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Recently, my wife and I went out to see the live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service. As we waited for the film to start, we swapped impressions of the 1989 anime version of the story, which like the live-action version is an adaptation of author Eiko Kadono’s 1985 children’s novel of the same name.

My wife mentioned that one of her favorite characters was Osono, the owner of the bakery where witch-in-training Kiki boards. Osono’s actually got quite a few fans, due to her tough yet kind personality and mature outlook on life.

How exactly Osono managed to acquire those admirable traits is the subject of a new serial by Kadono, a coming of age story focused on the baker who would eventually serve as Kiki’s mentor.

The first installment is already out, and can be read for free here on the webpage of Fukuinkan Shoten, the publisher for the six books in the Kiki’s Delivery Service series. The serial is officially titled Kiki’s Delivery Service Side Story: How Sono-chan Became Osono-san, and just as the name implies, it deals with how the young girl Sono grew up, in the process shedding the diminutive “-chan” suffix and replacing it with the more distinguished “-san,” along with adding an extra respectable “o” to the front of her name.

▼ Osono-san in the 1989 Ghibli Kiki’s Delivery Service

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As the story opens, Sono-chan is just three years old, and living with her parents, who gave up their dreams of becoming actors in order to raise their child. In the course of the serial’s six chapters, readers will also learn more about how Sono-chan met and fell in love with her husband Fukuo, and the somewhat bumpy path along the way to when we see her carrying their first child in both Kiki’s films.

▼ Live action Osono-san, Machiko Ono (right) with live-action Kiki, Fuuka Koshiba

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New chapters of How Sono-chan Became Ososno-san will be released on the 5th and 20th of each month from now through May. They’re free to read, and although there’s no English version available, none of the kanji characters are too difficult to handle as long as you’ve got a decent Japanese/English dictionary, making the mini-series ideal self-study material for language enthusiasts. And for students enrolled in a Japanese class, we can’t think of a better way to talk your teacher into a little extra credit than by whipping up translations of a few of its passages.

Related: How Sono-chan Became Osono-san
Source: IT Media
Top image: How Sono-chan Became Osono-san
Insert images: Anime Characters Database, Girls Channel