furoku & zen'in presents
Furoku (付録, literally "appendix") are extra gifts that come with all shōjo manga magazines for younger readers like Ribon and Nakayoshi. These days, they can be anything from handbags and lunch boxes to gel pens and mechanical fans, but back in the 80s and 90s when Tokimeki was being serialized in Ribon magazine furoku was more humble, usually made out of paper, cardstock, or cardboard, with the rare item in PVC or plastic. This was because up until 2001, the Japanese National Railways prohibited or restricted the use of many materials (such as plastic or fabric) in magazine furoku to be distributed with their trains.
And yet, fans of Ribon (and Nakayoshi) from this period look back on these paper furoku with great fondness. The draw is the art and the design: imagine receiving a notebook, or a letter set, or a binder, or a little cardboard box, all with beautiful color art by your favorite manga artists, every time you buy a magazine! Since the late 70s and through the 90s, Ribon was famous for its well-designed, "kawaii" furoku that captured the hearts of millions of Japanese girls. At a time when young girls couldn't afford many luxuries, furoku from magazines such as Ribon fulfilled their desires for cute, fashionable items, and furoku was as important an aspect of shōjo magazines as the actual manga. But, of course, as Japan became more and more affluent and children gained easier access to more material things, it was only natural that paper furoku was replaced by more extravagant items such as fabric bags, wrist watches, and more, especially as Japanese railway companies eased the restrictions.
In the 80s and 90s, furoku started following a pattern year after year: the January issue would include a calendar with all-new color art by all the Ribon artists of the time; the April or May issues would include notebooks for the beginning of the new school year in Japan; the July issue would include a plastic bag to carry swimwear; the December issue (or, later, the August issue) would include a set of playing cards with all-new color art by the four most popular artists at the time, and so on. Ribon readers would know these rules, and each year look forward to these specific furoku. Other popular, recurring items include letter sets, binders, diaries, paper bags, stickers, and various boxes and baskets, as well as small volumes of extra manga.
Just like the number of color pages allotted the various manga in the magazine, furoku would work as a measure of how popular a certain series or artist was. As I already mentioned, the top four series would be featured in the yearly furoku playing cards, and only the most popular series of the magazine would be featured as the "main" big furoku of a given issue, while the less popular ones were shoved aside entirely or only featured on small stickers or cards.
I used to own a small collection of Narumi and Aira furoku from back when I was reading Ribon magazine, as well as furoku with art by Ikeno for Ririka SOS. After opening this site, I've slowly started collecting 80s and 90s furoku with the aim of one day owning all furoku ever produced featuring art by Ikeno. On this page I've included photographs and scans of every piece of furoku I own so you can have a look at these quite rare items. You will also find a few "zen'in presents", which are items Ribon gave out to all its readers for only the price of shipping. These items weren't constricted by Japan Raiways, and would often be much more extravagant than the usual furoku. At the height of Ribon's popularity, literally hundreds of thousands of girls would send stamps to Ribon's editorial staff to receive these exclusive items.
There are a few items I own which I haven't included in these pages because they have been reprinted in either the Romantic Album fanbook or the exhibition catalogue. Both books are well worth the money, and I recommend you pick them up if you enjoy beautiful shōjo art!
For a more comprehensive list of Ikeno furoku and zen'in presents, including everything I do not own, please check the furoku list.
If you are interested in the history of furoku or you want to see images of furoku from a wider variety of artists and series, I recommend the following books:
- Ribon no furoku "kawaii" no himitsu (amazon) — A large-format, full-color book focusing on Ribon furoku of the 80s and 90s. Contains a ton of adorable images and information on the furoku design and production process.
- 80s shōjo manga furoku collection by Yukacinnamon (amazon) — A densely-illustrated book collecting 1.000 pieces of furoku from 80s Ribon, Nakayoshi, and Ciao. A must-own for any fan of 80s shōjo.
- Ribon no furoku zenbu catalogue – shōjo manga-shi 60-nen no rekishi by Utonuma Kayo (amazon) — A complete history of Ribon furoku which was published to commemorate the magazine's 60th anniversary. A good historical resource. I would recommend the ebook, as it's in color unlike the print book.
- Otome no furoku - Meiji Taishō Shōwa no shōjo zasshi by Murasaki Shūzō (amazon) — A small but thick and richly-illustrated book collecting furoku of shōjo magazines from the Meiji, Taishō, and Shōwa eras. Features insightful historical commentary as well as absolutely gorgeous images.
- Shōjo zasshi furoku collection by Nakamura Keiko, Todate Keiko, Yayoi Bijutsukan ed. (amazon) — Another richly-illustrated book about the history of shōjo magazine furoku from the 50s through the 90s. Much of the focus is on Ribon magazine, particularly the otome-tique artists of the 70s.
- Tasogaredoki ni mitsuketa mono – Ribon no furoku to sono jidai by Ōtsuka Eiji (amazon) — A dissertation on the emergence of consumer culture in mid-70s Japan as seen through the development of shōjo manga furoku. Worth a read for anyone interested in the place of women in Japanese society during the late 20th century.
You can also check out the furoku tag on my tumblr account, where I have posted images of furoku from many different series, artists, and magazines.