All I want for Christmas is you

All I want for Christmas is you

In the world of shojo manga, Christmas can only mean one thing: romance! Whether a couple goes on a special Christmas Eve date, or the heroine gets a glimpse of her crush at a Christmas party, high emotions are a given during the holiday season. Let’s see how Christmas is celebrated…

Kimi ni Todoke - ChristmasKimi ni Todoke style!

Our introverted heroine Sawako is invited to a Christmas party with her friends Yano and Chizu, as well as her crush Kazehaya. Yet just as Sawako tries to tell her parents about the party, they become emotional because Sawako was supposed to be born on Christmas, and she decides not to go. On Christmas Eve, Sawako’s dad mistakes a hat she knitted for Kazehaya as his Christmas gift. Yet not all hope is lost: when Kazehaya calls her from the party, Sawako’s parents realize she wants to be with her friends and give her their Christmas present: a cellphone. Sawako makes it to the party just as it’s ending, where she and Kazehaya exchange gifts.

Gifts exchanged: Kazehaya gives Sawako a pretty cellphone strap, a perfect present for her new phone. Sawako ends up giving Kazehaya her dad’s gift – a belly warmer! Even though Sawako is embarassed, Kazehaya is elated. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

  • Lovely Complex style!

Otani, in a mad rush to cram for his college entrance exams, begins seeing his girlfriend Risa less and less. When Risa’s coworker starts developing feelings for her, a jealous Otani breaks things off with Risa, who is left heartbroken. At a Christmas party with her coworkers, Risa realizes she can’t enjoy herself without Otani, and she decides to go to his house. But before she can get there she bumps into Otani, who also ran to see her because he can’t concentrate on his studies. The two make up, and celebrate with a Christmas kiss.

Gifts exchanged: Neither had time to shop for gifts, but Risa receives the best present she could have ever asked for – Otani tells her he loves her more than he could have ever realized. All together now: awwww.

  • Itazura na Kiss style!

Even though the Irie family is going to a fancy Christmas party at a hotel, Kotoko decides to spend Christmas with her two best friends, whose boyfriends are both busy on the day. But at the last minute both her friends cancel, and Kotoko is all alone on Christmas Eve. However, Kotoko’s crush Naoki happens to see Kotoko’s friend and realizes she must be home alone, and he returns to spend the holiday alone with her (with fried chicken and a cake).

Gifts exchanged: Kotoko gives Naoki a watch, but he doesn’t get her anything. That’s alright with her though – she got to spend Christmas with her beloved Naoki!

  • High School Debut style!

In her typical gung-ho attitude, Haruna decides to plan the perfect Christmas date with her new boyfriend Yoh. They go to Santa-land (which is full of kids) then to a Christmas fair (which is full of old people), but they still have fun all the same. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when they go to dinner: the staff, who are pissed about having to work on Christmas Eve, play a game with the customers to show whether they have kissed anyone or not. Haruna’s answer shows she hasn’t but Yoh’s shows that he has, and Haruna runs away, embarassed. But when Yoh catches up to her they kiss, and he promises never to kiss another girl again.

Gifts exchanged: Haruna gives Yoh a wallet she spotted him eyeing, while Yoh gives Haruna a scarf because she’s always running around in the cold with clothes that are too thin. Both gifts are extremely considerate, but I have to say Haruna was probably happier with the kiss, considering the fact that she could barely look at or speak to Yoh without freaking out and blushing afterwards.

Gakuen Alice - Christmas partyGakuen Alice style!

As in many other shojo manga, Alice Academy hosts a Christmas party where the girls where cute Santa costumes. Mikan tries to make Yoichi, a little boy close to class-troublemaker Natsume, happy by having Bear (who can walk and gets quite grumpy) play with him. Luka, Natsume’s best friend, thanks Mikan for making Yoichi happy by kissing her on the cheek. At first Mikan is shocked but that doesn’t last for long: when she and Natsume dance they end up falling and accidentally kissing each other in front of the whole school! Mikan freaks out and leaves the party, only to end up arguing with Natsume that it wasn’t a ‘real kiss’ by saying their lips barely touched. Natsume puts an end to the argument by kissing her for real, and the Christmas party comes to an end.

Gifts exchanged: Three kisses. I’m starting to sense a theme here…

Christmas in Japan may be more about romance than the typically family-oriented holiday is here in the west, but the true spirit of Christmas is still retained. As these shojo Christmas stories show, it’s not what you get for Christmas that matters most – it’s who you spend it with.

Unfinished business

Unfinished business

When Shojo Beat magazine finished, for a long time I had trouble deciding what to read. I began scouring blogs for reviews of shojo manga that had recently been released, trying to find series that appealed to me. When CMX and Tokyopop went out of business, I found out about many shojo series that sounded interesting yet faced just one large problem: they were unfinished. I couldn’t bring myself to start a manga I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish, yet I’m still curious about several series that have been left hanging. Narutaki over at Reverse Thieves also wrote a post about shojo series that have sadly been left incomplete, so I thought I’d share my picks as well. 

  • Love Attack!  This series is about a rebellious girl named Chiemi who’s on the verge of getting expelled unless she can reform the school delinquent, which eventually blossoms into a love story.  It’s a refreshing change from the typical ‘bad boy/good girl’ dynamic in most shojo, and I feel like this is a manga I’d really enjoy – I seem to have a thing for male love interests who are reformed delinquents (Kodocha and Boys Over Flowers, anyone?). But since Tokyopop only released the first six volumes of the manga, which is still running in Japan, I’d hate to fall in love with a series I won’t ever be able to finish.
  • I Hate You More Than Anyone! This series sounds pretty standard – girl starts to fall for a guy who her best friend also has feelings for – but I’ve never read a manga by Banri Hidaka, and I’d love for this series to be my first. I’ve heard many great things about Hidaka, who knows how to insert silliness into her manga, and the fact that the protagonist’s five siblings play a role in the series sounds fun as well. However, the currently-running manga series, which is up to volume 13 in Japan, was only up to volume nine when CMX shut down.
  • Venus in Love. Although the main premise behind this series is a love triangle, Venus in Love seems like it’s pretty different from the rest of the shojo crowd because a). it’s set in college, and b). the female protagonist’s crush can’t decide if he likes guys or girls! So rather than having two guys fighting each other for the attention of the main female character, the heroine in Venus in Love actually has to compete with another guy for her guy’s attention. CMX released eight volumes of this series before they went out of business, leaving the last four volumes  hanging. What’s interesting is that completing this series is actually possible – the manga was fully released in Australia by Madman under the title Love for Venus – but is it worth it to try to track down the last four volumes of the series?
  • Two Flowers for the Dragon. Even though I tend to go for slice-of-life shojo, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series. The female protagonist, Shakuya, is the heir to a dragon clan, and prior to the series’ start she is betrothed to a guy who disappears. At the manga’s start, he returns only after it’s been arranged for her to marry someone else. And while I’m a little afraid of the premise of Shakuya turning into an actual dragon, I love that who she will marry is determined by the flower tattoos on her body, which grow larger as her affection for each guy increases. But unfortunately, the last volume had yet to be released when CMX shut down. The last volume.
  • Gakuen Alice. This series is undoubtedly one of the most popular that was left hanging in the aftermath of Tokyopop’s demise. I’ve mentioned before that I was reluctant to get into Gakuen Alice because I tend not to be interested in series that have fantasy-elements but are otherwise realistic, but another reason I didn’t want to pursue this series was because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it. However, I recently read volume one and really enjoyed it, which has only made me sadder that the series won’t be completed in America. At least Tokyopop was able to release sixteen volumes of the (still-running) series, and should any other company consider licensing the series they’d have the opportunity to pick up where Tokyopop left off.

The chances of any of these manga being license-rescued are slim-to-none because most of them were pretty niche in the first place, although I think  Gakuen Alice would do well if another company grabbed it (coughVizcough). Even though I think all of these series are interesting, I’m still on the fence about trying any of them out. It’s hard to fall for a series you know you won’t ever be able to (legally) read the end of. Do you guys also refrain from pursuing series you know you won’t be able to finish? Or does being unable to finish a series simply not matter to you?