While most anime and manga recycle cliché after cliché, some of them are capable of genuinely surprising moments, and shojo is no execption. Sometimes it’s not even what happens in a scene, but how it happens that makes it stand out. Here are some of the scenes in shojo that truly shocked me (and please note that there are several spoilers, so proceed with caution!).
– Shika finding out her father isn’t who she thought he was in Sand Chronicles. This one is great because it was Fuji who suspected that he wasn’t a legitimate Tsukishima heir, and tormented himself to the point of closing off other people – I certainly didn’t see it coming that it was really Shika who was illegitimate! And it was made even sadder because she, unlike Fuji, never even suspected any of the secrets in her family. I thought Fuji’s storyline might play out à la Yuu from Marmalade Boy, but it turned out better not only because of the twist involving Shika, but also because Fuji’s emotional distress was better handled.
– Nanami’s line at the end of We Were There volume eight: “I never saw Yano again.” Yano decides to move with his mother to Tokyo for his last year of high school, and he and Nanami make a promise to meet there in a year. The series then flashforwards from their separation at the train station to the end of Nanami’s last year in college, where we find out she and Yano never kept their promise. The next volume couldn’t have come out fast enough, because I couldn’t believe the way Nanami and Yano drifted apart. This also counts as one of the saddest moments I’ve read in a manga, because reading this scene moved me to tears.
– Ren asking Nana to marry her in volume eleven of Nana. In the panels leading up to this scene, the mood is very tense because Nana anticipates that the next time she sees Ren they’ll be breaking up. Instead, Ren says ‘Marry me.’ I think I stared at those two words for five minutes before I could comprehend what was going on enough to turn to the next page!
– Hachi finding out she’s pregnant in volume eight of Nana. Yes, another moment from Nana – Ai Yazawa is just that good. Most series wouldn’t go this far, having the main female character wind up pregnant in the middle of the series, rather than as some ‘happily ever after.’ The fact that this happens when she’s with Nobu, her ‘dream guy,’ yet Takumi finds out first and is the one to tell Nobu about the pregnancy and that she’s not sure who the father is makes the drama all the more heartbreaking. In many ways, this is where this series begins. This one was still surprising even though I had already semi-spoiled it for myself.
– Naoki kissing Kotoko on vacation in volume four of Itazura na Kiss. As soon as I saw Naoki kindly approach Kotoko, I could tell it was going to be a dream sequence. Then when Kotoko wakes up and mentions that she can still feel the sensation of the kiss from her dream on her lips, Yuuki is shown hiding, so I just assumed that he had kissed her and was developing feelings for her because he was blushing. I didn’t think too much about it, especially because the incident was dropped for a while. But then a while later in the series, when Naoki’s feelings for Kotoko are being doubted, Yuuki reveals that he knows Naoki loves Kotoko because he kissed her that summer – it wasn’t a dream! I was as ecstatic as I was shocked when I read that, and all I could think was “Well played.” I really believe that the way Kaoru Tada executes scenes like these is what makes her a wonderful writer, and what makes Itazura na Kiss such an enjoyable series.