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The Boys of Shojo Manga
By Shaenon K. Garrity
Thursday April 24, 2008 11:00:00 am
Our columnists are independent writers who choose subjects and write without editorial input from comiXology. The opinions expressed are the columnist's, and do not represent the opinion of comiXology.
The Delinquent
Hailing from the wrong side of the tracks, he's the rebel girls defy their parents to be with—and secretly want to be, since he gets to live the exciting life a nice girl could never admit to even dreaming about. He cuts class, attracts the ire of authority figures, and may even (gasp!) belong to a motorcycle club. Bleached hair? You bet. He's monosyllabic, not too good at expressing his feelings, and given to irrational tantrums. But the heroine can tell that he's really a sensitive soul who Just Needs Someone To Love Him, and a glimpse of the tough guy manfully choking back a tear or secretly caring for a puppy confirms her belief.
Signature Romantic Gestures: Standing up to the heroine's parents; grabbing the heroine roughly and yanking her to his side; beating up guys on her behalf.
In Real Life He'd Be: Either a drunken redneck in a wifebeater and mullet, or the guy you date for three weeks in high school who makes you sit on an unwashed mattress while he picks out guitar chords all evening.

The Tortured Genius
The heroine's parents approve of this one. He's a high-IQ achiever on the fast track to Tokyo University, and is often a Wealthy Playboy to boot. But his heart is as tiny as his brain is huge. An arrogant smartass, he delights in making the heroine feel stupid and insignificant. That doesn't mean he doesn't want to date her, of course; his strategy is to belittle, manipulate, and intellectually bulldoze her into falling in love with him. And it works, especially once the heroine realizes that he's hurting inside and Just Needs Someone To Love Him. Extremely common in the works of Miki Aihara.
Signature Romantic Gestures: Intellectually abusing the heroine; emotionally abusing the heroine; physically abusing the heroine; helping her study.
In Real Life He'd Be: Exactly the same, but in his forties.

The Wealthy Playboy
Wealthy Playboys come in many personality types, but all possess one essential element: outlandish piles of money. It's also important for the Wealthy Playboy to be at least a little spoiled and self-centered. Beyond that, this type can run the gamut from fun-loving free spirit to brooding genius to obnoxious bully. No matter what, however, his jetsetting lifestyle must leave him ultimately empty, indicating that he Just Needs Someone To Love Him. Meanwhile, the middle-class heroine finds herself in the role of the Delinquent, inviting the disapproval of the Playboy's snobby friends and family. The early '90s hit Boys Over Flowers innovated the concept of providing the heroine with an entire harem of Wealthy Playboys, all inexplicably obsessed with showing her an expensive good time.
Signature Romantic Gestures: Suddenly deciding to fly the heroine to a tropical beach; deigning to visit the heroine's shabby home.
In Real Life He'd Be: Not nearly as good-looking.

The Nice Guy
Finishes last. The Nice Guy often appears as a sidekick to one of the more important love interests, or he may be the heroine's faithful friend. He can be identified by his cute (rather than sexy) features, his chipper sense of humor, and his domestic skills. He has almost no chance of winning the heroine's heart, but he might land her best friend or the hero's sister. He's especially common—and especially unappreciated—in manga by Yuu Watase. If you want to see guys attract flocks of adoring women just for being nice, stick to shonen manga.
Signature Romantic Gestures: Cooking; moping.
In Real Life He'd Be: A bitter geek who whines endlessly about women on LiveJournal. Or a manga artist. Or both.

Mr. Perfect
Handsome, dashing, devoted, patient, and romantic. A much less common type than you might imagine, presumably because healthy, rewarding relationships aren't exciting enough for shojo manga. Restricted mostly to manga for younger readers and the works of Yuu Watase, who seems to get her love plots by looking at shonen romance manga and reversing the genders.
Signature Romantic Gestures: Rescuing the heroine from attackers; pledging his eternal devotion; sacrificing everything for love.
In Real Life He'd Be: Married.


Previous article: The Girls of Shonen Manga
Next article: Tribute to Rory Root

Shaenon K. Garrity is a manga editor at Viz Media and is best known for her webcomics Narbonic and Skin Horse.

All the Comics in the World is © Shaenon K. Garrity, 2010


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