Over on Twitter today, Sean Gaffney (@Toukochan) of A Case Suitable for Treatment observed that many shōjo series have the situation “heroine hated by all female classmates, has male friends.” In response, I remarked that I have limited patience for shōjo manga that do not value female friendship. David Welsh (@PreCur) of The Manga Curmudgeon asked us to share our favorite series that do respect and celebrate female friendship. And so we did.
I felt our collective list was worth preserving in a spot slightly less ephemeral than Twitter, so here it is:
(Sean also cited magical girl titles in general, since they tend to have female teams.)
To expand a little on the thoughts behind my original tweet: I am especially frustrated by the lack of female friendships in shōjo manga because friendship is almost always a major theme in shōnen series. That’s especially true of Weekly Shōnen Jump series, where friendship themes are literally part of the editorial policy. Why do creators/editors/publishers think that boys should be friends, but girls should only be each other’s romantic rivals? Also, the frequent dearth of female friendships in shōjo manga echoes the situation in teen fiction, where all too often a heroine’s friendships are overlooked in favor of her male love interest.
This is why I love Kimi ni Todoke so very much. Not only does the creator realize that a romance with Kazehaya will not solve all of Sawako’s social problems–so does Kazehaya. In vol. 2, he actually steps back to give Sawako’s friendships with her female peers some necessary space. It makes him a very appealing manga boyfriend.
In a separate tweet, I also noted that sometimes female friendships are the best things in otherwise average series. My example? Skip Beat. I find it likable but uneven in quality. The art is fairly hideous, but the humor is pretty irresistible. If the plot had 100% less Reino and 100% more Moko (with a few bonus appearances of that chicken suit), I’d be a happy camper.
What are your favorite shōjo series that respect and celebrate female friendship? Please share them in the comments! As for me, I really have to put Banri Hidaka’s work higher on my to-read list. I’ve been hearing great things about it V. B. Rose and I Hate You More than Anything, and this might be just the push I needed to pick them up.