Playing catch-up

I took the day off yesterday and spent the afternoon watching Pirates of the Caribbean 2. I know you’re all wondering: What would a ninja think of this movie? Look here to find out. Warning: Attempting to drink liquids while watching this video may result in extreme damage to your monitor.

Kalinara has an interesting post on shoujo versus shonen manga that I’m still thinking about. Her point is that the heroes in shonen manga have a special power or talent, while the heroines in shoujo manga are… well, let her tell it:

The lead character is usually a c-student, klutzy, socially awkward, but naturally quite beautiful. She may or may not have a special power, but in general, she starts off unable to really use it well. She tends to be swept up into destiny. This is not to say that she’s not brave and doesn’t experience character growth. But, while her friends may correspond to “smartest”, “toughest” et cetera, she herself is downright mediocre.

That reminded me of this scan of the spread from Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, in which the artists discuss the canonical shoujo manga. And I’ll add on that sometimes the heroine actually is very bright and talented but thinks she’s really mediocre inside (Kare Kano). Since the reader is supposed to identify with the heroine, this is problematic. But I think that’s only a small subset of shoujo manga. Sailor Moon and Tokyo Mew Mew both features girls that have super powers, and there’s the whole magical girl sub-genre. What I’m coming up blank on is any titles that are set in high school that have a heroine that isn’t a klutz. Maybe it’s just too early in the morning for me. Anyway, Kalinara’s comment may explain why so many girls read shonen. (Via When Fangirls Attack.)

I’m hoping that Bento Physics will resolve some of these issues with their series on feminism in shoujo manga.

Mely makes a list of manga that will never be licensed in the U.S., in hopes that the publishers will prove her wrong. The commenters chime in with more suggestions, making an interesting reading list for those who want to stay one step ahead.

At Four Voices.One Heart., Alexiel reports on the family dynamics of the Del Rey panel at Anime NEXT.

Seven Seas announces three new web manga: Hollow Fields, Moonlight Meow, and The Outcast. All three will be updated Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and all will be published in book form this year or next.

Aargh! For those who think that women manga-ka are a sign of how far we’ve come, check this out: a manga-ka is dressing as a maid to promote a mangafest in Japan.

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  1. Thank you very much for the gracious plug, Brigid! I was wondering what happened to you yesterday, haha.

    As for “girls with superpowers…” I’d like to focus on the definition of “superpower.” I know you’re focusing directly on magical girl manga, but perhaps if the word “superpower” is taken simply as “a heroine with some extraordinary ability,” then two series come to mind: Tenjou Tenge and Karin [Chibi Vampire].

    In Tenjou Tenge, Maya can change into chibi form to train her body to conceal her aura, and Aya has a skill called Ryuugan, which can see into the near future. Karin (curse the US who clearly changed the name just so it could have more selling appeal) is about a vampire girl who has the eccentric flaw of having an overflow of blood in her body, which causes her to inject her blood into other humans, rather than extracting it.

    The key contrast between the two are that Tenjou’s heroines aren’t klutzy girls since they kick major ass even with size DD packages, but Karin is all about her comedic, ungraceful endeavors to hide her secret from a certain male and the amusing interactions between her family members.

    Wow, I hope I actually made sense…

  2. Thanks, Alexiel! I did think of Her Majesty’s Dog, too, but I’m not sure it’s shoujo. Also, while Amane does have supernatural powers, she’s also klutzy.

  3. anonymous says

    >a manga-ka is dressing as a maid to promote a mangafest in Japan.

    Actually if you read the article, it states that the mangaka, Yaku Mitsuru, made an appearance with gravure idol (aka Professional Eye Candy) Hoshino Aki at the mangafest, and it was Hoshino who dressed up as a maid, and thankfully not Yaku, who is a middle-aged man.

  4. Whoops! You’re right. My eye skipped right over that.

    I’m not sure it makes things much better, though.

  5. Skip Beat & Tokyo Crazy Paradise (both by the same mangaka) and Kirai are all shoujo manga with strong heroines, and uncoincidentally count among my favorites. I’ve just read way too much bad shoujo with cookie-cutter weakling heroines & plots.

  6. You know, given the slight regard that both the target audiences and the overseas audiences have for the “gender” of shoujo and shounen, I’m wondering if it isn’t more useful to regard both categories as “moods” rather than gendered per se – that is, shounen as active and directed, shoujo as emotional and introspective.

    But of course, I’m an unreconstructed guy who reads more shoujo than shounen, so YMMV.