The nostalgic world of Momoko Sakura's manga Chibi Maruko-Chan, set in a Japanese suburb in the 1970s, and the simple everyday school life and family life of its protagonist Maruko, has been entertaining audiences ever since it appeared in the pages of shojo manga magazine Ribon in 1986. Translated into several languages and made into television anime, several full-length feature animated films, and even a live-action TV drama, Chibi Maruko-Chan's (mis)adventures have universal appeal.

Therefore, when Momoko Sakura announced last fall that she was working on a self-parodying spinoff manga called Chibi Shikaku-Chan, fans took notice. With the manga to be published in the Sep. 25 issue of Grand Jump, images from the cover and a few frames from the manga have finally been released.

If the cover image looks familiar, that's because it is almost an exact replica of the first volume of Chibi Maruko-chan published in 1987, with the exception of the protagonist, whose characteristically round facial contours have become strikingly square. Moreover, whereas Maruko-chan in the cover of Volume 1 had a disarmingly happy and relaxed expression as she called out to the elderly lady running her favorite dagashi candy and toy shop: "Grandma... Please give me some...", Shikaku-chan's face is contorted in awkwardness or embarrassment as she stammers: "Um...Sorry that it's me..."

The change in attitude and appearance stems from a play on words in the Japanese language, wherein someone with an amiable disposition is said to have a "round" personality and someone who has inharmonious relations with others is said to "create angles."

Indeed, according to the press release, Chibi Shikaku-Chan portrays the often inharmonious human relations in the world of children and follows the protagonist Shikaku as she tries to negotiate the hard world of today.

Asked to comment on her new spinoff, Sakura said: "I think it turned out to be quite an intense work!"

If you'd like to enjoy this harsher, alternate version of Chibi Maruko-Chan for yourself, be sure to pick up your copy or you can simply preview it online.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.