What is Shoujo

So a week or two ago, I talked about Isekai, a popular genre in Japan. At the end of that blog, I suggested I might make a series talking about genres unknown to western culture. Because nothing that interesting happened this week, I’m going to continue that series by talking about a different kind of genre. This time around, I’ll be talking about one of my favourites, Shoujo.

So, what is Shoujo? Thankfully, it’s a lot more simpler than Isekai, so I won’t need to split this up into two blogs. Basically, the definition of Shoujo in manga or anime generally aimed at a young female audience. Meaning, most of the genre is primarily romantic in nature. So what makes this genre any different from the romance genre? Well, to be honest I’m not quite sure myself. However, the way I look at it is that Shoujo is a subset of romance. Generally, these Shoujo manga/anime are more fantastical and unrealistic. More often than not, these pieces of media have the primary ship end up together, and there will always be a fairy tale ending. To put it in simple words, it’s a modern fairy tale. On the other hand, there is Josei which tends to be a bit more realistic. For now, I’ll just be talking about Shoujo. It’s just easier to view Shoujo and Josei as subsets of romance. 

Next, I want to talk about why people read Shoujo. Well, I don’t know about other people, but I read it because it’s like an escape. It is meant to be unrealistically sappy and cutesy. It’s like asking why people read science-fiction. However unlike science-fiction, it’s not the world that’s unrealistic, but the relationships. Shoujo manga and anime can have amazing characters with great depth and personalities. What I mean in terms of unrealistic, is the fact that the plot will ignore certain social norms so characters can be together. This is the escape aspect in all its glory, because of the world’s social norms, it really is hard for a Shoujo plot to actually happen in real life. So when we read about it, there is that same disconnect that makes fairy tales so appealing. 

Finally, I talk about some of the trends and plots that usually appear in Shoujo manga/anime. First, Shoujo is very flexible and can go along with almost any other genre. For example, the Isekai genre I just talked about a few weeks ago, can incorporate aspects of Shoujo. The only genre I can think of off the top of my head that will conflict with Shoujo is tragedy. However, because there is so much ground to cover, I’ll just be covering the plots that centre around Shoujo and it’s not merged with a subplot.

The first plot type I want to talk about is rich and poor. Typically, these plots will have a rich guy and a poor girl and they break social norms together. The reason I’m so specific with the guy being rich and the girl being poor is because it’s almost always true. During my entire time reading Shoujo manga I don’t think I’ve seen a rich girl and a poor guy. Still, there still might be an exception out there so I won’t say anything with absolute certainty. Another quirk about this kind of plot is that the setting is usually in a medieval world or in a high school. Rarely does Shoujo step outside these bounds, because then it starts entering Josei territory. 

Next, I want to talk about a plot that I’ve seen a lot recently. In this plot, the characters involved usually have very different ages. For example, a recent manga I read had the age difference between two characters be 24 years. An added point for this kind of story, is that this can easily be a Josei plot as well. The difference being that in a Shoujo manga the author will have the two character fall in love, while in a Josei plot there will likely be a compromise or even a bitter sweet ending. 

In the end, I really like Shoujo manga/anime. It’s a modern fairy tale and I just love the concept. Perhaps next week, I’ll be talking about Josei? 

Driving Experience

Since my 16th birthday, I’ve started taking driving lessons. So, in this blog, I would like to share my experience driving. 

During my first time driving, I was actually really nervous. Throughout the first day, the instructor continuously told me to speed up, which is something he still does to this day. To this day, I always thought people should stay under the speed limit, but apparently that doesn’t really happen. Another reason I like to take it slow is the accelerator. I’ve gotten better at using it but I never expected it to be so touchy. Overall, I prefer to stay under the speed limit by around 5km/h. 

Next, I want to talk about the screw ups I’ve had so far. Personally, I like to think I don’t have that many mistakes. However, I won’t deny I’ve had them. The first one, happened at a four way stop sign. This was my first time at one of these stop sign and it was my first time driving, so I nervous. After check no one was in the way I proceeded like normal, but then a red car, came into view on my left. Honestly, I kind of froze up and almost pressed the brakes. Thankfully, that was avoided because the red car did what it was supposed to do and stopped, but the experience was still kind of scary. 

The next memory I want to talk about, is my first encounter with jaywalkers. I think this happened during my second time driving. That day because of when the lesson started, it was around rush hour. Since I was really inexperience my instructor had me stay away from the main roads. However, when we were heading home, we had to pass one major intersection. On this road is where the two jaywalker incidents happened. The first wasn’t so bad. It was just before the major road and there weren’t any other cars other than me. The second time was much more scary. I was driving through the major intersection, the light was green, and some guy decided it was a great time to cross. In the moment, I really wanted to slam the brakes, but I also really didn’t want to cause an accident with the cars behind me. In the end, I slowed down a bit and the instructor honked the horn. 

The last incident I want to talk about happened rather recently. There isn’t any real story behind this one. I was just really rusty since I hadn’t driven since summer and the instructor to make tighter turns. In the end, the tire hit the curb. I guess it taught me to be more aware of my surroundings. 

In the end, there isn’t much to talk about besides the incidents, and there aren’t many of those to begin with. Overall, I find driving can be fun if done safely. I still can’t handle the really busy crowded roads but I feel like I soon can. My next lesson is tomorrow and I wonder hit I’ll learn next. 

What is Isekai part 2

Last time, I talked about what isekai is and the general trends of world transportation like stories. This week, I’m going to be continuing that blog by talking about the second type of isekai I mentioned in that blog. 

Alright, like I said in my previous blog, the second type of isekai is usually related to reincarnation. It still has the world transferring aspect but instead it affects more so the soul than the actual person. In these types of stories the protagonist always dies, the most common cause being car crashes, and gets reincarnated into a new world. In a reincarnated world, I end up seeing two kinds of it. A really structured kind with set mechanics and a free flowing one where the author has the protagonist figure out stuff on their own. More often than not, most reincarnation stories follow the former and even if that’s not the case there’s usually always someone to explain the new world mechanics. The difference between how this is presented to the reader is that in a structured world, the protagonist will usually meets some kind of ‘god’, or the world will be really game like with descriptions for everything. On the other hand, in a free flowing world, the protagonist will experiment and stumble a bit on their own before someone explain the actual mechanics to them. Sometimes this can be a few chapter in or even maybe several books later. 

Even with these two categories, recreation stories can still be quite varied. An example of this is what I like to call the soul replacement stories. These stories still follow the trend of the protagonist dying and will either be set in a free flowing world or structured world, however, the difference is in the reincarnation aspect. Instead of full blow reincarnation, the protagonist gets placed into the body of a recently deceased character. This plot device is actually pretty common and can really help out the writer. The reason for this is that with soul replacement, the author doesn’t need to go through chapters of set up. It’s much easier to get action out of a walking child than a crawling baby. Even so, most writer don’t have the protagonist enter the body older than that of a teenagers. The reason for this can vary, but I personally think it’s for character and world development. It can also make explain new world mechanics much easier, as no one will question having to explain concepts, even basic ones, to a child. In the end though, soul replacement stories aren’t that different when you get down to it. In a way it is just a convent way for the author to skip a few years. 

However, not all reincarnation plot devices are as common like the soul replacement. In fact, the reincarnation stories I find most interesting are the monster ones. In stories like these, the protagonist is not reincarnated as a human but instead a monster. The monsters can range from a dragon to a slime. However, the most common ones are usually slimes, with spiders following closely behind. The reason I like these stories so much, is because they put a twist on how people see monsters in RPGs. Instead of seeing the world through the eyes of a monster slaying hero, we instead get to see the exact opposite of that. Another reason, why these kinds of stories are so interesting is are the actual protagonist. In hero reincarnation stories, there is usually a trend of events that will almost always happen, but it’s different with monster reincarnation. In monster reincarnation stories, we don’t know how the protagonist will react to their new form. Sometimes, they will be disgusted with themselves or other times they will just accept it. Regardless, it is a different and the personality of the protagonist can be much more varied compared to hero reincarnation stories.

Finally, I get to talk about the flaws with isekai stories. Personally, I really like this genre, however, I can still see some faults with it. The most prominent is how bland some isekai stories can get, hero reincarnation stories are especially guilty of this. It’s actually quite hard to find a completely unique isekai story. The first time I read a monster reincarnation story I thought the concept was amazing, until I read five other different stories with a similar formula. My point, the genre is over saturated with bland stories and recycled plot points. However, it isn’t only the stories fault, it’s also the characters. Most of the time, you’ll be hard pressed to actually find a really good protagonist. Both world transfer and reincarnation stories are guilty of this. Most of the times authors focus more on the world building aspect rather than the character themselves, which isn’t a bad thing. However, what usually happen is we have an interesting world, but really boring characters. And in the end, it’s the characters that drive the story.  

In the end, I had a lot of fun talking about isekai. Maybe this can be a new trend of blogs where I talk about other genres not really familiar in the west. Anyhow, I hope you now have a better understanding of what isekai is.