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Linkblogging: Stuck on Shojo

So, just as I thought I’d satisfied my obsession with shojo-centric conversation in the manga blogosphere, Deb Aoki posts the transcript from her recent interview with Moto Hagio, rendering me fully obsessed all over again.

The transcript begins with Hagio’s panel appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, and moves into a private interview Deb was able to catch with her later on. Not only does Deb ask wonderful questions (along with SDCC panel attendees), but Hagio’s responses (interpreted by Matt Thorn) and her account of her own career are, frankly, inspiring. This transcript is a must-read for all manga lovers and any woman in the arts, in my opinion. Please check it out!

Now, for a brief recap of all the conversation that’s been happening online… comments exploded in response to David Welsh’s Thursday thoughts, inspiring this response from Brigid Alverson at Robot 6. Part of the premise of Brigid’s post was to refute my assertion that Fruits Basket and Boys Over Flowers have very little in common (an opinion I still hold, by the way, and which I’ll be happy to explain at length for anyone who cares).

Having been called out, I reacted pretty strongly in comments to what I felt was a pretty reductive argument. And though I stand by my reaction, after reading the discussion in comments, I don’t believe Brigid actually meant to dismiss shojo, and I’m distressed by the heat she’s taken for it overall. On the other hand, nobody’s taken as much heat as Chris Mautner, who received a scathing response to his review of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories from passionate editor Matt Thorn.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Erin Ptah takes issue with my post about female fans (though I think the argument she actually objects to is one I quoted from an earlier post), and Kate Dacey confesses (in comments) to her own internal conflict over wanting to defend shojo manga against dismissive arguments made by male critics while not really feeling the love for much of it herself. This comment (among others) inspired me to talk about why my love still stands strong.

Lastly, in comments to my original HU post, discussion with a reader named Tacto prompted me to provide a list of shojo and what I’m calling “youth-oriented josei” (focusing on older teens and twenty-somethings finding themselves and so on) from my personal collection, with a view towards illustrating the diversity and quality available in titles that have been translated into English. My collection is laughable compared to what I know some of you own, so feel free to add on!

In the end, though? Go back to Moto Hagio. If you read just one link about shojo manga today, that should be it. It will make your day, I promise.

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  1. You know, I recognize that some of what I read is clearly meant for teenage girls. (Helloooo Absolute Boyfriend.) But two of my absolute favorite series are Fruits Basket and Skip Beat!, and they always will be. Even as I start reading more mature titles (like anything by Fumi Yoshinaga, or Natsume Ono books). I can’t really explain why. They don’t remind me of my own teenage years, so there’s not really a nostalgia factor. Skip Beat! just happens to have one of my favorite female character leads, and Fruits Basket tugs my heartstrings in all the right ways. Am I embarrassed to admit I like them? Only blatantly smutty and pandering books like Black Bird (which I’m still a little ashamed to admit to anyone). But I will defend Yoshiki Nakamura and Natsuki Takaya to my last breath.

  2. Boy this whole thing really turned into a “tempest in a teapot” and thanks for sticking up for Fruits Basket I get so tired of critics going after Tohru Honda as I’ve jokingly said in the past “she (Tohru) beat an ax crazy hikiomori with the power of friendship you wish you where that hardcore” (LOL). Also kudos on the piece defending Shojo manga I’m sure it’s different for you being a female fan of Shojo but as a male fan for me what you said really hit home for me because I’m sometimes saddled with the double burden of being a guy who likes “that stuff” and to have someone defend it so cogently and articulately means a lot to me so thanks and just keep on keeping on.

  3. Mautner made the mistake of trying to spice up his review with enough sass to drown any real point. His point seemed to be both praising and berating a book reviewed from the perspective of another book’s audience, though, so it wasn’t worth much any way. Even while admitting he made a bit of a mess of the article, he still tried picking bits and pieces of logic out of the trash heap instead of just apologising. I understand how it feels to be in that situation, but he really could have avoided it.

    Brigid, on the other hand, was making logical points that people just refused to acknowledge in lieu of picking arguments out of thin air. I don’t agree with her, but she knows what she’s talking about.

    Either way, so much of all this shojo discussion hasn’t really even been about shojo or shojo fans. Half of it’s been railing against opinions or perceptions or fandoms that may or may not even exist. Your articles had plenty of personal opinions and anecdotes to back them up, but is everyone else just so keen on winning the internet that they can’t even make a point beyond crying about straw men anymore?


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