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] (more…)


The rankings so far from best to worst: Hot Gimmick with an A, Suki Shite Sadist with an A-, Black Bird with a B+, and finally Tonari no Kaibutsu with an F.

Hadashi de Bara wo Fume

  • As per shoujo tradition, we must now have Sumi sulk about how Soichirou called her a poor girl and disgusting. To add an extra oomph though, Hadashi has Sumi say he’s scary. Just sulking isn’t enough, she got to find him scary too!
  • Thinking about the oh so inspirational words of her knight (aka Nozumu), “You must not cry again. Because a smile will always bring happiness to you, okay?” Riiiiight. Not like, oh I don’t know, striving for something or having loved ones brings you happiness. Nope all you need to do is smile. You know, maybe I’m crazy here, but don’t you smile when you are happy and not the reverse?
  • When Soichirou enters her room, Sumi is all bewildered about why he is in there. Yes, more of this awesome historical accuracy again.
  • She wants to sleep on the floor? Well she can’t cause Soichirou is running this show and he forcefully picks her up and places her on the bed. Oh and we have to have this one tense moment where Sumi thinks Soichirou is going to force himself on her, but really all he’s doing is checking whether she has her night gown on backwards. See, I knew Hadashi wouldn’t miss putting in some rape-y undertones somehow!
  • More threats from Soichirou about throwing her into the sea. Granted these are written in a way that is lighthearted, but it sure doesn’t look like Sumi thinks they are empty threats, and that’s what counts, I feel.
Hadashi - female skills

The only important thing for a wife is cooking. Good wife, good cook/servant.

  • Hahahaha, oh god. OF COURSE! Of course this manga must have silly naive little Sumi go down to the kitchen in the morning to strut her WOMINZ SKILLS. And of course her food is absolutely A-MAZING. But cold Soichirou orders to throw it out cause proper ladies don’t cook. They have other ladies do that for them. (more…)

Welcome to the final part of round 3! Last time we had our very first failure (F) from Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. Meanwhile the other three manga all reached into A levels: Hot Gimmick with an A-, Suki Shite Sadist with an A, and Black Bird with an A+. This batch is a bit more varied, ranging from A-to-C.

Hadashi de Bara wo Fume (Stepping on Roses)

  • The chapter 3 cover asks us if there is any happiness for the marriage without love and then proceeds to talk about “a stream of love and romance”. Yes, let’s take the story in the most stereotypical direction possible. It’s not like it would be interesting to see Sumi coping with such a hard choice like choosing money and the safety of her family over freedom and happiness. Nope. Waaaay more interesting to see her hit the jackpot in terms of happiness with no sacrifice necessary.
Our non-consenual kiss, now in glorious COLOUR!

Our non-consensual kiss, now in glorious COLOUR!

  • That non-consensual kiss is so important that it needed to be repeated at the beginning of chapter 3 and in colour! (more…)

We’re back with the next batch of contenders for Round 2 in Substandard Shoujo Spectacle. A quick summary of last part’s standings: Black Bird has managed to outdo its first chapter and has made it to an A-, whereas Suki Shite Sadist has toned things down a bit but there is still plenty of ridiculous things going on so it gets a B+. Meanwhile, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is barely keeping up because it actually has likeable leads and goes to great length to show us that Haru has problems but he’s getting better, so it finishes with a measly D+. What is this round going to bring us? A drop in quality for each of the manga, unfortunately.

Hot Gimmick

  • The popular girls are bitches as usual (can’t have a shoujo without that can we?), and our dear heroine must try to persuade them that there is nothing special about her relationship with Azusa (who is super popular with the ladies and a model to boot!)
  • Akane’s period magically came while Hatsumi was out getting her a pregnancy test. I don’t know whether I should laugh or roll my eyes.
  • Flashback to Ryouki groping her cause we can’t get enough of that. And look Hatsumi is already falling for heart-throb Azusa. All it took was for him to come to her defence just once. More shoujo cliches I say! I want MORE!
  • And of course Hatsumi’s little sister is totally oblivious to Ryouki’s asshole side and totally impressed with him. Ah, but maybe she is aware and likes that. After all, she abuses Subaru cause he’s a nerd (and nice) and if Suki Shite Sadist taught us anything, it’s that girls are just naturally drawn to the biggest jerks and completely disgusted with any guy that has even a single shred of respect towards woman.
  • Meanwhile Ryouki loses no time in reminding Hatsumi that she is his slave.

Don’t date the sluts, they are not worth it cause you know, who wants “used goods”.

  • Of course Ryouki assumes Hatsumi is a total slut and tells Subaru as much. I guess he figures since she’s a slut, using her for sex is a-ok! Of course sluts don’t mind having sex with random people at their beck and call. You know, this logic seems vaguely familiar. Where have I heard this before? (more…)

Alright,it’s the first edition of Substandard Shoujo Spectacle. I’m still not exactly sure of how I want to do this, so this is still pretty much in the experimental phases, but hopefully after a few of these I’ll figure out how I want to go about this. I sort of broke it into three parts: one which is all sarcasm and snark, one where I actually rate just how bad I think the chapter actually was, and one with an overall ranking based on how offensive the manga was (for me personally). I didn’t just want to leave it all snark because I felt that would be a little unfair as some of these aren’t actually that bad. Shocking, I know! Or at least aren’t totally irredeemable garbage, well maybe except for one or two of them. And when I was going through snark mode, I couldn’t really point out the good parts, so I broke it down into three parts. Two that are total snark fluff and one with my real thoughts about the chapter. It feels kind of strange to do it this way, but I couldn’t come up with a better solution. Maybe I should just be listing the bad things and any tropes? Would that be better? Or is the snark entertaining? I’ll let everyone be the judge.

Black Bird

  • We’re off to a very good start it seems! There’s a girl on the cover, who looks to be in pain with an injury on her shoulder while the dude holds her looking pretty smug about this. Why yes, abusing your lover is oh so satisfying, is it not?
  • After that lovely cover, Black Bird doesn’t lose any time in making sure we know that girls want guys. Like really really want them. Misao, our heroine, states she wants a boyfriend, twice, when asked what she wants for her birthday tomorrow. My my, isn’t she eager.
  • When she gets her chance though she doesn’t take it. How odd, you’d think for someone so determined to have a boyfriend, she would jump at the opportunity and ignore a bad feeling. What should I make of this development? Ah, but that doesn’t stop her from sulking and calling herself stupid. Cause, you know, it was stupid of her not to jump at the chance to get a man.
  • We are then introduced to the premise: all sorts of monsters want a piece of Misao. Literally. Either she’s going to get eaten or raped. How original. I mean the forced demon bride thing isn’t totally overdone. Nope. Nor has it been done elsewhere and in a better way.

Nothing says romance like a guy who thinks of you as his possession.

  • Ah, how romantic, Kyo swoops in to save the distressed Misao and proclaims, “Misao is my bride”. Nothing as romantic as some man you barely know or remember coming in and stating you are his bride without even asking you. *swoon* (more…)

I stumbled across a blog called Moe Sucks and it is a delightful blog. Don’t let the name fool you, the blog isn’t about mindless hate, but actually about the blogger poking fun at all the bad sorts of tropes that routinely make their way into anime. The writing is witty and clean and I always enjoy reading the posts. One of my favourite features from this blog is called Harem Hill, where E Minor (blogger of Moe Sucks) takes the worst of the worst harem anime and just pokes fun at all the shit that goes on in each episode by awarding points to determine the worst of the worst. It got me thinking, wouldn’t it be interesting to do that with shoujo? I’m mostly a shoujo sort of person (even though I do watch and read pretty much everything) and instead of just being disappointed about all the bad stuff that happens in shoujo, wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment to try to have fun with these awful stories and at the same time keep pointing out that these aren’t just single instances but actually pervasive problems in the medium? Well that’s what this new feature is going to be about. I’m going to take a handful of shoujo manga that have a certain kind of reputation and go through each one, chapter by chapter, pointing out anything that catches my eye and just poke fun at it. I hope in this way I can improve my knowledge of problematic tropes in shoujo while still keeping a sense of optimism. Anyway here are the possible candidates for this new feature: (more…)