I see people say “shoujo romances are so bad”, clarifying their enjoyment of them behind some ironic veneer of “knowing better” rather than to enjoy some cheesy romance anime.
Shoujo is fantastic. It’s healing and refreshing. It’s a genre that created a way to visualise the way women romanticise the atmosphere around them via shoujo bubbles and shoujo flowers. It has women objectify men and romanticise them — even their parts that people don’t like. A tall dark stoic man, a romantic ideal that shoujo relishes in. The damages bad boy, the sweetheart who’s desperately in love. In my eyes, it perfectly encapsulates female sexuality: I want you to want me. Unapologetic in the ways it is different to men, and leaves me unapologetically in love with it.
Will anime ever be a pretentious thing to admit to loving? I don’t imagine so. But men do a better job at trying–people will write article upon article and video upon video about the strengths of shounen. For all it’s cheesiness, and unpretentiousness, people who love it will profess to that love, and they will try to explain why. To give some sense of… stature to it.
Even with moe, I read article about the refreshing and healing nature of it. I see people put into words the reason why they love it–and I love it too. I love moe, I love shounen, and God knows I love shoujo.
But shoujo doesn’t get that. At least in the most visible sectors of it. Male fans will build up websites, and then female fans will complain about the male-centric of them. But when female fans builds up their own sites, they are these ideologically driven which hate shoujo as much as any male site does. They put another word to their hatred, instead of ‘boring romance’ and ‘lame’ it’s ‘problematic’ and ‘stereotypical’.
To me, entertainment journalism should be about taking the feeling and prospective an audience has deep down, and trying to explain them. Explaining why something feels so well animated, and so crisp, like the sakuga community tries, or why a stories feels stilted and cold, look to RedLetterMedia’s review of Star Wars prequels for that.
I’m left with a sad but unapologetic love. Lord knows, I adore you. I adore Kamisama Hajimemashita, Wolf Girl & Black Prince, Watashi ga Motete Dousunda, Akatsuki no Yona, Ore Monogatari, Rose of Versailles, Ouran High School Host Club, Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, Kimi ni Todoke, Fruits Basket, Candy Candy, Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii, Itazura na Kiss, Marmalade Boy and all the like 100 magical girl shows. I adore them.