Recently I stopped by Kinokuniya to pick up the official English translation of the first The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, as well as Negima volumes 20 and 21 (translated by Del Rey, rather than the Chuang Yi Singapore version). Also, I picked up a not-very-good omnibus with three Hercule Poirot mysteries, and Neal Stephenson's Anathem, which garnered a "is that a book or a box?" from my father.
While looking for more frivolous items to fritter my money away on, I browsed through the stupendously immense collection of shoujo manga also on display. Most of these had been translated into Chinese; I think it's easier or perhaps cheaper to do so, compared to the licencing of manga in English by US publishers.
I'm not very good with my Chinese (especially traditional characters), so I was mostly skimming through the pages in search of something eye-catching. Now, I've always been of the opinion that, like moe bishoujo harem comedy anime and manga, the intricacies of a certain genre of shoujo manga is probably lost on the uninitiated. I assume there's a set of terms for this, since it's not like all bishoujo anime are harem comedies (Azumanga Daioh sort of leaps to mind; comedy, but not harem), and I'd certainly not want to over-generalize every shoujo manga in soft pink cover colours as the same sort of story. Rocks and glass houses, unclean crockery, so on and so forth.
Nevertheless, I did find it intriguing, or at least amusing, that there appears to be a sort of template from which the protagonists of these manga are produced. Consider the following traits:
- Pretty, or at least cute.
- Not particularly smart, and gets confused easily.
- Clumsy, in that harmlessly adorable way.
- Bullied frequently, but never lets it get her down.
- Always tries her best at everything she does.
- Is often in the presence of at least one blatantly handsome guy.
- Grows up to be successful, competent, and incredibly attractive.
Now, which of the following comes to mind?
- A stereotypical shoujo manga heroine, of whom I read no less than thirteen of during my browsing session.
- Mikuru Asahina.
It is a mystery.