Christmas Tina is a story that focusses on the struggle of those less fortunate in a wealthy society. These are working class people, struggling to save money for important medical bills or immigrants hoping to go to university one day, set against the backdrop of the Japanese economic bubble of the late 1980s.
During the Japanese economic bubble, real estate prices were greatly inflated (difficult to believe given how expensive Tokyo still is today), and land speculation was incredibly profitable. The Harvard Business Review wrote in 1990 that the properties in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward alone were worth more than the entirety of Canada. Japan as a whole was worth more than four times the entirety of the United States. The Nikkei 225 is, to this very day, down 30% from its peak in 1990 after which it entered a prolonged decline.
The ridiculous economic conditions of the bubble brought with them a materialistic culture where vast amounts of money could be made with fairly little effort either in the country’s large companies or in the real estate market – Japan’s income inequality began to rise sharply in the 1980s after several decades of inequality reduction (Minami, 2008).
But most people are not the lucky ones that make all the money. Our protagonists in this story are Kanna and Jing. Kanna dropped out of high school to contribute money towards her sister’s surgery and Jing has come from China to earn money so he can go to university. Their job is at the lowest rung of the bubble economy – living in an empty, somewhat decaying building to increase its value when it’s eventually sold, surrounded by the high-rises and riches of Tokyo in the 1980s. The job itself may not be difficult, but life in poverty comes with its own array of physical and mental challenges.
The bubble years have an almost legendary mystique in Japan, and Christmas Tina can give you a glimpse of what life is like for these people.
NekoDays’ Christmas Tina will be available on the MangaGamer store tomorrow! Pick it up during launch week to save 10%!