A few reasons why I favour shoujo manga
Aaaand, here is MOB, take THREE! Please vote for me in the following places:
And without further ado, here is my post for the third portion of round one. Enjoy!
(This post might not please everyone. I know this, but I had some writers block, and this was something I really wanted to talk about. This might seem a bit off topic, but it relates to how I comment on shoujo manga, and it explains a lot of my perspectives when I talk about what makes a manga (in my opinion) good or bad.)
I love manga. I’ve loved manga since I was thirteen years old. The first manga I ever read was actually InuYasha. Although I did read some shoujo manga in my early otaku years, quite honestly, Takahashi Rumiko was my number one favourite mangaka for a number years (she was later unseated by Takaya Natsuki a few years later, but I digress).
The point is, I simply don’t read as much shounen manga as I do shounen manga. I used to read Naruto and Bleach weekly, but I gave up on Naruto about a year and a half ago, and a few weeks ago, I firmly decided to stop reading Bleach until the series ended, and then I would read the last ten or so chapters. Why you ask? I detail my reasoning below!
Note that this isn’t a post to diss shounen manga. That’s absurd. Fullmetal Alchemist, Gin no Saji and Shingeki no Kyojin (or Attack on Titan, if you prefer) are some of my favourite manga, and I would choose them over an update to Kaichou wa Maid-sama! any day of the week. Think of this as a post of me explaining to my shounen-manga reading friends why I don’t read more shounen manga, and why I favour shoujo manga.
1. Shounen manga are SO LONG.
Seriously. To the publishers of Jump, hear me out: this is getting ridiculous.
In real life, I have a LOT of friends who are in love with One Piece. I would love to read it so that I can talk to them about it, and so that we can have fun discussions together. I would totally do this if I wanted to have a life away from my computer desk, since One Piece is already over 700 chapters long.
Imagine that. 700-or-so chapters. According to Wikipedia, as of June 4, that amounted to 70 tankoubon.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Getting away from One Piece, even Naruto and Bleach, two shounen manga I genuinely enjoyed not too long ago, have simply gotten too long and too complicated for me to retain any emotional investment I had in more than the most central characters. Quite honestly, I don’t care about the people living in the Hidden Villages other than Konoha, nor do I care about the Shinigami captains who aren’t remotely attractive (like the fox guy…what was his name again?).
Now, I know what you’re going to say: “Shoujo manga can be long too!”
I know. Two of my favourite shoujo manga, Fruits Basket and Kare Kano, are above 20 volumes in length, which isn’t long by shounen manga standards, but certainly takes up a significant chunk of time for the reader. I am aware of this, and I actually thought Kare Kano could have been a bit shorter. However, these manga kept my investment since I cared about the emotional journey that Tohru and Yukino were on, and about the people that were involved, and I didn’t to watch Yukino make a contest out of beating Arima at an exam fifty times.
Shoujo manga, on the whole, tend to be much shorter than the majority of shounen manga. There are plenty of amazing shoujo oneshots out there, that make you care about the protagonists, that present a realistic and pressing conflict, and resolve it in an organized and believable fashion. And shoujo oneshots do this in about fifty pages.
For many shounen manga to do this, it takes about a million.
This brings me to my next point.
2. Shoujo manga effectively shows me why a struggle matters on an emotional level.
I think that Naruto is a really great example of why I think this is lacking in shounen manga. In Naruto, I remember Naruto learning about…four or five different techniques to make himself more powerful. Naruto’s main motivation for this was to become stronger in order to protect the people he loves. Now, I thought this was a believable motivation….the first two times. After that, it became a rather stale plot device for Naruto to learn cool new attacks, and it felt like the emotional struggle that Naruto was going through either wasn’t being represented accurately, or else was put on backburner by the author.
To demonstrate this in the most effective way, I have a josei manga that does a good job of presenting this conflict in a good way.
Oishii Kankei was an amazing manga because of the journey Momoe went on . Yes, the dynamic of “oh, I practiced a lot and achieved this result, but I still have a long way to go” was a really dominant theme within the manga. Despite this, it didn’t feel stale. It felt like the growth that Momoe had with her cooking skills was actively contributing to her self-esteem and to her emotional growth. Because Momoe learned a marketable skill, we can see her transformation from a spoiled rich girl at the beginning of the manga, to a self-confident and competent young woman.
3. Good shoujo (and shuonen manga) manga cut the “fat” of unnecessary characters.
In round one of MOB, AMG Portal had an excellent post on the necessity of shounen manga tournaments. While I agreed that the author’s points were plausible and logical, I realized that I actually get really BORED during shounen manga tournaments. Oh yeah…
Now, I really like all of the characters from Konoha within Naruto, and I can attribute this to the chuunin exam arc, despite how engaged I was with whatever special move the characters were using. However, because I was so emotionally invested in all of these people, I was just tired when it came to Akatsuki, Nagato’s group, and all of the other factions circling around the Naruto-verse. It’s just too tiring. I don’t necessarily think that it’s because Kishimoto-sensei created any BAD characters, I just wish he had picked the most effective characters to focus on and develop, rather than introducing an overly complicated ensemble of characters.
Now, I know what you’re going to say here: “Shoujo manga have a lot of characters too!”
Yes, I know. Both Fruits Basket and Kare Kano had a LOT of characters, moreso than most shoujo manga tend to do today. However, there weren’t as many as there are in a lot of well-established, long-running shounen manga, and this allowed for the author to let me develop an emotional attachment to everyone.
And I can never remember every single member of Akatsuki. Call me forgetful, but I just can’t.
4. I prefer the themes of shoujo manga (on the whole) to shounen manga.
This can be attributed to personal preference, really. The struggle with attaining strength is not a struggle that resonates with me, personally. What does resonate with me are the quest for love and acceptance, and the struggle to overcome personal and emotional problems. I’m not saying that shounen manga doesn’t have these struggles as well. It’s just that when I read Naruto or Bleach, I feel like the emotional struggles of the characters are put on back burner, since its assumed that the reader just wants to see Ichigo don his Hollow mask and go bankai on everything in sight.
I’m not saying that shounen manga as an entire genre doesn’t appear to me thematically – it DOES! Shingeki no Kyojin has a lot of fascinating things to say about society, as do Fullmetal Alchemist and Gin no Saji. But when it comes to the choice of watching a protagonist fight to achieve some sort of goal, be it extrinsic or intrinsic, and watching another protagonist fight to overcome emotional shortcomings to attain happiness, I feel like I would rather watch the struggle of the later.
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Before you all go, I just want to reiterate that I enjoy manga of all kinds and genres. It’s just that I enjoy manga that tackle certain themes over others, and often, it seems that this preference leads me more towards shoujo manga than shounen manga.
Note that this is why I gave the blog its current name. Don’t judge me.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading!