Shoujo Manga: Tropes and Cliches


I was inspired by *imperfect-girl*’s Shounen Manga Cliches post (which I reblogged) to write this post. Personally, I haven’t read a lot of shoujo manga, so I am not exactly extremely knowledgeable about them, nor do I have anything against shoujo manga. I will only be stating some “tropes and cliches” as any guy would see in shoujo manga in general.

Shoujo I have read: Kaichou wa Maid-sama (epitome of cliche), Special A (cliche), Vampire Knight (inevitably cliched), Kimi no Sei (refreshing), Watashi ni xx Shinasai! (less formulaic than others), Last Game (cliched despite the interesting setting), and Beast Master (not cliched; i am serious).

1) MC is either a clumsy, tomboyish one or a cutesy, fragile, helpless girl. Seriously, one of the two.

2) Choose one of the two types of male lead. Either the bad-boy gangster type, or the perfect, rich, and well-mannered boy who is good at everything. OR even more convenient, the perfect, bad-boy, rich, and good at studying type!

3) Shoujo manga’s distinctive character art style. To be honest, most boys don’t like it. Furthermore, in most shoujo manga, backgrounds are all but ignored. A definite minus here.

4) Most of the time drama turns into what is referred to as “Reverse Harem”, meaning multiple guys liking one girl (MC). Much like romance shounen manga, the girl experiences a lot of romance drama with these guys, who are all rich, tall, handsome, and charismatic by the way. Finally, the girl ends up with the “right” guy, who usually is easily discerned since volume 1.

5) Does the girl really needs a guy to save the day every time she gets into trouble? Can’t she do anything by herself?

6) While major shounen manga suffer from the same problem, shoujo manga suffer from “deviating plot disorder” when it is 5 – 10 times shorter than shounen!

and don’t forget …

7) Yaoi. Yes I can include it here because shoujo is a demographics label, and Yaoi is targeted at young girls. I can never understand this genre. I would if most of its readers are male homosexuals, but clearly that is not the case. So, what’s the appeal in this genre? Why do girls like to read it?

Can’t think of anymore atm. If you know more, just comment below and I’ll add it.


1 thought on “Shoujo Manga: Tropes and Cliches”

  1. On the subject of the last point, yaoi, it’s essentially the same mindset behind yuri. The majority of those watching yuri are heterosexual moe loving males, not lesbian women,
    The thinking (just a personal theory), is essentially: “why have just one guy/girl I can lust over while shipping this romance, when I can have two for double the fanservice”
    It’s like the point behind harems, but presented in a way that’s romantic and more genuine. If you and are anything like me, harems make you want to pull your eye teeth out, and I can also assume this is the case for many given the popularity of the yaoi/yuri genres.
    Although in all honesty, yaoi is an entirely different can of worms from shoujo, with it’s own tropes and absurdities, but I wouldn’t expect you to subject yourself to enough of said genre to know that.

    On a side note: yaoi can be more geared towards a male homosexual audience, the genre is called bara.

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