Weeks like this are rare for fans of legendary manga - after the release of Viz's much-anticipated Ax Volume 1, Fantagraphics comes out with A Drunken Dream And Other Stories and finally puts an end to the *absolute nonsense* that was the lack of translated work by Moto Hagio.
One of the first female manga artists ever, Hagio is an industry pioneer whose work has left an undeniable impact on modern shoujo manga. Along with fellow Magnificent Forty-Niners - a group of groundbreaking female manga artists all born in 1949, Hagio has reinvented and set many standards for the shoujo genre (manga "for girls"). She included elements of the bildungsroman ("formation novel") in her stories and enforced traditional visual norms in manga (like the rigid paneling) to further express her characters' emotions, hardships and often bittersweet epiphanies.
PS I hope to god you don't think Moto Hagio's work looks or reads like this - although, you could argue that she has basically inspired every living shoujo mangaka, even the most vapid, generic and money-hungry ones.
What we now take for granted when it comes to standard shoujo aesthetics and subject matters is the result of Hagio and the 49ers' creativity, their interest in forbidden feelings and their anti-comformist convictions. In a book industry already rigid, traditionalist and numbers-driven back then, they managed to transform the manga landscape not only by breaking stylistic norms, but by fighting for the rights and the recognition of female mangaka's artistic relevance. Again - nothing compared to today's *many* superficial, generic, over-codified, saccharine girls' comics the industry churns out at a disgustingly fast pace.
Often inspired by her complex relationship with her family, Moto Hagio is most known for her innovative layouts and stylized depictions of psychological trauma, turmoil and growth in stories imbued with lyricism, poetry - and a lot of feelings.
A Drunken Dream features incredible stories like the famously weird and sad Iguana Girl or the haunting Hanshin: Half-God, about peculiar conjoined twins. Read this wikipedia article to learn more about Moto Hagio. You can also click here for a lengthy preview of the stories in this collection.
And buy the book too! Support the translation of quality art-manga!
Edit: The Hooded Utilitarian is posting insightful in-depth reviews of every story in this book. I urge you to read them for the staggeringly high amount of valid points made. The author is pretty spot-on, both regarding the naive gaucheness of the first four stories (fine, I admit it) and the graceful oddness of later stories - that are really more about subtext, artistic expression and the power of comics as a medium than they are about their clumsy/ambiguous storytelling.