Looking back at the anime I watched and manga I read in 2011, one thing becomes apparent to me: I need to expand my horizons. I love romantic-comedy and slice-of-life shojo, but I rarely bother with other types of shojo anime and manga. The only magical girl anime I’ve watched have been Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura and Prétear, and this year I added Magic Knight Rayearth to the list. I’m fine with all-out fantasy series such as Fushigi Yugi and The Story of Saiunkoku, but for some reason I tend to get turned off when a series that is in a realistic setting or has a ‘slice-of-life’ tone has unrealistic or supernatural elements. This has definitely caused me to miss out on series that are highly acclaimed: Shugo Chara! has always intrigued me – I love the art, especially the character design of Amu, the protagonist. I’ve read several positive reviews of the manga, but the whole thing about eggs that hatch into guardian characters has pushed me away from this sweet story of tweendom. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Please Save My Earth manga but its sci-fi premise scared me off despite its intriguing tale of reincarnated lovers. And anime-wise, I’ve always been curious about Gakuen Alice, which has been compared to my favorite series Kodocha because both series are zany and have elementary-school aged protagonists. But the fact that the story is set in Alice Academy, a school for students who have magical powers, makes me wary of giving Gakuen Alice a chance.
But it’s not just mystical undertones that have influenced my decisions not to get into certain series – there have been several series I thought had really interesting premises yet didn’t get into because they were Korean. The main title that comes to mind is Goong, a story in which monarchy is in charge of present-day Korea, and the prince is forced into an arranged marriage. I really like stories about political marriages, and it seems like Goong is the cream of the crop, but the simple fact that it is a Korean manhwa has kept me from reading it. I think it may be because I’m unsure of how different manhwa are (or aren’t) from manga that I haven’t tried any out yet. Or it could be that I’m afraid of opening a can of worms by discovering how many Korean titles I’d love to read and further adding to my wallet’s misery. I think my reluctance to try new genres is because I don’t like dropping series: I dread having to debate whether I should or shouldn’t continue an anime or a manga once I’ve found myself lukewarm to it, and I hate having incomplete series on my shelf. But in limiting myself, I’m sure I’m missing out on great series that I would really enjoy. So for 2012, I would like to start looking beyond my preconceived notions and step out of my comfort zone to try different types of anime and manga – especially within the realm of shojo.