Abusive Relationships in Shoujo Manga by the Numbers: Week 12

This week:
Black Bird vol. 12
Boys Over Flowers vol. 10
Dawn of the Arcana vol. 7
Demon Love Spell vol. 6
The Demon Prince of Momochi House vol. 4
Dengeki Daisy vol. 3
A Devil and Her Love Song vol. 2

Although shoujo has been around in Japan about as long as manga in its current form has, it took a long time to find an audience in the US.

Actually, no. Scratch that. The audience was always here. It took a long time to for it to become accessible to its audience here.

A long, long time ago, in the strange era knowns as the “80s and 90s”, manga was first starting to come to the US, but it was a far cry from what we know today. The industry was controlled by comic books guys and intended to appeal to other comic book guys, so most of what came over was what was already in their wheelhouse: seinen and shonen. And while they imported many classics in that time, such as Maison Ikkoku, Akira, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, attitudes toward shoujo ranged from “inconsequential fluff” to “unmarketable.” It wasn’t until the late 90’s, when Sailor Moon became a modest success, that companies started considering teenage girls a viable audience. And when Tokyopop, for all the things they did wrong, embraced that audience, they ushered in a manga boom that would change the face of the US manga industry forever. Continue reading “Abusive Relationships in Shoujo Manga by the Numbers: Week 12”

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Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 11

No big intro this week, but I’d love to get some reader perspectives! If possible, could you drop a comment answering any (or even all) of these questions:

  1. Were you familiar with any of these series before, and has this column changed your perspective on them?
  2. Have you decided to pick up series I was writing about?
  3. Have you decided AGAINST picking up any series I was writing about?
  4. How do you personally feel about the way shoujo manga depicts these relationships?
  5. Do you have any subjects you’d like to see me write about in the intro?

This week:
Black Bird vol. 11
Boys Over Flowers vol. 9
Dawn of the Arcana vol. 6
Demon Love Spell vol. 5
The Demon Prince of Momochi House vol. 3
Dengeki Daisy vol. 2
The Devil and Her Love Song vol. 1

Continue reading “Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 11”

Abuse in Shoujo Manga by the Numbers: Week 10

This Week:
Black Bird vol. 10
Boys Over Flowers vol. 8
Dawn of the Arcana vol. 5
Demon Love Spell vol. 4
The Demon Prince of Momochi House vol. 2
Dengeki Daisy vol. 1

On Holding Up

I was visiting my family a few days ago, and my mom hauled out a crate of my old manga to pick through. There was some stuff in there that I had no real desire to revisit – why did I have a book that was just frames from the Chobits anime with the dialogue in word balloons? – but I did manage to scrounge up a couple volumes of Mars – 3 and 6, to be exact. The series is long out of print and I haven’t read it in years, but I remembered the series fondly and was curious about whether it would hold up.

Continue reading “Abuse in Shoujo Manga by the Numbers: Week 10”

Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 6

Previously

It’s only really assault if he’s a bad guy

This week, Black Bird and Black Rose Alice have a common thread, other than the word “black” in their titles: the presence of a villain.

In Black Bird, Misao is assaulted by Sho’s older brother, who acts with the intention of raping then murdering her to gain leadership of his clan; in Black Rose Alice, Alice’s former student and victim lover finds her and turns into a full-blown stalker after become obsessed with finding the connection between his dead rapist girlfriend and this mysterious foreigner. Their actions aren’t too far off from the romantic leads, but since they intend to harm rather than show their “passion”, they’re shown in a negative light. Sho specifically comments that, despite his sense of competition with Kyo, he was never able to fall in love with Misao. So while both seek to control Misao, Sho’s lack of love makes him inexcusable.

Continue reading “Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 6”

Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 5

Previously

This week:
Black Bird vol. 5
Black Rose Alice vol. 4
Boys Over Flowers vol. 3
Cactus’s Secret vol. 2
Blank Slate vol. 1

Bringing “Romance and Abuse in Shoujo” to a wider audience

Whew… it’s been a whirlwind few weeks. Rather than updating the site, I was focused on updating my panels, preparing for interviews, and attending Otakon and Anime Fest. The lead up to the con was unbelievably stressful and more than a bit overwhelming, but the cons were deeply rewarding as I spent time with great friends I only see a few times a year, met my idols, and yet again presented on topics I’m passionate about.

Continue reading “Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 5”

Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers Week 3

Previously

Sorry this update is a week late – it’s con season, and panels and interviews means I have a ton of prep work to do. I’ll be presenting my Romance and Abuse in Shoujo Manga panel at both Otakon and AnimeFest, so come over and say hi if you’re there!

I accidentally rebooted my computer and I hadn’t saved my spreadsheet for quite a while and I lost so! Much! Data!

This week:
Beauty is the Beast vol. 4
Black Bird vol. 3
Black Rose Alice vol. 2
Boys Over Flowers vol. 1

Continue reading “Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers Week 3”

Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers Week 2

Hey Caitlin.

Yes?

Why are you such a misogynist?

Wait what?

Why do you hate stories written by women?

I don’t –

Why do you think women and girls are too stupid to tell reality from fantasy?

Why would you think –

That’s the only thing I can assume from this blog!

*sigh* Okay.

Apparently my continued pursuit of this topic, along with my lack of more positive coverage of shoujo, has given some people the deeply mistaken impression that I am suspicious or disdainful of it and that I only read shoujo manga with this aspect in mind. In retrospect, I can see where that impression comes from. This has become something of a passion project for me. It’s a topic I consider deeply important, so it’s only natural that I give it a lot of focus. However, because of a number of factors, I haven’t written as much as I wanted to on other, more positive aspects of the demographic. In order to combat this perception, I’m going to include in these posts short essays about shoujo manga and my relationship with it that I hope will clarify things.

Continue reading “Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers Week 2”

Abusive Relationships in Shoujo by the Numbers: Introduction and Week One

The response to my “Romance and Abuse in Shoujo” panel has been consistently overwhelming. The transcripts from my Sakura Con 2016 get new pageviews every day, and every time I present it, I get people approaching me afterward telling me how meaningful they found it. I’m incredibly proud to have put together something that touches people’s lives and resonates with their experiences so strongly.

Many of the series I used in my presentation are older, because those were the ones that made me take notice of this issue years ago. However, I’m not sure how relevant this is to current audiences – how many people sitting and listening are familiar with Boys Over Flowers or Hot Gimmick? New volumes of shoujo manga come out every week, thanks to the hardworking localizers at companies like Viz, Seven Seas, and many others. I curate my reading list pretty carefully, so for years I’ve made a point of looking for series with healthy relationships, or series that are aware of the abusive dynamics they contain. Starting work on this project forced me to engage with series I actively avoided, but what about the ones I just never heard of?

So I started wondering, how do the numbers break down? How many of the series that make it to US shores really do romanticize abuse, and how many don’t? In search of these answers, I’ve started a new side project: “Abusive Relationships in Shoujo by the Numbers.”

Continue reading “Abusive Relationships in Shoujo by the Numbers: Introduction and Week One”