Monday, July 14, 2014

Unoriginality in Shoujo-Land

This past month I've been super excited over some of the new shoujo mangas that are coming out, like My Love Story. That's really great because sometimes when I go to the manga section of the bookstore, not much excites me. Does the same thing happens to you? It’s probably just me. But then, maybe it’s not.

I feel like my reading list isn’t growing much. Right now Alice in the Land of Hearts is the newest series that has caught my interest, along with anything new that comes out of Bunny Drop and Princess Jellyfish. Skip Beat is also on the list, but I need to build up the stamina to read all of those volumes! Sometimes I do branch out to other types of manga that are outside of my normal thing (like Bakuman and K -On!) but I really love full page, heat touching, shoujo manga. That's where my true hunger for manga lies.

It could just be that I’ve become picky from reading so much (I can’t even remember the names of all the mangas that I’ve read), but when I read the summaries on the back of some new shoujo series that I see, it all sounds like the same stuff. You know...a girl comes to a new school or a new student transfers in, totally nervous about her high school debut. The girl likes the guy, but she doesn’t know how to get his attention because she’s too shy, too weird, too violent, an otaku, whatever. She becomes class president and delinquents take over the school, but with the help of the cool guy she defeats them while falling in love with him at the same time. And yeah, the cool guy is like totally mean.

I’m constantly on the look out for shoujo manga that goes against what’s expected.

I think the reason why sometimes the stories seem to be repeating themselves is because from a business standpoint, it’s a good idea to license manga that's similar to other series that have brought in good sales numbers. It’s like, “Maid-sama did pretty good. Let’s license more manga with tough female class presidents. Hana Yori Dango is a classic! Let’s get more manga about girls battling male bullies and delinquents at school.”

The same thing happens with novels. The shelves were full of vampire novels. Now they’re filling up with dystopian trilogies.

Companies hate losing money, so they’ll turn to what’s the safest for them. However, being safe isn’t always good for the reader--especially for the readers who have been there, done that, and want something new.

So what can you do if you just want to find something that’s--different?

It could be as simple as stepping out of what you’re used to reading. It’s not easy, but I’ve found myself trying out other genres more often.

Also since the Internet makes it easier for people to share what they create, it’s possible for readers to take on a new role--the role of submissions editor. The Internet is like a gigantic slush pile of story submissions. The majority isn’t worth reading, but if you take your time, you might just find a gem that is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Lately I’ve been seriously enjoying the popular comics on Taptastic. There are some very high quality, independently created, manga style comics on that site with very promising plot lines. I’ve also started doing the same on Inkblazers. In the near future, I also want to become a Kickstarter stalker and start looking for comics that I might be interested in there too. Any comic that's doing well on Kickstarter most likely has a good fan base, and a strong fan base may be an indicator of a good story.

Basically, I’m a fan of any story that sucks me in. I like stuff that I can read over and over again. That’s what I’m always on the look out for.

Have you recently read any graphic novels or comics that was different from what you typically read, but enjoyable?