The quest for good shojo (or why can’t women kick ass too?)

Another post by Kate over at the YALSA blog has had me thinking hard and deep about manga as it relates to females. Although it is true that I am able to come up with some royally butt-kicking females like Haruko from FLCL and Motoko from GITS, it is also so very true that the world of shojo- a field supposedly dedicated to female readers- has a total lack of strong female roles. I hadn’t really thought about it before she raised the issue, but all (and I do mean all) of my favorite manga/anime comes from the shonen genre. Looking back on the booklist I wrote just last year, the only shojo that even ended up on there were Ouran High School, Crescent Moon,  and Alice 19th, and frankly those inclusions were for variety purposes more than anything. Thankfully Crescent Moon and Alice both have more than just romance to them, but they’re still pretty-pretty-princess happy-go-lucky fluff.

I’m not putting shojo down. I do appreciate that there is a market for it- hell, I have a wicked collection of Sailor Moon toys from my time growing up and ladies, it doesn’t get more shojo than that. But why can’t we have a shojo where the lead chick kicks ass and takes names? None of this “oooh magic” or “he saved me!” Just some real, solid, butt-kicking fun from a chick who knows how to handle herself. How about a shojo where the girl rejects the popular guy because she really doesn’t need to have him around instead of living her life to win him over? I think there are plenty of girls who could identify with that (as a teenager, I was known to leave guys after three days due to boredom). Although the blossoming beauty of Papillon may reach out to the ugly ducklings yearning to be free of another person’s shadow, why does the ugly duckling need to have beauty tips and a new hairstyle and wardrobe to get what she wants? Why can’t she find her confidence elsewhere and tell the in crowd to shove it where the sun don’t shine?

Perhaps this is just something that gets lost in the cultural divide when it crosses the Pacific. I don’t know if young girls in Japan want to read about a young, strong female who doesn’t need a popular boy to get by in life. But let me tell you, I think there’s a real market for it here- we’ve seen it in YA lit, why not make the jump to the graphic format?

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    madameotaku said,

    Hehe, sorry I keep commenting all over your blog… but just wanted to say that I’m seriously considering taking matters into my own hands and writing a script for a manga with a strong female lead. I’ve only got a few ideas so far… but I’m workin’ on it. 😀

    Also: not a main characters, but what about Arisa Uotani and/or Saki Hanajima from Fruits Basket? Arisa kicks ass very literally (or at least she used to back in middle school – she’s mellowed out a bit) and Saki’s definitely very independent and smart.


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