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  1. #1
    dizzcity is offline Senior Member Long Time Member
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    Default Common elements or subgenres in shoujo manga

    Every now and then, I take a dive into shoujo manga, though I'm nowhere near as well-read as some of the others here. Each time I go into the world of shoujo, though, I begin to see similarities in stories - just like shounen stories. But I'm not as familiar with shoujo as I am with shounen, so I wonder if what I'm seeing are really common tropes or not.

    So, for all readers of shoujo manga out there - if you were to write a Guide to Shoujo Manga, what are some of the common elements or structures that you would want a total newbie to be aware of? Or perhaps another way to put it - what are the common sub-genres of shoujo manga?

    I can only name a few, but I'm sure there must be plenty more:

    - Mahou Shoujo - probably the most well-known. Schoolgirl gets magical powers in order to perform daring deeds and/or save the world. Typified by Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, etc.

    - Crossdressing - Either the girl dresses up as a boy, or knows a boy that's dressing up as a girl, for a wide variety of reasons. Usually linked to some sort of romance between the two. Typified by Hana-kimi, Tenshi Ja Nai!, Penguin Revolution, etc.

    - Playing Parents - high school girl (or boy, or both) has to take care of an infant that's been unexpectedly dropped into their lap and which is disgustingly adorable. Typified by Aishiteruze Baby, Daa Daa Daa, etc.

    - Rags to Riches - working-class girl suddenly gets lifted into the world of the rich and famous, usually either by inheriting a fortune, being found by a long-lost relative, or becoming the love interest of an arrogantly-rich boy. Typified by Hana Yori Dango, Ultimate Venus, etc.

    - Pop Idol - I'm not sure whether this should be part of Rags to Riches, or a subcategory of its' own, but there seem to be quite a fair number of these kinds of stories as well. Normal girl becomes a famous popular icon - the exact world can vary from fashion modelling to hairdressing to acting to singing, etc. Typified by Full Moon wo Sagashite, Beauty Pop, Glass Mask, etc.


    Does anyone know of any more common elements, tropes or subgenres found in shoujo manga?

    -Dizzy-
    Last edited by dizzcity; 08-15-2008 at 07:40 AM.
    Manga Genre Focus: Romance, Comedy, Slice-of-life. Primarily shounen, then seinen and shoujo.
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  2. #2
    pseudorandom is offline Senior Member Always Around
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    Playing Parent is, somewhat to my surprise, not nearly as common as you might think. I can think dozens of examples of each of the other categories, but only a handful of this, at least as shoujo, and the aside from those two you mention, only the classic Mama wa Shougaku 4-Nensei is worth noting.

    I'd keep Rags to Riches separate from Pop Idol, with the distinguishing feature of whether it's an external agency (such as rich boy becomes interested in heroine) or internal quality (she's got the talent to make it big) that lifts her.

    I'd add the tropes Love Triangle (becoming the object of attention of two (or more) boys) and Instant Fan Club (hero or sometimes heroine has a fan club of fellow students, who can be dangerous if the object of adoration takes an interest in you -- think Yuki's fan club in Fruits Basket). And then there's the common shoujo theme of bullying (much more common than in shounen) but I can't think of a succinct way to trope that, given its varieties.

    There's also a large class of high fantasy shoujo (set in semi-medieval otherworlds) which come in a bewildering variety of shapes and colors. Some of them are related to Magical Girl stories, but others have little to no magic at all (these are often stories about politics and romance). (I note, btw, that prior to Sailor Moon, most Magical Girl stories were about witches and not worldsavers, and many still are.)
    Today is always the most enjoyable day. Just ask Yotsuba.

  3. #3
    pseudorandom is offline Senior Member Always Around
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    Oh, here's another structure: Eccentric School Club -- typified by Ouran High School Host Club. The main cast is nominally a club with purported purpose, but really it's a group of guys (plus heroine) who hang together doing what they want. Other examples include BxB Brothers, Gokuraku Seishun Hockey Club, Nadeshiko Club, They Too Love, and (arguably) Special A. Although the Greys aren't actually a club, Penguin Brothers seems to fit this mold. See also Hoshi wa Uta's stargazing club, for a non-comic version.

    (What about shoujo sports series? Not just Hana-Kimi, though that's obvious, but Crimson Hero, Girl Fight, Girl Got Game/Power!!, Uwasa no Midori-kun, Nine Puzzle, et cet. It'd be interesting to compare how these are similar to and different from shounen sports series.)
    Last edited by pseudorandom; 08-15-2008 at 01:00 PM. Reason: sports?
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  4. #4
    dizzcity is offline Senior Member Long Time Member
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    Oh, right... your distinction between external and internal factors does help to clear up the difference between Pop Idol and Rags to Riches.

    I think shoujo sports series does indeed qualify as a sub-genre, but I'm actually wondering whether Hana-kimi truly belongs there or not. For me, it seemed like the focus really was more about the relationships and the cross-dressing than the actual sport itself. The sport was just a device to explain the initial attraction of the heroine to the male lead.

    Hmm... now that I think about it, there does seem to be quite a difference between shounen and shoujo sports series. From what I can tell, shounen sports series tends to focus on one particular trait per player that makes him or her outstanding - shounen sports series are almost always a team of specialists, each with one or two iconic skills that perform one role in the team. (Eg. Monta in Eyeshield 21 is a catching specialist, Kunimi Hiro in H2 is a pitcher, Sakuragi in Slam Dunk focuses on rebounds and jumping.) Shoujo sports series, however, tend to make each player less specialized and showing more variety of skills... the focus is on the teamwork and relationships between the characters rather than the unique skills that each player brings to the team. (In Bamboo Blade, for instance, I can't think of a single unique skill that any of the girls have. Nor in Crimson Hero, either. Instead, their playing styles are derived from their personalities.)

    In other words, characters in shounen sports manga are valued according to how much their unique skill contributes to the team's power, while characters in shoujo manga are valued for how well their unique personality and wide variety of skills contributes to the overall team dynamics and effectiveness of the teamwork. I hate to use gender-stereotyping here, but it does seem that sports activities in manga are treated accordingly to stereotypes - men see it as a worthwhile activity to pursue in and of itself and to achieve mastery of the skills of that sport, whereas women see it as a channel to get to know others and form a social group with people sharing a common interest.

    But anyway, back to topic...

    You're right about bullying - that's a major trope that seems to come up quite often and is quite varied. Maybe it would be better to split it into several smaller variants - I can basically see three sorts:

    Romantic teasing - Arrogant guy bullies the hapless heroine into doing what he wants, in order to get her to pay attention to him. Hot Gimmick, Akuma de Sourou, Hana Yori Dango, etc.

    Social pressure - A group of people (usually girls) bully the heroine who refuses to conform to acceptable behaviour for them, or who has been placed in a position that they are jealous / envious of. Penguin Brothers, current chapters of Skip Beat, some behaviour of the above-mentioned Fan Clubs, etc.

    Personal vendetta - One particular girl has a grudge against the heroine and resorts to whatever means necessary to hurt her. It usually seems to be jealousy of either her skills (if its' one of those Pop Idol manga) or her romantic relationship with a male character.

    -Dizzy-
    Manga Genre Focus: Romance, Comedy, Slice-of-life. Primarily shounen, then seinen and shoujo.
    Currently watching:

  5. #5
    4n0nm0$ is offline Senior Member Always Around
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    Romantic teasing - Arrogant guy bullies the hapless heroine into doing what he wants, in order to get her to pay attention to him. Hot Gimmick, Akuma de Sourou, Hana Yori Dango, etc.
    I like that shoujo genre. Love Monster and Desire Climax. Reveals so much about girls being secretly masochistic. LULZ.

  6. #6
    pseudorandom is offline Senior Member Always Around
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizzcity View Post
    Shoujo sports series, however, tend to make each player less specialized and showing more variety of skills... the focus is on the teamwork and relationships between the characters rather than the unique skills that each player brings to the team.
    Now for bonus fun, take that distinction and apply it to Ouran High School Host Club -- which isn't sports per se but has aspects in common with sports series.

    I'm not entirely sure a clear distinction can be drawn between social pressure and personal vendetta bullying. Whether this says more about me or Japanese culture, I leave to others to decide.
    Today is always the most enjoyable day. Just ask Yotsuba.

 

 

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