Pardon me for chuckling when I saw a search for “classic shoujo cliches” here ^^
I chuckled, because I have been down that route a long time ago too, when I just got lured into the fascinating world of shoujo manga….! Anyway, I wasn’t exactly sure what particular (genre) I was looking for, or what to expect from any mangaka’s work back then. It was pretty much like a “trial and error” stage, where I just got my hands on as many shoujo manga I could get and then drew my conclusions as I went along…
I should have known that, there were in fact different manga magazines available, catered for different kinds of “manga appetites”. Even though I might not have an easy access to read those magazines, the fact that I could have at least found out which manga/mangaka serializing under which magazines, hence the kind of storylines – I suppose that alone could have helped me streamlining my super long “manga read-list” back in those days ^^.
Then again, that’s probably just an “easy to say than done”!
Recently, I happened to bump into the “List of manga magazines” in Wikipedia; at a quick peek at it, “Wholly Molly!” I thought…. Has anyone seen the list? I have lost count of it now but on top of my head, I am guesstimating there were >20 magazines on the shoujo “genre” alone, i.e. not accounting the josei, yaoi, etc….
I know the manga magazine industry in Japan is HUGE! But that list, assuming it’s accurate/ up to date, is staggering! Imagine myself entering into the amazing and colorful shelves of manga magazines….. I would be puzzled, not knowing which to pick and start from if I had none of those shoujo manga reading experiences from previous!!!
Well, I do not live in Japan, so I can be forgiven for the manga puzzlement.
From what I gather (only recently), albeit the manga demographics keep “evolving” in Japan, there are some basic parameters which the magazines editors would draw to define some boundaries. Below an example of the shoujo manga market demographics in 2003 (From “編集会議” Editors Review(?), April 2003. Note the year – information may be out of date!)
Basically, the market was divided into four “quadrants” by two axis:
– Horizontal (blue) axis defines the readers’ “purchasing power”, i.e. readers further to the right are richer or more willing to spend…
– Vertical (orange) axis defines the “characteristics” of the readers; basically the further down south (of the axis), the “dreamier” the readers become, and hence their shoujo dreams to the infinity and beyond…..!
Quadrant 1 (NorthEast quadrant) – this is the world of josei as we know it! Magazines mainly catered for housewives, family-orientated, etc, who are more acceptable to “fairy tales” that are combined with adult horrors, for instance. Magazines include: YOU (e.g. Gokusen), Kiss (Nodame Cantabile), Be Love (Seito Shokun! – Kyoushihen), and etc. Other slightly “dreamier” josei/shoujo magazines include Chorus (Pride) and Melody (Tenkuu Seiryuu).
Q1 type magazines – Chorus and Melody
Moving downwards to the quadrant 2 (SE quadrant) whose target audiences are not shy to to stretch their imaginative minds. Magazines include Flowers (Akatsuki no Aria) which sits closer to the shoujo boarder side, as well as WINGS (T.E.Lawerence). Further “down south” is where the BL magazine groups locate, including BExBOY, Hanaoto and June.
Q2 – Comic Crimson, Nemuki and flowers
Moving onto the 3rd quadrant (SW) – I call this the “origin” of traditional shoujo manga! This is also where we find Japan’s three biggest shoujo manga magazine groups targeting for young girls (of 9–15 years old) – they are Ribon (りぼん), Nakayoshi (なかよし) and Ciao (ちゃお). Personally, I am more familiar with Hana to Yume and Lala for their mangakas (hence the red circle ^^). Other magazines in this quadrant include Princess (Ouke no Monshou) and ASUKA (Cantarella).
Q3 – Ribon, Nakayoshi and Ciao
Princess, Hana to Yume, Lala and ASUKA
Moving upwards onto the last quadrant (NW), where many “passionate shoujos” can be found. Stories under this category share a common theme of “love is above all”, or “absolutely sweet sweet love”. By saying “love” here, smuts are also often involved (especially the further “up north” it goes….) Magazines include, Betsucomi (Hot Gimmick), Cookie (Nana), Bessatsu Margaret (Cat Street), Bessatsu Friend (Mars) and Sho-Comi (Boku wa Imōto ni Koi o Suru). Not surprisingly, their storylines often about high-school romance, or of heroines/ protagonists around the same age as their target readers.
Q4 (from left to right): Dessert, Shō-Comi, Shōjo Comic Cheese!, Bestsucomi, Cookie, Bessatsu Friend, Margaret, Petit Comic, and Bessatsu Margaret
So what is the purpose of this “analysis”, hence this post?
Well, I guess it’s like the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do“, i.e. see which categories of shoujo stories would fit/ suit you most, then start digging from there….. If you were like me who started like a manga dump with absolutely anything, chances are it might take quite a long time to sieve through the amazing world of shoujo.
But I am not complaining of course. : )
**** Further information about shoujo manga magazines ****
-> Manga Magazine Guide with extensive information!
-> Emily’s Randon Shoujo Manga Page
-> List of manga magazines, Wikipedia
-> Publishers information (and official websites):
Pls. also refer to Matt Thorn’s interesting blog mentioning the roles of shoujo magazines:
-> “What Are Shoujo Manga? – Matt Thorn”
-> What Japanese Girls Do With Manga, and Why – Matt Thorn