Posts Tagged ‘shoujo manga’

Japanese media needs to stop glorifying abusive relationships

October 31, 2010

There are all kinds of people out there and pretty much all of them are capable of finding romance, but sometimes it seems like the only men we see in a romantic context are the exact same ones that the Nice Guys TM complain about.

I just read about the plot of Metroid: Other M (and I will be sticking to Metroid Prime, thanks very much).

And it reminded me of the trend that has caused me to make this last issue of Asuka magazine the last one I will buy (barring super super awesome furoku or something). I haven’t done a formal survey, but the trend of the male love interest being a complete asshole to the female protagonist just got to be too much. (And of course she is never allowed to really defend herself, he never gets comeuppance, because then he wouldn’t be so infuriatingly superior, which is what we apparently are supposed to like. At best she eventually gets some acknowledgment that she doesn’t completely suck, but she is certainly not allowed to expect any kind of actual emotional support or perceptible respect.) There have been times when reading that magazine has ruined my day, and the entertainment value when it doesn’t is just not worth the risk.

Aside: It didn’t help that this month’s installment of Kiss of the Rose Queen featured that same cliched emotional blackmail dialogue that I hate. Note to everyone: Do not try to get your close friends to stop doing X by telling them “I hate people who do X,” especially if you are then going to say you love them after they respond by swearing off of X. It makes you look like an asshole and also really, really fickle. Also I have seen and heard that conversation several hundred times already, and it was stupid and melodramatic every single time. If anyone said that to me, I’d immediately change our relationship from “friendship” to “polite but distant acquaintanceship,” but I get the impression that I just have an abnormally low tolerance for manipulative bullshit. At least in this instance, it was the female protagonist being an asshole to a member of her reverse harem, but you know she is going to wind up with Kaede because he is an asshole and therefore obviously the main, real love interest.

So in conclusion, romantic narratives marketed to girls are squicky and horrifying. I guess this sells. I guess women are trained to find this kind of thing appealing. There would be nothing wrong with this if it were just a part of the natural variety of human romance and sexuality, but it really squicks me out that this is the mainstream, this is normal, there are no other options. Something must have gone terribly wrong with me because I find assholish behavior a complete turn-off. I am such a pervert!

It also occurs to me that of the Asuka comics I still want to read, a lot of them have male protagonists, and don’t really have love interests at all (which makes sense, since a straight female audience wouldn’t enjoy a vicarious relationship with a woman and this isn’t a BL magazine).

In conclusion, Japanese media is scary (in that it portrays lots of really messed up relationships in an uncritical and positive way in both manga and video games). Possibly even more than American media. How to Train Your Dragon flunked the Bechdel test (but I love it anyway), and Percy Jackson was just messed up, but not this messed up (at least in terms of romance and love interests), and that’s about all I know about recent American media.

Now I better hit post before the cat gets on the keyboard, because she is really determined to. Also, Happy Halloween!

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Oh girl comics, why must you normalize being a complete asshole?

July 20, 2009

Read the latest Hana to Yume today.

Skip Beat: I don’t read it, because I read the beginning and it had that infuriating gratitude toward assholes thing going on. Because really, the only way you can be motivated to do something with your life is to be treated like absolute dirt by a huge asshole so that you then want to prove something to them. HEALTHY!

Voice actress comic: A girl goes to voice actor school. I stopped reading as of this issue because I am sick of her betting the farm on ridiculous arbitrary goals set by assholes. I am also sick of the asshole she is bound to fall in love with.

Gakuen Alice: I don’t read it, so I am not sure how much it involves falling in love with guys who are complete assholes.

Kami-sama hajimemashita: I love Tomoe, but he is totally an asshole. Just not enough of one that I hate his guts like the asshole in Monochrome Kids (which was not running this issue).

Gekkan Nakatoba: Didn’t read because I don’t read comedies unless they actually make me laugh. Not intended as a judgment, just doesn’t meet my tastes.

Ore-same Teacher: Masaomi is a huge asshole. But to be fair, he was not in this chapter very much!

Chotto Sekai Made: One-off comic about a girl tutoring a bunch of foreign exchange students at Japanese. The Swiss guy is a huge freaking asshole and also the love interest. DUH. I am getting the impression that Swiss people are jerks. Nooo! A prejudice!

Love So Life: Gee, a comic about taking care of little kids! Boring! The kids need to have superpowers and transform into giant cat robots or something.

Shiawase Kissa San-chou-me: Don’t read, therefore cannot judge asshole content.

Kyou mo ashita mo: It seems the only way to teach people how to draw manga or whatever is to be really really mean and tell them they are completely pathetic wastes of space. Then they will be motivated! Yeah, I’m putting this one in the asshole column.

Lovesick: I got bored with this a couple issues ago. But I don’t specifically recall any characters being raging assholes.

Jiu Jiu: This is awesome because it has subservient demon wolf boys. This issue also features some kind of vampire prince, who is a total asshole, of course. But he isn’t a love interest or authority figure or in any superior position over the protagonist, so I hesitate to actually tally this one on the asshole column.

Grimoire and O’Toole: I am sure I am getting the title wrong but that is what it sounds like. Anyway, the time demon guy is an asshole. Asshole column +1.

My point is that every single comic I read except one (and it still had an asshole guy whom the heroine was nice to) in this magazine (and also some that I didn’t read and some that were taking a break this issue) featured a complete asshole as love interest and/or authority figure (sometimes there are separate love interests and authority figures who are both assholes) and pretty much the only option heroines have in dealing with assholes is to suck it up and work extra super hard on the slim hope that the asshole will be impressed enough with the results to tone down his assholishness by a tiny fraction which of course then causes the heroine to be totally elated and/or fall madly in love with him.

I think shounen comics have this problem too sometimes (or a similar one — not so much with the female authority figures there, so I don’t think there’s much falling in love with your asshole superior, but there is certainly the “being treated like dirt is the only/best motivator” philosophy on occasion), but not with the saturation that shoujo comics do. It is depressing. I almost hope the comics that make this magazine worth reading for me would hurry up and end so I could stop buying it.

Also note that there are no consequences for being an asshole if you are a guy! Everyone will adapt to it because that’s just the way you are! (I have totally experienced this in real life, too.) But if you are a girl, you will be shunned by everyone and hated and despised, because your first duty is to everyone else’s feelings, especially the assholes whose feelings you have hurt by being adversely affected by their assholish treatment of you. At least, if you are the protagonist. Sometimes other girls can get away with being assholes — to the protagonist.

Of course, a perfect person would be able to work under any asshole without feeling threatened, because she would have perfect judgment and therefore know exactly how much of an asshole he was. But for real people who might actually put some faith in the opinion of their superior or lover, desperate resentment is not really the number one desirable attitude for productivity.

I wouldn’t mind if romances about falling in love with total assholes happened occasionally in the context of “Let’s take a totally unlikely love interest and try to make a feasible story about falling in love with him!” But really, 90% of (male) love interests are complete assholes. (Note: that is one of the 47% of statistics that are completely made up. But you get the point — it is a very strong trend.) It is not original or interesting! It does give the message that there is something wrong with you if being verbally abused does not make you all twitterpated though. (Okay, not really. It’s the slight lull in abuse that makes you twitterpated. What’s totally abnormal is if you consider a constant stream of verbal abuse to be a turn-off. YOU PERVERT.)

Oh! Synchronicity! Girl-comics are a vehicle for corporate brainwashing, I guess.