to allow the inclusion of ero manga.

      Mostly because there’s a lot of ero manga out there that doesn’t even give any woman decent treatment, let alone prostitutes.

      If you have any examples, however, of ero manga that goes against the grain and treats prostitutes fairly, I’d like to see those examples and highlight them in the upcoming post.

  13. Aurora says:

    Hm, so I don’t think I know a lot, but I’ll try.

    In The Story of Saiunkoku, the main character worked as an accountant/desk clerk for a brothel after her mother died. Shuurei never acts as a prostitute (pretty sure on that), but her replacement-mother figure, Kochou, is the head prostitute in the brothel and owns the place. Kochou is portrayed as very powerful, but it’s also acknowledged that Shuurei’s working in the brothel (regardless of what she does) hurts her reputation.

    There’s a BL manga of short stories, Alone in my King’s Harem by Lily Hoshino, where the title story is about… an uke in his king’s harem. Kind of self explanatory. xD And then another story, The Sea Bed of Night, is set in a brothel. The main characters aren’t prostitutes, but the uke takes the place of one to have sex with his seme. I mention it because it seems to me that the message here is “To get at what you really want, you need to pretend to be a prostitute. That way you can have sex with no consequences”.

    If I think of any more, I’ll be back. >_<

    • Thanks for the help! I forgot about Shuurei working for the brothel, so it’s nice to be reminded. Kochou was actually a really positive take on a prostitute figure, so that counts for something!
      And, of course, the Lily Hoshino title too. Uh… what a weird message. I guess that guy was just desperate for some sexin’?

      • Aurora says:

        Kochou was an awesome part of that series. We need more characters like her. ^.^

        It’s kind of a weird moral, yes… I don’t think it was just that he wanted some sexin’, but that it wanted some sexin’ with THAT particular man. It was kind of a forbidden love sort of thing? I actually really like the stories in that book (well, the last two chapters suck, but the others!). I’d encourage you to take a look at it some time. It’s not really about the sexin’ (although that does happen), it’s about love. I don’t normally read yaoi, yet I find myself rereading those few short stories again and again.

        Oh, I remembered another couple. In Vampire Game, Seilez’s mother is a prostitute. He’s the eldest prince of his country. He visits her a lot, disguised as a woman.

        Not sure if it counts, but Rune from The Good Witch of the West used to be kind of a prostitute? When he was a child, he was used as an assassin, and it’s kind of implied he would kill his target after having sex with them… So, um, child prostitution used as a cover for assassinations?

        Oh, and again, not quite “compensated dating”, but Skip Beat has an instance where it’s revealed that Moko’s side job is going on dates with people and acting whatever part they want. Like, she pretended to be a guy’s girlfriend to fool his stalker, she played a man’s deceased daughter. Things like that.

        • Well… I don’t know if it’s the same, but I do have the DMP version of My Only King by Lily Hoshino, I just haven’t gotten around to reading it just yet… (I’ve got a huge stack to read…)

          Anyway, thanks for the additional information!

  14. Oliver says:

    I know “Nodame Cantabile” from Del Rey has a perverted orchestra conductor Franz von Streseman who’d rather attend the female host club “Club One More Kiss” than rehearse with his orchestra. He’s a skirt chaser and is sometimes seen in this club (volume 2 and throughout the series). It’s not stated if the girls are getting paid, but it’s a club where females just gather ’round him and flirt with him at a restaurant-ey type setting. The manga itself is far from any major prostitution, though. It’s largely about the dreams and realities of Classical Music students.

    PS. If you’re wondering why I’m pushing it, it’s because Del Rey has put it on hiatus and I would like to see it being continued.

  15. Caddy C says:

    In Peacemaker/Peacemaker Kurogane, the characters regularly visit a brothel and the main character befriends a girl who is slated to become a prostitute. There is a storyline about a high-ranking Shinsengumi official trying to run away with his lover from the brothel. (Doesn’t end well.) There are two versions of the manga though, so be sure to find the Tokyopop one – they actually went in series order.

  16. If you’re still looking for prostitution references–the protagonist in Astral Project works part-time for the yakuza driving their “high-class call girls” to and from their assignations.

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