starsamaria: Over at tokyojupiter Anna T. wrote a very nice post about the current running shoujo series. It’s interesting that all 3, Kamisama Hajimemashita, Sukitte Ii Na Yo, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun feature a kiss in the first episode – I’m used to shoujo series taking a bit more time to get that far!
I’m not criticizing any of these three series because it’s something that literally every shoujo series does: but it’s somewhat bothersome that the average shoujo female protagonist a) has never been kissed before and b) her first kiss is usually stolen. At first glance it seems like an innocent cliche, but when you think about it, both reinforce the female’s virginity and ‘innocence’ when it comes to sexual matters, as well as the idea that the male should be the partner to initiate (and control) a romantic relationship. Very rarely is it the male’s first kiss as well, since he’s usually shown to be popular with girls, which further asserts the importance of female purity.
Foxy Lady: Great remark! The whole thing is more disappointing when you think that these manga are written from women and it makes me wonder, if this obsession with virginity on their part reflect their own personal affairs or if it’s the editor’s suggestion and thus what the industry demands, since it appears to be profitable. One could say that shoujo are written for girls that just enter the puberty and are going to start dating now. But alas, even shoujo with older girls and women continue this trend.
starsamaria: I know every person forms his or her own opinions, but even so culture still influences how you think the world should work. Since Japan still upholds traditional gender roles in many ways, I guess it makes sense even for female manga authors to reflect them in their stories.
Foxy Lady: I want to talk a bit more about Sukinayo. In the first episode where Mei is stalked and Yamato arrives to help, I was really expecting him to say something like “I’m her brother, is there any problem?” instead on forcing a kiss on Mei. Wouldn’t it be a more intimidating solution and less of a rush not to mention less abrupt and not spoiling the chances of a slowly developing friendship? Shoujo really lacks males as friends among other things.
Starsmaria: You’re right that shojo series rarely have co-ed friendships – even the friendships that do exist usually involve a one-sided romance, or eventually evolve into romance. The most common ‘male-female’ friendship that seems to exist in shojo manga and anime is the female being friends with her boyfriend’s male friends.
Foxy Lady: Now, in episode 2 of Sukinayo, I was half ready to laugh, half doki doki. I liked that the different meanings behind kisses were brought up, yet I can’t take it 100% when it appears to me that Yamato is simply insensitive and fooling around… after all a kiss on the mouth is generally considered a romantic/erotic one in most cultures.
SPOILER ALERT: the male protagonist is rumored to have kissed every girl in his school except one with whom he’s said to like a long time. When asked by Mei about it, he says that that’s exaggeration, but doesn’t deny giving a kiss on another girl and goes as far as to say that “a kiss is just a kiss”. At the end of episode, Mei, who has started to develop a crush on Yamato despite knowing that the kiss in episode1 was taken without her consent, follows him to the karaoke club where he had invited her, yet she didn’t go at first. There she complains to him about how he treats girls and he forces other kisses on her, each time giving a different interpretation eg. a greeting kiss, a kiss for being cute, a kiss for her and asks her to understand the difference.
At this point is also worth mentioning how in shoujo kisses act as enchanters and enslavers -if i may use these terms; they are like the magic recipe to quickly make someone fall in love with you and/or become your slave. The blushing and the petrification are standard reactions while in reality the boy would get slapped or the girl would cry, like in Sakamichi no Apollon (though the latter is categorized as josei rather than shoujo).
Starsmaria: I haven’t actually been watching Sukitte Ii Na Yo (since I usually don’t watch currently running anime), but what you said about ‘fooling around’ reminds me of the first kiss in episode 7 of Itazura na Kiss. The guy knew the girl liked him and he always ignored or teased her, but as soon as she said she planned on getting over him he forces a kiss on her then sticks out his tongue and tells her ‘take that.’ Again, there’s a level of control and possessiveness there, and even though it’s shown to be cruel the audience is supposed to read it as at least somewhat romantic. And I was thinking – it’s funny how the kiss in Kamisama Kiss simultaneously breaks and upholds the stereotype. Nanami is the one to kiss Tomoe (which breaks the stereotype) – but it’s for non romantic reasons (since she has no romantic intentions towards him), which upholds her ‘purity.’ Also, even though she kisses him so she can be his master, this also means he is now her protector, which further enforces traditional gender roles.
I think the interpretation of kisses thing sounds interesting – it reminds me of Dark in D.N.Angel using a kiss as his greeting, and it’s depicted that Dark is ‘suave’ with women rather than being creepy. In regards to your comments about kisses acting as enchanters and enslavers, I’ve been thinking about the fact that in series where the girl gets kissed by a guy, she is almost always unaware that he has feelings for her until the kiss (the kiss is his way of telling the girl he loves her, even though in real life this would be unromantic). Sand Chronicles, Marmalade Boy, Kodocha, Maid-sama…it’s hard to think of a series that doesn’t do this. Thus, it’s interesting because it upholds the stereotype that men ‘take action’ (i.e, kissing a girl to show that he loves her) rather than conveying his emotions verbally by actually telling the girl that he loves her. And though the female may be mad at him, she begins to think of the guy in a romantic way because of the kiss. Thus, she becomes ‘enchanted’ by him, as you so eloquently put it.
Foxy Lady: So, it also or rather mainly plays an awakening role in a Sleeping Beauty fashion… well, there are cases in more ‘pure’ and fluffy series like in Kimi ni Todoke, where the confession comes first, but you know the world of shoujo anime and manga way better than me, so I’ll take your word and consider them rare exceptions.
Starsmaria: Yeah, series like Kimi ni Todoke are few and far between.
Foxy Lady: Thank you for the interesting discussion.
Starsmaria: I’m glad we chatted 🙂
1.This was a conversation that started in the comment section of tokyojupiter’s post and was continued in emails. We thought it’d be a shame not to have it saved in a place easier retrieved. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as we did 🙂 Starsamaria is the great blogger behind Shojo Corner– a true shoujo fan!
2. Further reading: Shoujo Seminar- Lessons on how to get a man by Moe Sucks