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Old 2012-07-17, 08:40   Link #1
DawnEmperor
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Shonen and Shoujo Romance protagonists

I seem to notice that in some shoujo manga, the main character, no matter how hard she works, is somehow subservient to her "super-talented inevitable love interest". I've at least seen this tendency somewhat in Special A, and Kaichou Wa Maid Sama. I admit it's kind of reminiscent of the useless protagonists of harem manga(except the females in shoujo do put in some effort).

Is this trend due to values dissonance?
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Old 2012-07-17, 22:05   Link #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnEmperor View Post
I seem to notice that in some shoujo manga, the main character, no matter how hard she works, is somehow subservient to her "super-talented inevitable love interest". I've at least seen this tendency somewhat in Special A, and Kaichou Wa Maid Sama. I admit it's kind of reminiscent of the useless protagonists of harem manga(except the females in shoujo do put in some effort).

Is this trend due to values dissonance?
Given Japanese society is still behind the curve on women when compared to American or European norms, it is just a reflection of the society as it still is there.

Getting better... but in a 1970s kind of not there yet.
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Old 2012-07-17, 22:40   Link #3
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Originally Posted by DawnEmperor View Post
I seem to notice that in some shoujo manga, the main character, no matter how hard she works, is somehow subservient to her "super-talented inevitable love interest". I've at least seen this tendency somewhat in Special A, and Kaichou Wa Maid Sama. I admit it's kind of reminiscent of the useless protagonists of harem manga(except the females in shoujo do put in some effort).
When you put it that way, it made me think of it from a different perspective.

In both of these cases, perhaps what they're really doing is applying a "romantic filter". When you're in love with someone (particularly when you're young and newly-in love with someone), that person is glorified to the Nth degree. Everything they do is wonderful. These shows are mostly being told from the perspective of the protagonist; the one "in love". So, these stories may emphasize the "commonness" of the protagonist partly as way to emphasize this "glorification" of the love interest that comes with falling in love. It also may help us in the audience to "fall in love" with the love interests as well, and focus less on the whatever it is the protagonist is doing.

So yes, maybe there's an element of societal values in there... but as you pointed out, male leads in shounen romance stories tend to be similarly useless, and the love interests elevated (in whatever way) way above their "level". For a lot of the narrative, it typically goes "compared to <romantic interest>, I'm a nobody". But usually, over the course of the story (at least for those who get some resolution), it turns around somewhat to be "on our own, we're both nobodies" and/or at least "we're better together than apart". This often happens by exposing the love interest's own weaknesses, and allowing the protagonist to support them and fill the gap.

So I don't know... maybe I'm overthinking it, but it seems to me like the characterization is supporting the narrative of "falling in love" in the "puppy love"/"first crush" sort of way. Perhaps you're supposed to identify not so much with the protagonist directly, but what it feels like to be in love with someone.

(This thread makes me think of Kare Kano in a lot of ways.)
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Old 2012-07-17, 22:53   Link #4
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Relentlessflame's way of explaining this is probably the most compelling way I've seen it explained. It does make sense to me.
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Old 2012-07-17, 23:16   Link #5
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yeah... I saw "subservient" in the first post and took that to mean the female actually occupied a lower position in whatever framework used for the story (lower ranking officer, not the star member of a co-ed team, etc).

I rather like the relentlessflame explanation better as well.
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Old 2012-07-17, 23:26   Link #6
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Probably, even the most ruthless, workaholic and toughest females goes head over heels when they fall in love... It may be too much but.. its never boring....
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Old 2012-07-18, 01:04   Link #7
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My advice to you is :watch more shoujo

*le sigh*
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Old 2012-07-18, 02:50   Link #8
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Haruhi from Ouran didn't seem too subservient from a personality standpoint.
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Old 2012-07-18, 07:22   Link #9
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Try watching Skip Beat, where the female protagonist is not quite subservient to the "love interest" heh.

But in Japan, for most women, their goal was simply to find a man, get married, and have a child. That was the extent of her goals. It is changing now today, as a lot of Japanese women are choosing to not get married, and instead stay in the workforce.

So, shoujo (and shonen) are just reflecting the desires of the population. It really is that simple.
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Old 2012-07-18, 07:35   Link #10
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Alright, I'll check it out those other manga.

I apologize if I gave off a sexist impression. The implications frustrated me as well, which was why I brought it up.
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Old 2012-07-18, 16:08   Link #11
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I think it is a fair point, and is a real bug bear of mine when I am reading shoujo. I can usually forgive it when the character has interesting personality traits, but there are have been a few characters who really do my nut in. One that instantly springs to mind is Hatsumi from Hot Gimmick - I really liked the art style of Hot Gimmick but the main character was horrendous, it wasn't even just a case of her doting on the one she loved - like many shoujo heroines she doted on multiple men and couldn't make her mind up, let them walk all over her, and even seemed completely fine with almost being gang raped. I realise it was part of the point of her character, I was just reading it and expecting her to get a backbone by the end and she didn't really - I actually found her sister's storyline much better. Whereas other characters like Tohru from Fruits Basket or Haruna from Koukou Debut have pathetic elements of their personality but are still interesting enough and able to grow emotionally that I root for them and like them as characters, and really love those series as a result.
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Old 2012-07-19, 01:02   Link #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
I think it is a fair point, and is a real bug bear of mine when I am reading shoujo. I can usually forgive it when the character has interesting personality traits, but there are have been a few characters who really do my nut in. One that instantly springs to mind is Hatsumi from Hot Gimmick - I really liked the art style of Hot Gimmick but the main character was horrendous, it wasn't even just a case of her doting on the one she loved - like many shoujo heroines she doted on multiple men and couldn't make her mind up, let them walk all over her, and even seemed completely fine with almost being gang raped.
Erghhhh Hot Gimmick and most things that run in Sho-Comi have the worst examples of shoujo heroines out there, unfortunately.

The only Sho-Comi author I really like is Ikeyamada Go. Yeah, unless it's her work, don't touch Sho-Comi Flower Comics with a ten-foot pole.....>_> all the heroines suck badly....and they are so weak against Mr. I'm-Incredibly-Amazing-Because-I'll-Rape-You-And-Torment-You-And-You'll-Still-Love-Me-Because-I'm-Rich-Hot-And-Popular-Jerkass-"boyfriend".
Every time I read a disgustingly sexist/misgynostic shoujo manga, it turns out to be one that ran in the Sho-Comi magazine and I go "OH, WHAT A SURPRISE THIS IS!"

So yeah. You want good shoujo manga with a good, strong role-model heroine?
Stay away from Sho-Comi.
Stay away from Kyou Koi Wo Hajimemasu.
Stay away from HoneyxHoney Drops.
And, for the love of God and all that is holy, stay the f*ck away from Miss Shinjo-f*cking-Mayu!!

....wow, I get hot-blooded when I rant.
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Old 2012-07-19, 15:35   Link #13
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There's many shojos and joseis where you can rage a lot but at least we have some mangas with interesting main characters.

I recommend a seinen manga called Ichi, about a blind woman who is a badass during the Edo period. She is surrounded by many historical figures and strong men but she is able to overpower them with ease to the point where the male cast get depressed about how amazing her abilities are and how impossible it is to reach her level. Even the guy who is her companion and is one of the strongest ones says that he can't surpass her.

But if you really want to rage just play a +18 otome game. Every single one of them involves raping the heroine (usually good guys who suddenly become crazy yanderes). I know people can fantasize about this but do really Japanese women like being the "inferior" one so much that the industry just produces games and manga with this?
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Old 2012-07-19, 19:15   Link #14
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Almost every shoujo heroes(or anti-heroes) are tsunderes. They act like they never care about the heroine at all but deep in their hearts they freakin' love the heroines but don't want them to know about it.
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Old 2012-07-19, 21:47   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NK_500 View Post
Almost every shoujo heroes(or anti-heroes) are tsunderes. They act like they never care about the heroine at all but deep in their hearts they freakin' love the heroines but don't want them to know about it.
Tbh, I love this trope. XD

My problem is some authors take it too far and make them TOO mean and immoral. Verbal insults are one thing....sexual assault or overly controlling is a big NO.

Quote:
But if you really want to rage just play a +18 otome game. Every single one of them involves raping the heroine (usually good guys who suddenly become crazy yanderes).
o_____O I had no idea otome games were like THAT.
*rage rage* D:<

Quote:
I know people can fantasize about this but do really Japanese women like being the "inferior" one so much that the industry just produces games and manga with this?
This topic popped up before. One explanation was the idea that "the girl is so beautiful, the man cannot control his sexual desire"
So...it's a form of flattery.

............this is me, shaking my head:

(-_- )--( -_-)

Japan, you're weird.
we love you anyway
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Old 2012-07-20, 07:29   Link #16
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o_____O I had no idea otome games were like THAT.
*rage rage* D:<
Not really. There definitely are games like that, but generalizing them all to be is just false.
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Old 2012-07-21, 22:22   Link #17
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Oh so I am not the only one who had noticed this? Good... i started to think that i became mad I guess all of Japan are just masochists! There you got your reason

jokes aside: It really does seem that not only in pure romances, but also in other kind of anime/manga with a romance subplot, this phaenomen applies.
In my opinion relentlessflame's explanation is very close, but it misses an important thing: Not only the perspective of the Protagonist is the reason... the STORY is influencing this too. The "romance filter" only works for the presentation of a scene, but not for what the characters say, or what the facts are. And usually the story is constructed in a way that makes the Protagonist, be it male or female, look inferior to his/her love interest.

I guess the real reason is simply because we can hear/read the thoughts of the Protagonist and it seems to make better stories if the love interest is mysterious... and THAT usually enforces that the mysterious love interest in the relationship get to be dominant and therefore the Protagonist the submissive.

Well at least this works for the Shoujos.... but for Shonen-harem the reason is doublestandards!
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Old 2012-07-24, 13:44   Link #18
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...ThisLoserIsYou

every since i read this, this is the majority of the reason why i feel MC's are like that. though i dont watch shoujo's so i can't say fully for those kinds of shows.
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