So what exactly is shoujo/shojo manga? According to the Wikipedia page, it is:
… marketed to a female audience roughly between the ages of 10 and 18. The name romanizes the Japanese 少女 (shōjo), literally “little girl”. Shōjo manga covers many subjects in a variety of narrative and graphic styles, from historical drama to science fiction — often with a strong focus on human and romantic relationships and emotions.
Honestly, it can range from school life (Koishi Tagari no Blue) to school life with fantasy (Fruits Basket) to all out fantasy (CLAMP works) and more. When I was younger, this was my life. I absolutely loved all kinds of shoujo manga, I would read and read and bury myself in huge eyes, flowers, sparkles, and hot dudes. I would essentially pick up any title that piqued my interest.
Most of the time, I would end up with a school life-type of story. Maybe it’s because these were normally short or one-shots so I could read it in-between my longer series. Now, while this is not true for all of the school life-type shoujo manga, let me give you a summary of what I usually saw:
A Shoujo MC arrives at her new school, and she immediately feels like an outsider. She has no clue how to start making friends, and moans about wanting to go back to her old school. All of a sudden, Shoujo MC meets Friendly Girl! Friendly Girl makes her feel at home and becomes her new BFF. Friendly Girl introduces Shoujo MC to her friends, usually consisting of The Studious One, The Goofy One, and The Hot Guy.
Hot Guy is either the super friendly type (friends with everyone, funny, etc) or the quiet one (more like The Studious One). Either way, Shoujo MC falls in love with him right away. You know because of all the sparkles and flowers around the panel depicting Hot Guy. Shoujo MC and Hot Guy become good friends and through a bazillion convenient circumstances, they have many almost romantic moments together.
But what’s this? Hot Guy has… A Girlfriend?! OH NO! She’s hot! No match for Shoujo MC! But Shoujo MC, after many panels spent laying in bed and having flashbacks, will resolve that she will either (a) win the heart of Hot Guy because Girlfriend is clearly not right for him; (b) try to remain his friend. (Note, those who try b end up failing and falling in love with Hot Guy even more).
Throw in all the gossiping classmates, the backstabbing friends, the bullying consisting of name-calling and nasty notes or locking Shoujo MC in a room overnight, etc. It’s one huge dramavalanche. It all culminates in Hot Guy rescuing Shoujo MC, dumping Girlfriend, and having a happily ever after.
After reading this type of storyline over and over, you could say I’ve become sick of it. You could say that I now seem to actively avoid school life-type shoujo manga unless it has some sort of element that really stands out to me. You could say that if I end up reading one of these by accident, my first instinct is to stop reading.
This effect also ended up carrying over to the books that I read, specifically the Young Adult books. Maybe this is why I didn’t enjoy certain books as much as I thought I would. One of these is a title that I have seen practically every other blogger rave about. It made countless “Top Ten Tuesday” lists, “Favourite Reads of 2014,” etc. Everyone else seems to love it.
I didn’t. Maybe it was because I had read so much shoujo manga that this type of storyline just does not make me happy anymore. It makes me more annoyed than interested. While I can understand the appeal, I just don’t like being buried in a school life-type dramavalanche.
Is it because I have read so much shoujo manga? Or because this type of storyline has also been very overdone?
So, what about YOU, dear reader? Let me know in the comments!
What is your experience with shoujo manga or this type of storyline? Do you find it annoying too? Do you think shoujo manga has affected how I enjoy YA books?