I think now is a good time to publish all the stats on bad story elements I’ve been collecting while doing the Substandard Shoujo Spectacle feature. The story elements have, once again, been organized from most prevalent to least prevalent for easy ranking/comparing (and for elements with the same number of instances, it is alphabetical). Any new element is also in italics. There is also now a total next to how many instances have occurred since the last update (back when the feature started), so you can compared how many times something has occurred in total and just these last 3 chapters. I hope everyone finds this as interesting as I have.

Story Elements Breakdown:

Verbal Abuse/Name Calling {Any instance where the heroine is called stupid, ugly, bitch, etc. by her potential love interest}

– 16 instances; 6 manga // Total-to-Date: 18 instances in 6/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.3], Suki Shite Sadist [chap.2, chap.3, chap.4], Hot Gimmick [chap.3 (x2), chap.4], Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.3 (x2), chap.4], The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2], & The Devil Within [chap.2 (x2), chap.3, chap.4 (x2)]

Heroine must be Saved {Heroine is rescued from whatever distressed situation she is in by a man}

– 5 instances; 3 manga // Total-to-Date: 11 instances in 5/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2, chap.3, chap.4], Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.3], & The Devil Within [chap.2]

Violent Love Interest {Any instance where the love interest is shown to resort to or use violence in general}

– 7 instance; 3 manga // Total-to-Date: 11 instances in 4/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2], Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun [chap. 2 (x3)], & The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2 (x2), chap.3]

Physical Domination {Any instances where the love interest has physical power over the heroine. Things like pinning her down, carrying her away, not letting her leave by holding her arm, etc.}

– 6 instances; 5 manga // Total-to-Date: 9 instances in 6/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap. 3, & chap.4], Suki Shite Sadist [chap.3], Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.4], The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2], & The Devil Within [chap.3]

Possessive Love Interest

– 8 instances; 3 manga // Total-to-Date: 9 instances in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2, chap.3, & chap.4], Suki Shite Sadist [chap.3, chap.4], & Hot Gimmick [chap.3 (x2), chap.4]

Egotistical Love Interest {Any instance where the love interest is only willing to help the heroine if he gets something back in return}

– 5 instances; 5 manga // Total-to-Date: 8 instances in 6/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.3], Hot Gimmick [chap.2], Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.2], The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2], & The Devil Within [chap.4]

[Non-Consensual] Kissing

– 7 instances; 4 manga // Total-to-Date: 8 instances in 5/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.4], Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun [chap.2], Hot Gimmick [chap.4], & Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.2, chap.3, chap.4 (x2)]

Bossy Love Interest

– 7 instances; 3 manga // Total-to-Date: 7 instance in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap. 3], Hot Gimmick [chap.2, chap.3, chap.4], & Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.2 (x2), chap.3]

“I just want a Boyfriend” {Any instance where the heroine says that, or the manga suggests that having a man in very important for a female}

– 3 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 6 instances in 5/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap. 2], & Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun [chap.2, chap.3]

Love Interest is Smart/Better than Heroine {Any instance which tells the reader that the male love interest is better than the heroine at something, be it sports, school, or a mutual hobby}

– 6 instances; 3 manga // Total-to-Date: 6 instances in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.2(x2)], Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun [chap.2, chap.3], & Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.3, chap.4]

Love Interest in a Position of Authority {positions of authority include teacher, employer, rich dude, son of your dad’s boss, etc.}

– 2 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 5 instances in 4/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2], & The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2]

Reinforce the Gender Binary

– 4 instances; 3 manga // Total-to-Date: 5 instances in 4/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.4], Hot Gimmick [chap.3], & Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap. 2, chap.4]

[Non-Consensual] Groping

– 2 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 5 instances in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2], & Hot Gimmick [chap.3]

Totally Pure and Virginal {Any instance where the point is to show how pure and innocent in the ways of sex/love the heroine is}

– 5 instances; 3 manga // Total-to-Date: 5 instances in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.3, chap.4], Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun [chap. 3] & Hot Gimmick [chap.2, chap. 3]

Rape threats {and just threats, not actual rape}

– 1 instance; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 4 instances in 4/7 manga
– Found in: The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2]

Low Self-Esteem {Any scenes where the heroine thinks lowly of herself. Things like calling herself stupid, ugly, etc.}

– 3 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 4 instances in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.3], & Hot Gimmick [chap.3, chap.4]

Physical Abuse {Any instance where the heroine suffers any physical injury from her love interest}

– 3 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 4 instances in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun [chap.2], & The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2, chap. 3]

Sexual Assault {Any instance of an unwanted sexual encounter (but that doesn’t involve any penetration)}

– 2 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 4 instances in 3/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap. 3], & Hot Gimmick [chap. 2]

Deviant Sexual Orientation/Preferences can be “Cured”

– 3 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 4 instances in 2/7 manga
– Found in: The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.2, chap.3], & The Devil Within [chap.2]

“Shut Up Woman!” {Any instances where the heroine is punished for talking back to the love interest or intimidated into silence}

– 3 instances; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 4 instances in 2/7 manga
– Found in: Hot Gimmick [chap.2, chap.3, chap.4]

Absurdly Naive Heroine {Any instance where the heroines actions or thoughts do not match what would be the within the normal range of reactions for someone of her age and background in such a situation}

– 4 instances; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 4 instances in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.2 (x2), chap. 3, chap.4]

Cat Fight for a Man {Any instance where a girl bullies the heroine because of a man being interested in her}

– 3 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 3 instances in 2/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2], & Hot Gimmick [chap.2, chap.3]

Beauty is Important {Any instance where the heroine is complemented solely for her looks, or the manga makes a point to dwell on the importance of looks for the heroine}

– 3 instances; 1 manga // Total-to-Date 3 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in Suki Shite Sadist [chap.3 (x3)]

Links Actual Physical Injury with Eroticism {Any scenes that link physical injuries with sexually suggestive encounters}

– 2 instances; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 3 instances in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2, & chap.4]

Shotacon

– 2 instances; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 3 instances in 1/7 manga
– Found in: The Devil Within [chap.2, & chap.4]

Love at First Rescue

– 2 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 2 instances in 2/7 manga
– Found in: Hot Gimmick [chap.2], & Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.2]

Overwhelming sexual/romantic desire overpowers any rational thought {Any instance which the manga suggests that the heroine’s “love” for her man overwhelms her regular rational thoughts, behaviours, etc. It can be the heroine thinking/saying this or other characters pointing out how irrationally she is behaving}

– 2 instances; 2 manga // Total-to-Date: 2 instances in 2/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.2], & Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun [chap.3]

Death Threats {Any instance where the love interests threatens the heroine into something by saying he will kill her}

– 2 instances; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 2 instances in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Hadashi de Bara wo Fume [chap.3, chap.4]

Dirty Slut {Any instance where a female character’s sexual experience is used to shame her, or construed in a negative light by the manga as a whole -i.e. the heroine shames the other slutty woman, bad things happen to the sluts, no male character wants to date the slut, etc.}

– 1 instance; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 1 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Hot Gimmick [chap.3]

All Lesbians hate or fear Men

– 1 instance; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 2 instances in 1/7 manga
– Found in: The Beautiful Skies of Houou High [chap.3]

Punished for Shunning Love Interest {Any instances where the heroine gets into trouble for ignoring or shunning her love interest}

– 2 instances; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 2 instances in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Black Bird [chap.2, & chap.3]

The Detestable Career Woman {Any instance where a manga suggests being a career women is wrong, bad for her child/family, or that she’s a horrible person}

– 1 instance; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 1 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.2]

Throws Rather Than Hands {Any instance where the love interest throws an item at the heroine in a situation where he could have easily handed her said item}

– 1 instance; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 1 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.3]

Women are Pets

– 1 instance; 1 manga // Total-to-Date: 1 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in: Suki Shite Sadist [chap.3]

Deviant Sexual Orientation/Preferences are the Result of Past Trauma

– no new instance // Total-to-Date: 1 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in: none

Lesbians Secretly want to be Men {Instances include lesbians that dress, act, or think like men}

– no new instance // Total-to-Date: 1 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in: none

Men are Animals

– no new instance // Total-to-Date: 1 instance in 1/7 manga
– Found in: none

My Thoughts:

Looking at the most prevalent elements, one thing becomes clear; for these manga, the one thing they want to impress upon the reader is that attractive men are aggressive (violent love interest, physical domination, possessive love interest), assertive (heroine must be saved, [non-consensual] kissing), and mean (verbal abuse/name calling, egotistical love interest, bossy love interest). Of course, there is nothing wrong with being assertive, but only within certain bounds. Non-consensual kissing is definitely crossing the line. Furthermore, in the element “heroine must be saved”, not only is the male love interest being romanticized as assertive, but the female protagonist is likewise being romanticized as passive. This is further reinforced in the element “Love Interest in a Position of Authority”, which has the majority, 4/7, manga having such a set up. Why? Because this element places the male love interest in a position of authority over the female protagonist, which very often causes her to become passive and reinforces his assertiveness. The female protagonists fare a bit better in avoiding traditional depictions than the male love interest, but not much with “reinforce the gender binary” standing at 4/7 manga and “I just want a Boyfriend” at 5/7. This tells me that these manga are, for the most part, still sticking with very traditional portrayals of women. What did surprise me is how little certain elements got used. I definitely expected “Cat Fight for a Man”, “Dirty Slut”, “Beauty is Important” and “Absurdly Naive Heroine” to be much more prevalent than they are. But strikingly, most of these are at the lower end of the spectrum with each of these elements showing up in only 1-2 manga with only 4 instances at most.

Thoughts?

–SW

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