Saturday, April 30, 2011

5 Shojo Manga Clichés That I Will Avoid Like Last Week's Leftovers

I have read so many different shojo mangas and manhwas that certain things that were entertaining at first have become totally overused. So last decade. Reflecting on my manga reading, I've picked out some elements and plot ideas that I feel could use a long break. I've made a promise to myself to never use any of these items in anything unless I'm making fun of the cliché. These are listed from the mildly annoying to the worst offender.

Getting Hit (or almost hit) by a Vehicle

The girl, distracted by her emotions, steps out into the road without looking. Or the boy seeing the girl across the street, crosses the road to meet her. But he's so excited that he fails to notice the car coming around the corner. Usually in these situations, the girl fairs better than the boy. When a girl is about to get hit by a car, most of the time a male character from somewhere will jump into action, pushing her out of the way. Sometimes he's safe too, other times, he gets hit instead—which is way more romantic. Aw—he got ran over while trying to save her life. How sweet.

On the other hand, if a guy walks out into the street without looking, he's toast. He'll end up in the hospital with at least amnesia. But once and while, if he's fortunate, a strong female character or another male character will pull him back to the sidewalk before he steps out too far.

This is so common that sometimes when I pick up a shojo manga I think, “I wonder who's going to get hit by a car in this series...”

Deserted Island

A boy and girl go to the beach. While swimming in the water, they some how get caught up in a current, and then they end up on a tiny uninhabited island, on which they workout whatever problems they are having with each other.

Okay, in one manga I read, this didn't happen when the boy and girl were swimming. They were driving a boat and they found themselves on a deserted island. Just as bad.

So then, after some time confined to each other, they find a way to contact their friends, and they are rescued from the island that they've been stuck on.

At one time, every manga I picked up seemed to have a deserted island scene in it. I could not believe it. Different series, but very similar scenes. I was starting to get a bit sea sick.

Lost in the Woods

Closely related to the Deserted Island, the Lost in the Woods normally happens during vacation or on a school trip. Some how the main female character in the story finds herself lost in the woods, and she may end up twisting her ankle, nearly falling off a cliff, etc. Then a male character, usually one that the female character had been or will be involved with romantically at some point, will find her and rescue her.

The methods of rescue vary. He could be very well prepared and has a cloth bandage in his bag ready to wrap her ankle, or he could have nothing but the shirt on his back, so he'll take off his shirt and rip it to create a makeshift bandage (seen it done before. Can't remember the name of manga.) Or the female character may be unable to move at this point, so he picks her up and carries her back to civilization in the customary “princess” hold with her arms wrapped around his neck.

High Fever

Ah...the evil high fever. So classic.

Typically, the main male character falls ill (if you've ever read Special A, there is a switch. This happens to Hikari, the main female character). So the innocent and caring female lead will come by to visit with intentions of taking care of him and nursing him back to health. So while she's at his bedside, feeding him soup, or taking his temperature or whatever; the invalid, driven by his rising fever, suddenly springs to life. And he either embraces her with an unexpected hug, or if he's even more daring, steals a kiss. 

After that, the sick guy falls back to sleep, and girl runs off and thinks, “He just kissed me! What to do? What to do? I don't know how I'll face him when we meet again!”

Then the next day she sees him, and he doesn't remember a thing that happened because he was so “feverish” and caught up in delirium. However, he notices the strange actions of the female character, and he can't figure out what is wrong with her. Then he fears that he may have done something “weird” when she came to visit.

In Chocolate Cosmos, there was an interesting twist to this. The lead male character acted like he didn't remember, but in reality he did remember because he did it on purpose, which is probably much closer to the truth.

Honestly, I don't visit people who have a cold or the flu, because I don't want to get it. They'll just have to take care of themselves.

Another variation to the High Fever is the Sleepwalker—that's when a character sleepwalks and is not aware of their actions, with the same results.

That Feeling in My Heart


“Oh, my heart...
Such a strange feeling.
I wonder what it is
I wonder what's wrong with me?
What is that feeling?
That feeling that's inside of
my chest.
That feels funny.
What should I do?”

Oh, my heart is beating so fast, so slow, blah, blah, blah...

Then another character comes along and brilliantly says, “I know what it is! You're in love.”

And then the one with all the heart palpitations is like, “Oh, really? Is that what it is? I'm not on the verge of cardiac arrest?”

To some people this may be sweet dialog, which is okay. But for me personally, it's like—there must be a better way! There has to be! I can't take these words seriously when I read them. They don't touch me. It's like, ugh...there are those lame lines again.

I will never write these words unless I'm joking or have been seized by a high fever that causes me to write while in an unconscious state. Then when I come to, I'll be like, “Did I actually write that? I don't remember writing that. I hope I didn't do something weird...”

And an honorable mention goes to those three fashionably dressed mean girls that are always showing up in shojo mangas. The three that always bully the main female character. They soak her shoes in water, drop flower pots from the second story at school in hopes of conking her on the head, and spread viscous rumors mainly via cellphone. You girls are really bad.  


  1. So hilarious! I know I've seen a couple of those, but I guess I haven't read enough shojo to recognize them as cliche yet. The way you wrote about them made me laugh. It almost makes me want to see how you would write a parody shojo that uses every single one of them in the span of -like- 30 pages or less. ^_^

  2. These clishes are not just in Mangas either - I've seen them written into other books (sometimes those with a good story otherwise) kinda like a good movie where they add "something" in order to sell more tickets - LOL! I have to agree with Catalyst - you wrote about these very well. I have to admit I have read a few mangas that blatenly exploit these "plot lines" and if they use more than one of them (yes, some have used them all I think) I now put them down... well usesally I do. You know, a parody shojo would be awesome - any takers on writing one???

  3. This post also reminds me of a scene from the anime Saikano. A female side-character is injured pretty badly and is in the hospital. When the male lead, who she secretly has a crush on, comes to visit, she gets him to lean in close and then suddenly sits up and steals a kiss. When he asks (quite befuddled) what that was, she tells him "something I learned from a manga I read." That made me laugh.

  4. Okay, I have to ask - Catalyst, did the girl get the guy???

  5. Sadly, no. Pretty much no one in that anime ends up happy. Still a good story though.

  6. @Catalyst- A parody is a really good idea ^_^ But definitely not much more than 30 pages or so. Too many shojo cliches in a row can be damaging to the human brain. And that scene from Saikano sounds so funny, but so true.

    @Ladyquilt- Yes, there are mangas that have used all of these. I don't remember the names of them (maybe because the titles weren't worth remembering), but they're out there. I would love to write a parody, but time...I don't have the time right now -_- But it's something fun to try when the time is available!

  7. Arcadia - I have no doubt about your time restraints, its like me and my quilts/writing/sewing projects... the new ides just go on the list. I do know though, with your talent, whenever you do write the parody, it will be worth the wait ^-^

  8. Ahahaha! Sorry, I haven't had a chance to check out your Blogspot posts in a while. But when I saw this, I just HAD TO post. :D
    I strongly dislike the hit by a vehicle, deserted island, lost in the woods cliche, but I actually like the fever and heart cliche to a certain degree. Well, I suppose it depends, because sometimes the heart palpitations one makes me want to yell at the female lead, You're in love!! Jeez, does it get more obvious? XD The fever one I originally disliked, but something about the way it was used in Special A made me like it.
    You know, there is a parody of sorts about romance/ chick flick cliches. It's actually more of a movie promotion, but it's really funny. ^~^ Here's a link to YT if you want to see: