Sliding scales of male tsundere

Sliding scales of male tsundere

A tsundere is a character who is both ‘tsuntsun,’ (aloof) and ‘deredere,’ (sweet). While most anime and manga fans associate the term tsundere with female characters like Haruhi (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) and Taiga (Toradora), many male love interests in shojo series also have tsundere qualities. Some of them are cold and gradually warm up over the course of the series (usually because of the main female character), while others seem hotblooded yet are actually shy. Because of this range in tsundere personality types, I feel as though the following male tsunderes are sliding on a scale from cold to hot. Of course, this is all my personal opinion, and some of the characters I’ve listed I’ve never seen labeled as tsundere yet I feel fit right in.

Naoki Irie (Itazura na Kiss – 1990)

Level of Tsundere: Neptune is warmer…

The paragon of the cold tsundere love interest. He’s a genius at everything from academics to tennis to cooking. He doesn’t get close to people, so he’s hard to figure out. Naoki has a lot of pride and is confident in his abilities,  but when it comes to love he barely lets on that he cares. In favor of romatic gestures, Naoki prefers to brutally tease Kotoko about everything from her (lack of) grace to her body, publicly rejects her love letter and dismisses her in front of her entire class. Most importantly, he can run circles around her in terms of intelligence. Thus, Naoki is someone who is ‘above’ Kotoko – she’s out of his league and she has to work hard to earn his love. And because melting moments for him are few and far between, it takes a while for the audience to warm up to him.

Shinichi Chiaki (Nodame Cantabile – 2001)

Level of Tsundere: a Slurpee

A music prodigy, Chiaki sees everyone around him as an idiot. From to his perfectionist music style to his tidy apartment, Chiaki does everything by the book. Like Naoki, he’s pompous, is a good cook, and is admired by many of the students at his school, especially women. However, he isn’t ‘perfect’ at everything and does have weaknesses, including a fear of flying that is preventing him from accomplishing his dream of travelling to Europe so he can study to become a famous conductor. And despite his arrogance, he often gets roped into doing favors for his classmates (usually due to Nodame’s whims), so while he may be berating them he’s still helping them out. In particular, he shows concern for Nodame when she does something foolish (which is often), which reveals his feelings for her. As the series progresses, Chiaki realizes how snobby he used to be and starts to loosen up.

Rui Hanazawa (Boys Over Flowers/Hana Yori Dango – 1992)

Level of Tsundere: Dippin’ Dots

Now, I’ve never seen anyone label Rui a tsundere – usually fans just describe him as being quiet and very mysterious. However, I consider Rui a tsundere because like Naoki, he doesn’t interact with people much or get attached to them. He’s also bipolar – sometimes he’s really harsh and acts like he doesn’t even like Tsukushi (let alone love her), yet other times he’s nice to her. Naoki acts this way too, but it’s usually realizing the depth of Kotoko’s feelings for him that makes him act nicer – but Rui’s switches don’t seem to be for any particular reason. Even though Rui has been shown to be a ‘prince charming’ later on in the manga, he’s not perfect at everything like Naoki is. He also seems superior to Tsukushi – probably because she acts really awkward and unlike herself around him. The complexity of his character makes him hard to figure out, especially when his feelings for Shizuka are still in the mix – so perhaps this is why the audience preferred Tsukasa as the main love interest, and Rui lost his leading role.

Yuu Matsuura (Marmalade Boy – 1992)

Level of Tsundere: Marmalade-flavored shaved ice

He’s good at academics, sports and cooking, but he’s not ‘perfect’ at everything like Naoki is. He teases Miki, but in a less cruel way than Naoki and less childishly than Tsukasa – if anything, his teasing is pretty affectionate in comparison. Although he doesn’t get attached to people, he does smile and acts friendly towards others in a distant way (whereas Naoki won’t even bother with people). And like Naoki, he seems to be ‘above’ Miki, who is average, and has many girls who like him. However, unlike Naoki, he doesn’t seem to have any problems with admitting his feelings to Miki. He’s ‘hard to read,’ according to Miki, but slight signs of jealousy reveal his feelings for her to the audience, which makes him less mysterious than Rui. However, he does have other hidden secrets he is tormented over… Perhaps because his character isn’t as extreme as some of the other ones, he doesn’t stand out as much as other ‘cold’ male love interests.

Izumi Sano (Hana-Kimi – 1996)

Level of Tsundere: Tap Water…and just as boring

Another one who is not normally labeled a tsundere, but I will because he warms up over the course of the series, which is a typical tsundere trait. Cold Angtsy Guy #3571, there’s nothing very different about Sano in comparison to other tsunderes. He’s generically athletic, smart and popular with girls even though he goes to an all-boys school. Even though he’s had family problems, he explains that the reason he initially treats Mizuki coldly is because he apparently doesn’t know how to talk to girls (which is makes no sense considering how easily he was able to talk to his former manager who is female).  At first, he bottles up his anxieties  about the pressure he faces to high jump. However, he openly laughs and smilies, so he’s not as closed-off as Akito. Sano’s friends point out that he’s like a ‘mother-cat’ with Mizuki, and that he’s changed since meeting her. Thus, even though Sano’s friends say he’s closed-off, like Yuu, Sano’s not anywhere near as cold as Naoki. There have been times it was more difficult to tell what Sano is thinking than Naoki – not because Sano’s more mysterious, but because I simply didn’t find him interesting enough to care.

Akito Hayama (Kodocha – 1994)

Level of Tsundere: a Junior Frosty that’s been out in the sun

I consider Akito to have a unique blend of traits from both cold and more volatile tsunderes. Even though he’s only 11, he’s quiet and a ‘lone wolf’ who does his own thing. While he’s smart and athletic, unlike Naoki, he’s not perfect at everything.  He’s cynical and never smiles, yet he also won’t lie, even to people he dislikes. However, he does have a fiesty side – he has a temper that causes him to kick things (though he’s not as violent as Tsukasa). However, unlike other tsundere love interests, he and Sana feel like equals. Even though he’s popular, she’s one of the few people who understands him and they both can only be themselves around each other. Sana herself is spunky and one of the few people willing to stand up to Akito when he causes trouble in their classroom. Unlike Naoki, Akito does at least accept his love for Sana, and tries to express his emotions the only way he can by saying he ‘doesn’t hate’ Sana. Furthermore, he has a few close friends, and is looked up to by the other guys in his class, so he’s not a complete loner.  We can see how his tragic background shaped him into the person he is, who can only see things negatively, and rather than thinking he’s a jerk, we really feel sorry for him.

Tasuku Kurosaki (Dengeki Daisy – 2007)

 Level of Tsundere: Medium salsa (since he doesn’t like tomatoes)

Kurosaki slides more on the hotblooded side of the tsundere scale. He is a reformed deliquent-turned janitor who loves to tease Teru by pulling her hair or calling her a ‘puny A-cup.’ Like most other male tsunderes he is resistant to admit his love for Teru. However, this is because Kurosaki feels guilty about his past, and thus his teasing isn’t meant to be cruel like Naoki – instead, he is doing it because he feels like he doesn’t deserve Teru and doesn’t want her to know of his feelings. He’s quick to anger and violent with anyone who threatens Teru , but he rarely blows up at Teru beyond teasing her. Like Kyo, he’s actually shy around the girl he loves but tries to hide it – he blushes when Teru compliments him or shows him any affection. One thing I love is that Kyousuke Motomi, the author of Dengeki Daisy, makes fun of Kurosaki’s tsundere ways in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.

Kyo Sohma (Fruits Basket – 1999)

Level of Tsundere: Kimchi
He’s prone to violent outbursts, just like Tsukasa – however, he doesn’t pick fights with strangers like Tsukasa does and instead has a grudge solely against one person, his rival Yuki. The curse of the Zodiac has made Kyo uncomfortable in social situations, and since he feels unaccepted by his own family, he doesn’t get close to others. Unlike most love interests who are popular, Kyo is often teased (especially by Tohru’s friends). His tendency to yell and lash out at people comes from his shyness and inability to express himself. This is also true when it comes to Tohru, who he worries about in his in own way (which often involves yelling at her whenever she’s careless). Although he’s hot-blooded, Kyo shares similarities with colder tsunderes – for example, he rarely smiles. And like other fiesty tsunderes, he’s often awkward and at a loss for words during tender moments, which brings out his dere-dere side.

Tsukasa Domyoji (Boys Over Flowers/Hana Yori Dango – 1992)
Level of Tsundere: The sun seems like frozen yogurt in comparison…

He’s pompous like Naoki, but he doesn’t actually have the skills to back it up considering he’s not that bright. Instead of being cold and disinterested, he ‘s loud, violent, and teases Tsukushi like a child. Unlike other male tsunderes, who rarely let their motivations show, Tsukasa’s childish goofiness makes him transparent, thus hurting his ‘cool’ factor. But it’s because of his childishness that he and Tsukushi feel like equals despite the fact that he’s rich and powerful – and that they’re both quick to anger, and stubborn. Unlike most other male tsunderes in shojo manga, Tsukasa has no problem telling Tsukushi he loves her once he figures out his feelings for her, and is willing to give up everything to be with her. So rather than being mysterious, Tsukasa is obvious and overt, which makes him both hard to handle and hard to resist.  All of the contradictions in Tsukasa’s character – that he’s violent yet gentle, arrogant yet selfless – ultimately make him not only unique, but very lovable.

There are many other male tsundere characters, from Shaoran in Cardcaptor Sakura to Hikaru in Ouran High School Host ClubThis page provides a good list of other examples.  I feel that in many cases, the more tsundere the love interest is, the more interesting the romance is because there tends to be a lot of push-pull between the male and main female protagonist. I seem to like tsunderes who are extreme, like Tsukasa, or ones whose reasons for being jerks are interesting and cast them in a sympathetic light, like Kurosaki and Akito. Do you guys like male tsundere love interests or not? And who are your favorites?

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“Hands off my bibles!”

“Hands off my bibles!”

Have you guys ever noticed that many characters in shojo manga are fans of shojo manga themselves? Females in shojo manga seem to enjoy turning to girls’ comics as a love guide, and tend to be extremely protective of their collection. For example, in the opening pages of Sand Chronicles we see Ann at age 26, who chastises her younger sister for trying to take her shojo manga by telling her to keep her “hands off her bibles.”  However, some shojo heroines have to learn the hard way that real-life romance doesn’t always go as smoothly as it does in their prized manga. Take Haruna in High School Debut for example – when she and Yoh first start dating they have a hard time getting used to acting like a couple, so she gives him a stack of shojo manga to read so he can learn how their relationship is ‘supposed’ to progress. After reading over 100 volumes of manga, Yoh decides that it’s alright if their relationship isn’t ‘normal’ because things are fine the way they are.  I also really like when series make reference not only to the main character being a fan of girls comics, but also to common shojo clichés themselves. For example, in Itazura na Kiss, when Kotoko joins her college’s tennis club after her crush Naoki does, she begins ‘image-training’ by reciting scenes from Ace o Nerae!, a popular 70s shojo series about a tennis player. Unfortunately, Kotoko is athletically challenged, and when Kotoko and Naoki have to play a match together, Kotoko tries to get Naoki to ease her nerves by telling him that in shojo manga, the male love interest would usually “gently hold her hand or give her a kiss of encouragement.” Naoki being the cold jerk he is bluntly tells her to forget it. By having the protagonist be a fan of girls’ comics, the fourth wall is broken in a fun way, because the conventions of shojo manga are allowed to be made fun of while still endorsing shojo manga itself.

Even after 43 volumes, Asuka can’t get enough of this addictive shojo manga.

But probably the biggest series where the main character’s love of shojo is touched upon is Otomen, because the leading character is a male! Asuka Masamune, who excels in sports and is seen as extremely masculine, is hiding a secret from everyone: he actually loves everything girly, from sewing to stuffed animals. One funny scene in volume one is when Asuka tries to resist his girly habits by putting away all of his plushies, and he begins to read Shonen Junk (a not-so-subtle reference to a certain boys’ manga magazine), but gives up because he finds shojo romance stories more exciting. Asuka’s favorite shojo manga is “Love Chick” by Jewel Sachihana, who actually turns out to be a playboy who goes to school with Asuka named Juta Tachibana! Juta knows Asuka’s secret ‘girly’ habits, and uses him as the model for the main female character in “Love Chick” because Asuka’s the most feminine person Juta’s ever known. Juta tries to balance encouraging Asuka’s femininity and his budding romance with a not-so girly-girl named Ryo while keeping the fact that he’s the author of a shojo series a secret.  And because the story is all about Asuka learning to accept his girliness, Otomen is filled with pages trimmed with lace and sparkles, and thus embraces the most traditionally feminine aesthetics of shojo manga. So in essence, by incorporating shojo-crazed characters, the authors of girls’ series are telling the reader ‘hey, it’s okay to love shojo – because we love it too.’

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

I know this is late, but I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you so much to Simpleek, talithavm, and kitsune and neko for nominating me! I’ve had fun reading all of your blogs, and you guys all write about really interesting topics, so I definitely appreciate being nominated.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the award giver and link back to their blog in your post.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass this award along to 15 blogs.
  4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Now, onto some personal tidbits about me:

  1. I absolutely love jewelry. I especially love color gemstones, particularly purple stones like amethysts and rhodolites. It’s probably because I love the pop of color gems add that I think diamonds are overrated.
  2. I’ve never owned a cell-phone, mp3 player, iPod, iPad or basically anything that would show that I belong in the 21st century.
  3. I can be really random and have no problem getting into personal conversations at inappropriate places (like on the subway or in a restaurant). I pride myself on being weird, so when people tell me I’m weird I always respond with a ‘thank you.’
  4. I don’t have many hobbies aside from anime and manga, but I used to draw up until I was in high school. I also used to make jewelry, but between running out of ideas for new pieces to create and not having as much time to bead, I’ve stopped. I really should start up again one day, especially since I still have so many beads.
  5. I’m Puerto Rican and black, but I don’t speak Spanish. For some reason, my mother never taught either me or my sister the language, and I really wish she had because I often feel as though I’m missing out. And it’s definitely frustrating when someone comes up to speaking in Spanish and I tell them I can’t speak the language – they look at me as if they think I’m lying! So if I ever have kids with a Spanish-speaking man, I’d want him to teach them Spanish (and maybe I’ll pick up a few words along the way).
  6. I’ve never been into fashion. I’ve always hated shopping (it annoys me), which is probably why I’m so sensitive about the stereotype that all women love to shop and are clothes-obsessed.
  7. I live in New York City and could never see myself living in any other part of the U.S. However, I feel embarassed to admit that not only have I never been outside of the country, I also haven’t been outside of the tri-state area! My family doesn’t really drive, but if I ever get the courage to fly one day I’d like to go to the part of Texas my dad grew up in, and visit other countries like Japan and Brazil.

And here are my nominations for some really awesome blogs. I don’t have fifteen yet, but you guys should still check them out anyway! 😀

Simpleek

Pixels and Panels

Gagging on Sexism

Manga Therapy

Beneath the Tangles

Shades of Grey

Queerness in shojo manga: politics & representation

Queerness in shojo manga: politics & representation

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the presence of queer characters in shojo manga. From crossdressers to characters who are not so emotionally stable, it’s interesting to see the ways in which not only these characters are depicted but queerness itself. Although I could easily look to shonen-ai or yuri to examine gender roles and homosexuality, I would instead like to discuss queer characters in shojo series because they serve to queer heterosexual storylines. It’s also interesting to note that while a staple of shojo manga is the female crossdresser (dating all the way back to Princess Knight), very rarely are female ‘queer’ characters also homosexual, and thus for this reason I will be focusing primarily on male characters. In particular, I’m interested in looking at the politics and representation of two characters from two different popular shojo series: Nakao Senri from Hana-Kimi and Masao Kirishima from Mars.

One of several times Mizuki and Nakao dress as girls in Hana-Kimi (and Nakao is fine with it).

Near the beginning of Hana-Kimi, Nakao makes it clear that he is in love with another student at his all-male school: Minami Nanba, who is a resident advisor and ladies’ man. Along with being very protective of Nanba, Nakao also prides himself as being one of the prettiest males in the Osaka dorms. In discussing Nakao, the_patches wrote an interesting post about how important it is to consider how characters perceive their own gender and sexuality. This made me think of the ways in which Nakao reflects on his own gender: later on in the manga, Nakao says that he wishes he had been born female because he fell in love with a straight man. He also dresses up as a female several times throughout the series without complaint (although that’s par the course for Hana-Kimi), but he doesn’t do it regularly. However, at no other point does Nakao express any desire to be a woman nor does he show disgust at or deny being a male. Where things get complicated is in trying to figure out how he perceives his sexuality. While Nakao is open about being in love with Nanba, he never calls himself gay nor do any of the characters around him. I think a huge reason why it’s hard to pin down Nakao’s sexuality is because the author of Hana-Kimi, Hisaya Nakajo, categorically denies Nakao being gay because she mentions at one point that the only gay character in the series is Umeda. In some ways, this can be seen as a progressive representation of queerness, because by leaving the question of whether Nakao is gay or not open keeps him from being labeled. This is especially important because western society typically views any person who engages in homosexual activities or who has homosexual feelings as ‘gay,’ even though a person who has done these things may not perceive themselves to be gay. If anything, because Nakao is in love with Nanba but has never expressed interest in any other men, the most that can be said about his sexuality is that he’s ‘Nanba-sexual.’ However, I unfortuantely do not believe that Hisaya Nakajo left Nakao’s sexuality ambiguous in order to be progressive but rather to avoid controversy. There is a misconception that the Japanese are more accepting of homosexuality because of the popularity of yaoi and the presence of homosexual characters throughout anime and manga, but in reality homosexuality is seen as something that not only should be kept private but also rarely happens in Japan. To a slight degree, we can see that Nakajo had to contend with the problem of homophobia during the publication of the series when she mentions in volume two that many of her readers expressed that they would like Umeda’s character if only he weren’t gay. Ultimately, this suggests to me that she possibly held back from making Nakao ‘officially’ gay because the readers simply wouldn’t have liked it.

Except for the fact that both characters are exceedingly feminine, Senri Nakao and Masao Kirishima don’t have much in common. Although Masao often gets mistaken for a female he doesn’t like it, and when he admits his love for Rei, Mars’ main male protagonist, he gets coldly rejected. Other than Rei, we do not know if Masao has been attracted to any other males nor do we get a good idea of how Masao percieves his own sexuality. At first, Masao seems weak and shy, but over the course of the series Masao is shown to be the cruelest character in the series. Masao claims the reason he ‘loves’ Rei is because Rei attacked a group of guys who were beating Masao up, and he fell in love with Rei’s brutality at that moment. Masao’s obsession with violence becomes clear when we find out that he killed his bully without feeling any remorse, and later he tries to kill Kira, Rei’s girlfriend. At the very end of the series, after Masao stabs Rei (who lives), he claims he doesn’t remember it happening at all and is taken to a mental insitution. The combination of Masao’s queerness and his psychological problems is extremely problematic when we consider the fact that homosexuality was considered a mental illness in the western world up until the 1940s. And although homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder, the stigma of this relationship still persists in the media due to the stereotype of the depraved homosexual.

Overall, it’s interesting to see the limited roles in which queerness exists for males in shojo manga. Both of these characters, along with many other queer male characters that come to mind are effeminate, which is not true for many queer men in real life. And most of the queer and gay characters that I can think of have unfulfilled love lives: very rarely do we see queer characters in shojo manga in successful relationships, and if they are those relationships never take the spotlight. There are many areas to explore in the politics and representation of queer characters, and thus I’d like to return to the topic some time in the future.

Cover-to-Cover: Sailor Moon

Cover-to-Cover: Sailor Moon

Cover-to-Cover is a column where I’ll choose my favorite cover from a particular series. This time, it’s the one and only Sailor Moon! This Cover-to-Cover is going to be a little different than my previous ones because the Sailor Moon manga has had the honor of being released not once, but twice in America. And while I own the original Tokyopop edition of the manga, there are many people who are just getting into the series through the Kodansha release. Not only that, but the re-releases are quite lovely, and I have a fondness for the simple yet elegant covers. Thus, I’ll be choosing my favorite cover from both the original release and Kodansha’s re-release.

Of the original eighteen volume release of the series, one thing that sticks out to me is how many of the covers are group images.  Several volumes are of all the Sailor Senshi, and these covers match the tone of the manga at its most serious moments. But I have to say, of all the covers in this release I probably like the image on volume eight the best. It’s simple but lovely – Usagi is giving the reader a pretty smile while gorgeous pink flowers surround her. I think I’m a sucker for covers that highlight nature and the passing of the seasons, so I guess it makes sense that this would be my cover choice. And while many of the manga covers feature the Senshi, this cover is of Usagi the girl, not Sailor Moon – and I think that’s part of the reason why I like it.

Now, choosing my favorite cover for the Kodansha release of the manga is going to be a lot harder. First of all, I have to say that it’s impressive how much Naoko Takeuchi’s artwork had improved by the time she drew the covers for this edition of the manga. The character’s faces seem rounder, and overall the covers have a softer (dare I say, more feminine?) feel that really suits Sailor Moon. The covers are also more simple, and many of them only highlight one Senshi. At first, I considered choosing volume four’s cover because Jupiter is my favorite Senshi (and because I love her pink and green color combination). But I’m going to cheat and choose a cover that Kodansha has not yet released yet: volume 12. I have a fondness for seeing Neo-Queen Serenity because she’s so regal and I’ve always loved her dress. But what really made me choose this cover is that Neo-Queen Serenity is with Chibi-Usa and Chibi-Chibi, and I’ve always liked seeing pictures of these characters as their future selves. Overall, though, I love all of the covers of the Kodansha release of the manga because of the use of white backgrounds, which allows the image to speak for itself. Sometimes less really is more.

High School Debut: second chances

High School Debut: second chances

Haruna Nagashima has had no luck in love. A tomboy who played softball in junior high, as soon as she entered high school Haruna set her sights on getting a boyfriend. Unsuccessful, Haruna enlists help from Yoh Komiyama, a popular senior to be her dating coach! Yoh finds girls and dating to be a pain, and he is standoffish at first to Haruna. He only agrees to help Haruna on one condition: she can’t fall in love with him. Along the way, Haruna becomes friends with Yoh’s group, including his sister Asami and his best friends Asaoka and Fumi. At first, Haruna falls for Fumi (who is kind but clueless), but when he starts going out with Asami, Haruna gets over him and starts to have feelings for Yoh (of course). Yoh quickly figures out Haruna has feelings for someone, but despite his innate ability to read her like a book, he is unable to tell that the person she has feelings for is himself. When he starts to realize it may be him, he asks her and she denies it, out of fear of losing Yoh as her coach. Yoh realizes he’s disappointed with her answer, but Haruna quickly changes her mind and decides to tell him she loves him, and by volume three, the two have started dating.

Even though I expected the two of them to get together, I had a bit of a problem with Yoh changing his mind so quickly about the possiblity of Haruna having feelings for him, particularly since he had been so adamant about her not falling for him. This is especially because very little had been done to show that Yoh actually has feelings for Haruna too. It seemed as though Haruna’s feelings for Yoh were stronger than his. Luckily, this problem is resolved by volume six when Yoh meets up with his ex-girlfriend, who still loves him. He tells her that he doesn’t care for her anymore and he could never break up with Haruna because “everytime she’s worried about him, she’s not dressed warm enough.” While his ex-girlfriend often only cared about her own feelings, Haruna always takes Yoh into consideration, usually to the point of going overboard. I really liked this answer, and was finally able to pull for the couple.

I have to say, it took me awhile to warm up to this series. I’ve already mentioned how the timing of when I’ve watched and read series has affected my opinions of them. I bought the first four volumes of High School Debut in 2009, at the same time I also got the first few volumes of Love*Com and Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden. I didn’t care for High School Debut as much as these other series and found it be kind of average, so I gave up on it. It wasn’t until about a year later when I read B.O.D.Y that I learned what the word ‘average’ really means, and this prompted me to give High School Debut a second chance. I bought volumes five and six, and after rethinking things I really appreciated how the series sometimes twists shojo clichés, and I also like how cheerful Haruna is. I think the first scene that really endeared me to her character is right after she and Yoh start dating and she begins to be bullied. Like other shojo heroines in this predicament, she doesn’t tell her boyfriend what’s going on, and instead decides to endure it. However, when a group of girls confronts her about breaking up with Yoh because she doesn’t deserve him, she flat out says no, chooses to fight them all and wins. I know fighting girls over a guy isn’t exactly feminist, but I like my heroines spunky, so I appreciated that Haruna isn’t weak or passive.

Overall, I really like High School Debut. Later volumes deal with the possiblity of a love triangle between Haruna, Yoh and Asaoka, but I felt it was handled differently than in most series because Asaoka was so teasing about his affections for Haruna since he’d constantly dangle his feelings for her in Yoh’s face then take his feelings back (while Haruna remained clueless for the most part). And while not every storyline is a winner (I really didn’t care for the part when Leona, Haruna’s former softball rival, attempts to ruin Haruna’s ‘happy’ high school experience by trying to tear her and Yoh apart), I think the characters are fun enough that I’m glad I gave this series a second chance, and I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for a good shojo romantic-comedy.

Here comes the rain again…

Here comes the rain again…

I’ve noticed that many shojo series, many important events occur in the rain. Whether the main couple gets some alone time and finally reveal their feelings, or they have their first steamy kiss, chances are the rain will be pouring – with no umbrella in sight. While the presence of rain in a scene is a sure way to add drama, in real life you may want to pour emotions somewhere inside in order to avoid catching a cold. And since rain scenes tend to be major events, many of the moments discussed below are spoilers, so please keep this in mind before reading. Here are some of the most iconic scenes that take place in (or because of) the rain:

Itazura na Kiss: This may be one of the most famous rain scenes in manga, and is so loved by fans of the series that it is simply known as ‘the rain scene.’ After Naoki decides to go through with an arranged marriage to save his father’s struggling business, Kotoko becomes depressed and starts dating Kinnosuke, who has always had a crush on her, in order to forget him. When Naoki finds out that Kinnosuke proposed to her, he decides to wait for her on her way home out in the rain. When he asks if she’s in love with Kinnosuke, Naoki gets so angry that he yells at her and tells her that he’s the only one she loves. She says he’s right but it’s useless because he doesn’t love her – then he kisses her and tells her not to ever say she loves another man. They hug, then rush home in the rain so he can ask her father for her hand in marriage. But as much as I love this scene, I have to say I think I like Naoki’s proposal immediately afterwards a little bit better, because it’s one of his few sweet moments.

Tsukasa standing in the rain after Tsukushi breaks up with him *sniffle*

Boys Over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango): Along with Itazura na Kiss’, this is probably one of the most loved rain scenes in shojo manga, as well as one of the saddest. In volume 21, after Tsukasa’s mother Kaede threatens to have Tsukushi’s best friends fathers fired, Tsukushi waits for hours in the rain to break up with him. When she tells him about his mother’s machinations, Tsukushi stops Tsukasa from confronting his mother by telling him that her leaving is her decision. He then asks if she has ever looked beyond his mother and his rich upbringing and instead looked at him as just a man. Although she thinks to herself that she’s seen the real him many times and images of Tsukasa flash through her mind, she tells him that if she loved him she wouldn’t be leaving him. Only after walking away from him can we see the tears pouring down her face, and she finally admits to herself that “there were many times…many, many times…she thought she loved Tsukasa.” She admits that she could only break things off with him in the rain at nighttime because the surroundings would hide the fact that she lied to him. I love the question Tsukasa asks her because for such a long time in the series, Tsukushi was unable to reconcile her feelings for him with his rich lifestyle yet this scene shows that she loves him despite this. This was the first moment in the series to make me cry, and one of my many favorite scenes between the couple.

Dengeki Daisy: In volume three when Teru returns from a vacation because of a typhoon, Kurosaki invites her to his house to make curry for him. However, he doesn’t have rice and goes out in the typhoon to get some. Because Kurosaki left his window open, the typhoon makes a mess of Kurosaki’s room and knocks over a music box Teru had given to Daisy, a hacker who has been protecting her from the shadows. The music box, which plays the song “Time After Time” lures Teru into Kurosaki’s room for the first time, and makes her realize that Kurosaki is Daisy.  When Kurosaki returns home drenched, a strike of lightning causes a power shortage, and leads to a tender moment where they hug and Teru cries in his arms because deep in her heart, she knew he was Daisy all along. I really like this scene not only because I’m fond of this couple, but also because I was glad that the revelation that Kurosaki was Daisy wasn’t dragged out for too long. I am especially fond of the fact that Teru wanted him to be Daisy because she already loved him.

His and Her Circumstances (Kare Kano): There are a few times rain leads to important developments in the main couple’s relationship in this series, but the most important is probably when Arima and Yukino have their first kiss. Although they had been dating for awhile, Arima and Yukino hadn’t managed to kiss each other yet and were still pretty insecure about their relationship. When it starts raining after school one day, they decide to hide out from the rain in the school building, which eventually leads to a conversation where Yukino tells Arima she’s glad she can depend on her. This causes him to try to kiss her, but the loud crash of thunder stops him before he can. However, after cooling off a bit they continue their conversation, and Yukino mentions that she wants to be the person Arima can depend the most on as well. This time they finally kiss, and this sweet moment is all thanks to the rain.

So what do you guys think? Do you have a favorite rain scene I haven’t mentioned, or do you find rain scenes to be cliché?