Leave it to the fangirls…

Leave it to the fangirls…

The fanatical Prince Yuki fan club from Fruits Basket

I consider myself to be pretty tolerant of shojo clichés. The accidental first kiss, love-letter disasters, tender moments at the school’s infirmary – these things don’t bother me so much, and some still manage to make me squee if they’re done right. But there is one cliché I cannot stand: the fan club. So many shojo manga feature a group of girls who are so gaga over the hottest, most popular guy in school that they decide to start a fan club dedicated to him. Now, while other anime have crazy clubs (Haruhi Suzumiya has a club devoted to finding aliens; Ouran High School Host Club has…well, a host club), I’m pretty sure in real life, most Japanese schools wouldn’t allow such a ridiculous organization to their roster. The very first time I noticed a fan club in an anime or manga was the ‘Prince Yuki’ fan club in Fruits Basket, and well…let’s just say I skipped those scenes. Realistically, there’s rarely such a thing as a ‘most popular guy in school,’ but if you touch him, you’re dead. Often, the main female character gets bullied for any interaction she has with the walking god that is her love interest. Aside from how stupid this cliché is, what bothers me most about it is that in real life, most girls would be trying to date the most popular guy instead of worshipping him from afar.

There are some manga that use the fan club cliché in unique ways. For example, in The Devil Does Exist, Kayano’s rival Rika secretly pays Takeru’s groupies to bully her so Takeru will come to her rescue. This also serves as a catalyst for examining Rika’s self-esteem issues, although I’m still not crazy about the presence of a fan club in the story. Probably my favorite use of the fan club cliché was in Love*Com because it was so tongue-in-cheek about it. When Risa joined the fan club for her teacher called ‘The Mighty Girls’ in volume six, she and a group of other girls go to the extreme of chanting a “Hymn to the Lord Mighty the Great” whenever he’s around. I actually found the use of the fan club to be pretty funny because as soon as she joined it, Risa seemed brainwashed and became increasingly zombie-like, causing her best friends to beg her to quit. Not only that, but it was also refreshing to see the fan club devoted to someone who wasn’t a love interest  for the main character (although Otani does become jealous at the shift in Risa’s attentions). But overall, I think manga-ka should leave the pretty-boy worshipping to real life fangirls. After all, there’s plenty of them.

11 thoughts on “Leave it to the fangirls…

  1. I wonder why the fan club is a popular cliche. To me it just points to the fact that the person is popular and good looking and that’s about it really. As you mentioned, it’s highly unlikely that Japanese schools would allow such a club to be created, much less in U.S. schools.

    It would be more realistic if they did away with the fan club and just portray the girls crushing on the popular guy secretly or their attempts to talk to said popular guy. It would be more relatable and closer to our own high school experiences I think.

  2. See, usually shojo manga DO include scenes of some random girl who’s not a major character confessing her love to the popular male love interest, which is why I think the fan club cliche is overkill (not to mention annoying). I wonder, though, have you noticed any fan clubs in a manga that isn’t shojo – I thought about it and couldn’t think of any!

    1. You make a good point. I don’t think I’ve ever read any non-shojo manga that had a fan club either. Maybe it’s just a shojo staple? I wonder if the mangakas for shojo are expected to add a fan club in their works.

    2. Lum has a fanclub in Urusei Yatsura for one that I can think of off the top of my head. But there are many series that feature guys in a sort of club for a girl (ie. they are all in love with her, talk about her, want to protect her from other guys), it just usually isn’t an organized extracurricular activity!

      -Narutaki

      1. I think there’s also a fan club in Prince of Tennis, although I would argue that even though it’s not a shojo series it definitely attracts a female audience, so it’s not surprising it would use this cliché.

  3. I don’t usually find the fanclub irksome though of course it does come off as totally ridiculous.

    But this post does make me think about another trope from anime/manga that I’ve always wondered about: selling pictures of popular people. This happens pretty frequently in high school romance series be they shojo or shonen. But I find it totally bizarre but then again somewhat believable? But as far as I know that doesn’t actually happen in real life either.

    -Narutaki

    1. I’ve noticed this happens a lot too, and while it doesn’t annoy me it’s pretty disturbing since half of the time the pictures are taken without the knowledge of the person being photographed. Ranma 1/2 has this, and of course Ouran High School Host Club makes fun of this cliché.

  4. I’ve never much likes the fan club cliché myself, and it’s always really bothered me when these fanclubs would go to such a length as bullying simply because one girl wanted to talk to the guy. Though, it really is such a reoccurring theme, and I can’t seem to understand why. In some series (not so much shoujo), there’s also fanclubs that worship some of the female characters too, like in Kannagi and K-ON.

    1. Thanks for commenting! Fanclubs for female characters are rarer, which is kind of unfortunate since that implies girls are catty and desparate when they like a guy (and so shallow they’d start a club devoted to him).

  5. While I never care for fan clubs surrounding the popular boys in manga and anime, I have to say I have always loved Motoko Minagawa, president of the Prince Yuki Fan Club. In fact she’s my favorite character from Fruits Basket. The way the mangaka expanded upon her personality and how she (in the anime at least) got the spotlight several times really reeled me in. We see her being cunning, being an awkward fool, being a leader – all surrounding Yuki of course, but she never acted helpless or demure. She went after what she wanted. She’s a strong independent young woman – and how at the end of the anime she actually realized that she’d truly been causing harm and that she needed to grow up hit a personal chord with me. Just think of what she’ll accomplish once she’s in the real world. She has a lot of personal potential, but unfortunately as a young woman caught up in obsessive infatuation she’s focusing on the wrong prize… I WAS just like Motoko for a short time in high school, and Motoko’s self reflections always make me feel better about my feelings and growth from that time onward. The humanization of Motoko, especially when most other shojos would’ve shoehorned her into an archetypal, superficial villain, is something I feel should not be overlooked. There are two sides to each person after all, and I feel this 3D view of characters is something sorely lacking in many shojo mangas, when things are set in black and white – including those annoying, always evil popular-boy fan clubs.

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