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[MANGA TALK]

Can it be my “little” manga guide?

I am always at a loss for answers, whenever people come up and ask for recommendations for shoujo manga.

“It depends on what you would like to read.” I said… and then, as for most of the times, that respond would simply lead our conversation into a fruitless cycle, simply because they were not even sure of their preferences in the first place.

So in addition to many bloggers’ reviews with zillions of posts akin to “must-read manga” or “best-10/ most classic manga” and etc., I am inspired to create the table below which groups a number of mangakas and manga titles by their styles (of art/ narrative).

It is only for examples thus by no means to be extensive – I just thought it may complement my “recommendations” section in this blog.

Just in case you have not already noticed, this is for VINTAGE shoujo manga only (surprise surprise! ), meaning it may not apply to some, if not all, of the mentioned mangakas taking into consideration of their latest works to date.

Also it is not designed to be genre-specific.

The outline:

1. Shoujo manga in the 60’s

  • Examples of mangakas

2. Shoujo manga in the 70’s – 90’s

  • Defining “groups”
  • Examples of mangakas by “groups”

==

1. Shoujo manga in the 60’s

Examples:

2. Shoujo manga in the 70’s – 90’s

  • Defining “groups” (please click links for more information)
  • Manga group becoming more commericialised/ mainstream as it gears towards the left. “Love and romance” remains the core theme, appealing to wider/ slightly younger female readers by using pop fashion/ kawaii culture.
  • Manga groups towards the right becoming more individualistic, i.e. demonstrate more challenging themes about complex social-cultural/ humanity issues, or more creative stories using innovative methods of depictions, etc.

“Traditional” “La Vie” “Strong” “Decadent”
“Candyfloss-typed” shoujo romance/ rom-com. Lots of 可愛さ (cuteness), pastel colours & “dreamy” style. Female dramas (as seen in TV) Androgynous in  protagonist, through appearances and/or personalities.

Typically “hot-blood”,passionate, sometimes “femme fatale”.

Tanbi (たんびしゅぎ), Gothic, Doujinshi
Contain strong elements of femininity and focus on 王子様, aka “prince(s) charming”. What may also be considered as “josei/ lady comics” in today’s manga. Focus of character development.

Showcasing strong personalities of heroines (e.g. determination, motivation +leadership skills, etc)

Explore ugliness of human natures, immorality.
Settings stereo-typically based on schools/ around family disputes. Posing questions about women’s roles in society. Characters were often set with a mission to achieve “something”. Sometimes a focus on the “journey of (learning) experiences” of protagonists, hence engaging readers during the course. Seeking “beauty” or pleasure and satisfaction from some forms of sensual/ sexual arousal.
Typically focusing on character growth through series of melodramas, with happy endings. May reflect reality Majority of sports /action or suspense/ adventures shoujo manga Seen as another form of aesthetic. Artwork over storylines in some cases
“Otomeic” “Sensibility” Humour “Individual”
“Dreamy” style.Typically a teenage heroine with a shy personality, insecure feelings about herself and her relationship with friends/ families/ boys.

Strong contrast in the qualities of femininity and masculinity.

Bittersweet but gives reader a sense of “hope and healing” by the end of stories. (e.g. two injured souls met and healed each other, etc) Black comedies/ parodies. Contain deep and provocative materials. Examine “radical and philosophical issues.
Projection of ideal situations, e.g. supportive friends who would bake together; a strong and protective bf who likes the heroine “just the way she is”, etc…. Dealing with sensibility and sentimental feelings of (teenage/older) protagonists. Irony and Sarcasm. “Year 24”, psychological dramas, BL/ shounen or shoujo-ai…
Sweet and heartwarming; gives readers a sense of hope or “healing” (e.g. “everything is going to be alright”). Focus on youth (i.e. teenagers’ growth development), e.g. questioning on “rules”; mixed feelings with uncertainties/ laughters during their social & emotional development, etc. Poke fun/ Slapstick. Explore morality – the ugliness (or beauty) of human natures. Some works may also explore/ demonstrate Japanese aesthetics.

The top four groups, i.e. “Traditional”, “La Vie”, “Strong” and “Decadent” also carry stronger elements of events-driven “drama”, whilst the rest of the categories demonstrate more focus on feelings, emotions and thoughts in the narrative (which could perhaps be explained by the use of different techniques for paneling, screen tones, dialogues, and etc in the manga.)

For instance, whilst the shoujo manga under both “Traditional” and “Otomeic” groups remain romance-focused and stereotypically conservative, “Otomeic” concentrates on the subtle sentiments or the sensitive inner world of an “ordinary” heroine: In contrast to “Traditional“, “Otomeic” offers relatively simple, quieter and “uneventful” stories.

*Note: It was easier for me to identify the above “groups” from vintage shoujo manga. There was indeed some overlapping of elements (as per my definitions) between the categories, especially if applied on the current mainstream shoujo manga! It would probably be a lot easier, for me at least, to identify the current mainstream shoujo by genres instead.

  • *Examples* of mangaka by “groups”

“Traditional” “La Vie” “Strong” Decadent
“Otomeic” “Sensibility” Humour Individual
YEAR 24

NB. I will be back with more examples. Please do come back (or visit my tumblr) for updates 🙂

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