100 Women We Love: Class Of 2018

Each one of these women, in her own unique way, is a role model who exemplifies the best of the LGBTQ community.

Rica Takashima

Photo by Hiroe Bailey

Tokyo native Rica Takashima was a Manga fan growing up. But she was frustrated. “I couldn’t find lesbian Manga that depicted normal everyday relationships or had happy endings.” So, she decided to write her own. She started drawing Rica ‘tte Kanji!? — semi-autobiographical illustrations about a cheerful young woman who moves to Tokyo to attend a women’s college. There, she looks for love. It was a “lively, cute, and fun lesbian story,” Takashima says. Her work was initially published in Anise, Japan’s premier lesbian magazine at the time. Later, her Manga were compiled and released as a graphic novel, which was translated into English in 2003. Takashima always made gender, sexuality, and diversity a part of her work. In the early ‘90s, she operated the first lesbian and gay group art show in Tokyo, and she provided illustrations for the catalog of the first Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Since moving to New York City in 2008, she has launched interactive participatory public art projects on those themes. —SEJ