tonariTrigger warning. Also mild spoilers for the anime Hana Yori Dango and Rose of Versailles.

So back in 2012, the manga Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun got an anime adaptation and the anime blogosphere raised hell (or maybe it was a select few sites I happened upon). A few managa bloggers also chimed in with their outrage. The main point of contention was the threat of rape that happens in the very first episode (and chapter) of Tonari. A little later, I had decided to run a feature that looked at the worst the shoujo manga demographic had to offer, and deconstruct, through snark, why it was so harmful and problematic. Given the hell that was raised around Tonari, I thought it would be a great candidate for the feature. However having finished the first 5 chapters for my feature, I have to say that most of the criticisms levelled at Tonari missed the big picture about rape acceptance in manga and anime. (more…)

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It’s part 2 of round 5 of SSS. In part 1, we saw that Black Bird and Sadist stuck with what they started in chapter 4. Tonari goes the same route and fails for the third time, which means it’s time for it to get kicked off this feature. Meanwhile, Hot Gimmick toys around with the idea of a more assertive Hatsumi, but ultimately doesn’t commit to giving her any character growth. Nonetheless, it results in a much more toned down chapter. From part 1,  Sadist also was quite tame (but incredibly boring) and only got a C+. Black Bird did manage a B- though; thanks to the super creepy behaviour from the rival love interest!

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Tonari really seems to want to push this taming animal thing on the volume covers, huh.

Tonari really seems to want to push this taming animal thing on the volume covers, huh.

 

  • Chapter 5 is the start of volume 2 of Tonari, and in keeping with the trend started in volume 1, volume 2’s cover features Haru on a leash. Whip him into shape good, Shizuku! (more…)

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…)

Last time we had lessons in Nice Guys™ and Alpha Males thanks to Black Bird and Suki Shite Sadist respectively. Black Bird only got a B+ this time because it toned down a lot of the more questionable elements, while Suki Shite Sadist continues the problematic framing earning itself another A-. This round we shall be tackling chapter four of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, which continues to remain good; and Hot Gimmick, which continues to show us just how great Ryouki is!

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

  • Ah, seems we got ahead of ourselves last chapter. Shizuku quickly says her proclamation of love was a lie. Haru acts somewhat out of character by actually understanding what’s going on and teasing Shizuku about being shy. I, I’m not sure whether the author knows what she wants to do with Haru…
  • Another rescue scene for Shizuku. Haru takes care of the guys that were his “friends” before and who were bothering Shizuku and Sasahara in the store.
Tonarui - Personal Space

Personal space? What’s that?

  • Haru once again forgets this little thing we like to call personal space. (more…)

Time for Part 2 of Round 3. Last time we looked at Black Bird and Shite Suki Sadist, which got an A+ and A respectively. Both chapter 3’s romanticized possessive males. Hot Gimmick continues that lovely trend with its cover for chapter 3. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, on the other hand, continues to improve and actually manages to fail to have enough BS to actually get a passing rank this chapter!

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

  • Of course there’s something wrong with you Shizuku. You just got the memo that “you need a man to be fulfilled” last chapter. Even good old dad notices!
Let's be clear, Shizuku is totally not smarter than Haru. He wasn't even trying, see!

Let’s be clear, Shizuku is totally not smarter than Haru. He wasn’t even trying, see!

  • Haven’t been convinced that Haru is smarter than Shizuku yet? No worries, this chapter makes sure we know it by informing us the only reason Shizuku place number 1 on the last mid-term was because Haru forgot to write his name on the exam paper and he slept through it! (more…)

Thanks for all the feedback from the debut feature everyone! I’m going to keep the general format the same (so three parts for each manga), but the feature is going to be broken down into smaller parts so that it isn’t so overwhelmingly long. How many parts? I’m not sure. I’ll see how long each write up is, and adjust it accordingly each time. Sometimes I have more to cover because there are lots of things to talk about in a given chapter, other times a chapter remains relatively tame and there isn’t much to point out. So far, the chapters aren’t slowing down the punches (except in perhaps one case), so there is a lot to cover for each manga. Stats are going to be moved to their own separate post as well and will now come up every few chapters as a sort of summary of all the ongoing story elements. I hope this will make this feature easier to read and more enjoyable. :)

Black Bird

  • Ah yes, nothing like beginning a new chapter with more unwanted groping from Kyo.
  • And if you didn’t get it last chapter, Kyo makes it very clear now: Misao is his, no other monsters can touch. What’s this, what about Misao’s choice? hahaha, woman choosing their sexual partners? What a laugh! This is the stone age, not some feminist paradise, get those ridiculous ideas out of here.

That’s right Misao, don’t get upset that he doesn’t even think about your choice, but that he wants you cause you’re the magic bride.

  • As usual, our dear heroine sulks, but it’s not cause Kyo is an irredeemable jerk that doesn’t consider her feelings. Nope. It’s cause Misao is certain Kyo only wants her cause she’s the magic bride and sex with her is like nirvana for demons or something. (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…)