“They’re all the same!”

“They’re all the same!”

I’ve mentioned before that it bothers me when people say that all shojo art looks completely the same.  However, I have noticed that when shojo gets animated, the main female protagonists tend to take on a homogenous appearance that wasn’t so present in the original manga. Part of this is due to the simple monetary and time constrictions anime face, which causes the character designs to become simplified from the original manga designs. Thus, while in the original manga the heroine may have frequently changed hairstyles (such as Kodocha), in the anime they are usually only shown with one ‘trademark’ hairstyle. There are many shojo heroines who have the same reddish-brown hair and amber eyes, and it becomes a lot more prominent in anime form.

Examples:

Boys Over Flowers' Tsukushi
Kodocha's Sana
Itazura na Kiss' Kotoko
His and Her Circumstances' Yukino
Love*Com's Risa

The use of this color combination holds true even when the heroine has been shown to have a different hair or eye color in the original manga.

Examples:

Fushigi Yugi's anime version of Miaka
Manga Miaka
Marmalade Boy's Miki
Manga Miki - with black hair

I’ve heard that black is hard to use in animation, so maybe this is why reddish-brown hair has become the ‘standard’ for shojo heroines – it’s realistic without being boring. And truthfully, I think Miki looks better with red hair, if only because the hair color looks better next to her blond boyfriend. The manga artist must have agreed as well, since later pictures of Miki depict her with lighter hair.

Manga Miki - with brown hair

2 thoughts on ““They’re all the same!”

  1. I agree with this, though I have to say that although changing the hair and eye colour due to animation constraints is sensible, it’s no excuse for the homogenous facial shape that they seem to take on – Miaka is a great example; in the manga, she has a much broader, rounder face, which suits her naive, innocent personality, as it makes her look younger. In the anime, it looks a lot thinner and “sharper”, if you see what I mean. It seems to happen to a lot of them, and I think it’s a shame, as I think it’s nicer the closer the animation is to the original manga – the look is one of the reasons we love the series and characters, after all!!

    1. Thanks for commenting! What you said about Miaka is very interesting – I noticed that Miaka’s face was more rounded in the manga than it was in the anime but never thought anything of it. Part of the problem is that while manga is mainly drawn by one person (along with his/her assistants) with a distinct style, anime is drawn by a large group of animators who have a). limited time and b). different art styles and yet they have to recreate the manga artist’s style, which is understandably tricky. So while I can understand why shojo series may look slightly different once they’re animated, it doesn’t excuse them all starting to look the same – especially in terms of hair color.

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