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.

“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.’

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.

How to get your guy, shojo-style

How to get your guy, shojo-style

Many shojo anime and manga feature heartrending love stories, some of which are painfully realistic and others that put any Fabio-clad romance novel to shame. I have compiled a list of great romantic advice from some of the most popular shojo series, which will help you capture the heart of the man of your dreams. With a lot of determination and a little luck, these tips should help you get any man you desire!

  • Blackmail him: Shojo heroines often have to contend with guys who are way too cold and smart for their own good, so if the girl wants to bring him down and make him realize she’s his perfect match, she’s gonna have to fight dirty. Just look at Sana’s experience in Kodocha – when bad boy Akito started causing trouble in their sixth grade classroom, Sana decided to take his ‘monkey reign’ down by threatening him with a picture of him with his pants down. It didn’t take very long for Akito to fall for her (though that whole putting his family back together thing may have helped). Kotoko in Itazura na Kiss also used this tactic in volume two, when her heartless crush Naoki made fun of her stupidity at their class’ graduation party, and she got revenge by showing off baby pictures of him dressed up as a girl. Oh sure, Naoki yelled at her for doing it, but his next reaction was to kiss her, so not only will blackmail get you your desired results – you’ll get them fast!  And for any guys looking to shojo manga for advice to help improve your love life, blackmail works just as well when guys use it on their girls, such as in His and Her Circumstances when Arima got Yukino to do all of his schoolwork when he found out that her ‘perfect student’ image was an act, while in the first volume of Hot Gimmick, Ryoki manipulates Hatsumi into becoming his slave when he sees her buying a pregnancy test for her younger sister.
  • Stalk him:Don’t believe people when they say ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ – in a battle as complex as love, you have to be at the front line at all times. At the beginning of Peach Girl, Momo mentions that she chose which high school to attend because of her crush – talent and career goals be damned. But the most extreme example has to be Mizuki from Hana-Kimi: she moved all the way to Japan, pretended to be a boy and enrolled in an all-boys school just to be near Sano, the high-jumper she’d admired for so long. Sano falls for her cheerful stubborness, but I have a feeling the fact that Mizuki was around him 24/7 didn’t hurt, either. It’s even better if you manage to move in with him like Miki does in Marmalade Boy (although that was her parents fault). It won’t take him too long to decide he loves you, even if he does see you without your make-up on – because having a live-in girlfriend saves time. 
  • Sponge off of him: If you do manage to get into the same school as the object of your affections, chances are the tuition will be so high Donald Trump would weep. Take advantage of the perks of not being in the Top 1 percent by having your guy spoil you! Your guy will be so fascinated by your strange ways (like making bento lunches and taking out the garbage) that every chance he gets he’ll shower you with lavish gifts and vacations, like Tamaki does for Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club. Of course, you can’t expect or ask him to be your sugar-daddy – when he gives you that necklace that’s worth more than the entire McDonalds franchise, promptly scold him for spending so much money on you. Because then he’ll know you’re not with him for the money, which will make him love you more and he’ll buy you even more stuff. But if you’re as brazen as Ran from Super Gals!, you won’t need to hide your intentions to mooch off your man: Ran has every guy in Shibuya lining up to buy her everything from takoyaki to limited edition watches so they can be her guy, but it’ll take more than that to win her heart. Take notes ladies, take notes.
  • Beat the crap out of him: Guys in shojo manga tend to have girls fawning over them all of the time, so the best way to stand out is to make it clear that you aren’t interested in him at all with a nice slap and he’ll be head-over-heels in no time. The best example of this occurs in Boys Over Flowers, when Tsukushi stands up to rich bully Tsukasa by giving him a hard kick to the face, and it doesn’t take long for him to fall for her. Similarly, in the first volume of B.O.D.Y, when Ryoko finds out Ryunosuke works at a host club and he comes onto her, she gives him a swift punch to the face. This intrigues him so much he decides that he wants to win her heart. Once your guy sees how spunky you are he’ll do anything to make you his – whether you want him or not!
  • Cheating works.

    Cheat on him: What better way to get your man’s attention than to show him he’s got competition? Shojo gals tend to have a spare guy or two interested in them, so they may as well put them to good use! Kotoko does this twice in Itazura na Kiss – she goes on several dates with nice-guy Taketo in places where Naoki can see her in order to make him jealous, and later on in the series when Kotoko believes she’s lost Naoki for good, she decides to accept her hopeless suitor Kin-chan’s marriage proposal, prompting Naoki to confess his feelings for her. Another example occurs in High School Debut volume five – when Haruna tries to hook up her friends Mami and Asaoka, her boyfriend Yoh gets annoyed when Haruna constantly compliments Asaoka, and the two end up in a fight. In order to get Yoh to apologize, Asaoka decides to take Haruna out on a date in the hopes that Yoh will follow them and admit his jealousy (Haruna gets kind of swept up into his plan). After going to dinner and a movie, Asaoka decides to up the ante by telling Haruna she should cheat on Yoh with him and tries to kiss her. This finally lures Yoh out and the two make up, and Haruna begins to realize how much Yoh cares about her. This tactic works so well that not only do you and your guy not need to be an official couple – you don’t even have to cheat on purpose! For example, when Fuji forces a kiss on Ann in Sand Chronicles, her boyfriend Daigo blames himself and the two grow closer. So anytime you find yourself doubting your guy’s love, a little tryst on the side should work wonders.

So there you have it! With these tips in hand, you’ll be able to get the man of your dreams in no time! And if you’re lucky, he’ll be a seemingly mean pretty boy who is sweet only around you and happens to heir to a multibillion dollar company – just like every shojo leading man out there!

*Results not guaranteed. Actually, some of these could land you in jail. Please proceed with caution if you choose to attempt any of these. You have been warned.