Shoujo…. shoujo…. I think I might be too old to really have an excuse for loving shoujo as much as I do. My excuse is that I have a “happily ever after*” high school romance, so I enjoy reading about stories that relate to my own.
That being said, I’ve run across more than enough of annoying stereotypes when it comes to shoujo manga and I’m over it. BUT I’ve also encountered some rather awesome characters that disappoint me for not being real people. These are some characters that inspire me to shift through the overly excitable/cutesy and talented/tsundere cookie cutter character.
Kerubayashi Teru of “Dengeki Daisy”
“Go bald Kurosaki!” Man, just thinking about this little spunky nugget makes me want to read Dengeki Daisy all over again. Teru, orphaned by older brother to stomach cancer, Teru depends on daily emails from the mysterious Daisy to get through her loneliness and grief… not realizing that the Daisy she’s never met is actually her school’s janitor and hacker/cracker in hiding. Teru, while definitely a teenager, is such a crazy goofy old soul you can’t blame the older and far more troubled Daisy/Kurosaki for falling so head over heals for her. She’s super silly but extremely intuitive. She doesn’t follow any of the normal rules, and she’s manages to stick is out through some pretty gnarly situations without loosing one bit of herself to despair or doubt. She knows exactly who she is, what she stands for, and what (and who) she wants out of life. I would kill for an anime… or even a sequel manga series JUST for her antics.
Yosano Suzume of “Hirunaka no Ryuusei”
Seafood obsessed country bumpkin. Suzume falls in love with her sensei, a friend of her uncle’s and, initially unbeknownst to her, her high school homeroom teacher. While she’s quick to fall in love, she’s extremely aware of the moral dilemma falling in love with her teacher poses. That being said, Suzume doesn’t fall into the trappings of the usual shoujo student/teacher love affair. Suzume definitely marches to the beat of her own drum, even if it’s a little out of tune with everyone else… or in some cases, even herself. She’s a little slow at times, but she has so much honest enthusiasm that you just can’t help but root for her (regardless of her romantic interest). I wish I had that level of self-confidence. Even though she’s surrounded by a bunch of girly girls, she doesn’t fall into shallow trappings, and is quietly adored for it. She’s kind, friendly and just extremely loveable. There’s no anime, probably wont be… but… that’s okay. I think I’d only watch is for Suzume and the aquarium scenes.
Shirayuki of “Akagami no Shirayukihime”
Oh, the future king wants to marry her just because she has red hair? “No thanks, here’s my hair (chops it off, encloses it in an F-You letter) that you like so much… adios.” Shirayuki is smart, stupid brave, tough as nails and so optimistic you wonder if it’s something she brewed and bottled. After leaving her home and the prince’s unwelcome advances behind, she escapes to the neighbouring country only to get tangled up in yet another royal net. Zen though, is the exact opposite of what Shirayuki expects from royalty, and after some harrowing encounters, she decides to use her smarts and hard work to become a royal pharmacist and Zen’s ally. I love this manga because it is such an amazing example of what healthy relationships (romance and otherwise) should be… plus, costume design porn. There so much mutual respect and adoration amongst the characters that the romance, while still wonderful and poignant, doesn’t override the development of the main characters and the supporting cast. DID I MENTION THE ANIME IS COMING OUT IS JULY?
Princess Yona of “Akatsuki no Yona”
She may be weak, she may be tiny. But this girl’s got a fire that will practically make you shit your pants if she decides you look your way. She’s the reincarnated Dragon King and she’s got some mythical dragon warriors (plus a personal Thunder Beast, a handsome boy-in-waiting and a squirrel) to string you up if she so chooses. Except this despot princess has a genuine heart of gold and is essentially a kitten with some major claws. I love her because despite what she’s got to work with, who’s working for her and her beginnings, she aims to be stronger, smarter and faster for the sake of those important to her. I cannot wait to see where this girls going and what kind of shit goes down when she gets there. If only she wasn’t a dimwit when it comes to a certain dark dragon.
If you haven’t read any of these mangas, I hope that this inspires you to try one or two. Everyone’s tastes are a little different and while shoujo definitely has its niche, I’m suggesting these ones because while they’re definitely shoujos, the’ve got some interesting edges that make them so sweetly different. I’m still pretty new to the world of manga myself, so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear ‘em!