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The Problems of Shoujo Romance


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Princess_Irene



Joined: 16 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:35 am Reply with quote
As Lynzee's most recent list and its attendant discussion have pointed out, there are some real issues in shoujo romance. Since I'm currently embroiled in a paper about the genre, I've been giving the topic a lot of thought, and it seems that all too often the heroine is presented with an array of unappealing choices who are made to look like Prince Charmings of various stripes. You have Miki Aihara's infamous Hot Gimmick where Hatsumi must choose between two emotionally damaged abusers or her own (for all intents and purposes) brother, Stepping on Roses with Sumi stuck between a psycho and a borderline abuser who reminds her that he bought her, anything by Mayu Shinjo with the possible exception (at this point) of Demon Love Song, and even tamer fare, like Kamisama Kiss, where if nothing else, Tomoe is a jerk. Oftentimes it seems like the only redeeming feature of the hero is his physical attractiveness.

This is not strictly a "Japanese problem," of course; American bodice rippers often have the same issues, to say nothing of current teen romances, which may be the bigger problem; for every Speak there seems to be at least four Twilights. So what do you think of this issue of the romantic hero? Are there any good ones out there? We do have authors like Ai Yazawa pointing out the problems inherent in the genre with NANA and Paradise Kiss, but what about others?
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EireformContinent



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:12 am Reply with quote
Princess_Irene, doesn't they say that love changes a man. He may be murderous, greedy, abusive and violent, but with touch of pure love he will change into a sweet teddy bear.

I must admit that there is something attractive in bad boy trope. Like taming a wild stallion who obeys just us but kicks and bites everyone else. But everyone who knows horses a bit will say that's hard to describe such a relationship and not turn it into caricature.

I think that no mangaka sits and says: OK, today I'll write totally unbelievable portrait of abusive relationship. They have a good intention but lack of skill and workshop. Like in Hana Yori Dango when author forget that at one point the final boy arranged a gang-rape of heroine that didn't succeed just by pure luck.
Nana and Paradise Kiss prove that's possible to write about such a topic, but it requires talent and work.










Love is sweet, dearest Ned, but it cannot change a man's nature.” -A Game of Thrones


Last edited by EireformContinent on Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Princess_Irene



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:29 am Reply with quote
EireformContinent wrote:
Princess_Irene, doesn't they say that love changes a man. He may be murderous, greedy, abusive and violent, but with touch of pure love he will change into a sweet teddy bear.


I've always had a problem with that saying. Laughing But yes, it is the basis of many romances, particularly in the bodice ripper format - bad boy transformed by the love of a good woman. The problem comes when that's the only form that romances take, or when the bad boy doesn't reform at all, which I see as being the bigger issue in shoujo manga (and teen romances in the YA category). Does Ryoki really change substantially in Hot Gimmick, or does Hatsumi just get used to him? I could rephrase the question with other hero/heroine pairs (Sakuya/Aine, Kyo/Misao...), which is why I think there's something to talk about here. On the other hand, I can think of cases where the hero does change into a better person because of the heroine (Soichiro/Sumi comes to mind), which while it does not excuse his initial behavior does fit an established pattern within the romance genre, i.e. "The Bad Boy Reforms."

So perhaps the problem isn't so much with the trope itself, but more with the fact that many mangaka lack either the vision, talent, or simply awareness that in order for it to work, he has to really change or not be quite so bad to begin with.
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phia_one



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:18 am Reply with quote
Great topic!

It's already been said, but I too really hate the trope where out of all the guys that the heroine can pick, it's usually the one that is the most emotionally damaged (in need of healing) and/or jerkass.

The first example that comes to mind is Kyo/Tohru from Fruits Basket. This is just my opinion, but the relationship reeked of pity from Tohru's end. We get flashbacks of Tohru's mother telling her the story of the zodiac and Tohru crying about how sorry she felt for the cat. It also didn't help that Yuki/Tohru was more plausible until the mangaka made a plot macguffin AKA Machi and also added the fact that Yuki always saw Tohru as a mother figure which I never detected before it was actually stated. I'm getting off topic here though.

Another trope I don't like is the whole "my love interest is actually like my dad" trope. I'm thinking Haruhi/Tamaki from Host Club and Usui/Misaki from Maid-sama. Usually it's pointed out to the main character by the other characters and the main character's response is something along the lines of "Yeah, he kinda is, isn't he?". The whole relationship then becomes kind of weird and Freud is sitting somewhere going "I told you!".

Speaking of Usui/Misaki, I also can't stand it when a female character that starts out strong is reduced to "I can't do anything without my love interest's help!" I ended up dropping the series because how helpless Misaki became and also the fact that Usui basically stalked her hence why he was able to save her.
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Maidenoftheredhand



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:17 am Reply with quote
phia_one wrote:

The first example that comes to mind is Kyo/Tohru from Fruits Basket. This is just my opinion, but the relationship reeked of pity from Tohru's end. We get flashbacks of Tohru's mother telling her the story of the zodiac and Tohru crying about how sorry she felt for the cat. It also didn't help that Yuki/Tohru was more plausible until the mangaka made a plot macguffin AKA Machi and also added the fact that Yuki always saw Tohru as a mother figure which I never detected before it was actually stated. I'm getting off topic here though.


While I never bought the Yuki thinks of Tohru like a mother thing either I completely disagree with you that Yuki/Tohru was more plausible.

I have issues with Fruits Basket but Kyo/Tohru was one of the best developed relationships in the series (with Yuki/Machi probably being the second best).

I am not saying Kyo didn't have a rebellious/bad boy streak (more with his fights with Yuki than anything) but from early on he learned his behavior could hurt people he cares about. There was a key scene very early in the manga where he accidentally hit Tohru and then apologized to her. This is almost directly opposite of similar scenes in My Little Monster between the two protagonists (one of the reasons I am not a big fan of the main relationship in the series). Kyo learns to deal with his anger because he doesn't want to hurt others, not because he wants Tohru to see the best side of him.

After Tohru finds out about spoiler[Kyo's true form] they grow even closer and Kyo really starts to soften. And her reaction wasn't pity but that she wanted them to stay together.

Anyways Tohru was never shown to pity Kyo. As she said as a child, she liked the cat the best. If you think she pitied Kyo then you didn't understand the manga. Tohru wanted to help all the zodiac members and lift the curse, but she wanted to help Kyo most of all because she was in love with him. Anyways both Kyo and Tohru had issues of guilt to work through before they could accept that they were in love with each other, but there was nothing to say that they would have an unhealthy relationship.

As the series progresses while they never had a true talk to talk spoiler[you can see Yuki and Kyo's relationship soften as well].


edit: Okay it's been awhile since I looked at the manga/watched the anime. Kyo didn't hit Tohru but got mad and lashed out at her, but then went to apologize (in the first volume).


Last edited by Maidenoftheredhand on Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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classicalzawa
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:28 am Reply with quote
You've encouraged me to grab my tropes encyclopedia (aka Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga)

Let me type up "Evolution of Male Love Interests in Shojo Manga!"
'60s-The Prince: Back then, $1 was worth 360 yen. And Japanese girls loved a nice prince straight out of a Tarazuka Revue production!
'70s-The Foreigner: The love interest changed from the radically unrealistic prince to the somewhat realistic Western Caucasian. His minimum leg length, however, has to exceed 2 meters.
Coach: Gals with father complexes would go for the tough reliable coach of the athletic team.
The Captain: The love interest became even more realistic: the basketball team captain. He had a fresh, new-wave feel. This era was rotting with "kindness".
'80s-The Rebel: Now the prince is pretty much obliterated and the love interest becomes just a thug. In keeping with the times, heavenly expectations in shojo manga come down to earth-and have stooped ever lower, so the most desirable guy is a total loser. But no matter how disaffected he is, he must have a "kind heart." THIS is the golden rule of the male love interest in shojo manga. And right now he is...The Rocker

It also shows how she won't like The Rebel at first, he will be the new transfer student that she bumped into by mistake that morning, and she'll see him coddle an abandoned kitten or something and change her mind about him.

Definitely would love to see these guys bring it into the modern (as this manga is like 20 years old at least). However, it certainly notes that kind guys have rather fallen out of favor by even the end of the 70s. But, if I were to apply the lessons here to the shojo manga I have on my shelf:
Banana Fish-this one is a bit hard to evaluate, mostly because The Rebel is the main character and the romance is homosexual. Eiji does rather fulfill The Foreigner, oddly enough, and is a really sweet and kind. It's certainly a hard one to pin down since Ash is the main and not Eiji, but if I were to reverse this, Ash cares for Eiji almost immediately and is never a jerk to him. Ash is almost certainly a broken bird as he is the one who gets raped, not the other way around, so that is different than a lot of modern bad boyfriends.
Please Save My Earth-I'm going with the Mokuren/Shion romance here right now. We see Shion first, and he is certainly the '80s Rebel trope. Shion is a powerful psychic, but has no real friends or ambitions, so I could see him being "a loser" in that regard. He's also a pretty horrible person, maybe not the biggest jerk by the end (someone is a bigger jerk to him, but you can't say karma wasn't going against Shion on this one), but he certainly raped Mokuren. On the other hand, Mokuren doesn't exactly have very healthy ideals either. Her main goal growing up was to lose her special mark, and having sex is the only known way to do it. At first, she agrees to have sex, but changes her mind before anything happens, and is thus raped. She's sick in bed for a week, but as soon as she wakes up, she rushes to the defense of the man who raped her (much to his confusion too). Odds are that Shion wouldn't rape her again as Mokuren coming to his rescue later made him realize it didn't make him feel better, but I still find Mokuren's response rather confusing. Honestly, their strange romance is my least favorite part of an otherwise epic series. Stranger yet, Shion wants to continue this terrible romance into the next life, which is pretty horrifying.
From Far Away-This romance has a lot of the benefits of a trouble love interest without a lot of the horrific treatment many of them inflict on the main girl. Make no mistake, his original goal in finding the lead girl was to kill her, but since she was like a helpless puppy, who couldn't even understand what he was saying, he just couldn't do it. So he changed his plan to simply leave her with a trusted ally, but found that he had indeed fallen for her (as she did for him). She fell for him much faster as he was the only thing protecting her in a strange new world. So this does prove to me that there are ways to have the troubled love interest that's just so attractive (I understand why broken characters are attractive myself, they're simply interesting) without the plagues that many of them seem to have.
Basara-oh boy, now this romantic relationship is a mess. From volume 1, the audience knows that they're sworn enemies, except they don't know that about each other. I think they're quite nice to each other (until the inevitable reveal), though at first he's a bit pushy. Considering that they're in a hot springs for their first few meetings, I feel like a modern love interest would've kissed and forced himself on her right there, so, gotta give him credit for that. That said, he's clearly a pretty horrible person who has murdered thousands. 90s was fuzzy on this, they had troubled characters who were sometimes horrible people, but not horrible romantic interests who treated girls like garbage.
Kodocha-Akito certainly starts off as a monster, but Sana doesn't like him for that. So that's good. Also follows the 90s pattern I'm seeing here of broken characters who aren't necessarily bad romantic interests. Once Sana learns more about Akito, he stops being a jerk to her, and they don't really start to fall for one another until later. A lot of girls try to "help" the male interest because they want to change him to be more romantic or something, but Sana rather likes to help people (as seen in the epilogue), so I don't think Akito's gender had anything to do with it this time.
Wild Act-First off, the heroine here is no push over. At first, she disliked the love interest not because he's a horrible person, but because he's been compared to her favorite late actor. Also, she likes having sex, so that's also rather unusual for a main in a shojo. Most of them seem to think of it as an obligation, but she just can't freakin' wait! However, this does have something else that emerged in series like Marmalade Boy: they might be siblings. They're pretty well always revealed to not be, but it certainly results in a lot of squick.
Marmalade Boy-I just found the whole romance in here weird. First off, they're clearly step siblings, and they didn't meet until they became step siblings. Then they find out they might be related, but they're oddly ok with it. And Yuu isn't all that nice to Miki at first either. I don't quite get why she fell for him, given all the squick involved. Ginta was nothing but nice to her, but clearly that wasn't enough. This is the sort of romance that, while it never goes to any sort of abuse, really annoys me. The whole, "going for a more outgoing jerk" sort of thing.
Fruits Basket-Kyo is definitely cold. Yuki is far more friendly to Tohru, but it's obvious why they shouldn't hug because of the whole zodiac curse thing. And I don't think Tohru and Yuki ever feel beyond friends after the first few vols. Tohru does finally break Kyo's ice queen shell during the lost bracelet thing, but it seems like ice kings (not to be confused with Adventure Time) have become popular since the 90s. See, the advantage to romances like those in From Far Away is that the main there wasn't actively trying to change the lead male. It happens, sure, but in Fruits Basket, Tohru is clearly being active in her pursuits. To her credit, Tohru was actively pursuing everyone's tragic backstories, unusually enough, but in real life, the idea of dating someone to change them is dangerous. I still love Furuba though.
Arisa-I don't want to go into too much details, as this manga is still coming out in English, but a main romance in the series is caused by emotional black mail. Definitely an unhealthy relationship, other characters see this as clearly unhealthy, but after a while, the one being blackmailed seems ok with it (also yuck). On the plus side, the series doesn't want you to root for this romance at all, because it's the romance of the main villain, not the main heroine. So at least I can name one modern shojo with a horrible boyfriend where it expects the audience to not be behind it inexplicably and to be against it instead.

Now, these are just the ones I've read. I'm not a big fan of terrible romances for the main characters. Part of the reason I haven't read past vol 1 of Black Bird (other than all the covers looking like in process raping) in that I heard how incredibly horrible a person and bf the main guy is. Perhaps someone else can comment on Black Bird?

I question if, for some of the series I listed above, if I'm not letting it slide. Sure, some of them are harmless, but others still involve messed up characters. Or if not being Twilight terrible makes it ok. See, my mom actually works for the domestic violence and sexual assault hotline (and goes to court to assist people 3x a week now with her new job), so it's certainly nothing that I don't hear occasionally weird things about at home. It's not quite Stockholm Syndrome, but I heard her watching some speaker on youtube for work last week while I was having dinner, and the lady didn't view herself as being a victim of domestic violence, but as a strong woman married to a troubled man. Clearly these things happen in modern society, but it seems like this "strong woman married/in love with a troubled man" has translated and is now all over shojo (and Twilight). It's almost like this is being seen as normal romance and not twisted messed up romance. He might do occasional nice things, and that somehow makes the atrocities the abnormal. I feel like this is what I'm seeing now, and I definitely agree that it's a horrible role model for young women. Instead of going for just a troubled character (which I'm fine with), they accidentally confuse it with abuser and it just goes from there? Maybe I should ask my mom about her opinion on it (not manga, just media in general), I'd be genuinely curious.

*edit-oh man, I was just thinking about Outlaw Star. Harry, a cyborg, clearly loves Melfina, an android, and is a complete jerk. Seriously, he hits her with the boquet of roses he brings for her when she doesn't wanna go out. But y'know what? Gene is a jerk to her too! Especially when he's drunk! He yells at her and calls her useless sometimes too! So yeah, even if he is trying to find out her origins, it doesn't make it ok as she seems to think. Or maybe it's the "hoping he'll change" bs again.
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Maidenoftheredhand



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:48 am Reply with quote
classicalzawa wrote:

Fruits Basketbut in real life, the idea of dating someone to change them is dangerous. I still love Furuba though.


I enjoyed your analysis and I largely agree with this quote, however I want to point out that the story's theme isn't about "changing the bad boy so he can be a suitable romantic partner".

Tohru as you point out wants to help everyone in Fruits Basket. Her wanting to help Kyo is not really about wanting to change his personality. Tohru also technically completely breaks through Kyo's shell pretty early in the manga (Vol 8 out of 23 volumes) and it is only after this that they both realize their feelings are romantic.

Also Kyo's bad boy tendencies are lashing out at people and starting fights with Yuki. He is not abusive (mentally or physically) to Tohru.

Anyways why do people like character like Kyo, well I think because it shows character development. Kyo doesn't just grow closer to Tohru but grows & matures as a character.
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classicalzawa
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:03 pm Reply with quote
^Oops, didn't mean to imply that Tohru's objective in Furuba was to date Kyo so she could change him. She wanted to help him, yes, and she didn't start off by dating him either, I'm just saying that in real life, dating people (or not dating) with the objective to change them is dangerous, and Tohru definitely does a lot of changing of people, which I think would be dangerous of her to do if this were real life. And yeah, they don't start dating until after the vol 8 events for sure. And he's another troubled, but not a jerk to his girlfriend sort, which is the sort of troubled I can get behind (like in From Far Away). It's just, change seems so easy to do in manga, but irl, it's hardly that idyllic.
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Maidenoftheredhand



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:16 pm Reply with quote
Yeah I agree with that overall. I guess what most of these characters need is a trained psychologist, not an understanding girlfriend. lol
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littlegreenwolf



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:33 pm Reply with quote
*mumbles* But I love Kamisama Kiss. Tomoe's a fox demon. I expect a fox demon. Kamisama reminds me of a mix of Inu-Yasha and Fruits Basket with the way it's going. Tomoe's been fighting his general nature from the get go. Yeah, I guess he's a jerk but he states outright he doesn't want a relationship, and he's never tried to hurt the main character, so I can't really think of it as an abusive relationship, especially since the heroine is sort of his owner and has the ability to make him do whatever he wants (now isn't that a messed relationship? can you blame how he feels? and then the human master develops feelings for him...). Now the snake and the tengu on the other hand... Whatever, I'm not going to try justifying that manga. I love it and nothing is going to stop me from reading it outside of the manga-ka doing something I really don't like.

But if I think about it, I guess my current love interest: Earl and Fairy, has the same sort of bad boy main character. But that character (Edgar) is so complex with ulterior motives I don't even know how to begin criticizing him.

On to Kyo on Fruits Basket - I never thought of him as a bad boy. A bit of a rebel, yeah, but nothing about his relationship with Tohru was unhealthy to me in the least. Kyo, like everyone from that family was abused psychologically and Tohru came in and was sort of a shrink. I don't think she ever intended to pursue him romantically, it just happened. She just wanted to help everyone work out their problems. The thing that always attracted me to Fruits Basket was the psychology behind it all, and how those "broken" characters worked through their issues to the point where they were able to begin having relationships with other people.

But to the post subject, I think a year or two we had a discussion like this and likes like typical Western romance tropes like Bodice rippers, and even Tail of Genji popped up as examples of for how long this has been going on.

I think too for the list you're looking for you need to separate how the character developed before a relationship began. For example, Lee Syaoran from Cardcaptor Sakura was a jerk to Sakura in the beginning, but he lightened up around her long before he even began to realize he liked her. It seems normal in a shoujo manga to have the main love interest be a jerk from the beginning, but he changed before romance even begins in the comic. Just because he was a jerk in the beginning, I wouldn't ever classify him as being bad for Sakura. So because of this I think there's a big difference of the Jerk at First Sight (Let's call him the Mr. Darcy type since we're talking about Romance) and the straight out ass hole even after a relationship has begun. After all the first impression of a character a reader has from the beginning can change drastically as the story goes on, and we have to keep in mind we're seeing everything from the main character's point of view (for the most part).

I'm not out to label every apparently "bad boy" as outright bad for a character until the end. Some guys are just misunderstood at first, or sometimes someone really does just need a friend to open up to and not be so mad at the world (ala Kyo from Fruits Basket). If you've been on your own for so long, you're going to at some point forget how to properly interact with another person. I wouldn't call this love changing a guy exactly, because it can work both ways and it doesn't need to be a romantic relationship. It's just human interaction and how we need it. Now I'm not going to sit here and justify this to every bad boy who's ever treated the main girl unjustly, because some characters are just rotten to the core, but some people really don't know how to act in a relationship, especially if we're talking shoujo and the guy has never really had a girlfriend before.

As to comics with healthy relationships that don't feature the bad boy, looking at my shelf and what I've read recently, I guess maybe 7 Seeds' Arashi Aota is an all round good guy maybe. The two main love interests from Hana Kimi, Gals, Mars, Love*Com, Emma, and a lot of Yuu Watase's other works (outside of Fushigi Yuugi) feature sweet good guys. And I'm going to say Prince Kail from Red River/Anatola Story because the only thing from keeping him from being the "perfect prince" his is libido. I for one have no problem with that libido.

As for manga-ka who show that messed up relationships with guys are bad: Moyoco Anno. She doesn't set up the drama like Ai Yazawa, and is full of dark humor, and makes it usually so you don't like the main character, but it's refreshingly different from other female targeted manga for the most part, and a prime example of what NOT to do with guys. Happy Mania - books to live by. But now we're getting into josei here, and starkly speaking, I've always considered shoujo romance to be for the girls who haven't really gone through many relationships and still have the Disney Princess idea of romance and more than likely are probably still virgins, while josei are for the battle hardened women out there who have had a few break ups, aka more realistic romance.

That doesn't stop me from loving shoujo though. I still watch the hell out of Disney movies.

And I don't know, I guess in general with personal experience the perfect, sweet guy doesn't exist. People are humans who have their ups and downs, and I know there's been something with any "nice guy" I've ever dated that made him not seem like a very nice guy in the end. If shojo was full of the perfect prince sort, I'd be blaming it like Disney gets blamed now a days for rising a girls expectations to the point they're unrealistic. I'm fine with dating a somewhat jerk myself because I know I can be a real &%^@ at times, and actually like to argue. Don't you think it's a bit unfair to be expecting perfection from guys when the female in the relationship probably has as many faults? Hence why I feel Moyoco Anno's stuff is probably some of the most realistic shoujo/josei out there. I'm not presenting myself as the ideal bride/pure girl/whatever.

I don't want a dormat that's just going to never tell me no. If that's the typical shojo nice guy - no. I'll take my chances taming a bad boy.


Last edited by littlegreenwolf on Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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littlegreenwolf



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:46 pm Reply with quote
And since it sort of parallels to this subject, I found the old thread a lot of us participated on a while back: Romance vs Rape in manga.
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Princess_Irene



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:21 pm Reply with quote
littlegreenwolf wrote:

That doesn't stop me from loving shoujo though. I still watch the hell out of Disney movies.


Oh, me either! (And ditto on the Disney. Hell, I'm even watching bits and pieces of "Sofia the First.") And I also love Kamisama Kiss - it's in my top three of manga that are coming out in English. The time just seemed ripe to start up this conversation again and I didn't want to get accused of necroposting by starting the old thread up again.

Anyway, back on topic, you make a good point about looking at how the relationships start. To a certain degree, that depends on one's tolerance level for certain things - the whole stepsibling genre that came out of Marmalade Boy's popularity generally doesn't have horrible male leads, but it does have relationships that some could consider incest.* Haruka Fukushima's Cherry Juice comes to mind - both Minami and Otome do date other people when they clearly love each other, but that's perhaps the cruelest thing they do to one another. In fact, the guy Otome dates is much meaner to her than Minami is, so that is a case of choosing the nice guy over the bad boy. Or the worse boy; he didn't really fit the traditional description.

I agree that Moyocco Anno's a good example, although she's mostly seinen/josei, which oddly enough seems to be better about the whole healthy relationship thing, or at least in the case of Mari Okazaki better at pointing out when it's unhealthy. So far I've found Io Sakisaka's Strobe Edge to be devoid of the bad boy trope. None of the potential love interests are angels, but they also aren't monsters. There are seven more volumes, though, so we'll see.

In any event, where do you draw the line between a Mr. Darcy and a Mr. Rochester or a Heathcliff, who never really got better? (from Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights for those who don't know/remember) Is it in how the series ends?

Maybe my problem is that my favorite Austen lead was always Mr. Tilney...Laughing

*I have no brothers, step or otherwise, so I don't really have a strong feeling either way. It's all fiction to me.
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ZepysGirl



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:27 pm Reply with quote
See, it's just, I have trouble taking this topic at face value, because most of the series you've mentioned (Hot Gimmick, Stepping on Roses, Mayu Shinjo stuff) and all of the series on Lynzee's list are all series that I don't read, specifically because I don't like how the romance is handled. Those aren't really what I think of when I think of "shoujo romance," those would be examples of abusive storylines within the demographic.

Bad boy archetypes can work within fictional stories because, as readers, we have the ability to know exactly what's going on in the character's head. We know all of the factors that went into creating that type of person (and by "understanding," can begin "forgiving"), and we can know for sure when they've really changed for the better. Real life obviously doesn't have these assurances, which is why attempting to "fix" bad-natured people is normally a pretty futile exercise. However, a lot of stuff happens in fiction that would be implausible or impossible in real life, and redeemed bad boys aren't the weirdest thing out there.

phia_one wrote:
The first example that comes to mind is Kyo/Tohru from Fruits Basket. This is just my opinion, but the relationship reeked of pity from Tohru's end. We get flashbacks of Tohru's mother telling her the story of the zodiac and Tohru crying about how sorry she felt for the cat. It also didn't help that Yuki/Tohru was more plausible until the mangaka made a plot macguffin AKA Machi and also added the fact that Yuki always saw Tohru as a mother figure which I never detected before it was actually stated. I'm getting off topic here though.

Haha, see, I had the complete opposite reaction to the whole Yuki/Tohru business. Pretty much every time he tried to "flirt" with her up to that point, I was pretty repulsed. It just screamed "WRONGWRONGWRONG" to me, so when he came out and said that he felt she was a mother figure to him, I thought "Aha, it all clicks into place now!" Laughing Honestly, Tohru was a "mother figure" to most of the Zodiac, in that she accepted them completely and unselfishly loved all of them, Kyo included. That was a big part of breaking the curse. (And saying Tohru's relationship with Kyo was based on pity is completely false. That's the reason why Kagura didn't work out, remember?) (As a side note, I really feel sorry for all the people who can't appreciate Machi because they're upset that she "came between" Yuki and Tohru. As if it hadn't been heading in the Tohru/Kyo direction long before that point. >_>)

Oh, and Maidenoftheredhand, I'm pretty sure what happened was Kyo smashed a table in anger and one of the pieces clipped Tohru on the forehead. So she was actually harmed (I remember a band-aid), but it's also true that he realized his mistake and apologized soon after (well, I think he was still kinda tsundere at that point, so it might have been more like "I mean, I never meant to hurt you or anything! So, sorry!", but at least we all knew he was sincere. Anime smile) He's a lot more mature by the time they finally hook up.

phia_one wrote:
Another trope I don't like is the whole "my love interest is actually like my dad" trope. I'm thinking Haruhi/Tamaki from Host Club and Usui/Misaki from Maid-sama. Usually it's pointed out to the main character by the other characters and the main character's response is something along the lines of "Yeah, he kinda is, isn't he?". The whole relationship then becomes kind of weird and Freud is sitting somewhere going "I told you!".

...I actually like this trope, so I guess that says something about me. Then again, my dad is pretty awesome. Laughing With Haruhi/Tamaki, though, Tamaki's creation of the "Host Club family" structure was due to his own neurosis, so him calling himself Haruhi's "Daddy" was just a way for him to find an outlet for his romantic feelings for her that he couldn't admit to himself. It's actually touched on near the end when the romance subplot picks up, and Tamaki has to deal with the fact that he's honestly in love with her.


And oh god, Black Bird. I trudged through four whole volumes of it, because my sister (for some strange reason) loved it and my roommate kept swearing "It gets better! Just wait until you learn about his family!" I think the point when I lost all faith in the series was when Kyo, knowing Misao is scared of heights, flies high up into the air with her and says something along the lines of "You need to realize that you can't live without me." While she's screaming and crying. Yeah, no thanks. >_> I don't care how tragic his backstory is, nothing's gonna compensate for the asshole he is now!

That's actually one of the reasons why I get sadly confused and side-eye any Skip Beat! fan I see who honestly believes Kyoko and Sho should get "back" together. I mean, c'mon! You're completely missing the point of the series! Mad


Oh, but ugh, this list is making me depressed. Anime hyper Here, have some good shojo romance:
The Good Witch of the West - Firiel and Rune. Sure, their romance has a few ups and downs, but I do love how committed they are to each other and how they each inspire the other to grow and mature.
The Story of Saiunkoku - Shūrei and Ryūki. Again, I really like the effect Shūrei has on Ryūki, and I like that the story is really more about Shūrei's journey.
Full Moon - Mitsuki and Takuto. He's a "bad boy" without actually being a horrible person. Anime hyper He reminds me of Kyo from Fruits Basket.
Kimi ni Todoke - Sawako and Kazehaya. Kind of infuriatingly slow as a couple sometimes, but still adorable as far as I've read so far.
Meru Puri - Airi and Aram. Probably my favorite couple ever. It's a forced relationship at first, but when they grow to love each other, you can really believe it.
Seiho Boys High School - While I don't like all of the relationships (the school nurse & her guy skew towards kinda abusive), I do enjoy the great variety.
Love*Com - Risa and Ōtani. I just love them. Even when they're bickering! Especially when they're bickering!
Dramacon (can I include this? To hell with it!) - Christie and Matt. I loved seeing their relationship develop over the 3 years. And Matt can be a jerk, but I was still rooting for the main couple.
Land of the Blindfolded and Penguin Revolution - It's been far too long since I read either of these series, but I remember really loving them.
Palette of 12 Secret Colors - Cello and Guell. Positive relationship on both ends!
NG Life - Keidai and Yuuma and Serizawa (It's complicated, alright. Also, not actually a threesome, though I was kinda hoping for that kind of ending, honestly...>_>). Keidai is an "unfailingly nice guy," and his main romantic dilemma is choosing whether holding onto his past love is more important than trying to realize a new one.
Mixed Vegetables - Hanayu and Hayato. They both have (opposite) dreams, so the challenge is getting to where they want to be while staying together.
Vampire Game - Ishtar and Darres. I mention this as an example where the heroine didn't choose the immortal vampire hottie with a bad temper.
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phia_one



Joined: 15 Jan 2012
Posts: 549
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:30 pm Reply with quote
Maidenoftheredhand wrote:
Anyways both Kyo and Tohru had issues of guilt to work through before they could accept that they were in love with each other, but there was nothing to say that they would have an unhealthy relationship.


I never said they had an unhealthy relationship, I was building upon the fact that (from what I've seen) the main love interest is usually the most damaged. I'm not saying that it's the case for Tohru, but there are women that are into the whole "He's damaged and needs healing/someone to understand him" aspect and that that makes him more appealing.

ZepysGirl wrote:
...I actually like this trope, so I guess that says something about me. Then again, my dad is pretty awesome. With Haruhi/Tamaki, though, Tamaki's creation of the "Host Club family" structure was due to his own neurosis, so him calling himself Haruhi's "Daddy" was just a way for him to find an outlet for his romantic feelings for her that he couldn't admit to himself. It's actually touched on near the end when the romance subplot picks up, and Tamaki has to deal with the fact that he's honestly in love with her.


I was talking about the part where it's pointed out that Tamaki is like her biological father in terms of personality. I honestly can't remember where it was said though, I need to go back and check because it will bother me lol.
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Maidenoftheredhand



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
Posts: 1789

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:40 pm Reply with quote
ZepysGirl wrote:

Oh, and Maidenoftheredhand, I'm pretty sure what happened was Kyo smashed a table in anger and one of the pieces clipped Tohru on the forehead. So she was actually harmed (I remember a band-aid), but it's also true that he realized his mistake and apologized soon after (well, I think he was still kinda tsundere at that point, so it might have been more like "I mean, I never meant to hurt you or anything! So, sorry!", but at least we all knew he was sincere. Anime smile) He's a lot more mature by the time they finally hook up.


I was probably mixing up different scenes. I think the scene I was thinking of was early on when he lashed out at her verbally and she is upset and he thinks the cat hates her. So then he goes to apologize but she thinks her is a pervert and hits him with her bag. lol

But even as early as that Kyo shows improvement (although Kyo doesn't really soften until Vol. 8).

And I also love Tamaki from Ouran High School, he is actually the complete opposite of the bad boy trope, he's a complete loveable dork lol (I really need to buy that manga box set before it goes OOP, there are just so many things coming out I want to buy first).

And speaking of classic literature and Jane Austin, what about Col Brandon, again I think he is the opposite of the "bad boy trope". Unlike the Bronte sisters, I don't think Austin ever really went for that trope, Darcy might be the closest but both the main characters were stubborn there. lol
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