I had been a fan of the Nodame Cantabile manga for a good 2 years when, in 2010, the manga unceremoniously ended for health reasons of the author. When this happened, I raged. I had had so many hopes for where the manga was going, what it could do with all the characters and the relationships still underdeveloped, to say nothing of the fact that the main couple had yet to perform together on an international stage together. All this potential greatness was being wasted. And I stewed on that for a while, and I realized that it didn’t matter.*
I’ve mentioned before how I often I see misconceptions about shojo manga in my group of anime-fan friends. The most common misconception that pops up is that shojo is a one-note genre (rather than a demographic, which it is by definition), but a close second is the assumption that female fans are a small minority among those that follow anime. While that’s somewhat true in Japan, it couldn’t be further from the truth in America. Indeed, female fans may make up the majority of manga buyers in the United States. So why so few shojo anime? I’ve got a take on that.
Last week for the shonen/seinen bracket, I wrote about how shonen manga cleverly taught kids a variety of fairly useful life lessons. I originally wanted to start the shojo/josei series the same way, but the “shonen/seinen/shojo/josei is not a genre” frustration stuck me at the right time and before I knew it I had an article. But there’s plenty of juice left in this battery, and 2 weeks left in the first round of competition. Let’s get to it.
There’s one theme I’ve noticed which shows up a lot in shojo manga (and still quite often in josei manga). Call it peer adversity, bullying, social stress, or whatever, but it’s fairly common for the lead character in manga targeted towards women to be on the receiving end of nasty treatment by her peers. They way different characters respond is a study in variety, and while my experience with shojo manga is by no means exhaustive, what I see shows me a medium with a mission of teaching women young and old how to cope and fight back.