The golden shojo rule

The golden shojo rule

Peach Girl: Kairi steals Momo’s first kiss.

For most fans of shojo manga, it becomes obvious that there is a golden rule:  the guy the main female character has her first kiss with is the person she’ll end up with. Whether the girl’s first kiss is accidental, forced, or (in extremely rare circumstances) consensual, eventually the heroine will start to warm up to the person who stole her lips, oftentimes because of the kiss. The fact that the main female character must always end up with the guy who stole her lips’ virginity is interesting because it shows how big of a deal first kisses are for teenage girls – not just in shojo manga, but in real-life Japanese society. Some fans may argue that because so many shojo series pair the first people to kiss each other, it makes it obvious who will end up together, which is particularly bothersome in series that center on a love triangle. Series such as Boys Over Flowers, Marmalade Boy, and Sand Chronicles all abide by the ‘first kiss’ rule.  This rule even holds true in series where the main female character originally has feelings for someone other than the person she shares her first kiss with. For example, in Peach Girl, Momo has had a crush on Toji since junior high and worries what he will think of her when rumors that she has kissed playboy Kairi start to spread. When she confronts Kairi about the rumors, Kairi decides to make the rumor true by stealing her first kiss, which she repays him for by kicking him in the groin. But over the course of the series when outside influences (mainly Momo’s frenemy Sae) tear apart her relationship with Toji, Kairi becomes Momo’s shoulder to cry on, and at the end of the series she chooses him. Yet while I’ve found that the majority of the time the first kiss rule is upheld, this rule, like all others, was meant to be broken.

In the opening scene of Red River, Yuri gets kissed by a boy she has a crush on named Satoshi, but soon after strange things start happening to her whenever she’s around water. While in the bath, Yuri gets pulled into Anatolia during the year 1500 B.C, where she becomes the concubine to Prince Kail Mursili. Yuri tries not to allow herself to fall for Kail because she knows she’s from a different world, but eventually she is able to reconcile her feelings for him, and Satoshi is long forgotten. Another series that seems to subvert the golden shojo rule is Tail of the Moon. Although I haven’t finished Tail of the Moon yet, at the beginning of the series clumsy ninja-in-training Usagi is told by her grandfather that she will marry Hanzo, a handsome ninja from another tribe. This sparks jealousy from Usagi’s childhood friend Goemon, who was told from the time Usagi was born that he would one day marry her, and it doesn’t take long for him to steal a kiss from her. However, it’s very obvious over the course of the series that Usagi’s heart is set on Hanzo, and he begins to be charmed by her cheerfulness, which makes it seem pretty clear that Goemon and Usagi won’t end up together.

Dengeki Daisy: creepy Akira steals Teru’s first kiss. Let’s just hope she doesn’t end up with him.

The first kiss rule is also played with in interesting ways. Early on in Ouran High School Host Club, the host club attend a party where a lucky girl will be named queen of the dance and receive a kiss on the cheek from a member of the host club. After helping a female student named Ayano become closer to her crush, the host club name her queen of the party, and she chooses Haruhi to kiss her. However, Hikaru and Kaoru’s schemes cause Haruhi to slip and she accidentally kisses Ayano on the lips, thus leading to her first kiss being with a girl! Dengeki Daisy has an interesting case – because whether it adheres to the golden shojo rule or not all depends on a person’s definition of a ‘kiss.’ In volume six of the manga, Teru fights off an enemy who is after a cell phone that connects her to the mysterious hacker Daisy. Kurosaki (who is Daisy himself) rescues Teru from drowning and is forced to give her CPR. However, in volume seven Teru comes across the creepy villain Akira, who seems to take pleasure in making Teru uncomfortable. He steals Teru’s first kiss, which makes Kurosaki more upset than Teru herself. When Teru seeks Daisy’s comfort, he is unable to hide his attraction to Teru and tells her that finding out she was kissed by someone else makes him want to go give her a kiss that would make her forget about Akira’s “clumsy attempt at kissing in an instant.”  So while Akira may have officially been Teru’s first kiss, technically Kurosaki did get to have a taste of Teru’s lips before Akira, thus bringing an intriguing twist on the golden rule. Of course, there are other shojo series that are more realistic and focus on older characters such as Nana, and thus they inevitably avoid many shojo clichés including the golden shojo rule. Can you guys think of any other series where the first kiss rule was subverted?


25 thoughts on “The golden shojo rule

  1. Very interesting! I haven’t quite read enough shoujo to have noticed this trend.
    One subversion I’m not entirely sure on may be in Dazzle. It’s been a while, but I think Baroqueheat (the lighthearted bad boy) kissed Rahzel early on in the series (mainly just to rattle Alzeid, the moody bishie lead). And I even seem to recall Baroqueheat then proceeding to kiss Alzeid afterward! (Or maybe I’m adding that in myself…

    1. Thank you! I actually have never read Dazzle, so I’m happy to hear about more series that don’t follow this particular shojo manga convention. Although I’m not sure that Dazzle is a shojo manga, but even so I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few shonen series follow this ‘golden rule’ as well.

  2. There’s also the first boy seen rule I’ve come across. A lot of shoujo will establish that main character has a unfortunate friend or mentor that’s known her for many years before the plot started. But usually, the first boy the audience sees is the soul mate of the main character. Maybe I should clear that up a bit and say the first male with sort of a large and detailed spread on a page is the lover.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! That’s definitely a golden rule in shojo as well, and it definitely intersects with the first kiss rule. I can think of more series that break the first boy rule than ones the break the first kiss rule, though – including Peach Girl.

  3. Very interesting article about the shojo kissing couples rules. (^ . ^) ♡ I love the fact that most of the couples in manga/anime eventually end up together after their first kiss and soon enough they get married, have children and live happily ever after. My favourite manga couples are Mamoru&Usagi; Tamahome&Miaka; Tsukasa&Tsukushi; Syaoran& Sakura.

    1. Thank you! There are definitely more happily-ever-afters than sad endings in anime and manga, but they tend to be alluded to more often than they are actually shown. However, I can definitely think of many series where there is a long time between the couple’s first kiss and them actually getting together. And I love to know who people’s favorite couples are – I think those are all great couples, especially Tsukushi and Tsukasa. 🙂

  4. I’ve got a few examples:
    I’m pretty sure in Hana no Kishi the obsessive student president steals Ran’s first kiss, which really unnerves her because it makes her realize that he knows she’s a girl. This also prompts Ibara to get pretty damn pissed. While the ending of the series is pretty ambiguous, I think it’s safe to say that she does not end up with the student president as his goal was always her brother.

    Please Save My Earth is a lot like the Dengeki Daisy example. Rin spits used gum into Alice’s mouth (and this sort of thing is usually seen as an indirect kiss), but Alice gets kissed by Jinpachi for the first time. This is likewise echoed with Mokuren. Gyokuran kisses her first, but she ends up in a relationship with Shion (although her first kiss was neither of them). It also applies to Issei, who kisses Jinpachi, but doesn’t end up with him. I think it’s important to note that this manga (perhaps because it was written in the late 80s to early 90s) didn’t really emphasize the “first kiss” deal either.

    Heart no Kuni no Alice: Wonderful Wonder World also subverts this as Peter steals Alice’s first kiss (and thereby forcing her to stay in Wonderland) but she doesn’t end up with him. (Which I personally think is a shame because I really grew to love Peter).

    Planet Ladder Kaguya is given water from Gold via mouth to mouth and blushes afterwards exclaiming it was her first kiss but she ends up with someone else at the end.

    Ceres: Celestial Lengend: I’m pretty sure it was Yuhi who kissed Aya first to get her to turn back and she was pretty angry with him because it was her first kiss. She ends up with Toya though.

    That’s all I can remember off the top of my mind. ^__^

    1. So many examples! Thank you for this – I skimmed this list but I have to admit I skipped right over your descriptions of what happens in Ceres and Please Save My Earth because I eventually want to read these series and save myself from spoilers! I remember always seeing Planet Ladder in a bookstore and thinking it looks interesting – how is it?

      1. Ah, sorry. I tried to keep it as ambiguous as possible (and certain couples are established pretty early on too, like 1 of them is established right in volume 1 and the majority of the “recollection” plot focuses on what went on between them). I guess my break down does have a few mild spoilers. D: I didn’t know you hadn’t read Ceres yet. ^__^;;; Truthfully, I haven’t finished the manga either, but I did watch the anime and the canon couple is pretty obvious right from the start given how Watase sets up her romances. xD It’s also been a while so I not 100% if the other guy kissed Aya first or not. Thinking about it now, I’m not so certain anymore. I remember her being pissed off and depressed, but I’m not sure if it was because it was her first kiss now. D:

        As for Planet Ladder, I can’t recommend it because while it’s pretty good up to volume 5, it nose dives right after that. I’m guessing the manga was going to get cancelled and the author wanted to warp up loose ends, but it just doesn’t work because it was set up as a 20+ volume epic, so cramming everything into 2 volumes just messed up the story and atmosphere. 😦

  5. Great post! The only one that ever stuck out in my mind when it comes to breaking the traditional “first kiss” rule in manga was Ouran as you have mentioned. I thought it was unexpected in general when Haruhi’s first kiss was with a girl. You would think at some point Tamaki would be the guy to give her the first kiss, but I loved what Bisco Hatori did with this common shojo cliche.

    1. It’s funny; many people who love Ouran don’t normally read shojo manga, but I think a large part of Ouran‘s appeal for me is the way it parodies and deconstructs common shojo conventions. What I also loved about Haruhi’s first kiss being with a girl is that no one makes a big deal about it, and it’s very appropriate for Haruhi’s character because she doesn’t care about things like gender.

      1. I will agree with that sentiment xD
        When Ouran first came out it was refreshing in that it subverted the shoujo troupes quite effectively, and it was a mainstay of one of my closely followed series. I guess I lost interest in it sometime in the 60-ish chapter, when it fell off my radar. People mentioning the series again, and the fact that the series is now complete is making want to pick it up again.

        As for the ‘first kiss’ deal, I’ve read enough in the past to notice it, but I wouldn’t be knowledgeable to be able to name out examples! It means I have to delved myself back into the manga world 😀

      2. Thank you for commenting! I think the people who appreciate Ouran the most are the ones who realize how much it plays with the ‘rules’ found in shojo manga. I haven’t completed the manga yet either, but like you the fact that it is now finished has made me want to read it. As for delving yourself back into the manga-world, I can understand why that might be scary – manga is addicting!

  6. Nice post. Is it a subversion if the decision is (mutually as far as I could tell) made before the first kiss? The example I’m thinking of is Hanasaku Iroha which I just finished watching.

    1. Hmm…I suppose it’s unique because that doesn’t typically happen, but I’m not sure I would go as far as to say it’s a subversion to the first kiss rule because the first couple to kiss each other still ends up together (and because the kiss is an actual kiss).

  7. Although Skip Beat isn’t completed yet, I find it pretty obvious that Kyoko will end up with Ren. It think it’s gonna break the Golden rule since Sho stole Kyoko’s first kiss.

    1. I would expect Skip Beat! to break the first kiss rule – after all, not much about that series is ordinary. Although it also makes sense because romance has never been the primary focus of the series.

  8. I’m expecting Chihayafuru to break the first kiss rule too…

    …but anything can happen at this point…

    She could still end up with either boy.

    (please let it be Arata…)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s