I’m not much of a shojo/romance kind of gal. My first forays into manga was through the Shonen Jump action titles. When my Animerica subscription got converted (after two issues) to Shojo Beat, I was sure there wasn’t going to be anything in there for me. Almost 2 years later, I’ve changed my tune, but that’s because shojo isn’t afraid to have romantic leads with bite! (And I don’t mean vampires…)
In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some shojo manga where the leads are anything but romantic!
Beauty Pop – Viz Media – Kiri Koshiba is one of the best shojo leads I’ve ever seen! She is practically the opposite of everything you expect a shojo lead to be; low-keyed, lazy, uninterested in boys or fashion, and sarcastic. I love how sarcastic she can be. I am very much a fan of dry humor, and Kiri is the master of it, even though it’s not always intentional humor. And she has a big, fat cat. I’m a sucker for cats in manga. Same for dragons.
Backstage Prince – Viz Media – It’s a the boy this time, as Ryusei, the kabuki actor is a misanthrope. He practically hates everyone but his cat, Mr. Ken. A man after my own heart! Mr. Ken has other ideas though, as he brings Ryusei and Akari, a girl that goes to the same school as Ryusei, together. Ryusei is cold and demanding to everyone else, but in private moments with Mr. Ken and later Akari, he starts to show a more tender side. But he never loses his scowl! His is a personality that has to grow on you, but inevitably does by the end of this short series. And the cat. Can’t forget the cat.
Yurara – Viz Media – We’ve got two good leads with that cool, indifferent feel to them, and not surprisingly, they are attracted to each other. Yurara, the guardian spirit is here to do a job and won’t take gruff (or advances) from anyone, especially not Mei. Yako, the cool, calculating friend of the jovial Mei shows no interest in either Yurara until the third volume where Guardian Yurara and Yako definitely feel a strong attraction. Yako takes it as he takes everything; with a cool indifference. It really make for a different love triangle/polygon.
Ceres, Celestial Legend – Viz Media – This was the first shojo-like series I ever read. Aya is the type of lead I prefer; strong willed and determined. She know what she needs to do, and doesn’t waffle about it constantly. She knows she loves Toya, despite his mission to capture her and Ceres. I also liked Ceres. She wasn’t going to take anything from anyone, not even her descendent and host! These two strong leads made this series a read I really enjoyed.
Wild Ones – Viz Media – Even though this series got some rough reviews, I still enjoyed it because of the lead, Sachie. She is a girl with strong beliefs and is willing to speak her mind, no matter what the consequences. She knows what she wants to do, and won’t be held back from doing it. I really like her rebellious nature against the traditional Yakuza household she’s been brought into. Just like her mother, it seems. Rakuto, her protector and other lead, is also an enigma. Even though that can be a cliche, this reasons aren’t for anything else but survival. He can’t fall in love with the Boss’ granddaughter. It makes the interaction between them more lively and different than you usually get in shojo.
A sub-genre in shojo that I’m starting to like is called the Neo Romances. These are stories based on computer dating games. It sounds really dumb, I know, but the mangaka that have worked on them have made the manga into enjoyable stories. I guess maybe because all the guys don’t just fall for the girl lead. One or two might, but some of them are just content to be friends, and that’s just fine with me too.
La Corda d’Oro – Viz Media – The first of these stories to be brought over, features Kahoko Hino, an ordinary girl that gets sucked into the musical concourse at her school, just because she can see the music fairy that resides there. Kahoko is given a magical violin so she can participate, and five hot guys competing against her. Kahoko isn’t preoccupied with the guys, but with participating and being found out to be a fraud, since she knows next to nothing about music. It also makes for interesting interactions that still get her into some comprising, and mostly amusing situations.
Haruka ~Beyond the Stream of Time~ – Viz Media – This series just started a few months ago in Shojo Beat and will have it’s first volume out soon. Akane is sucked into the past by a demon along with her two friends Tenma and Shimon. She is the Priestess of the Dragon God, and is to be protected by the Hachiyou, eight guardians who are also hot guys, from Akram, the hot demon who wants to control Akane. As with La Corda, the guys aren’t all interested in Akane as a love interest, but also as the priestess, and holder of great power.
So grab that heart-shaped box of chocolate, and flop down on the couch for some romance that isn’t going to send you into a diabetic coma.