I have a love hate relationship with Shoujo manga. At times it pushes all the rights buttons and I’m gooier than a school girl with her first crush, but then there are times when it makes me want to claw my hair out at the state of young women in manga today. I mean, could they be any stupider, clingier, and lack any more self confidence that they’d seek solace in a guy who clearly doesn’t deserve the time of day? Then there are girls who get life handed to them on a silver platter, complete with Mr. Popular as arm candy, without having to do squat. Lastly, there’s the art, which consists of (more often then not) big bug eyed people that look like they haven’t had a decent meal in about two years. It’s aggravating, like watching Guilty Crown with rose-colored glasses. However, once in a while you get something great. It may not do everything right but, man, does it know what it wants to accomplish. So, in this post I’ve compiled a few key components that I look for in shoujo, which are exemplified in these three manga:
The Sleepy Residents of Birdcage Manor
Shoujou Component Done Right: Main Character
I was first introduced to The Sleepy Residents of Birdcage Manor quite some time ago. I had stumbled across some promotional art and was immediately taken in by its fairy tale like atmosphere. However, what really kept me coming back was the main character. Etou Kizuna (the red head in the picture on the left) is not your typical Shoujo heroine. She’s brash, almost tomboyish, but not to the point where she’s completely oblivious to her surroundings. She is well aware that her actions will have consequences, and it’s in this that we see the actual beauty of her character shine. She’s a breath of fresh air when it comes to Shoujo Heroines and I hope to see more like her in the future.
Shoujo Component Done Right: Main Couple
Hibi ChouChou is a rather new short manga series that follows two unlikely people: one shy girl and one shy boy. Normally this would have a rather high probability of aggravating me. Usually when someone is shy that means they have absolutely no self confidence. In Hibi ChouChou the main couple may be shy, but that doesn’t mean they are unable to take action when it actually means something. It makes they’re (soon to be) relationship unique and interesting. Sure, being shy will certainly slow down the pace a bit but they’re not so stupid as to completely disregard their own feelings because they don’t want to acknowledge them. In fact, I’d have to say, for a shy girl our main heroine is quite take charge on certain occasions and I applaud her for that. It’s also nice to see a couple that’s on a very equal playing field. The girl isn’t feeling down on herself and looking for a guy to help her stand on her socially awkward feet. They’re both stumbling through this awkward moment in their lives together and what’s better than that?
Ao Haru Ride
Shoujo Component Done Right: The Whole Shebang
Looking for an awesome female lead? Check. Looking for a charismatic couple? Check. Gorgeous artwork? Check plus. Really if you have time to kill and your not too adverse to shoujo manga, then you really should check this out. It’s not as perfect as I might like but when you take into account the stuff it does right, which is just about everything, the minor issues are not worth missing out on this. The lead is charming and while she may not know how to be true to herself, she makes up for it with pluck and determination and the main couple is refreshing even though the love interest can be annoying at times.
And there you have it. I bet I have a long time to wait for my dream Shoujo (a post for another time maybe) but until then I’ll stick with these three awesome manga. Hopefully they continue to deliver.