Signs you may be too old for shoujo/shounen manga

Maybe it’s because I am no longer a teenager, but some of the shoujo and shounen manga that I’ve seen lately seems… well, stupid, pointless, and otherwise without plot or substance. So I started thinking, exactly when does one become too old to read such manga?

I thought about it for a while and came up with this list of signs that you may be getting too old for these two genres. So then, without further ado, I present it to you now!

  • You feel like the entire manga chapter you just read could have been condensed into a single frame on a single page for all that happened, even if lots of things supposedly did. — I’ve experienced this quite a few times, even from otherwise good and interesting manga. It’s especially bad when it is a oneshot because it seems like you essentially read nothing and wasted a good number of minutes of your life.

    The Yellow Chair

    The Yellow Chair, pointless but still cute

  • You prefer to read about/are interested in the older, secondary characters and what happens to them, maybe even more so than the main characters. — I hate coming across a manga where I feel this way because there is almost never any development or story progression for these characters. And that makes me sad.
    UMEDA Hokuto from Hana Kimi

    UMEDA Hokuto from Hana Kimi


  • You are old enough to be a parent of the protagonist or other main character. — I am not this old, but I hope there will still be interesting manga that I can read when I am. However, sometimes I do find myself sympathizing with the parents and/or other adults in such manga, so I guess it is already beginning.

    SHIBUYA Miko and Shouma from Kyou Kara Maou!

    SHIBUYA Miko and Shouma from Kyou Kara Maou!

  • You see those things everywhere. Those shoujo sparkles. — I am specifically talking about the two common ways that they are over-used in some manga: 1. There are so many shoujo sparkles that it prevents you from seeing what else is going on in the frame/on the page and 2. You go into a sugar-induced coma or break out in hives just by looking at them! In defense of shoujo sparkles, they do have their time and place (heck, I throw shoujo sparkles on everyone at the end of each post!), but only when used in moderation!

    I don't see any shoujo sparkles...

    I don’t see any shoujo sparkles… >.>

  • You feel like you’ve read the same story countless times before. — What I affectionately call “cookie-cutter manga”. You know those mangas, the ones where the personalities of the characters, their behavior, and even the situations they find themselves in seem to be exactly the same as in many other mangas. Sure, all mangas have their clichés, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. However, in a lot of shoujo and shounen, it seems like only the character’s names and maybe the art changes from one to the next with few changes to the plot. It gets boring after awhile.
    The main characters of several popular shounen

    The main characters of several popular shounen


  • You can’t tell one character apart from another, sometimes even within the same manga. — I really think that in such cases, only a child could tell them apart. I’ve read some manga where the only differentiating factor was the hairstyle, and I can accept that, but when even the hairstyles look exactly the same except for the placement of one or two strands of hair!? Or the hair color is how you’re “supposed” to tell them apart… And when it’s in black and white!? What are you supposed to do then?

    Fuudanjuku Monogatari guys

    Fuudanjuku Monogatari guys

Well, there you have it! If you agreed with at least one of these, then you are too old to read it EVER AGAIN!

Hahahahaha! Of course you are never too old to read shoujo or shounen manga! :p As long as you enjoy yourself, then all is well. I guess you could say some of this list consists of my pet-peeves about manga in general.

Also, it doesn’t apply to just shoujo or shounen manga (josei or seinen can be equally as guilty!), nor does it mean that all shoujo and shounen manga are terrible reads like I said above, but I do find that they are the most frequent offenders.

I do, quite often, find a very well done and interesting manga that is labeled as one of the two genres. And I am very thankful for those stories, because it shows that there is still good shoujo and shounen left to be read! Everything in italics, though, is my own honest thoughts and opinions.

Until next time,

ChibiChin.  (ノ◕◡◕)ノ*:・゚✧

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8 thoughts on “Signs you may be too old for shoujo/shounen manga

  1. milesvibritannia

    I personally haven’t read a lot of shoujo but I have gotten into many Shounen and it’s very true that a number of them have quite similar elements, to the point where I have seen people declare many as generic. That said of course, even some series that blatantly fall into such categories can stand out. Two of my favorite examples are Fullmetal Alchemist and Zatch Bell. Fullmetal is a pretty popular series and for good reason, seeing as how it has a pretty unique world, a very captivating story, and fantastic character development for a very diverse cast. Zatch Bell, on the other hand, is nowhere near as popular but I’d say it’s nearly as good in its own ways. It seems like a stupid, goofy series at first but it has a great story for what appears to be a childish manga and it’s very emotional when necessary.

    Demographics can be pretty confusing though. Reportedly Future Diary and Attack on Titan are categorized as “Shounens” despite being darker, bloodier, and more serious stories than any of the mainstream Shounen action series. Even weirder is how a friend once told me that series like K-On! and Lucky Star are actually Seinens. The anime/manga world is a very strange place.

    Reply
    1. oujotaku Post author

      Generic is a really good word to describe what I was talking about! I probably read more shoujo/josei in general, but I do enjoy a good shounen/seinen story when I come across one. I also completely agree that such stories can still be very good! I’ve had my eye on Full Metal Alchemist for awhile now, but I have so many series I’m trying to keep up with at the moment that it keeps getting pushed back. I haven’t heard of Zatch Bell before, so I’ll have to check it out.

      As far as demographics go, I read somewhere that the labels of shoujo/shounen/josei/seinen don’t come from the content of the manga itself (unlike other genres), but rather come from the demographic the magazine it is published in generally targets. That might explain some why it seems off sometimes. It does get very confusing though, and if you only read one genre, you are missing out on some potentially awesome stories.

      Reply
      1. milesvibritannia

        As far as Shounen protagonists go it’s definitely easy to see why many people feel they’re generic. Even in FMA, Edward is very much like other Shounen protagonists but he has better development than many and the entire cast is so diverse that there are a good deal of characters I liked a good deal more anyway. And one thing that I think is important to note is that if you’re gonna get into FMA, either read the manga (my favorite way) or watch the Brotherhood anime. The first anime of FMA splits off from the manga story, and in my opinion not for the better, though I am biased as I read (and truly loved) the manga first.

        As for Zatch Bell, it’s really interesting because there are actually two main characters. One of them is the airhead nice guy fighter character like many other Shounen protagonists, but the other one is a much more intellectual and collected character. In fact I might even say that he’s kind of similar to Light from Death Note except his development goes toward being a much nicer person in positive Shounen fashion as opposed to Light’s descent to madness. But yeah, ZB is an underrated gem and one I’d definitely recommend, it’s a shame that Viz stopped releasing both the anime and manga in America, I would love to buy the whole thing.

        And yeah I’ve heard that as well, which makes a lot more sense but is still a tad perplexing. The thought of K-On! primarily appealing to adult males suggests…….quite a lot, most of which I don’t deem to be a good thing lol.

      2. oujotaku Post author

        I think shoujo protagonists are also infamous for being generic, just not as much as shounen ones. Generic shoujo protagonists can be brushed off as being a “typical girl” that you would find anywhere, so it’s not too bad if they’re generic considering most plots are heavily romance-based and the readers can more easily place themselves in the story. Shounen stories tend to be more fictitious/fantastical, so to have a generic lead is easier to spot, I think.

        I’ll keep those tips in mind about FMA, thanks! It seems that a lot of anime based on manga tend to go off in one direction or another randomly, so that’s good to know. Zatch Bell looks like it’s going to be interesting and I have a feeling I’ll like the intellectual character!

        I used to get really frustrated when series’ releases were stopped by US companies either because they went defunct or because they simply dropped it, so now I just buy the manga I really like in Japanese when I can find it.

        I’ll agree with that! K-On! being mainly targeted to adult males is disturbing, in more ways than one. Another thing about demographics is that once a manga is serialized in a magazine, they will try to morph the series to fit the demographics of that magazine. Sometimes the story turns to total crap because of that, and it’s a shame, especially when the first chapters were amazing and then it gets more and more generic as the story goes on. Well, these people know what sells, so they are obviously going to try to make it sell, lol.

  2. milesvibritannia

    Yeah I’ve heard that, supposedly a lot of Shoujos have the average girl with a few bishounens as romantic interests and whatnot, but I really haven’t seen any more than a few episodes of any given Shoujo so I don’t really know much on that. But yeah a lot of the big Shounen action series are similar in quite a few ways, obviously a big one being the protagonist. Luckily the protagonist of a Shounen series is usually never my favorite of them because they all tend to have casts with a wider variety of characters I’m more interested in anyway.

    It’s too bad when anime are made too quickly since a lack of manga material means it has to go a different way. That isn’t always a bad thing, since I’m sure people out there prefer the anime adaptations over the source material (though in the case of FMA I just can’t) but usually it will lead to an anime ending that makes a sequel a lot harder. And yeah ZB is great, and Kiyomaro (the smart one) is a really awesome protagonist, he grows a lot and is definitely among the smartest of Shounen characters I’ve ever seen. He’s a good partner for Zatch (the title character who does the fighting) and it’s interesting seeing how they work together.

    Yeah it’s a really sad thing, there are both anime and manga that I’ve been unable to find because the companies just went under. Though in the case of Zatch Viz dropped it, I heard that was because the author had issues with the parent company in Japan and that’s why Viz doesn’t have the license anymore but I’m not sure. Either way it really makes me sad that I can’t buy the rest of ZB, it’s a series I would definitely pay for, I feel it’s worth it.

    Makes me wonder about Japan lol, crazy stuff. And that’s really a shame, I’ve heard a few stories about a manga being ruined because of stuff like that. Less about shifting to the demographics but more often I’ve heard about how sales weren’t too great or the magazine just wanted it over so authors were forced to rushjob a terrible ending that they never intended and that’s really sad.

    Reply
    1. oujotaku Post author

      Well, what you described is exactly a generic shoujo, so in that respect, you aren’t missing out on much! Now that you mention it, it’s true that most shounen have a huge number of characters besides the protagonist. Looking at the covers of the Bleach volumes I have really drives that point home, lol. I guess with the protagonists being similar from one to the next, a diverse cast is important to keep the manga interesting. I usually like the side characters more as well, especially when they are well-developed with their own personalities.

      Yeah, it can get confusing when the anime takes a different direction from the manga, but sometimes it does work out. I really don’t like it when the do the ending in a way that it seems there will be a sequel, but then they never make one because you are left with an incomplete story. I guess at that point they figure people will just read the manga if they want a continuation, lol. I don’t know why anyone would prefer the anime version, since the manga is more detailed in terms of the actual story, but that might just be me since I tend to read more than watch. Hehe, I might have to squeeze Zatch Bell in to my reading list. 🙂

      Hmm, if it’s a matter of the author changing publishers in Japan, there might be a chance that Viz will pick it back up if they work something out with the new publisher. Well, they may just leave it dropped, too. It’s hard to say.

      It really is a shame when it happens and the mangaka only gets one chapter to end a story because it isn’t doing well within the magazine. I can’t even begin to list the number of manga I’ve really enjoyed that that has happened to. I’ve even heard that it has happened to some pretty popular series as well, so it’s hard to understand exactly how all that works. It might have to do with the mangaka as well sometimes, if they get frustrated with the series. A lot better to have a rushed ending in that case than to have it be on hiatus for years.

      Reply
      1. milesvibritannia

        Ah I see, that makes sense lol. The good thing is that there’s a fair share of Shoujos I have heard are actually pretty exceptional, I just never got around to em. And yeah Bleach has a very huge cast, although at times that wasn’t for the better as it doesn’t always use most of it. Bleach at its best is definitely pretty enjoyable though, and the recent arc has been much more entertaining than a lot of what came before. But yeah there are a lot of awesome side characters out there, and FMA definitely proves that. Ed and Al are both great characters of course, but I’m not nearly as attached to them as I am to many others in the series.

        Yeah it’s a sad thing when series never get the opportunity for a second season. Big example being Deadman Wonderland, which I loved the manga of. The anime is actually pretty good too but 12 episodes for a series like that just doesn’t do it justice, and with no second season in sight it’s really sad, Deadman hadn’t even picked up yet. But yeah, when it comes to series that are originally manga (AKA pretty much all the big Shounen actions) I prefer reading those since, for starters they’re probably better than their adaptations, and they’re a lot faster to go through than watching hundreds of episodes. Not to mention not needing to worry about D.Gray-man or Reborn cases where the anime just stops and doesn’t continue. But yeah, if you ever get a chance I hope you’ll read Zatch Bell, not too many people I know have gotten into it but it’s really good. The anime cuts off before the final arc and doesn’t even give a definitive conclusion either so obviously manga is the way to go.

        That’s true, I really hope someone eventually picks it up. Sadly it’s always about sales and making money, so if it doesn’t seem like a series will bring in the cash no one will take it and that’s heartbreaking sometimes. I know Funimation dropped Higurashi because of poor sales (despite most of them probably coming from its earlier license anyway) and since then nobody picked up Higurashi again, or better yet licensed the second season that actually explains everything there. So it’s really sad.

        And that’s true, sometimes just ending it period is better than never ending it at all. I know there’s a Shoujo manga called Orange that a lot of people REALLY love but apparently the author has had some issues with the publishing company or something and because of that she hasn’t finished it, and supposedly even started another manga, so that’s really a shame. But yeah stuff like that is a sad thing. I’m planning to read Negima over the summer and my friend warned me that even though it’s awesome on the whole, the ending is really poor and rushed, and I read about that online back when it finished too since the author for that had a situation like what we’re talking about.

  3. oujotaku Post author

    There are many really good shoujos, so there are at least those. Not that the generic ones are bad, I just can’t read a lot of them all at the same time. 🙂 Yeah, Bleach’s cast got pretty crazy. I stopped reading it awhile ago because the cast was all over the place and the story was getting a bit dull, but if it’s getting interesting again, I’ll have to pick it back up, lol. I kept thinking I would just read it once it’s finished, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Hmm, I’m looking forward to starting FMA! And when I do get around to it, I’ll probably write about Zatch Bell!

    I think a lot of the action shounen titles that get animated aren’t really suited for anime in the long run. Yeah, it’s cool and all to see all the fights and such, but sometimes the story gets too complicated for it to be properly animated and you either end up with a ton of episodes for one volume or they cut a bunch of the story out. Popular titles are usually really long, too, so the anime ends up with hundreds and hundreds of episodes. Then again, 12 or 13 episodes isn’t really enough, so I guess there really is no happen middle ground. I think reading goes faster as well. Ugh, I hate when they start an anime and then they just stop it somewhere in the middle. It’s kinda like the manga, I’d rather have some sort of ending than none at all.

    It is sad that stuff gets dropped because of sales. The anime/manga/game market for Japanese imports isn’t all that big, so of course they aren’t going to make a ton of money, but for the people who are interested and have invested money in buying a series, it’s a real letdown when you can’t buy it anymore. Even reprints are hard to come buy in some cases. And there really isn’t a chance for the readers to get a say in what is licensed or not, so sometimes publishers put a lot of effort into something not many are interested in. Granted, there are people who don’t really know that there is a wider selection of manga and anime available besides what is already in the US market, so they aren’t going to know to ask for something else. It’s all rather complicated *sighs*.

    I’ve heard about the Orange fiasco, but I’ve never read it, so I guess that’s a good thing! I only watched the anime version of Negima, so I’m not really sure how it ends, lol. Long shoujos can often feel like that though. The manga overall will be really into all the little details and the ending just glazes over not much of anything. Very disappointing. Long series like those must be hard to end as well, and since readers get so involved with the characters, it’s almost too sad to see it end when the story is really good.

    Reply

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