As I sit in my work chair, having survived my poorly-timed cold and a rush of work from a client, I look at the shoujo manga I’m copy editing and wonder: just why does manga get away with cliche after cliche?
Shoujo manga, in particular, is particularly fond of repeating the same ridiculous and blatant cliches to the point where people brush it off as subpar. But I love shoujo manga to the point where I get greedy for it if I ever go too many weeks without reading some. I don’t even care about a repeated formulaic storyline as long as the execution is something interesting or the characters are vibrant enough to make up for it.
Just why do shoujo manga readers put up with this? Is it the escape into a more romantic world that makes it worth it? Is it the beloved familiarity of the plot device? The answer to these questions are probably deeply personal and specific to each reader.
Instead, let me ask what cliches do you like the most? I’m personally fond of cross-dressing. Any manga with cross-dressing is easily made 10 times more hilarious or dramatic by this cliche. Some of my favorite examples include Basara, W Juliet, Kuragehime and Tenshi Ja Nai! Ah, man. All of those examples are out of print or not in English, but you CAN check out the Kuragehime anime over at FUNimation’s site. (HEEEEEY! Legal! Free!) 😀
What are you favorite ridiculous shoujo cliches? Please share!
I love it when the guy is a jerk, but it’s actually because he likes the girl, like Marmalade Boy or (though this is BL) Only the Ring Finger Knows. It’s probably why I wound up loving Jane Austen so much.
I think I would like it too, but it’s been used poorly, like in Hot Gimmick (Oh, Hot Gimmick…sigh) and personal experience with guys acting like jerks. (It’s ANNOYING!!)
I pondered this question for a whole day, trying to figure out what my favourite cliché was… and then it hit me, as I was thinking about a recent shoujo-manga experience I had (subbing in the flower design department at my mum’s work after one of the other designers broke her arm) that was sorely lacking in the one thing that would’ve made it perfect. So here we go—I love manga about guys who work in more “feminine” fields. VB Rose’s wedding dress designers (and the girly-talking hairstylist from I Hate You More Than Anyone, before them), or Hayato in Mixed Vegetables who dreams of being a pastry chef, or the flower-obsessed boys in Zig*Zag… or male shoujo mangaka in a number of series (they almost seem to be the majority of shoujo mangaka as-depicted-in-shoujo-manga). My own interests are all pretty typically girly, and I want to believe there really are guys out there who share that love of pretty things with me! (I mean, I know there have to be a few, but in shoujo-mangaland, they’re all over the place!)
Haha, that’s awesome! I do like the cliche. I think it’s dumb that so many societies separate things into what men should like and what women should like. And really, why are ANY of those things you mentioned THAT bad for men? I say, more power to men who pursue those fields anyway, they probably get lots of girls (or guys if that’s their style) for being amazing at what they do. Otomen is another favorite with men who like girly things. The shoujo mangaka (even though he pretends to be female), the total girly guy who’s good at EVERYTHING girly, the guy who’s obsessed with flowers and floral arrangement. So what if they’re guys, ladies can do “man” jobs and men can do “women” jobs these days with no problem!
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